Lorelai walked into the kitchen to find Sookie pacing, her face contorted in thought.
"You okay there, Sookie?"
"Lorelai! Thank God." Sookie pulled her over to the counter. "I gotta talk this out with you. Someone's got to have an idea around here. No offense!" She shouted out to the crew, who all kept their heads down.
"What's the problem, hon?"
"Fruitcake. Fruitcake is the problem."
"Well, that'd be a first," Lorelai muttered.
"It's like ... it's the Gordian knot of cooking. It's a formula, it's a pattern, a series of steps, and you can't mess with any of those steps without unraveling the whole dadblamed thing!" Sookie’s hands flew to illustrate unraveling, and Lorelai flinched in spite of herself.
"Okay. So ... what does any of that mean?"
"That means it's Christmas, and I have to work up some of my magic! I've got to do something special for the season - everyone's expecting it.”
“So … egg nog?”
“Already done it.”
“Christmas ham, Christmas turkey, Christmas cookies, pfeffernusse…”
“I needed something new. I decided this year that it was going to be fruitcake..."
Michel poked his head into the kitchen. "Lorelai, line three is for you."
"Okay. Hold that thought." She picked the phone. "Hello?"
"Is he there yet?"
"Is who there what?"
"The guy! The guy who bodysnatched
"No, I can't say I've seen any bodysnatchers around here. But hey, I'm in the kitchen, so I can check for pods while I'm here."
"Look, toots, I’m standin’ outside Luke’s. He left here about ten minutes ago, headed your way. Whatever you do, don't let your guard down, okay?" And click - she was gone.
Michel appeared again. "Now line two. And I have four messages for you when you're finished with zis one."
"Are they all about the ... what’s his face?"
He flipped through the messages. "Six blocks away ... just passed here ... don’t say I did not warn you … batten down ze hatches..."
"Okay. Look, hold my calls. Unless it's a supplier or ... someone who's not crazy."
"I will do my best, but you and I will differ on who fits your second criteria," Michel cooed.
"Go!" She pushed him toward the desk. She turned to Sookie. "I don't know what I can do here. You need ideas?"
"Yes! Inspiration, ideas, a miracle..."
"I haven't heard about Smokey Robinson booking a room this weekend, so you're stuck with me. Let's start at the beginning. What goes into your normal fruitcake? And I know that normal doesn't really apply here, but just for the sake of argument."
"Well, it's just your basic dense cake, soaked with brandy..."
"Can't go wrong there."
"And then there's the fruit."
"Well, your standard candied fruit, also soaked in brandy…”
“Well, why mess with a good thing?”
“Dates, walnuts, raisins…”
Sookie nodded. “Oh, and the maraschino cherries.”
“They’re all over. Red and green.”
“Wait, stop,” Lorelai said, puzzled. “Those green things are cherries?”
Sookie looked up. “What else would they be?”
“Well, I don’t know. Pistachios?”
“Well, maybe. So what I’m trying to do is come up with a new fruit cake. Fruit cake remix!”
“Okay, so what have you got?”
Sookie’s hands tried to show excitement. “Tropical.”
“Oh.” Lorelai’s face couldn’t hide her alarm.
“And maybe topped with toasted coconut?”
Michel burst in. “Lorelai, I can’t put zem off anymore. Every line is people calling about ze man of mystery. He’s approaching, he’s coming zis way, he has a machete strapped to his back…”
“I may have misheard that one. But we’re under siege. Lorelai, who is zis man? What does he want? Why are you getting field reports like we are CTU and Jack Bauer is missing in the desert?”
“He’s … look, I don’t know who he is. All I know is that Taylor has suddenly disappeared – and I don’t mean he’s hiding, I mean he went poof, vanished, disappeared in a cloud of smoke and no one heard him going hi ho silver. He’s gone, this guy’s here. Luke says his name is Sawyer, but is that his first name, his last name, his secret service code name? No idea. No one knows anything about him.”
“Oh, Mrs. Kim says he’s a generous tipper.”
“Well, kudos to him, but that still tells us nothing,” Michel sneered.
“Ooh, I’ve got a plan!” Sookie burst in.
“Does it involve coconut?”
“Well, not unless you’re feeling naughty…”
Lorelai glared at Sookie. “You’re not going to even say it …”
“Well, if anyone’s going to seduce him, you’ve got the moves, sister!”
“Aw, come on now...”
“Seriously! This guy might be a threat to the town. The state. Our … whole way of life! You’d be doing a service for your country. Plus, Miss Patty says the guy smolders.” She put her hand to her chest and repeated, “Smolders.”
“Why do you assume I’d just throw myself at someone like that?”
“Well, I don’t know if you would, but I might if I were available. Could be fun.”
Lorelai’s jaw unhinged. “Um, hello. Not exactly Mata Hari here. How did I become available? Christopher and I …”
“Lorelai, come on. Christopher is a rebound. The chances of you and Chris becoming a real item is about the same as me winning the lottery.”
Outside, a bell dinged. “Hey, anyone back there?” called a drawly voice.
“Okay. Here’s the plan. I’m not seducing anyone. Michel, see what he wants.”
“What if he wants to slit my throat and drink my blood like a fiend of the night?”
“I doubt very much that is going to happen. He’s new in town, probably needs a room for the night. But stall him – get whatever info you can, where he’s from, why he’s in town, anything.”
“Perfect. I will be your shield. When you hear the blood-curdling shrieks, you can take that as a sign things are not going as planned.”
“Michel, please … just see what you can do. Thanks.”
The man was inspecting the lobby. Running his calloused fingers over the books, touching the drapes and the tables, and now he was sitting down in the best leather chair, looking like he’d rather be on the back of a Harley. His clothing was midway between ‘rebel” and “young college professor who still wants to be a student” – tight blue jeans, clean cowboy boots, and a tan suede jacket that was thankfully bare of fringe or “ZZ Top” buttons. He was handsome, Michel had to admit, in a shaggy, rakish, bad-boy way.
Michel waited at the desk for a moment before he delicately cleared his throat. The man spun, and Michel saw for the first time that he wore spectacles.
“Welcome to the Dragonfly Inn. How can I help you?” You murdering fiend.
“Well, hey there yourself. Say, what kind of a joint you running here, Pepe?”
That took Michel by surprise. “Pepe? I have not heard that before.”
“Oh, pardon me,” he said. A tiny smile appeared at the corner of his mouth. “Pepe’s just … one of those, what is it, terms of endearment. It’s a Southern thing.”
“And what does it mean?”
“Oh, I’ve never really known, it’s just one of those friendly things you call someone from
“Ah. So you are from the south?”
“Oh, no, no,” said Michel, and he flushed a little. “So … how long will you be staying with us?”
“Oh, not sure. All depends on whether I find what I’m looking for.” He laid a black Visa card down on the desk with the single word "Hanso" emblazoned in green across the top.
Michel was beaming, which was so rare as to be shocking. “He’s not a fiend of the night.”
“Well, your head is still attached to your torso, so that was reassuring,” said Lorelai.
“He doesn’t know why he’s here. He’s not a killer or a spy. He spent some time on an island, and he says he’s looking for something but he doesn’t know what it is. He will know when he finds it. He’s in 215.”
“So, what, he’s on some kind of spiritual quest?”
“it appears that way, yes.”
“Why are you all lit up?” Sookie asked, and finger-circled his face.
“He just … he called me Pepe.”
Lorelai nearly spat out the coffee she had just lifted to her mouth.
“Yes. It was quaint. He said it was a Southern expression, a term of endearment.”
Sookie and Lorelai traded glances. Then they began snickering, but tried heroically to stop.
“What? What are you not telling me?”
Lorelai composed herself. “Michel, watch a lot of cartoons growing up?”
“We watched ‘The Adventures of Tintin.’ That was the only one. We never watched those repulsive American cartoons, Punch and Jerry and the rest of them.”
“Bugs Bunny ring a bell?”
Sookie offered, “Elmer Fudd?”
Michel’s eyes grew wide. “Who is this Pepe LePew?”
“Where is the guy now?” Lorelai asked cautiously.
“He went up to his room,” Michel said, his voice a bit tighter. “Who is LePew?”
“He’s a ... skunk. He was a little cartoon skunk who spoke with a French accent.”
Michel’s face tightened, blanched, reddened, and then changed an even deeper color.
Sookie added, “He wore this little beret…”
“Where are your knives?” Michel, tight-lipped, asked Sookie.
He spied a santoku knife lying on a butcher block, and lunged for it.
It took both Lorelai and Sookie to restrain him.