a story by
(c) 1998 by Chris Yost. All rights to story content reserved. Characters Sabrina the Skunkette, Amy the Squirrel, Tabitha, Carli, 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. Character Florence Ambrose (c) Mark Stanley. Character ZigZag (c) Max BlackRabbit. Character Cyberhorn (c) William Morris. Character Terl Skunk (c) Rodney Stringwell. 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.
Thanks to her regular dates with Chris, Sabrina had developed the habit of pulling on her car's parking brake whenever she, well, parked. Dusk was beginning to set in. She pushed her purse under the passenger seat and ran up to the front door of her parents' house, and let herself in.
Tabitha was in her nightshirt on the living room floor with a coloring book she got for her birthday. She was industriously working at staying in the lines of a skunkette in a bathing suit.
"Hi, kid," Sabrina said. "Where's Mom?"
"Inna baff-room." She never lifted her eyes from her work.
Sabrina squatted and looked over her shoulder. Next to the lady skunk, Tabitha was drawing another character, also a skunk; drawn roughly, with a big tail, big eyes, and a big curved crooked line for a smile. "Who's that?" she asked.
"That's Terl," she answered, and kept coloring.
As long as Tabitha was behaving, and they were by themselves, Sabrina allowed herself to lose the façade of being the annoyed big sister. "Who's he?" she asked.
"He's the guy I'm s'posed to marry when I get bigger."
Sabrina grinned. "Supposed to marry, huh? Who says?"
"You know," Tabitha said. "Nice lady at your place last time you babysat me."
"Huh?" Sabrina thought back. "Nobody was there with us … except Amy and Thomas when they came home."
Tabitha shook her head back and forth. "The nice lady who got my five dollars from the bunny man, 'member?"
Sabrina sighed. "Tabitha, you're talking nonsense again." She watched her write TERL in big red letters beside the drawing she'd made, then she wrote her own name in different colors beneath the preprinted skunk she'd finished.
Sabrina looked up, then stood. "Hi, Mom," she said simply.
Endora walked past Sabrina. "I thought you were in Pennsylvania with Chris," she said as she sat next to a box and a photo album on the sofa.
"I was," she explained. "I dropped some stuff off at where I work. I'm just on my way home and I … what are you looking at?" She moved closer to her mother.
"Your upcoming wedding made me want to get out our own wedding pictures." Endora placed the album on her lap and opened it, and patted on the cushion for Sabrina to sit and look, which she did. She pointed to a picture. "This was in the church basement, me with my bridesmaids."
"Oh, Mom, you were pretty." When Sabrina said that, Tabitha took an immediate interest and abandoned her own project to climb up on the other side of her mother. "I never knew you wore a ponytail!"
"Your father used to like me in a ponytail." Endora patted the bottom of her hair at the nape of her neck. "What would you think if I let it grow and did it again?"
Sabrina giggled. "I think you'd remind me too much of my boss."
"I think you'd look pretty," Tabitha interjected, and what a big word for such a little girl!
"I do, too. You ought to live a little, Mom."
Endora smiled. She pointed out some bits and pieces in the background of some of the photos; people neither Sabrina nor Tabitha had ever heard of, bouquet arrangements, things she remembered and things she was reminded of by going through her photos. She turned the next page.
"There's your father," she announced with no small amount of pride in her voice.
Tabitha shifted her position to see better.
Sabrina was chuckling. "Bell bottomed tuxedo pants!?"
"Remember, this was the 70's!" Endora defended him. "Things were a different then -- "
"You can say that again!" Sabrina was laughing.
Endora pulled her lips tight. "Just be thankful you were born in wedlock."
Sabrina stopped laughing all of a sudden.
Tabitha looked up at Sabrina. "What!"
Endora shrugged one shoulder. "I'm not saying it was a close call or even a possibility, but … "
Sabrina heard, but still the shock that she might've been … "You know what that would have made me, Mom??"
"Yes," Endora nodded, and with a grin and a wink she added "and a mean one!" And she hugged her daughters tight. "And I'd never loved either of you any less."
Sabrina hugged back, Tabitha only made a face and said "Oh, Maaaaaaahm!"
And Endora turned the page.
Chris had a meeting first thing with the rest of the MIS department. He tried calling all night until the line had finally freed up, but Sabrina hadn't come home yet. He'd dropped her an e-mail to call him as soon as she got home, and when he called this morning a sleepy-sounding Thomas told Chris Sabrina had come home safe last night, but late, had fallen asleep on the couch, and apparently went to bed some time after he had. So Chris had to be content to drum his fingers on the desktop and watch the ripples form on top of his coffee. He also took an extra moment to send Sabrina an e-mail message from his workstation to call him -- Please God, let the meeting be short!
And it wasn't. And he missed her call.
Still glowing from the weekend, Sabrina found a parking space near ZZ Productions and nabbed it. She grabbed her purse and trotted in.
The "Big ZZ", as her lynx office manager Al always called her, was at her desk already, bottled water and drinking mug on the desktop surrounded by papers underneath the little digital camera cabled into the PC underneath her desk. "Hey 'brina!" she waved. "Good weekend?"
Sabrina smiled and opened her arms. "Great weekend!" And you'll never know what your camera saw! "Thanks so much for the loan of the stuff."
ZigZag saved another picture file to a diskette.
" … and just what was the idea of that other bag?"
ZigZag couldn't have forced the grin from her face if she wanted to. "Anything come in handy?" she asked, her broad grin forcing back the urgent need to laugh.
Sabrina put her hands on her hips. "No, and it never saw the outside of my car, either."
"Tsk." ZigZag clicked onto the next picture. "Bummer." And she saved another picture file, deleting it from the camera as she'd been doing the past half hour. "You sure did some great work last week." She saved the last picture, deleted it from the camera, and removed the diskette. "I'm really impressed."
"Thanks!" Sabrina smiled. "Not bad for someone who never used one before, huh?"
"I'd say you did one fantastic job." ZigZag took a black marker and wrote SABRINA # 2 on the label, and dropped it and another into an open desk drawer. She scrolled up and selected a picture early in the camera's file, and when it appeared she spun her monitor around toward Sabrina. "Remember this guy?" she asked.
"Uh-huh." Sabrina smirked. "I've never seen a bigger -- "
"That's why he's so popular," ZigZag said. "And you saw the clip of the film he was nominated for."
"Yeah, but 'Best Supporting Actor' in an adult film just sounds so funny." Sabrina picked up her empty coffee mug.
Silently, ZigZag pointed to one of the suggestively phallic trophies behind her, the one that read BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS 1993.
"It was amazing what he could do with that," Sabrina said, shaking her head. "I'd have thought the length would've made what he did impossible."
ZigZag smiled slowly. "I know, I was watching your expression. Your eyes got this big," which she emphasized by opening her fingers and thumbs around her eyes. "But in his case, what he had to master was maneuvering with the width, because that's actually a lot stiffer than you'd realize."
With only a slight blush, Sabrina leaned in for a closer look. "I wouldn't have thought the width would make a difference."
"It won't curve the right way otherwise."
Sabrina looked up from the monitor. "I guess you'd be the one to know," she said.
"Of course I do. He used to work for me. And just try to find another aardvark that talented!"
Sabrina looked up at you. "Your mind's spending too much time in the gutter."
ZigZag spun her monitor back around. "I'd like to woo him back, he was fun to work with." She uncoupled the camera and handed it up to Sabrina along with a sheet of copy. "Build me a page about the whole shebang," she said. "Use whatever pictures you want, work something like this around for captions, titles, whatever. Can you have it up by Friday? I'd love to beat out all the others."
"No problem." She took it and her still empty mug to the PC ZigZag had assigned her and switched it on, making a "Blech" sound at the flying four-color twisted window logo.
ZigZag watched her sway as she walked out of her office for her coffee, retrieving the first of the two diskettes she'd just made.
The pictures changed one at a time with each mouse click, and made the smile on her jowls widen and she snickered to herself. "Not so naïve as you'd lead me to believe, are you?" she asked the monitor.
ZigZag looked up. "Hey, fix my camera?" she asked.
"All done." Rodney set the case on the corner of her desk. "Turns out it also had a bad capacitor on the circuit that filters the DC from the power supply."
ZigZag leaned back in her chair and put her paws up. "Rod, don't even try to explain it to me! Just tell me it works."
"It works." Rodney handed her a slip of paper with the repair cost.
"Perfect." ZigZag scribbled a note on it and slid it in her checkbook. "You busy tonight? I've got about four tapes I need put together into something that looks like a storyline."
Rodney shook his head. "Tomorrow I can work on it, tonight's impossible, I'm sorry."
"No biggie. If it can all be done by Friday, that's fine."
When the office door opened, Rodney moved to one side to let the skunkette in. "Hi, Mr. Lapine," she said.
In two steps Sabrina almost spilled her coffee when she stopped short and turned! Rodney Lapine turned as well, both of them looking at each other!
Sabrina felt herself getting smaller and smaller. "Uh, … been a long time," she managed, her eye contact shifting toward the carpeting.
Rodney nodded in agreement. "It seems so," he said.
ZigZag stood up. "Wait, you two know each other?" she asked.
Sabrina felt her entire body burn in embarrassment. Rodney saw and knew how she felt, in his own dining room! "Yes, Sabrina and my daughter go to the same college." He looked at Sabrina again. "But I had no idea you worked here."
"It's just temporary," Sabrina said quietly, still looking at the shag of the carpet.
"The heck it is," ZigZag corrected her. "You're work's great; I'm not planning on losing you!" She walked around the desk as Sabrina lifted her head in surprise, watching ZigZag put an arm around Rodney. "Don't get the wrong idea here, she's like you and that new kid; strictly behind the scenes, and one of the hardest workers I'd ever met."
Rodney looked at ZigZag, then back at Sabrina. When he smiled, Sabrina felt the weight lift from her. "Well, I know it's not like we all advertise that we work here," he said. Sabrina broke a tiny smile. "And speaking of work," Rodney continued as he looked at his watch, "I've got to get back to mine. Zig, I'll pick up those tapes after five."
"Sounds good." ZigZag kissed Rodney on the cheek and watched him leave. She then saw Sabrina heave a heavy sigh once the door had closed. She walked over to her and placed a paw around her shoulder.
"Don't worry about him," she said, cocking her head toward the door. "He'll keep your secret, just like your friend Clarence does."
Sabrina shook her head. "It was just such a shock to see him here. I mean, Cindy knows I work here … does she know Clarence does?" she wondered.
ZigZag shrugged, and leaned closer to Sabrina's ear to whisper "None of our business if she does, right?"
"ACH!" as Sabrina cringed away!
Sabrina scrolled through the pictures again, holding the phone between her head and her shoulder. "There's nothing there, hon," she said. "You must've deleted them from the camera and your hard drive both."
"I don't see how I could've done that," Chris replied. "Oh well, all's safe and sound, that's all that's important."
Sabrina suppressed a smile as she heard Chris sigh heavily on the other end. "You hate it when that happens, don't you?" she asked.
"Can you imagine if she had seen those pictures though? I'd never be able to show my face there again!"
"Kitten, I am so sorry."
"Hey, don't be." Sabrina scooted her chair back to slacken the phone cord, brought her tail into reach and hugged it. "I'm sorry I missed you this morning. How was your meeting?"
"Beats me," Chris shrugged. "I couldn't keep my mind on it."
Sabrina smiled. "And here you had nothing to worry about."
"That wasn't what was totally preoccupying me."
Sabrina listened. "Oh, really?"
Chris cleared his throat. "Think you can borrow that zippered teddy-thing again? It's easier to show you than to explain it … "