a story by
(c) 1998 by Chris Yost. All rights to story content reserved. Characters Sabrina the Skunkette, Amy the Squirrel, and Tammy Vixen (c) Eric W. Schwartz. Character Roxikat (c) John Barrett. Character Thomas Woolfe (c) Michael Higgs. Characters Chris Foxx, Susan Felin, Cindy Lapine, Amy Squirrel, Clarence Skunk, Dexter Collie, and Wendy Vixxen (c) Chris Yost. All rights to additional characters reserved by their respective owners. Story based on characters and situations created by Eric W. Schwartz. Windows95 (TM) Microsoft Corp. Amiga (TM) Gateway Computers.
"I'm dead," Chris kept repeating quietly as they walked toward the elevator. "I'm dead, I'm dead, I'm dead, I'm dead ... "
Dexter smacked him in the belly and pushed the down button. "Will you stop it! You're not dead. Nothing's changed."
"Everything's changed!" Chris kept shaking his head, hoping no one else on the floor was watching. "Where the heck did she come from? Why here? Why now, for God's sake?"
"Chris, remember when I used the word 'idiot' downstairs?" The door opened and they stepped on; Chris looked at Dexter and pushed the button for the lower level. "Let's not forget you're very close to being engaged right now. And to a wonderful girl."
"Yeah ... " Chris started to drift. "But she hasn't changed a bit, Dex. Those legs, that body, those ... "
Dexter pulled Chris' cupped hands down from his chest as the elevator car slowed. "Okay, but how does she compare to Sabrina, hmm?"
The doors open. Chris looked up. "She doesn't. No one does."
"Just remember that." Dexter punctuated each word by tapping his black-and-white-pawed finger into Chris' shoulder.
They walked over and picked up two cartons containing two new personal computers. "She and I were an item in college, y'know."
"You told me. Right before she left you and never wrote."
Chris sighed and nodded. "I feel like an ass, Dex. She wants to have lunch, what do I tell her?"
Dexter stretched a finger and pressed the 'up' button. Someone was using the elevator, so they waited. He rolled his eyes, looked at Chris, and said "Do I have to spoon-feed you? You and Sabrina think each other hung the moon. You tell Wendy 'I'm seeing someone', how hard is that?!"
"It's not a question of being hard to say, it's how to say it. You saw her eyes, and I didn't see a wedding band on her finger. I can almost smell trouble."
Ding! The double door slid open and they walked inside. "And I get to train her in Windows 95," Chris finished.
He set the PC down, and leaned on it, pressing the first floor button. "Double whammy," Dexter kidded. "Well, worst case scenario, you can always arrange a threesome."
Chris' jaw dropped open. "Dex! And you a married man!"
"Married, but not dead." Chris laughed out loud and picked up his PC as the doors opened and they walked out.
Chris stopped Dexter. "You know anything about those?"
Dexter kicked Chris in the ankle.
"Oh, no!" Sabrina corrected. "I'm on an unpaid infinite vacation. Can you believe it, and when I thought I was doing a good job for them!"
Chris leaned forward in his chair, untangling his foot from the power cord to the PC he was setting up in his cubicle. "What was their reasoning?" he asked.
Sabrina coughed the way people do when their doctors check them for hernias. "They said they 'automated' my position. I think they found out someone makes clip art packages; why else would they fire an artist? sigh Oh well, it was an exciting month, anyway."
"They didn't even let you stay long enough for a severance package." Chris sighed, but quietly he smiled and told himself 'Yes!'. Then, "Anything I can do?"
"Well ... " Sabrina leaned back, "I'm home alone, I took my final in Classic Lit, Amy's at work, Thomas is in class, and I'm on the couch talking to my lover without a single thing on."
Sabrina yanked the phone away from her ear when she heard the receiver bounce off of the desktop onto the floor.
Chris reeled in his receiver and looked behind him, dead sure everyone heard her. "Boy, you're really easing into this unemployment thing," he said.
"It's temporar -- hold on one second."
Chris heard some background sounds, then Sabrina returned. "Sorry, I had to close the blinds. "There's some rabbit on the roof across the street with a pair of binoculars. I don't think he's looking at stars this time of the morning!"
Chris combed the fur back down on his neck.
"He looks harmless." She giggled. "Not jealous, are you?"
"Me?! Ay-yup! You better believe it, girl!"
Sabrina was smiling big now. She angled herself on the couch. "You've sure made my morning so far."
"Just part of my boyfriend job, Kitten."
Sabrina let her hand glide southward.
"Maybe I can help train you for a new job," Chris suggested. "Here, repeat after me: Do you."
"'With -- ' ... Hey!"
"Okay, now: "Why didn't."
Sabrina sighed. "'Why didn't'"
"You tell me."
"'You tell me.'"
"You had coupons."
"You're lucky I love you," Sabrina reminded Chris.
"Yup, I am." Dexter stuck his nose is Chris' cubicle and tapped him on the shoulder. Chris looked backward, and put a finger up in the air. "Dexter needs me, Sabrina. I'll call you back as soon as I can, okay?"
"Okay, but write this number down first. If you try to call me at home tonight, I won't be there. I'm babysitting at my parents house."
Chris wrote the number down on a Post-It note. "Got it, Honeybunch."
Sabrina made a sudden gasp, making Chris grin; he knew what she was up to. "Talk to you later then. I love you."
"I love you, Kitten. Bye-bye."
Chris hung the phone up. "Hey, Dex, wazzup?"
"Lunchtime," Dexter told him. "And your lunch date is waiting outside."
Oh, nuts! Chris turned back to his PC and launched a solitaire game. "Uh, tell her I'm busy, lots of computer work, busy busy busy."
Dexter put his paws on top of Chris' chair and pulled it back on its wheels. "C'mon, you've got a commitment to honor."
Chris hit his hand on the desk. "Ah, don't tell me about commitments ... !"
Dexter spun his chair around and leaned in with one hand on the desktop. "You've got a commitment to her, and you above anybody knows you're supposed to honor it. Especially to a lady!" Then, "Tell her you're unavailable! You know she'll understand!"
Chris sighed. "I just don't want to disappoint her, Dex."
"You can't monitor everyone's feelings." Dexter stepped back and pulled Chris from his chair. "Scoot."
Opening his overhead compartment, Chris took out his lunch and walked toward the door. Through the glass he saw Wendy standing with her back against the corridor wall, holding her lunch bag in both hands in front of her. He saw her smile when he came into view. Chris, don't screw this up! He opened the door and smiled.
"Hi!" Wendy stood up. She was every bit as pretty as Chris had remembered her. "I was hoping you could walk me to lunch."
"Sure." He gently placed a paw on Wendy's back and guided her the nine steps to the door of the "Bistro", across the hall from the main lunchroom where the vending machines, kitchenette, television, and 9/10 of the employees ate and talked. This was slightly smaller, with only a microwave oven, and had red and white checked tablecloths and windows on one wall.
A few others were already there. Chris held Wendy's chair for her as she sat. "Still the gentleman," she said, smiling warmly at him.
Her smile sent an uneasy shiver through Chris, and he took the seat across the table.
"This is so wild!" Wendy said, taking out her salad and fruit juice. "I had no idea you worked here!"
"Almost directly out of college. It's a great company, they really take care of us."
Chris took a bite out of his sandwich, Wendy looked and wrinkled her nose. "You still eat that stuff, huh?"
"Braunschweiger? I never leave home without it."
"Yuch." And conversation was light and pleasant for almost the full half-hour lunch break. Then ...
"So, you're still single, I see."
Chris felt his cola go down his throat in a lump.
"Or have you become one of those married men who doesn't wear a wedding ring?"
"No," Chris smiled, "I'm still single, so far."
Wendy blinked. "'So far'?"
Chris nodded. "Uh-huh. I've been seeing someone regularly for a while."
"That's great!" Wendy lied, touching the top of Chris' paw. "Does she work here? Is she local?"
"No, to both," Chris told her. "She lives in Ohio, a little over four hours drive from here."
"Oh my! How did you meet her?"
"On the Internet. We hit it off right away, and we've been steadies since. She's bright, beautiful, as close to my college sweetheart as I could get."
Wendy smiled her best; it was all charm, but she felt good hearing it. "What's her name?"
Chris found himself grinning, uncontrollably. "Sabrina."
"Do you have a picture of her?"
That surprised Chris. "Uh, yes. I do." He slid two fingers into his shirt pocket.
"You keep her picture next to your heart. That's so sweet."
"I haven't changed that much since college." Chris watched Wendy when he said that; her eyes widened slightly, remembering how Chris used to carry her picture in his shirt pocket back then, too. He took Sabrina's picture out and handed it to her.
"Oh Chris, she's pretty!"
"Thanks," Chris smiled.
Wendy appeared to be studying it. "She's very pretty ... !"
Chris raised an eyebrow. "Tha-anks." Wendy looked up from Sabrina's picture, raised an eyebrow of her own, and tilted the picture so Chris could take it back.
Wendy folded her arms on the table. "Think I could meet her sometime?"
Chris looked at Sabrina before sliding the picture back in his pocket. "That might be arranged." He looked at his watch. "We're late. We'd better be heading back."
They gathered up their trash and threw it away. They were the last ones to leave the Bistro. "Can I ask one question?" Wendy asked Chris.
Wendy turned to face Chris, lowering her head before looking up. "If, erm, anything would ever happen between you two, would you come and see me?"
Chris smiled and squeezed Wendy's shoulder. "In a heartbeat."
It's sooooooooooooo nice to know that'll never happen!
"Thanks." Wendy gave Chris a peck on his cheek. "I really did miss you, you know." She turned, and Chris followed her out, patting his shirt pocket.