Ralph made his way to the building at a steady determined pace. He seemed very aware of the doll in his pocket. He couldn’t quite explain why this silly rag thing could seem so menacing at times. It was only a doll. He was almost sure that they’d be disappointed once he delivered it. But it was a job he got hired to do, so there was no point thinking about how valuable or not the doll might be.
He stopped in front of the police station, looking over his shoulder casually. Mission complete. Almost.
At the very least, he had some extra scoop in case they didn’t think the doll was enough. And photos.
It should do, he nodded to himself.
He entered the building, joining the queue of civilians there to report petty thefts. He shook his head. Like there was much going on in Newcrest in that aspect. So far, anyway.
He spotted a familiar face right in front of him and chuckled to himself.
“Hey there, Beavis,” he greeted Marvin jokingly. “Or was it Butthead? I can never remember…”
“Ralph,” Marvin gritted through his teeth. “What are you doing here? Got in trouble with the law? Wouldn’t be surprised.”
“I assure you I have a pretty good reason for being here. Better than you, I bet.” Ralph turned his attention to the receptionist. “Pleasure to see you, as always, Becky.”
“Hey, I wasn’t done reporting the crime I saw,” Marvin interrupted.
“Oh come on, I’m sure the police officers have more important things to do than track down whoever egged your house, Marvin…”
Marvin grew crimson and stormed out.
“Nice seeing you,” Ralph called after him. The receptionist giggled.
“Wait, did his house actually get egged?” Ralph asked Becky. “I was just kidding…”
“Looks like you hit a nerve… or two,” Becky laughed.
“Oh well,” Ralph shrugged. “I’m here to see the chief.”
“I’ll let him know,” Becky nodded. “You want to sit down until he’s ready for you, Ralph?”
“Oh I think he’s ready for me now,” Ralph gave her a charming smile and walked right inside the office area.
“Hey!” She yelled after him. “You’ve got to follow the rules…”
“That’s not how I got this job,” Ralph laughed, disregarding her.
“Fantastic work Ralph,” the chief praised him after Ralph finished recounting the events of the meeting at the barn. “You’ve gotten enough of their trust to gather all the information we needed, and what’s more, you’ve got evidence.” He nodded contently.
“I’ve got plenty of pictures of the place too,” Ralph told him. “Should be able to draw out a map of the place.”
“Perfect.” The chief smiled. “I assume you’ve brought the doll?”
“This thing?” Ralph pulled the doll out and shook his head. “I’m not too sure why the guy made such a big deal out of it, to be honest. I mean, it did a weird thing when I first got it, but other than that… it’s just a doll, right?”
The chief was looking at the doll with intrigue Ralph didn’t seem to share.
“There might be some worthwhile stuff in the attic there, though,” Ralph continued. “So even if this is not exactly what you’re after, it might not be a complete waste of time…”
“A waste of time?” The chief laughed. “Ralph, we’ve been trying to the voodoo doll smuggling gang for ages! We’ve been onto them here in Newcrest for a while, but couldn’t find the Willow Creek source.”
“Voodoo, huh? Is that what this thing is?” Ralph raised an eyebrow. “But it seems so… harmless.”
“I assure you it’s not. And we can finally bust the operation, because of your efforts.” The chief smiled.
“Just doing my bit,” Ralph shrugged.
“Don’t be so modest,” the chief scolded him. “Thanks to you, Newcrest will remain the safe place its founders have intended it to be. Your family must be proud.”
“My family?” Ralph sounded perplexed.
“Don’t play stupid, I’ve heard you’ve gotten engaged,” the chief smiled. “You’re practically a Bloomer now. Your fiancé must be thrilled you’re following in her ancestors’ footsteps. Saving the town much like Isaac Bloomer once did.”
“Oh yeah, that… um yeah, definitely… thrilled.” Ralph said evasively.
“You should be proud of yourself too, of course,” the chief reiterated.
“Absolutely,” Ralph agreed distractedly. “So, about my reward…”
“Lottie! I’ve got a huge surprise for you!” Ralph slammed the door open as he barged in.
Carly didn’t even have a chance to put down the book she was reading; he picked her up and twirled her around the room in a goofy dance.
“Someone’s excited,” she giggled.
He planted a kiss on her lips. Carly forgot all about laughing. And her book. Every time…
“You should be excited too,” He told her when their lips finally parted.
“Should I now? Do tell!”
“Have you thought about our honeymoon yet?” Ralph asked conspicuously.
“Our honeymoon? We’ve barely started planning the wedding…”
“Well I’ve been thinking about it, and I’ve got something really awesome planned. It’s something you’ve always wanted to do…”
“You might be getting a bit carried away,” she chuckled. “I don’t think we can afford much more than a camping trip to Granite Falls. Which would be lovely, though,” she added. “They’re meant to have some interesting collectibles there!”
“Yeah, well I was thinking a bit bigger than that.” Ralph could barely contain himself. “Like, very rare collectibles. Somewhere you’ve always wanted to explore…”
“Don’t tease Ralph! You know we won’t get to visit a proper archeological dig for years!” Carly sighed. “One day though… pyramids and excavations and…”
She stopped herself. “See what you’ve done to me! I’m already getting excited about something that’s way out of reach. You’re so mean!” She laughed.
“Weeell… what if I told you I got us flights to Al Simhara?”
Carly’s jaw dropped. “No blooming way!”
“Yes plumming way!” Ralph looked very pleased with himself. “A whole week away, exploring the sights.”
“Oh my plumbob! I can’t believe it! Oooh we have to plan it all out! Aaah! I’ve got to make a list of everything we need to see! Holy cowplant…”
Ralph smiled to himself. She was so adorable when she was excited. He stood up, letting her start planning obsessively.
“Hang on a second…” Carly stopped him.
“How could you possibly afford that?” Carly’s face grew serious.
Llamaheads, Ralph thought.
“Oh come on Lottie, is that really what you want to focus on?” He said lightly. “But what about the pyramids, and excavations, and more importantly, all the planning?” He laughed.
“Stop trying to distract me,” Carly grew annoyed. “I’m not a child, you know.”
“Sheesh, relax… I was just pointing out that you got excited for about three seconds and then switched straight to assuming the worst…”
“I wouldn’t assume the worst if you just told me how you got the money,” She wrinkled her nose. “What am I supposed to think when you’re avoiding the subject? How could you afford to buy those flights and the engagement ring? I know you don’t earn that kind of money fixing sinks and crafting furniture…”
“It’s all ok, Lottie, honest. I just got lucky with a customer, that’s all. Did this really big one off custom job. One of a kind. Something they thought only I could do. So they paid me pretty well.”
“Like a posh chair?”
“Something like that…”
Carly eyed him up and down. She didn’t believe him one bit. “And you didn’t even show me this custom piece? How stupid do you think I am?”
“Yeah, well, I got kind of swept away in it. And to be fair, it didn’t feel that different to me, you know. Not much more special than making your average stool. It wasn’t all that complex, just time consuming.”
“Hmm… and they paid you that much?”
“Ok, I haven’ told you the whole truth,” Ralph admitted. “Basically, what happened is I got hired to do pretty much the same job by two parties, so it was almost like a bidding war of sorts. I guess in a way I got paid for the same thing twice…”
“I’m not proud of it. Ok, that’s a lie. I kind of am.” He chuckled. “But I don’t really think I’ll be doing anything like this again. It almost got out of hand. And that wouldn’t be worth it. I just… I really wanted to get you the honeymoon of your dreams, you know?”
Carly couldn’t help but smile. “Well, I guess as long as you’ve learnt your lesson…” She gave in. “So who got the chair in the end?”
“Well, for the record I think you’d be happy with that,” Ralph said pensively. “It was the nicer customer.”
“At least that’s something,” she shook her head. “The good guys won.”
“Precisely.” Ralph grinned. “You know, you really do need to lighten up though. I mean, who’se going to get all excited about making lists and packing for the Al Simhara trip, hm?”
Carly squealed and giggled under Ralph’s sudden tickle attack.
“Do you promise to be more excited and worry less from now on?” He teased.
“Ralph! Stop it!” Carly pleaded. “Fine, you got me!”
They both laughed happily.
“Under one condition though, ok?” She added when he finally stopped tickling her.
“Hey, we didn’t agree on that!” Ralph pointed out. “But I’m listening, out of the sheer kindness of my heart.”
“Do you promise to stop holding stuff back from me from now on?” Carly asked. “Since we’re getting married and all…”
“Ok then,” he said begrudgingly. “I promise. From now on, that is,” he added with a smirk.
Carly just shook her head, beaming.