Kermit sat in the waiting room at Lenox Hill Hospital.
“Who the fuck would try and kill Elmo?” he said “Does this have anything to do with me? With getting the Muppets™ back together?”
I wanted to tell him it didn’t - that this was all due to Elmo’s cocaine trafficking or something, maybe someone trying to get in on his turf, but I knew it wasn’t. Someone didn’t want the Muppets™ to get back together.
“I can’t believe it. This was all supposed to be a joke,” said Kermit, barely audible now. “We were just supposed to be a damn variety puppet show but now look at us, we’ve turned into - ” he motioned his green webbed hand towards the waiting room; the city.
“This”, he said. “We’re just a bunch of…. fucking puppets.”
He looked at his feet and started to cry. Not the kind of “we’ve run out of ice cream” sorority girl shit; the real deal; tears of a broken man. I stood up and slapped him across the face.
“Get ahold of yourself, man” I said. “Not here. Not now. Do it on your own damn time”
“You got a smoke?” said Kermit, tears still coming but not crying now, which made it seem all the worse.
“You know I quit five years ago” I said “You know that.”
“Can’t blame a frog for trying,” he said “It’s not easy being green.”
I let the tired joke hang there for a second before crashing stillborn to the floor.
Kermit took a flask out out of nowhere. He put his finger to his lips and handed it to me. I took a swig. It felt good, like being hit with a brick wrapped in satin. I handed it back to Kermit and he took a swig and handed it back to me, and this continued until the flask was halfway empty. The waiting area smelled like cleaner and death; the whole setup reminded me of my mechanics. This was where life came when it was broke, I thought.
“You gotta have a lead”, I said. “Who doesn’t want the Muppets™ together?”
Kermit screwed the cap back on. “Beaker and Professor Honeydew don’t have a dog in this fight. They have to be working for someone else.”
“What about Piggy?”
“Piggy’ll go where the money will take her,” said Kermit. “I love that swine. With all my heart. Always have, always will. But I can read her like a damn book. Someone’s paying her not to talk. Someone with deep pockets. Someone who has an axe to grind.”
I thought about the business card, 1AAA.
“What about 1AAA, on the business card left behind when they tried to whack Elmo? He thinks its The Count. Think about it. One triple A. Or…. One. Ah, ah, ah. Get it?”
Kermit spun around. “What would The Count have anything to do with all this?”
Kermit lit another cigarette.
“Those things’ll kill ya,” I said.
“Not if someone else does first,” he said. And he was right. By all accounts, Kermit was the lynchpin. We had to keep an eye on him. They’d be after him soon.
Kermit looked at me. His eyes were still wet, but there was a look of determination behind them. I smiled what I could. It had been a long day.
“The deeper we get into this the less it makes any sense,” I said “Who would try and kill Elmo? Who would intentionally break up you and Piggy to break up the Muppets? Who has the money to pull it off? And who engineered the explosion at the laboratory that gave Beaker his speech impediment?”
Kermit looked at the floor.
“I was there that night,” he said “At the lab. The night it exploded. It was supposed to be me.”
“But Beaker?” I said, shocked at this news “Why would you be hanging around with that… that damn hophead?”
“Because of the drugs, man”, said Kermit “Look, shit ain’t pretty no more. A frog does what he can to stay sane in this… hell hole of a world”, he threw the cigarette on the ground “Don’t lecture me, Pops. Beaker and I had an arrangement. I got 70% of whatever rolled down Sesame St. I kept the whole Dr Teeth & The Electric Mayhem band together. They needed their drugs, man. They were a goddam funk band for crissakes. Now look,” he said, pausing for a second to gather his emotions, “I tell you that in good faith. Don’t go spreading that around. I’m not a pusher. I’m just a businessman giving the people what they want. If you want legality,” he said, lighting another cigarette “Go seem a damn Alderman. But when the going gets tough, I’m the frog you look for”
“Kermie,” I said “Then who would want to kill you?”
“You must know”
“Whoever they are. They must be batshit fucking crazy because this doesn’t make any damn sense. None of the pieces fit. They’d have to be crazy. Fucking insane to mess with me”, said Kermit. “Elmo and me. That’s why they’re trying to kill us. Because without there is no Sesame Street. I made that fucking street what it is. Elmo too, but goddam it if I’m gonna unify it again if it’s the last thing I do”.
I snatched the cigarette out of his green flappy mouth.
“This is a goddam hospital and there’s a goddam cancer ward two floors below. So mind your damn manners. And two, a kid could walk in here any minute”, I said. Elmo shrugged and lit another.
We sat for a while, the only sound being the hum of the soda machine and the sound of footsteps elsewhere. An hour went by before the doctor came back, and Kermit had fallen asleep. I shook him awake.
“Is he OK, doc?” he asked.
“Elmo will recover,” said the doc “If they’d gone an inch higher we’d have one dead muppet on our hands. But they only hit his tickle box. He just needs a new casing. Lost a fair amount of blood. We’re gonna keep him overnight.”
The doctor seemed to just then recognize Kermit.
“Mister, uh, The Frog. I’m a big fan.”
“Mm”, said Kermit.
“May I, please, have your - “
“Depends if you can write me a scrip for Valium.” said Kermit “Make it two. Or whatever my boy here wants, too”
The doctor seemed puzzled, and looked at me. I nodded.
“Very well,” said the doctor. “I have all your movies. Big fan. A real pleasure to meet you”
He handed Kermit two prescriptions, a notepad and a pen. Kermit sat back down and cracked his wrist.
“Thanks, doc”, said Kermit “Now, who do I make this out to?”
“Trent,” said the doctor “Trent McMillan. That’s my, that’s my kids name”
Kermit wrote and signed and handed the objects back to Doctor McMillan.
“I appreciate it.” said the doctor “May I say something, well, off the record, between us?”
“Sure,” said Kermit.
“Thank you,” said the doc, “It just, seems so odd … that - that someone would try to kill… well… Elmo.”
“Tell me about it”, I said. “You’d have to be nuts. Crazy in the coconut. You’d have to be insane.”
“A fool!” said the doctor “Unbalanced! Gonzo, even!”
The doctor chuckled and put the papers under his arm.
“Good evening, gentleman. Your friend will be fine. Get some rest.” And like that he was gone.
I turned to Kermit, but he was looking at me first, and I knew we were both thinking the same thing.