Wesley decided to take his time with this one, and set aside the day to talk to this PePe Ocean, one of the numerous former associates of the Muppet Theater that had ended up with some measure of involvement with the late, unlamented Kent Lanomer. Pepe of the obviously assumed last name had participated in a few advertisements for the LA zoo and aquarium, a couple small pet stores, and now had a job at a small aquatic research center.
He held an undeniable resemblance to Cordelia's picture that had made its way onto their card. It was almost frightening.
The aquariums gave everything a bluish cast, and it was somewhere between relaxing and eerie to watch the various fish, eels, rays and sharks gliding through the waters. There were no prophecies or visions. No demonic attacks. No dreadful spells and manipulations, no ghastly potions. Wonderful.
PePe was over there, cleaning the bottom of one of the enormous tanks. Whatever PePe was, he looked quite at home in the water. Fish circled around him, darting away from the tube that he was guiding.
Wesley wouldn't have been the least bit surprised had PePe turned and snapped one of the fish into his mouth.
There were quite a few people who seemed to be as fascinated by PePe as they were with the fish and the sharks.
Wesley was quite content to let himself relax and simply watch the assorted sea life. A day without prophecies, hostile demons, or potentially deadly fights... He couldn't recall the last day he'd had without some sort of danger or impending doom.
"You've been staring at me for the last few hours," the voice held an accent that Wesley couldn't place.
Wesley nodded, feeling a bit guilty that he'd been caught out like that. "Yes, I umm... got a bit lost in thought. You are one of the associates of Kermit and Miss Piggy?"
"Yeah," PePe nodded, his face twisting into a smile.
"Those were good days. If I hadn't been enjoying things here so much, I might have taken Scooter a bit more seriously when he said something a month back about reforming the theater. But acting isn't everything to me. Not like it is for Miss Piggy. A bit more dancing might be fun, but..." PePe let his words trail off as he shrugged.
Wesley decided not to ask about the dancing. Instead, he commented, "I didn't know they were talking about reforming the theater."
"Scooter called me, said he was just trying to make sure we had some options, you know? Some of us have had trouble getting jobs since it closed down, and we could only stay in one house for so long before we just had to get a bit more space."
"There was also something about Muppet Labs," Wesley hinted. "Did that have anything to do with the desire for more space?"
"I was afraid they'd blow up the house," PePe agreed. "They keep having to move their labs to stay ahead of the health department. Something about too many explosions, and Bunsen likes the nitroglycerin a bit too much."
Wesley made a noise as his mind boggled.
Attempting to regather his thoughts, Wesley tried to return to his original purpose in meeting with PePe. Hoping for an answer with sense, he asked, “Did you know a Mr. Kent Lanomer? He was an acting agent.”
“I’ve met him once or twice when I visited my friends,” PePe shrugged. “I know Kermit and Piggy used him, but neither one thought he was a nice guy. But then, there aren’t too many people who want to work with people like us. I don’t know how Kermit did it, before. But that was a theater, and not around here.”
“What changed?” Wesley had the nagging feeling that there was something important being touched on here, but he couldn’t quite see what it was or how it fit with the murder of Lanomer. Not yet, at least.
“I wasn’t there for the early part,” PePe began. “Most of the originals met up back in New York, along with a few other people who weren’t part of the theater. Kermit noticed that there were plenty of talented people, and Fozzy really wanted to tell his jokes, so Kermit got Scooter to help found the Muppet Theater. Things apparently went pretty well, decent audiences, plenty of special guests, and a lot of fun. Then there a new city official decided the place didn’t meet some regulation or other and had the theater closed. They headed this way to make a musical, met more of us, and never went back.”
“I’m sure that you’ve left out all sort of details,” Wesley murmured. He was considering the history, as presented by PePe. “When did the Count come into things?”
“He’s an old friend of Kermit’s. Someone that Kermit knew before the theater came together, and I don’t think he was much for song and dance routines. He’s more into numbers and counting. Kermit may have had him doing the books, I don’t know.” PePe shrugged, unconcerned. “The Count never needed the money, and he said that Kermit was his favorite weather-frog.”
“What did Kermit have to say about the idea of reforming the theater?” Wesley asked, wondering just what all the frog had done.
“You know, Kermit’s never mentioned it,” PePe frowned. “I think the theater was more Piggy and Scooter’s big dream than Kermit’s.”
“What did Miss Piggy think about reforming the theater?” Wesley could feel the pieces coming together, though he couldn’t quite see the pattern yet.
“She’s always wanted to be a star, you know? The theater was supposed to be her big chance before, and here it’s more about screen acting. She might go for it, considering the lousy parts Lanomer found her. She’s talked a little about it, apparently Scooter asked her what she’d want in her dressing room,” PePe glanced at his wrist. “Hey, this has been something, but I have to be going.”
“Of course, thank you for your time,” Wesley said.
He was halfway back to his car before he wondered what Miss Piggy and Kermit would do about their careers now that their acting agent – apparently the only acting agent willing to work with a talking pig and frog – was killed. How many options did they have?
End King Prawn.