a story by
(c) 1998 by Chris Yost. All rights to story content reserved. Characters Sabrina the Skunkette, Amy the Squirrel, Tabitha, Carli, Tammy Vixen, Sheila Vixen, Carisse, and Carrie Squirrel (c) Eric W. Schwartz. Character Roxikat (c) John Barrett. Character Thomas Woolfe (c) Michael Higgs. Characters Chris Foxx, Susan Felin, Cindy Lapine, Debbye Squirrel, Clarence Skunk, Dexter Collie, Angel Collie, Wendy Vixxen, Sarge and Endora Mustelidae, and Wanda (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. Character James Sheppard and Marvin Badger (c) James Bruner. 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. "Cooking for Dummies" (c) 1999 IDG Books Worldwide
"Thank you for lunch," Amy said to Chris as they drove back to the apartment.
Chris smiled. "Always glad to be seen in public with two lovely ladies," he said with a smile.
Sabrina turned to Chris. "You sure didn't eat much," she told him.
Chris shrugged. "I just wasn't hungry," he said, stopping momentarily for the traffic. "You've got your girlish figure to worry about, I've got my boyish one."
He heard Amy laugh and leaned back to look over his right shoulder.
"You okay back there?" Chris asked. He was concerned about Amy; he and Sabrina wanted her to sit in the front seat where she'd have an easier time getting in and out, but she'd have no part of it, she insisted on the back seat so they could sit together.
And you all know about pregnant women, hormones and all …
Amy nodded. "Fine, thanks. You've got a bigger back seat than Sabrina does."
"I dunno." Chris tried to look behind Sabrina. "I think her back seat looks just fine."
Amy grinned and braced the headrest to pull herself up. "Is he always like this?" she asked Sabrina.
"Always!" And Sabrina slipped her hand over Chris' as he shifted down for the corner. He made the turn onto their street, leaning up to look for a parking space.
"The street's all parked up," Amy said. "Wonder what's going on."
"Beats me," Chris said. He turned the corner and found a spot halfway down the block, and backed into it.
Sabrina shook her head. "I don't know how you can parallel park like that," she said. "This spot's almost as big as your car!"
Chris smiled and pulled on the parking brake. "The trick's all in knowing how big your car is." He shut the engine off and got out, running around to hold the doors for the ladies.
Once out, Amy nudged Sabrina with her elbow. "I think I could get used to this kind of treatment," she said, grinning.
Sabrina folded her arms and cocked her head, pursing her lips and winking. "You're going to have to get Thomas to watch and learn."
Chris locked the car and opened the truck to remove Amy's and Sabrina's purchases. He extended his elbow toward Sabrina, she slipped her arm through it, and the three began the trek to the apartment building and ascended the outside steps.
Amy and Sabrina jumped when Chris let the front door slam. Sheepishly Chris grinned and shrugged his shoulders.
No one noticed the muffled sounds had ceased. Amy shifted her bag to her left hand and held the handrail as she led the way upstairs. Sabrina was already rummaging through her purse and getting her keys out.
"You guys have big plans for today?" Amy asked.
Sabrina slid her key in the lock.
Chris shook his head. "No, we don't."
Sabrina opened the door, Chris stepped back to let the ladies lead the way in, and …
… both of them jumped back! Then like two lost souls wandered into their balloon and crepe paper-decorated apartment as the Vixen sisters, The Clique, Clarisse, Sabrina's mother Endora, her sister Tabitha, Amy's mother Carrie, and a few other female friends and relations all came toward them and led the stunned pair further in. Chris came in far enough to set their packages inside the entryway off to the side.
Sabrina turned around to Chris. He only smiled.
"… you … !"
"Have a good time, Kitten." Chris kissed her on the cheek and slipped out the door, closing it behind him and grinning at how well he'd managed to deceive them.
Sheila watched the door close and nudged her sister. "You're right," she whispered, "he is cute!"
Tammy grinned back. Then, "C'mon you guys!" she said as she and Susan led Amy and Sabrina to the living room. "Game to play, cake to eat, presents to open!"
Chris walked to the steps and spied a familiar person running up the stairs carrying a basketball.
Thomas looked up and slowed. "Hi Chris, howzit going?" He started to trot past him.
"Goin' good." He stopped him by holding onto his upper arm. "Uhm, you can't go up there."
Chris jabbed a thumb toward the apartment just as mass female laughter came from the other side. "Combo bridal/baby shower going on."
Thomas' head spun quickly up in the direction Chris pointed. "Aw nuts, was that today?" he exclaimed. He pulled at the front of his slightly damp sweatshirt. "Now what am I going to do?"
"I dunno." Chris extended an arm downstairs. "Wanna get some wings? I ate light with Sabrina and Amy so I could eat heavier later and kill time."
A nod. "Sure." He looked upstairs again. "Lemme see if I can sneak my basketball in."
And he ran upstairs.
Chris shook his head. "I wouldn't do that if I were you ..."
Thomas heard the women inside laughing and talking … he unlocked the door and sneaked a foot in, then his snout, and he pushed the door full open.
"MAN! GET HIM OUT!"
"Hey," Thomas said, "you guys got cake!"
A black-furred paw cupped his muzzle and pushed him back two steps, and the door swung shut on him, his ball slipping out of his arm and taking short bounces toward the far corner of the hall and out of the way.
Thomas looked to the stairwell. Chris grinned and said "I toldya so."
Thomas turned to the door, then Chris, and walked over to him. "Really good wing place a few blocks from here."
"Lead on," Chris said, and followed Thomas down the steps and out the door.
Amy and Sabrina walked slowly through the throng of women and scanned their apartment wide-eyed. There were two colors of crepe paper strips twisted and run across the room from doorframe to doorframe. There seemed to be pink, blue, and white balloons everywhere! Off to one side Tabitha was jumping, trying to hit the middle one of the three hanging in the doorway to the hall, the skirt of her new party dress flying up and down as she leaped.
On the dinette table was a large relish tray full of cut raw vegetables, a bowl of punch with a huge lump of vanilla ice cream floating in the middle, a perking coffee urn, various cookies and finger sandwiches, and a very large sheet cake with the words CONGRATULATIONS AMY AND SABRINA cursively written across the top against a generous layer of rainbow-colored icing.
"I dunno," Amy said, indicating the cake, "it makes it sound as though we're marrying each other."
"How in the world did you manage all this?" Sabrina asked.
"A lot of it depended on Chris' timing," Tammy explained. "Remember when he tooted his horn after he drove you and Amy away?"
Together, Amy and Sabrina exclaimed "Yes!"
"That was our cue," Tammy went on. "Sheila and I called Susan, we started decorating, one by one everyone showed up and helped."
Sabrina and Amy exchanged a glance. "I'm just … " Sabrina started.
" … overwhelmed," Amy finished. "This is just so great of all of you."
"Okay!" Sheila told everyone, "who wants to play a game?" She ran behind the table in full bounce and sway and grabbed a handful of colored ribbons with bright helium balloons attached.
"Tabitha," Cindy called, "come on, we're playing a game!"
Tabitha came bounding over. Clarisse and Susan moved the coffee table out of the way and everyone either sat or knelt on the floor in a big circle; Clarisse grabbed a cushion from the couch and slipped it under Amy as she sat beside Sabrina.
"Okay, everybody take one," Sheila announced. She released the balloons in the center of the circle, and everyone took one. "Now," she told them, "however you can, break it and read what's inside. Whoever get the "Handsome Wolf" gets the prize."
Amy chuckled. "Then I win! I already got the handsome Woolfe!"
Sheila snagged a balloon and sat between Debbye and Carrie. "One two three go!"
And one way or another, every balloon was popped and broken. Tabitha had the most fun; she bounced on it at least a dozen times before hers finally gave in and broke. Everyone fished through the bits of rubber and retrieved a twice-folded slip of paper.
"Oh jeez!" Clarisse laughed as she read hers. "'The night is yours for romance'! That's one thing we don't have to worry about!"
"How about mine!" Cindy was giggling. "'Your lover will have a big surprise for you'!" She rolled backwards as she laughed, pulling herself back up. If you all only knew!!
Susan looked across the circle. "You've got a good blush going there, Cindy," she called.
Cindy brought her hand over her mouth, one last giggle coming out.
"'If you can't find love'," Endora read hers, "'you must already have it'."
The contingent of soft female Ahhhhhhh's lit the room.
Tammy read hers: "'You're due for a muzzle nuzzle!'" She thought of her new boyfriend John and grinned. "Works for me!"
Sabrina: "Mine says 'The day is for romance, the night is for love'."
"I dunno Sabrina," Amy said as she ran her hand over her belly, "that's how this happened!"
Sabrina gave Amy a push with her shoulder. "Lemme see yours!" she said and reached over her roommate.
"No." Amy held it face-first against her shoulder and stuck her tongue out at Sabrina. She brought it back out and read aloud "'To err is human, to love, divine'." This brought another chorus of coos. "Man, somebody had a sale on greeting cards!"
When the giggling died down, "What's yours say, Mom?" Amy asked.
Everyone looked at Carrie. She knelt up and unfolded her slip. "OH!" she gasped. "'You found the Handsome Wolf'!"
"Prize Girl!" Tammy yelled at Tabitha.
Tabitha was still looking at her paper, trying to sound out her sentence. "'Re-mem-ber, bee-ing lay-id dose not meen -- ' "
"Hey Tabitha!" Debbye reached across and nudged her. She leaned out and pointed to the two chairs pushed together with a number of different prizes on them, "run and get Mrs. Squirrel her prize!"
"OH-kay!" Tabitha jumped up and ran to the pile to retrieve a small basket filled with scented soaps, and Clarisse quickly palmed Tabitha's slip and balled it into the remains of her balloon.
"Who wrote that one!" Amy said as loudly as she dared.
Tammy and Susan, and soon everyone over 18, looked at Sheila.
Sheila shrugged. "I forgot Tabitha was gonna be here!"
"What'll it be for you two guys?" the feline waitress asked Chris and Thomas after they signaled her over to their table.
"Pitcher and a double order of hot wings, please," Chris told her. "You have any Bleu Cheese dressing for those wings?"
"Sure do, honey. Anything else?"
Chris looked at Thomas who shook his head no. "That's all for now," Chris said with a smile.
"Be right back!" She went to place their order with the kitchen.
Thomas turned and placed his back against the wall and stretched out his right leg on the bench. He looked at Chris. "How can you eat that stuff?" he asked him.
"What?" Chris asked, "chicken wings?"
Shaking his head, "No, bleu cheese dressing! Yech!"
Chris grinned. "I used to hate it, too. When I finally tried it, I discovered I liked it."
Thomas nodded. It was starting to dawn on him that … I barely know this guy! What do we talk about?? What've we got in common … besides my roommate.
Thomas cleared his throat.
"Sabrina says you're a big hockey fan," he started with.
The waitress brought two glasses and poured each their first glass.
"Yeah!" Chris answered. "Big fan. I'm into it for the symbolic violence."
That helped break the ice some.
Chris lifted his glass. "To lovely ladies," he said.
"To lovely ladies," Thomas agreed, lifting his glass to meet Chris'.
After they set their glasses down, Chris asked "You like hockey too?"
Thomas shook his head. "Nah. My thing's basketball."
"I could never get basketball," Chris admitted. "I tried watching it once; it was jump shot, dribble to the right side of the court, shoot, score, dribble to the left side, shoot, score, back, forth … "
Thomas shrugged his shoulders. "That's what it is."
"And not one good fist fight the entire time I watched it."
"Oh, they have 'em!" Thomas assured Chris. "Some good ones, too." He sat up. "Explain this to me about hockey fights: when those players get into a fight, why do they take off their protection and drop their only weapon?"
Chris smiled. "Can't make it too easy to beat the snot out of each other, can we? But when you get to see a good stick-fight, they're worth it." And he took another sip.
"We get some good fights in basketball," Thomas admitted. "Both teams get into it."
"Well," Chris tipped his glass at Thomas, "that's the way you guys are."
Thomas raised an eyebrow. "'Us guys'?"
"Wolves. Y'know, pack attacks and so on."
"Oh! And foxes never do that?"
Chris shook his head slowly, raising his nose high into the air. "Never. We're much more civilized than that. We never need our friends to back us up!"
Just as Thomas opened his mouth Chris winked, and he realized he was being put on. So, the topic shifted to cars, other sports, their waitress … just as their wings came. The tabby set a plate in front of each of them and used their pitcher to refill their glasses.
"So, getting butterflies yet?" Thomas asked Chris.
Chris picked a wing from his plate and dismembered it at the joints. "Me? Nope. I can't wait to get married myself." He dipped a piece into his bowl of bleu cheese and cleaned the bone in one fell swoop. "What about you?" he asked as he ate. "Any plans?"
"Yeah, some," Thomas admitted, scratching vigorously at his head. "It's such a big step for us, though. I love Amy and the baby, but … " he listened to his voice trail off. Picking up his glass he took a drink.
Thomas set his glass down and looked into the top of it, swirling it on the tabletop. Chris didn't press him on the matter; rather he picked a wing from his pile and dipped it into the dressing.
"Help yourself," Chris indicated to Thomas' untouched plate.
Thomas picked a wing from the plate and held it, not eating. "Don't get me wrong, I would love to be Amy's husband, but the time doesn't feel right for some reason I can't explain."
Chris nodded and put the chicken bone on a small plate and took another drink. "Still feel like there is more to life, that sort of thing?" he asked.
Thomas thought and nodded slowly. "I guess. I mean, Amy's getting pregnant was never supposed to happen. It's a weird feeling; in a matter of weeks maybe, I'm going to be a father, and I never wanted to be!" He tore a bite from his wing. "At least, not right away." He swallowed his bite and shook his head. "Oh God, if Amy ever heard me say this, she'd never forgive me."
Chris listened closely as he finished another wing segment. "Amy's not here, guy. And I'm not gonna go repeating anything."
Brother, can I put my foot any deeper into my mouth?? "Don't get me wrong Chris, I do want to be a father. I just wish it'd waited until after I'd graduated." Then, with a sigh, "I love Amy more than anything in the world. I want to marry her and -- I guess I'm a selfish jerk."
"No way." Chris had been arranging his chicken bones into a teepee while he was listening, and it had just collapsed. "A wife and family are a lot of responsibility, especially when you're in college. When I was in college I used to fantasize about it once in a while … maybe that's what scared Wendy away … " Chris saw Thomas raise an eyebrow. Not wanting to elaborate, he reached for another wing. "Care for some unsolicited advice?" he asked.
Thomas took a small sip from his glass and nodded.
"I lived the single life for years after college and before I met Sabrina," Chris started. "It really sucks. Sure, there is little responsibility beyond work but that gets old really fast. Not having anybody to come home to or think of during the day is the worst. All you have to look forward to in your life are microwave dinners that all taste the same and leading a generally miserable, repetitive existence."
Thomas looked up. "I didn't know it was that bleak," he said.
Chris swallowed and nodded. "Sure, it's easy to convince yourself that your having fun, but ultimately, you're alone at the end of the day."
Thomas drained half of his glass. He swirled the remaining bit around and watched it catch the light.
"There are a lot of things to like about marriage," Thomas said after setting his glass down.
Chris nodded and wiped his mouth. "Absolutely."
"I think that I could even get into changing diapers and doing my fair share with the baby," Thomas admitted with a wry smile.
"A present for daddy in every bundle."
Thomas laughed. "I don't know why I get myself worked up about marrying Amy," he said. "Maybe it's because Sabrina is still living at the apartment too. Makes it seem like a co-ed dorm."
"I'm working on that," Chris said with a grin as he refilled his glass.
"That didn't come out right."
I understand," Chris replied. "It's hard to be intimate with your girlfriend's roommate in the next room. Sabrina realizes that you and Amy need your space. That's why she moved her bedroom."
"No, she moved her bedroom so she could get some sleep at night." Thomas admitted, finishing his glass. He refilled it as Chris devoured another wing. "She's a special friend."
"No doubt about that," Chris answered. "Sabrina is one in a million. I love her desperately."
"We've heard," Thomas said with a wink.
Chris dropped his chicken wing.
"Don't worry about it, Chris. Before she moved, Sabrina heard everything Amy and I did."
"Sabrina would die of embarrassment if she knew that."
Thomas leaned over the table and spoke in a conspiratorial whisper. "Your secret is safe with us," he told him.
Chris grinned and picked up his wing. Thomas finally tried his.
"Not a wing fan?" Chris asked politely, noting his reaction.
"Not really," Thomas confided. "No enough meat to make it worthwhile if you know what I mean," he said, stripping the bone clean.
"That's why you have to eat so many of them," Chris said happily. "Dig in, we can always order more!"
Thomas smiled at the remark. "Thanks, Chris."
"Hey, what're friends for?"