The air weighed a hundred pounds. A green hand ran a finger under his suit collar. Anxiously Kermit tapped his foot and wiggled in his chair. How he wished he never gotten himself into this mess. Usually getting a summons from the boss wasn't always a bad thing. This time though he had a hunch. With the recent stock decline, this meeting couldn't be good news. Sure Kermit had his loyal fans. Mainly they were the crazies belonging to Muppet internet fan sites. According to the stockholders though it wasn't enough. An echoing sound of a door opening brought Kermit's mind to the present.
"You may go in now Mr. Frog," the secretary motioned him through the doorway.
Inside the office awards lined the walls. Everything imaginable had its spot on the shelves. All testimonies to how this one company had survived. Each trophy scorned down at him. Mocking him and reminding Kermit of the fact that he was no longer good enough. They used to be the latest craze…back in the late seventies. Now will their status as memorabilia be enough or is the figure darkened by the window going to show Kermit his pink slip?
With a quiet click the door shut and the silence broken, "Sit down Kermit. I just came from a meeting with the executive board."
Holding his breath Kermit edged toward the front of his seat. Anxiously he awaited for his boss to speak again, "Look Kermit when we first came into this agreement I never expected this. We're friends right? Well as your friend I don't want to tell you this. The Muppets aren't as big as they were. Frankly the stockholders are having a hard time believing that the decision to merge our companies was a good idea."
"Meaning…" Kermit finally croaked out.
"You have ninety days to prove other wise."
"Ninety days! You can't do anything in ninety days. Show, DVD release, movie, nothing…nada….zilch. Mickey can't you buy us some more time?"
"Well if you had a plan maybe I could. Do you have a plan?" Mickey leaned forward in his chair.
"We have a plan. As a matter of fact I did have a scheduled appointment with my writers before I received this phone call. There is a new Muppet movie in process."
"Yes…yes there is." Kermit said with more confidence than he felt.
"Then maybe I can get you six months. No I know I can. Six months from today the newest Muppet movie premieres. It better be good too. You best be going now. You have a lot of work to do," Mickey said as Kermit made his way out, "Oh yeah and Kermit. No leaving us like Woody tried with Pixar. We'll just turn around and buy you back out too. This could be a great beginning for Disney and Muppet Enterprises."
"No chance of that," Kermit said as he left and quickly made his way downstairs. After calling a taxi he muttered under his breath, "None at all. We can't afford it."
Kermit stood at the curb thumb in the air waiting. One by one every taxi whizzed on by. With a sigh he began to walk down the busy LA street. Turning every so often he would yell "Taxi" hoping someone would stop. Then a horn honked as Kermit jumped out of the way and a taxi ran into a light-pole. Beauregard rolled down his window and looked around, "Did you want me to stop or what?"
"That's fine Beau. I'm just thankful for the ride," Kermit got inside the car and threw his briefcase to the side. Quietly he began to take off his tie and make himself somewhat more comfortable.
"Where would you like to go?" Beau looked up into the rearview mirror and asked.
Kermit looked up and stared for a moment. He wasn't quite ready to head back home to the boarding house and theatre. New York and Sesame Street were out too. Something in him just wanted to go back home. Home to the humid and dank swamp. Home to the little town of Leland. The town that hadn't changed too much in years. "Beau, take me to Leland. I need some time to think."
The town was dark as Beauregard turned the taxi up the small ramp and into the small town of Leland, Mississippi. Perched on the edge of a swamp Leland had the small town air that most. Kermit gazed out the window as the sights went by lost in thought. Wilson's Pet Store still sat on the outside edge of town. Further down just off on a side street the Leland City High School stood waiting for tomorrow's school day. The old movie house was a buzz with activity. The sign overhead proudly proclaimed a Muppet double feature. Just ahead a lone figure stood outside a building turning the sign from 'Open' to 'Closed'.
"Beau, drop me off there," Kermit said as the taxi pulled to the curb. He thanked Beauregard for the ride and instructed him to head back to the Muppet Theatre to let everyone know he was okay. Beau pulled off as Kermit wondered what to do next.
"Awful late to be comin' home ain't it Kermit? You look like you could use some comfort. Come on in. Now's the only time you can hear yourself think in this place." the girl smiled and waved Kermit inside the restaurant.
"Thanks Christy. Um you wouldn't mind if I..." Kermit began as he strode over to the counter and hopped up on the stool.
"Stay here tonight? No problem. You know I always have an extra bed for ya'll," Christy began as she turned her attention to what she was doing.
Kermit looked around at the old local hangout. Everyone came here during business hours to chat, be together, or even display their talents on the small stage in the far corner. Phil Chapman the original owner had the place locked in a 1950's diner motif. When the Muppets became big Phil left the diner business selling it and started an internet fan site for the Muppets. Christy the new owner hadn't changed things around that much. She replaced a few booths that were ripped and changed the flooring to a nice looking fake hardwood. Little things that made the place look nicer but never changed the atmosphere.
"Here ya go Kermit one dragonfly ripple fudge brownie sundae." Christy slid the gooey concoction across the gray spackled countertop.
Kermit eyed the dish and dug into his favorite dessert, "You know, you can't find these things outside."
"Can't say that I blame them. Not every restaurant has regulars who are frogs."
Kermit took another bite. He kept making small talk avoiding the real subject. "Jukebox new?"
"Yep, a MC member found that for me. Worked in an antique shop. I haven't gotten it to working quite yet."
"Speaking of MC how is that going? How's Phil and Cindy."
"Good on all accounts. Everyone's anxious about how the merger's going."
"Caught me didn't ya?"
"It's the chocolate that did it. So fess up Kermit. I promise its off record and won't enter cyberspace."
Kermit sighed glancing over at his briefcase. Looking up he started, "We've got six months to make some fast cash."
"We talkin' fundraising or making money hungry Disney mosquitoes happy?"
"Christyb!" Kermit's eyes flew open even wider than they were. Which is hard considering he didn't have eyelids.
"Sorry, never been a huge fan of the merger. Understand why you did it though. Your story not mine so go ahead unload before that huge family of yours catches wind you're here."
"No the way gossip flies in this town it won't be long. Anyways, apparently the novelty of the Muppets have wore off. We're yesterday's news. I basically gotta get us back in the limelight or you might have an applicant for a new busboy," Kermit said taking one last lick of his ice cream.
Christy was quiet as she turned off the rest of the lights in the diner and motioned for Kermit to follow her upstairs. Up above was a small apartment that she called home. It wasn't much, but Kermit knew anyone was welcome. He went in to the other room and threw his bag on the small twin bed. He paused a moment and shook his head trying to clear out all the confusion that rang in his head.
"Hey Kermit. Do you need to call Piggy?" Christy paused leaning against the doorway.
"No, Beauregard will tell them where I'm at. I need time to think. You know sometimes I wish I never left this place." Kermit said sitting down on the bed.
"Careful what you wish for Kermit. Besides you never would have been happy staying here. You love the swamp and this little town but your home is out there."
"Didn't you learn a thing from that Christmas special you did a few years ago?"
"Christy that was only a movie."
"Still, watch what you say or you just might get what you ask for."
Kermit frowned looking up. "You're weird you know that?"
"Yep, certifiable nutball that's me! Goodnight Kermit" Christy said leaving.
"Goodnight Christy. Thanks for the room," Kermit said lying his head back and falling fast asleep.
"Herman...Herman..." a light shone through the window calling softly to the green frog below.
Kermit rolled over and looked outside. A single star shone through the window filling Kermit's face with white light. Opening one froggy eye he said, "The name's Kermit. Besides you're not my star."
"Kermit, right got it. No I'm not. Your star sent me because that rain cloud covers her. She said you needed some help." the voice called from the star.
"I don't need help. I need a rewind button."
"Rewind? Now what do you need that for. You have a great life."
"I know, but I wonder...what if I wasn't meant to leave the swamp."
"Oh I get it. Now since times are a little tough you want to go see."
"Hey I've been through tough times before."
"Not like this though. Before you were your own boss. So now you want to see what your friends would be if you stayed home."
"I guess so. I think we all would have been better off."
"You sure about that Herman?"
"The name's Kermit, sheesh."
"Kermit ...got it...no seriously I do. Anyways, be careful what you wish
"What is it with everyone and saying that!" Kermit said growling
"Just watch out... Wa--" The star began to say. However a cloud rolled over and thunder sounded. Rain began to fall gently onto the roof. Kermit shook his head and rolled over. Quickly he was fast asleep.