The guests at the Ratchet house are positively giddy. "I can't believe I'm going to meet Barbie. The Barbie. It's so exciting I can hardly breath. I mean, she's my idol. When it came to picking a career, it was really hard to choose between becoming a low paid police officer, risking my life on a daily basis and having to watch for luggies in my fastfood burgers, or a famous fashion model, living in a penthouse and dating fabulously wealthy men. Sometimes I wonder if I made the right choice."

Young and old, of both sexes, have gathered for a glimpse of their idol. They have been patient too long. Someone cries, "We want Barbie." And then they are all chanting it: "We want Barbie. We want Barbie."

All, of course, except Margaret, who pensively observes her fellow Plasticopians from her corner. Margaret is one of those hard-bitten cynics that spring up like weeds even among plastic people. She and her kind do not appreciate Barbie. They are totally unable to comprehend the magic of wearing an expensive pair of high heels, the price of which would feed three hundred starving children for a year in the deep dark depths of Aphrica. What is it they do not get?

Meanwhile, the increasing nosie of the crowd has penetrated into the kitchen, where Betty Ratchet and Barbie have been chewing the fat.

Barbie leaps to her feet, her eyes wide in terror. "It's a mob! They've come to lynch me."

"Well, let's not over-react," Betty says. "The last mob in my house only wanted to burn down the place. Of course, once Henry turned down the bass on his stereo, they were much more rational."

"Hey, Mom. There's a few people out here who want to meet Barbie. Do you think she would mind?"

"Honey, why don't you ask her yourself?"

"Um...do you think you could have your people talk to mine?"

Mitzi, Sharon and Ken have arrived at the Ratchets doorstep, in response to Mabel's frantic call. Mitzi peeks inside. "OMG, the place is packed."

"Do you see Barbie?"

"Not at all. Looks like half the town is here, though."

"Any bad guys?"

"I don't see any guns. There's Jeff, though and...and Randi. What is Randi doing here?"

At sight of her little daughter, Mitzi instinctively yanks open the door....

and finds herself pressed against the crush of bodies.

She tries to get the attention of her daughter or brother-in-law. "Randi, Randi! Jeff!"

But she cannot make herself heard over the chatter and chant of the crowd, "We want Barbie, We want Barbie!"

Just at that moment a light snaps on in the little hallway ahead and Betty Ratchet appears in the doorway. "Listen up, everyone. Barbie is here, and you're all going to get a chance to meet her. But you need to calm down. She's a bit para...shy."

"Okay, I'm going to do this, but if anything should happen to me, I want you to give my high heel collection to those shoeless people you see on the news in some Third World Country. I've always felt so sorry for them. You know, the only thing I truly regret is that I never knew my mother..."

Mitzi, attempting to squeeze through the crowd, happens to glance to one side. She gasps. Isn't that a gun holster? OMG, OMG, he's got a gun! There really are bad guys after Barbie!

Mitzi can hardly breath. Her beloved little daughter is between the hit man and Barbie, right in the line of fire. Her thoughts spin in her little brain. 'What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?"

While she ponders, Barbie has mounted a box in the doorway and is introduced by Betty. "And now I present to you the one and only, the original, the best known and most mimicked 11-and -1/2 inch model in the world."

No one would accuse Mitzi of being the common ordinary hero type, but plastic mothers often are inspired to courageous endeavors to protect their young. She pushes aside startled guests. "Out of the way! He's got a gun!"

Without further thought, and no concern for her own safety, she lunges at the gunman. If she can just knock him off balance before he has a chance to draw his pistol!

The assassin attempts to pull away from her, but she holds on tightly to his arm. "Help! Help! Don't let him get to his gun!"

Ken comes to the rescue. "Try to harm my Barbie, will you? Not while there's a breath in my body!"

Ken, as old as he is, would probably be no match for the gunman in ordinary circumstances; but the thought of harm to Barbie has given him an unusual ferocity--that, combined with the unexpectedness of his attack, has given him the advantage as he wrestles his opponent to the ground.

By now, the attention in the room has turned away from Barbie to the scuffle on the floor.

Some have backed away, but some of those nearby have come to Ken's assistance, while Mitzi has collapsed onto the steps.

Gramma McBitty has instinctively shielded her granddaughter with her own body.

Sharon comforts Mitzi, who--after her burst of bravado--is in shock.

Barbie's heart catches in her throat. Is that her Ken, her own shining knight in boring tweed, come to her rescue?

Betty lets out a long breath. 'Wow. I guess just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.'

While one of the fellows holds the gunman's hands behind his back, another strips off his hat. "Turn him over, let's get a look at this dirtbag."

"Now there's a familiar face."


to be continued.....

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