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, Angel 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.
"Okay Miss Squirrel, lean back slowly."
The gynecologist helped Amy lay slowly back and flat on the examination table. Thomas felt like the proverbial fifth wheel, watching and pacing in small circles, not knowing what to do with his hands … in short, nervous as anything.
"How's that?" the doctor asked.
"Hurts." As Amy was laying back and her body was stretching she felt the pain starting to work from her back around to her front again. The doctor positioned a cushioned bolster behind her so she wouldn't lay completely flat.
Thomas turned and watched Amy. She was panting with her mouth open, trying to get comfortable laying in this position. He walked up beside her and slid his hand in hers. "If it gets too bad, squeeze," he told her.
Thomas turned his head and his mouth formed a silent scream when Amy squeezed his fingers hard enough to compress them all into one good one. Soon she turned her head toward him and managed a smile. "I'm better now."
Turning his head back, Thomas looked down at her and forced his smile, running his thumb over the back of Amy's hand and gritting his teeth.
The doctor took each of Amy's ankles and placed her feet flat on the table, her knees in the air. He saw her wince, and he slid her feet further down.
"Did you know there's a draft in here?" Amy asked.
"That means your hospital gown's on right," he told her with a smile. He walked across the room and started wheeling a machine in her direction.
"Now Doctor, assure me of something," Amy said. "Please tell me you're going to do all this yourself; you're not going to just look me over and consult a computer to find out if anything's wrong with me?"
"No, Amy," he promised, "I'm old fashioned in that sense. I'll do it all myself: look down your ears, check your throat, hit your knee with the little hammer … "
" ... turn your head and cough," Thomas finished.
"Uh, Mr. Wolfe, we don't really do that to women. Keeps us out of courtrooms."
Amy turned her head toward Thomas. She smiled and gave his hand a gentler squeeze. "Silly man," she said quietly. Suddenly she felt a tiny commotion going on inside her belly. "Oh, she's really moving around down there!" she said excitedly. Thank God she's okay!!
Thomas perked his ears. "He is?" he said. "Great!"
Their doctor turned on the machine and laughed out loud. "Typical expectant parents," he said. He lifted Amy's gown and took away any modesty she might've had left. "The new babies love this," he said, turning on a cordless shaver.
Amy tried to watch over her tummy. "What's that you're doing?" Thomas asked.
"Just taking away a patch of fur for better contact," the doctor explained. He began shaving slightly above her navel. "You may want to avoid wearing any mid-riffs for the next week of two."
"Yeah, right!" Amy laughed. Then her laugh became more surprised. "The baby feels different now," she said, amazed at how differently it was moving.
"Something about the vibration of the clippers," he said. "They seem to love it." Cleaning away the leftover hairs from his patient, he got a couple of small discs attached to a large belt and fastened the belt around Amy, resting the pads on the area he shaved. "Now, if we watch the screen," he said, "we should be able to see your baby."
Thomas moved closer to Amy, both of them excited. "Oh, please don't tell us what it's going to be!" Amy said. "We want to be surprised!"
Thomas looked down at Amy. "We do?" he asked.
Amy looked back. "Yes Thomas, we do!"
Thomas shrugged and they looked back at the screen. Something black against grey had formed. "Uh, doc, is it warmed up and focused and everything?" he asked.
"Oh yeah." He pointed out features on the screen. "See? This dot here is the eye. And here's the outline of the head, the body, a tiny bit is the tail, here's a foot … "
"Oh Amy!" Thomas moved past the doctor and leaned on the panel, staring at the screen. "He's great! Look at him! He's going to be popular! Oh WOW, is he gonna be popular!"
"Uh, Mr. Woolfe," the doctor said, "that's the umbilical cord."
Thomas' face dropped. "Oh. Well," he said, "he's still gonna be popular."
"Most popular girl in school," Amy said.
"Or guy." Then, quickly, "But Amy's okay, right, Doc? I mean, is everything okay with her?"
The doctor walked up to Amy and shifted the hair out of her eyes. "She's fine," he said. "When she landed on her tailbone she bruised it, so she's going to need you a lot for the next few days. You were right to bring her here, the shock of her landing went right through her, but most female squirrels, and rabbits especially, have particularly strong abdominal muscles; that's what absorbed most of it. When you bring her back next week … "
The doctor stopped talking when he saw Amy and Thomas watching the sonogram outline of their child. He leaned back and turned up the volume, filling their part of the emergency examining room with the sound of its heartbeat, and slipped out through the curtain.
Amy felt it turn, and on the screen they watched it. She reached out her arm and brushed Thomas with her fingertips to get his attention. Then she took his hand.
"I love you, Thomas."
Let's go Pens! Let's go Pens! Let's go Pens!
"Chris, I think it's starting!"
Chris ran in with two colas, one diet, while the chanting went on behind the sound of the sports announcer. "Nah, that's from last week's game," he said, setting the cans on the coffee table. Sabrina picked them each up and slid a napkin under them. "Did you ever watch a hockey game?" he asked her.
"Never," Sabrina said to him. "All I know is they're supposed to knock the little puck into the net, and they fight a lot. That's all."
Chris scratched the back of his head. "Well, that's enough to get you by," he said. "And in conversation, always remember to say 'they don't work hard enough on defense'. That way you always let the other guy carry the conversation, because almost always he'll agree with you."
"You think of everything." Sabrina took a nacho, and Chris started explaining "There's six guys on each side. Three offense, two defense, and the goaltender."
"You mean 'goalie'," Sabrina corrected.
"Well, goaltender's the technical name. They play three 20-minute periods, and they switch sides after each one."
The National Anthem was playing. Sabrina pointed to the two Penguins on the screen. "What's the C and the A mean?"
Chris opened his can. "Captain and Assistant Captain."
The Anthem was closing, the crowd was getting excited. "Hey," Sabrina asked, "who's that beaver with the 68?"
She was pointing to the captain on the Penguin team. "Him?" Chris asked.
"Yeah," she said, wide-eyed. "Look at the size of his stick."
Chris raised an eyebrow at her. "Yeah, but it's usually bent too far in. They're always measuring it."
The referee dropped the puck for the opening face-off. A Coyote player got possession and passed it to another player. Two Penguins moved in to intercept.
"Watch, now." Chris moved forward on his seat.
Sabrina tugged on Chris' shirt. "The two in the middle are defense, right?" she asked.
"Right." Chris' eyes were glued to the screen.
"Then why is one of the ones going after that other guy from the offense?"
"The have their positions, but they all work at offense and defense." Chris took a quick sip of his pop. "It's perfect teamwo -- all right!"
"Ow!" Sabrina yelled when she watched one of the Coyote's get pushed into the side boards by a Penguin. "Can they do that?"
"Oh yeah," Chris explained. "That's checking, it's legal."
Sabrina watched the game. Just as Pittsburgh got control the whistle sounded.
"Why'd he stop the game?" she asked.
Chris swallowed a nacho. "Icing."
"I love icing," Sabrina smiled. "What flavor?"
"Vanilla, I think." Chris lowered his eyebrow. "The ice is white, though I'm just guessing. Icing's where the player shot the puck from somewhere behind the center line and it goes past the other guy's net."
Sabrina reached for her soda can. "So they face off again?"
"Yeah, on one of the red circles by the team's goal that iced the puck."
Play resumed, the Penguin's goalie stopped two shots beautifully.
"Yeah!" Sabrina jumped when Chris yelled! "Good job, Tommy!"
Chris was bouncing on the sofa. Sabrina tried to watch by following the puck and the part of the game going on around it, and watched one of the Phoenix men slam into a Penguin near the far corner. This time the referee blew his whistle and escorted the player across the ice.
Sabrina read the screen. "Why is he getting a penalty?" she asked.
"Watch the instant replay." Chris watched with her. "See right there? That's why."
"But you said that checking was okay," she said.
"Sure, but not cross-checking."
Sabrina understood. "Oh." Then, "Chris? I don't understand. Checking is okay, but cross-checking isn't, but they both looked the same."
The two teams were facing off again. "He hit our guy with both hands on his stick in the air. He's out for two minutes WOO_HOO!" Sabrina leapt out of the way when Chris jumped from the couch. "Did you see that!" Chris slipped his hand behind Sabrina's arm and guided her back. "Beautiful goal! That's a power-play goal, when the other side is short-handed."
Sabrina wiggled her finger in her ear to try and stop the ringing. "What is it if the short-handed team makes a goal?" she asked.
"A short-handed goal."
"Oh, I see." I think I see. "Sure is an exciting game," she said.
Chris hugged her with his arm. "It's the best. No out of bounds, good fist fights, blood, carnage ... "
They watched the game. In the start of the second period the Penguins scored their third penalty.
"Cross-checking!" Sabrina said happily!
"No," Chris corrected, "boarding. Our man drove their man into the boards."
"But you said that was checking," Sabrina said, puzzled, "and that was okay."
"Yes. Checking is okay, boarding's not."
Sabrina scratched her head behind her ear. "So the difference is?"
"The difference is -- " Chris paused. Yeah, what is the difference? "Uh, difference is y'see, in one he hit the guy against the boards, the other he pushed him into them."
"But they both look the same."
"Well, yeah but -- "
Sabrina began to smell Chris was guessing. She looked at him and couldn't hide the laugh. "Yeah, but?"
"Y-eah, but he's pushing him hard against the boards."
Play resumed. In a moment the whistle blew again.
Chris shook his head. "Offsides."
Sabrina put her empty soda-pop can next to her first. "I thought you said there were no boundaries," she said.
"There aren't." Chris explained the replay. "Y'see the Labrador with the puck? He skated over the line before the puck did. Now they'll face off again in the neutral zone."
"COME ON, YOU FOULING STUPID FILTH FOUL REF! YOU FOULING STUPID FILTH, I'LL FILTH YOUR FILTHING FOUL FILTH AND FOUL -- !"
Sabrina stared open-mouthed at her boyfriend standing and screaming at the screen. Chris suddenly became aware of that fact, quieting and grinning at her as he sat slowly back down.
"I really like hockey," he said.
Cindy sat with Clarence in the non-smoking section of Furry's by a window that overlooked the parking lot and the shopping center beyond. Cindy'd found a nice dress she didn't wear much, figuring What the heck, it's only Clarence. What she hadn't expected was Clarence taking her advice so seriously. Everything she suggested, he took to heart.
"I've got to admit Clarence," she said as she closed her menu, "you look nice this evening."
"Thanks. You really look great." Clarence pushed his glasses up on his nose again. "I did what you suggested. Do you really like it?"
"I really do, you look fine." Cindy hid her giggle with her menu when she saw Clarence blush just the tiniest bit. Then, "How did you get your glasses frames fixed?" she asked.
Clarence took them off and showed her. "I didn't. See? Scotch tape. You can barely see it from there, can you?"
Cindy leaned back a bit. "Uh, no, you can't tell at all."
"My mom helped me," Clarence told her proudly. "I borrowed her car too, I hope that was alright."
"It's a nice car," Cindy said, trying to be helpful in the conversation he was trying desperately to make work. "I never saw a Pacer before. And y'know, it is kind of like riding in a goldfish bowl."
Clarence laughed, trying his best to appear relaxed.
"That back seat was awfully clean too, I noticed."
Quickly Clarence's eyes widened. "It's not what you think! I just wanted to make sure the whole car was clean and nice for you. Really! I even waxed it twice!"
"Clarence, I was teasing!" She brushed her fingertips over the back of his hand. "Relax!" She put her menu down on the table and looked at her nervous mercy-date. "You really don't date girls that often, do you?"
Clarence lowered and shook his head. "Come on, Cindy," he said. "I'm the college nerd. No one wants to go out with me. Sure, I can get someone to dance with me once or twice, but no, I don't date much."
"Well," Cindy promised as the waitress came, "I'll help you out as much as I can, okay?"
They gave their food and drink orders to the waitress. "You really would?" Clarence asked. "I didn't think you and The Clique liked me much."
"Cla-rence," Cindy said, "We like you. You're rough around the edges, but I think there's material to work with. Yes, I really would."
For the first time in ages, Clarence felt the same as he did when he first dated Sabrina. That same, warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
"Heeeeeeeeeee shoots and scores! And ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has just left the building!"
"WOO-HOO!" Sabrina and Chris jumped and yelled in unison and high-fived. With one minute remaining, it was a clear victory.
"We did it!" Chris yelled. "We finally did it!"
Sabrina bounced next to Chris. "You're right," she said, "that was fun!"
"Kitten, we broke our losing streak! We're contenders now!" He put his paws on her shoulders and turned her to him. "You're our good luck charm!"
Sabrina stretched her arms wide open. "What can I say!"
They froze in mid hug, their arms still open, their eyes locked.
And they stared.
Did you hear what you just said??
Chris nodded slowly, answering himself, and affirming himself to Sabrina. They completed their hug, and they melted their mouths together as the game ending horn sounded … they never heard it.
Cindy pushed her dessert plate back, leaving the crust and a few crumbs. The waitress came by to refill their glasses and left the check face-down beside Clarence. Clarence watched Cindy take her napkin from her lap and wipe the corners of her mouth, then smile at him when he did the same. He felt his cheeks tighten, an embarrassed smile crossing his face.
"You know something Clarence?" Cindy said. "You're cute when you smile." She watched Clarence smile at her again, his eyes looking at her over his glasses. "You're different than a lot of the boys I've dated, and I mean that in a nice way."
In a rare display of boldness, Clarence reached his hand across the small table and held Cindy's. And she allowed it.
Clearing his throat, "Would you let me take you out again sometime?"
Cindy felt the tips of her ears brush the tops of her shoulders and she rested her other arm on the table. "Sure, I think so," she said. "Maybe we can continue what we started in the coffee house this morning."
Clarence smiled, and just as he opened his mouth to talk a loud female "Yeah! All right!" came from no where. They both turned in the direction of the yell, as did the other diners. From over the top of the room divider Susan's head appeared. "Cindy!" she yelled, her one hand clutching an open cell phone, "It happened! He asked! Sabrina's engaged!"
"Yeah!" Cindy yelled back. Then she remembered Clarence. Oh my, he must be crushed! She turned back quickly to him. He sat holding her hand, smiling, adoration clearly shining in his eyes.