Dinner with Aunt Phoebe
Standard Fanfic Disclaimer that wouldn't last ten seconds in a court of law These aren't my characters. I'm just borrowing them for, um, er, typing practice. Yeah, that's it, typing practice. They will be returned to their original owners undamaged (or at least suitably bandaged) when the story is done. Amateur work of fiction, no profit made from this beyond my pleasure in writing and hopefully your pleasure in reading. Originally published in the fanzine Of Dreams and Schemes #25.
Dinner with Aunt Phoebe
The Master/Nanny and the Professor
Susan M. M.
Southern California, 1984
Max Keller glanced at the gas gauge. His van was practically running on fumes. "Keep your eyes open for a gas station, old-timer," the curly-haired young man told his travelling companion. "We need to fuel up."
John Peter McAllister nodded. He was old enough to be Max's grandfather and looked it but was surprisingly spry for a man his age. The top of his head was bald. White hair covered the sides.
"Henry, you keep your eyes open, too," Max joked.
Henry ignored Max. The brown and white hamster continued running in his wheel, in a cage securely welded to the dashboard.
A few minutes later, McAllister announced, "There's one." He pointed to the right.
Max nudged his turn signal on and pulled into the gas station. "Nearly dinner time," Max observed as he parked the van. "Did you want me to see if they have sandwiches or anything inside? Or did you want to get fast food?" He jutted his chin at a Del Taco sign just down the road.
McAllister's cobalt blue eyes lost their sparkle. He knew Max loved Del Taco, the only taco chain that sold milk shakes, but the food was too greasy for him. "We've had an awful lot of fast food lately. Do you suppose this town has a Japanese restaurant?"
"Got a craving for home cooking, huh?" Max teased. McAllister had gone to Japan with the Army Air Corps in 1945, and stayed. "I can ask inside. College towns tend to have a lot of restaurants."
Max and McAllister both got out of the van. Max went in to pay for the gas and ask questions. McAllister just wanted to stretch his legs. He was in remarkably good shape for his age, but after several hours' driving, he was saddle-sore. Right now, he felt every one of his sixty-plus years.
It was the sort of day southern California tried to get the rest of the world to believe they had all the time: 75 F, blue sky, giant white cumulus clouds. A gentle breeze ruffled McAllister's white hair. It carried the scent of some flower pink hawthorn, perhaps, or natal plum, that covered the smell of the petroleum.
Max came out and started pumping gas. "Sorry, he doesn't know of any Japanese restaurants close by. There's a mall a mile or two away. The food court has a Chinese food kiosk. A greasy chopstick joint sandwiched in between Hot Dog on a Stick and Great Gyros."
McAllister frowned. That wasn't quite what he had in mind.
Max flashed a smile at the pretty co-ed gassing up her motorcycle at the pump across from theirs. At least, McAllister assumed she was pretty, since Max was smiling at her, although a pink helmet hid her face. And he assumed she was a co-ed, since she wore a denim jacket with 'Clinton College' embroidered on the back. He glanced at her bike, then raised a bushy white eyebrow. If he wasn't mistaken, that was an old Indian Scout, either meticulously preserved or else painstakingly restored. He'd had one like it … before World War II.
Three more motorcycles drove up to the pump behind hers. Their riders were big, beefy men, clad in leather jackets bearing the name Broncos. None of them had bothered with helmets, and all three of them could have used a trip to the barber shop.
"Hey, pretty lady," the redhaired biker greeted her.
The girl said nothing.
"That's a big bike for such a little girl," commented the shortest of the three. He was a stocky fellow with uncombed brown hair and a scraggly brown beard.
Ignoring him, she hung the hose back up on the gas pump.
"What's the matter, college girl, too good to talk to us?" asked the third. A scar decorated his unwashed face.
"Maybe we should show her what it's like on a real bike." Shorty revved his Harley.
"With a real man," Carrot-top added.
"If I see a real man, I'll keep that in mind," she retorted.
Max looked up from fueling the van. Her voice was familiar very familiar.
Scarface dismounted from his motorcycle. He stepped forward and grabbed her arm. "You dissing us?" Suddenly Scarface felt a hand on his wrist. He turned to see an old man beside him, holding on to him.
"Her mother told her not to speak to strangers," McAllister admonished him.
"Mind your own business, grandpa." Scarface tried to shake the white-haired geezer off, but the old man had a grip like a vise.
Max stopped pumping gas. He strode over to join his friend. "We're making it our business."
Shorty and Carrot-top approached, ready to back up their buddy.
"You and what army?" Shorty demanded.
"Three against three. Looks fair to me, huh, Max?" the girl asked.
Max smiled. He recognized her now. "Right, Pru."
McAllister raised one white eyebrow, but decided to wait for later to ask for an introduction. He squeezed Scarface's wrist.
The biker was forced to his knees. He let go of Pru's arm. She kicked him in the thigh.
Carrot-top rushed toward Max, swinging wildly. Max avoided the blow easily, ducking and weaving. Shorty hurried toward Max, ready to double up on him.
McAllister reached out a foot and tripped Shorty. As he started to tumble down, McAllister grabbed his arm and used his own momentum to throw him down hard.
Scarface struggled to his feet. Pru kneed him in his nether-regions. He sunk down again.
"The next time a lady isn't interested, learn to take 'no' for an answer," McAllister advised them.
Carrot-top was still trying to hit Max, and failing. "You can't treat the Broncos like that."
Shorty scrambled to his feet. "Got news for you, bro. They just did." He held his hand in front of him, palms outward. If not a gesture of surrender, 'twas at least a sign of a reluctant cease-fire. He called to his pals, "Let's go."
Warily, Scarface rose, carefully watching Pru as he did so. He backed away from her slowly.
"But," Carrot-top began.
Max spun and kicked him in the stomach with a karate kick. "Check out, Jack," he murmured under his breath.
Shorty looked from Max to Carrot-top. "He deserved it for being stupid." Shorty and Scarface each took the redhead by one arm and limped back to their motorcycles.
Pru waited until the three had ridden off before hugging Max. "Max, you were terrific! Where did you learn to fight like that?"
Max grinned. "I've been practicing. You weren't so bad yourself, coz. Mas." He stopped himself. He never addressed McAllister as 'Master' in public, and damned seldom in private, although he thought of him that way. "McAllister. John Peter McAllister. Taught me everything I know. My cousin, Prudence Everett."
She pulled off her helmet, revealing a very pretty blonde teenager. "Any friend of Max's is a friend of mine. Especially one who can kick butt like that." Her blue eyes were wide with admiration.
"Kick butt? What would Aunt Phoebe say if she heard you talking like that?"
"Mum's heard worse."
"Not from you," Max retorted.
Prudence discreetly didn't respond to that. "What are you doing here?"
"Saving your a ." He stopped himself mid-word.
"Hah! You make a fuss over me saying 'butt', but you nearly said 'ass'."
McAllister chuckled softly as the cousins squabbled like children half their age. The sound reminded them that they had a witness.
"What are you doing in town? Can you come over to the house?" Prudence invited. "Mum and Dad would love to see you."
Max shook his head. "I'd love to, but we're just passing through."
His stomach chose that moment to rumble.
"You've at least got to come for dinner," Prudence insisted.
"We wouldn't want to impose," McAllister said.
"It's no imposition. You saved me from those dorks. I owe you."
"Aunt Phoebe's a great cook," Max added. "And we were about to look for someplace to eat anyway."
"If you're sure your parents won't mind us dropping in," McAllister agreed.
"Mum never lets anyone go away hungry," Prudence assured him. She turned to Max. "You remember how to get to our house?"
"I think so."
"Just follow me. And if we get separated in traffic, it's 10327 Oak Street." She hugged Max again, pulled on her helmet, and climbed on her bike.
Nanny and the Professor was on from 1970 to 1972. It was never clearly started that Phoebe Figalilly was a supernatural being, but it was strongly hinted. She showed up at the professor's door, uninvited and unexpected, right after his children had scared off yet another housekeeper. She would say "That's Mrs. Johnson, I'll get it" before the phone rang. Her weather predictions were infallible, and like Dr. Doolittle, she talked to animals. She knew people's names before they were introduced. Odd things happened around her. Although the widowed professor dated various women, and Nanny almost got married to someone else once, both had eyes. Both were aware that the other was an attractive member of the opposite sex. Most N&tP fans assumed that Nanny and Professor Everett would eventually get married.
The Master was on in 1984. John Peter McAllister was always fascinated by the legends of the ninja, so after he came to Japan in WWII, he never left. He stayed, and became the first occidental American to become a ninja master. He left the sect when he learned two important things: 1, He had a daughter, who was in desperate trouble and needed his help. 2, Some of his students, led by his former prize pupil, Okasa, had gone back to the ancient ways of ninjitsu assassination for hire. McAllister is trying to avoid Okasa, who is trying to kill him, and find his daughter, Teri. He is assisted by a young drifter, Max Keller.