The chef penguin Zzyzx sifted through his paperwork. He was disappointed by the fact no one showed any interest in joining the order, except Rika. He decided to call it a day as he went home to his apartment. He made a simple dinner of fish sticks and fries as he watched the evening news. After dinner he took a quick shower and went to bed.
** ** ** ** **
The next morning, Zzyzx woke up to the smell of fried food. It wasn't fresh fried but rather the smell of cold fry oil that has soaked into paper. He blinked his eyes several times as a half eaten funnel cake and a pair of phoenix talons came into focus. He looked up to see that Aohd was sleeping in his bed facing the opposite direction.
“Aohd, you better have a damn good reason for being in my bed with a half eaten funnel cake.”
The phoenix lifted his head and looked around as he gathered his bearings. He sat up and continued to eat the rest of his funnel cake. As he did, powdered sugar covered his beak.
“Morning Zzyzx. So, I was at a carnival last night, when I had a great idea for getting new members. I came over to tell you, but you were already asleep so I decided to wait for you to wake up to tell you about it.”
Zzyzx stared at the phoenix with a confused look.
“Okay, first off I went to sleep like, eleven o'clock last night. I also locked all my door. How did you get in here?”
“You gave me a set of keys for emergencies.” said Aohd as he held up a key ring with a few keys on them. Zzyzx seemed confused.
“I never gave you a set of keys though.”
“Well someone did.” said Aohd as he put away his keys. He took another bite of his food before clearing his throat and reached for a glass of water and had a drink.
“Okay... Someone gave you keys that somehow open my apartment door... But there aren't any carnivals in town right now.”
“Oh, no there aren't. I went to one in hell.”
“Hell has carnivals?”
“Just because it's one of many homes for the damned, doesn't mean we don't know how to have a good time.”
“So anyway, it hit me. We serve carnival foods at the Order.”
Zzyzx pondered the idea for a moment as it had its appeal.
“Granted, carnival foods are some of the greatest comfort foods around; but how would we afford the equipment to make most of it?”
“That's the best part! All we really need are a few deep fat fryers. We make our own batter for dipping and assign a fryer for savory and sweet foods and we are set. We get an air popper for popcorn and such and we can bake soft pretzels in the over.”
“I do enjoy soft pretzels”
“Wonderful, I'll place an order for some deep fryers now.”
“Wait a sec Aohd. Before you go on a shopping spree for kitchen equipment, start with one deep fryer. If the demand increases, we can get more.”
“Can I pick out the fryer at least?”
“Sure. One more thing, why were you sleeping in my bed with a funnel cake? Couldn't you have waited to tell me about this?”
“I could've waited, but traveling from hell takes a lot out of you. Also, sleeping on your couch gives me back problems sometimes.”
** ** ** ** **
Zzyzx walked as he sipped his coffee from his mug. He paused, when he saw an industrial deep fryer being removed from a box by Aohd in the kitchen area.
“Tell me this isn't the fryer you ordered.”
“Yep. With this puppy we can cook up a small banquet of fried goods in a matter of minutes!” Replied the excited phoenix as he ran his wing over the stainless steel exterior.
“Why did you get this and how much did it cost?” asked Zzyzx as he rubbed the underside of his beak.
“Don't worry about it Big Z. I got a deal on this through the guy who's installing it for us. Here he comes now.”
Aohd pointed behind the penguin. Zzyzx turned and was met with the gaze of a seven foot plus tall black dragon with cold blue eyes. He looked down at the penguin who was frozen by intimidation.
“Z, this is Rynac. He is a general handyman and dabbles in cooking. He's the one that sold us the fryer and is installing it for free.”
“Nice to met you Zzyzx.” said Rynac. He extended his hand after wiping it on his gray jumpsuit. Zzyzx extended his fin out nervously as they shook.
“Thanks again for this installation job. Oh, before I forget.”
The muscular dragon reached behind him and pulled out his wallet and handed Zzyzx a business card.
“Give me a call if you need anything else done. I can also get you a hook up on cooking oil.”
“Oh yeah. We'll be needing that as well.” said Aohd as Zzyzx simply stared at the card.
** ** ** ** **
A couple of hours later, Rynac was done as he put his tools up.
“Okay fellas, you are set. Just fill it up with hot water and drain them twice to clean out any dust that might be in there from shipping. Let it dry out overnight with the covers partially on and you can fill them with oil the next day.”
“Sound's good, Rynac. Hope we can work with you again soon.” said Aohd as he waved the dragon off. He turned to Zzyzx, who was eating a tuna fish sandwich.
“I do believe we have ourselves a resident handyman now big Z.”
“You know I don't like being called 'Big Z'. But I have to agree; he's a nice guy, if not intimidating. I doubt he'll cause any trouble...”
Zzyzx shuddered as he felt a chill run through his body. He turned to Aohd and asked, “Did it suddenly just get cold?”
** ** ** ** **
Ajana walked through a hallway when she suddenly saw Rynac. He seemed confused as he looked around and noticed the doe in her lab coat.
“Excuse me miss, I seem to be lost. How do I find the front door?”
Ajana simply stared at the towering dragon with wide eyes and an up tilted head. Flustered, she suddenly remembered that he had just asked her a question.*
"Your horns are … Sorry, I mean ... the stairs are ... right over there, down the hallway, to the left. You can't miss it."
"Thank you." He said as he left Ajana behind. She nearly walked into a wall, as she tried to continue walking but was yet unable to take her eyes of the dragon. Beet red, she continued on, until she ran into Zzyzx and Aohd in the kitchen area.
“Do you guys know anything about that tall, dark, and handsome dragon that was in the hallway just now?”
“Yeah, that's Rynac. He's going to be our resident handyman.”
“Ah, I see.” said Ajana as she walked off. The two birds continued to talk about the fryer when Ajana suddenly appeared with an ax.
“Is there anything you guys don't mind me breaking? Temporary at least?” She said with a smile as she waved the ax back and forth. Zzyzx and Aohd were speechless at her comment.