The Mercury Mitten Mystery
Leonard didn’t notice his roommate entering the kitchen as he started unloading the evening’s take-out.
“Sheldon, the food’s here!”
“No need to shout,” Sheldon said bluntly.
Leonard jumped. “Oh.”
“Did you remember to ask for the chicken to be diced not shredded?” Sheldon demanded.
Leonard removed the container with Sheldon’s chicken from the bag. “Yes.”
“Even though the menu description specifies shredded?"
“Brown rice, not white?”
“Yes.” Leonard removed a container with the rice from the bag.
“Did you stop at the green grocery and get the good hot mustard?”
Leonard pulled a mustard bottle from another bag. “Yes.”
“Did you pick up the low-sodium soy sauce from the market?”
“Yes,” Leonard answered, pulling another bottle from the bag.
“Good,” Sheldon said with just a hint of satisfaction in his voice.
After a quick knock at the door, their neighbor Penny poked her head into the room. “Hey guys.”
Leonard waved. “Hey, Penny. Come on in.”
Penny eyed the room. “Are Mr. and Mrs. Wolowitz here?”
Leonard smiled. The loan humorous part of his mother’s last visit was her observation that his friends Raj and Howard had created for themselves an “ersatz marriage.” Leonard thought Penny would enjoy that bit of information, but not nearly as much as she seemed to be enjoying it. “It’s safe. Howard called earlier and said he and Raj had something going on and that they’d be a little late. He was really excited; must be something important.”
“Great,” Penny said, entering the apartment and joining Leonard in the kitchen.
“I thought you said you were working the late shift, so I didn’t get you your usual,” Leonard told her as he set out a plate of dumplings.
“That’s okay, I ate at work,” Penny said, snatching a dumpling off the plate and stuffing it in her mouth.
Sheldon flashed his gaze from the three dumplings on the plate to Leonard. “Why did you have to say ‘Hello` to her the day she moved in?”
Leonard held up a hand then placed it in the bag to pull out another dumpling. “I was thinking ahead, just in case,” he said with a proud smile.
“And what if Penny hadn’t come over? You would have had one extra dumpling.”
Leonard shook his head and sighed.
“Listen, I have great news,” Penny announced after swallowing the dumpling she stole.
“Really? What kind?”
Penny held up her hands to the boys. “But first, can you keep a secret?”
Leonard tilted his head. “Sure. What kind of secret?
Penny eyed Sheldon, who usually had issues with keeping secrets. “Sheldon?”
Sheldon looked up from his chicken and rice. “What are the parameters of this secret? Who am I keeping it from?”
“Howard, and probably Raj since they’re so close.”
Sheldon pursed his lips. “Why do I have to keep this secret from Howard?”
“For his safety and my sanity,” Penny explained.
Sheldon took a moment to think. “Since the requirements for me to keep this secret involve the physical and mental well-being of two of my friends, I may be able to keep your secret,” he said before returning his attention to his food.
Penny sighed. “Close enough.”
“So, what’s this big secret you want us to keep from Howard?” Leonard asked.
“I have an acting job.”
“Congratulations,” Leonard smiled.
Penny shrugged. “Well, it’s more like a modeling job, but I have lines and the best part is I’m getting paid $500 a day for four days work.”
“Wow! Good for you! What’s it for?”
“I am working at the Mercury Mitten booth at next month’s Pasadena Annual Comic Con as a real-life model representing their multi-ethnic Princess Leia dolls,” she announced, a big grin coming across her face, expecting the boys to be impressed.
Leonard restrained his excitement. “Episode Four Princess Leia or Episode Six Slave Princess Leia?” he inquired, trying to hold back his hope that she was---.
“Slave Leia,” Penny said. “Gold bikini, velvet loin-cloth, intergalactic hooker-boots, the works.”
“Wow! Congratulations,” Leonard said, releasing his excitement the best he could without making a scene.
“I’m sorry Penny,” Sheldon interrupted, “but the jerba-hide boots that Princess Leia wore during her enslavement to Jabba the Hutt were more appropriate for casual dress than for prostitutes trying to impress clients in the G-F-F-A universe.” He returned his attention to his food before saying more. “And the veils, or what you so inaccurately call loin-cloth, are made out of lashaa-silk, not velvet.”
“Yeah, whatever, the outfit is provided and I look fantastic in it.”
“Will they be providing you with a black wig, or are you dying your hair?”
Penny held up a finger. “Mercury Mitten’s dolls are for girls of all ethnicities. There is an African-American Princess Leia, an Asian-American Princess Leia, and I will be playing the part of the Nordic-blonde Princess Leia.”
“Oh, yeah, I think my sister sent me an email about those,” Leonard nodded.
“Yes, and you forwarded it to me,” Sheldon pointed out. “That was strike two against you, Leonard.”
“Anyway, can I count on you guys to keep this a secret from Howard?” Penny asked.
“I don’t see any harm in holding this information back from Wolowitz,” Sheldon said. “I agree.”
“Same here,” Leonard said. “He’s such a big fan of slave-Leia that I’m not sure he could handle you in a Princess Leia outfit anyways. Like you said, it’s for Howard’s safety,” he added, Sheldon nodding in agreement.
Then the door burst open and Howard and Raj rushed into the room. “Gentlemen, we are now members of the pack,” an excited Howard announced. “I hold in my hands four four-day VIP passes to the Pasadena Annual Comic Con that include priority positions at the front of autograph lines, discounts at the food vendors, front row seats at all of the panels, and my favorite, personal photo opportunities with the Princess Leia models at the Mercury Mitten booth,” he finished with a huge grin on his face.
“Crap. $2000 down the friggin’ drain,” Penny said, stomping out of the apartment and slamming the door behind her.
Our whole universe was in a hot, dense state…