a story by
Story and Disclaimer (c) 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 by Chris Yost. All rights to story content reserved. Characters Sabrina the Skunkette, Amy the Squirrel, Tabitha, Carli, Tammy Vixen, Sheila Vixen, Clarisse, Timothy Squirrel-Woolfe, 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, Stacy, 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, Marvin Badger, and Chrissy the Bondo Vixen (c) James Bruner. Characters Kittiara and Katja (c) "Kittiara". Character Mark the "cheetaur" (c) Mark White. Character Tyler Leone (c) Michael Mullig. Characters Kevin and Kell Dewclaw (c) Bill Holbrook. Character Trudy (c) Jeffrey Darlington. Characters Chatin and Cilke (c) Tiffany Ross. Characters Jack Black and Cecil Stewart (c) Scott Kellogg. Character Packard Melan (c) S. Adam Tindall. Character Ricky Boone (c) Ricky Boone. Character Portia (c) Matt Trepal. Character Josh Fox (c) his player. Character Hikaru Katayamma (c) Keith Dickinson. Character CottonLop (c) Jenifer Taylor. Character Tina (c) Tina Amberg. Eric Schwartz (c) Mr. and Mrs. Schwartz. 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, Amino Systems, or whoever the heck owns them now (I think it's Amiga, Inc as of the time of this chapter's writing). "Cooking for Dummies" (c) 1999 IDG Books Worldwide. Chalupa is a registered trademark of Taco Bell. Mercury (TM) Ford Motor Corp. Honda and Honda Civic (TM) Honda Motors. BeastWars is a registered trademark of Hasbro, Inc.
Reproduction or altering of this story by any means
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Yost is strictly prohibited.
Chris finally dragged his eyes open. Enough Saturday morning sunlight found its way past the new rose-colored miniblinds and the new pink lace curtains that he found himself faced with little choice than to allow his muscles to stretch and his eyelids to come slowly open.
His right arm stretched into the empty blankets where Sabrina should have been sleeping, as if feeling around for her.
“Still gone,” he muttered with a frown. Turning himself around he saw that he’d slept away most of the morning. “Not like she doesn’t have a home,” he grumbled with an edge to his voice, pushing the covers off with one foot and pushing himself up off and over the side rail and out of the waterbed. “Took her time calling last night; she forget she has a fiancé back here?”
Wandering into the bathroom, Chris did his business and picked up his toothbrush, giving vigorous attention his teeth. He looked at himself in the mirror and paused. “’eah, I o, ’m s’l’fsh,” sneaked past his brush in a series of incomprehensible grunts as toothpaste suds dribbled down his chin. “I uff ‘er.” He paused brushing and looked at his reflection. “H’w of-‘en d’s s’e see ‘er fr’nds th’s da’s?”
He finished brushing behind his molars and stuck his muzzle under the faucet filling it with water. As he was about to spit he spied the new powder blue paper cup dispenser Sabrina had him put up the other day. With a muzzlefull of toothpasty-sudsy-saliva-y water he looked at it, then the sink, thought about spitting the residue of his dental hygiene into the sink, remembered Sabrina’s reaction when she’d seen him to that the first time, then back at the dispenser, pulled down a cup, and spit the water into it. Just as he caught himself about to use it to rerinse he looked down and shaking his head dumped it in the sink, threw the cup into the new matching wastebasket, rinsed out his mouth under the faucet, shed his pajamas on or about the new matching clothes hamper, and padded out to fix morning coffee.
Susan sat in her kitchenette in an atypical baggy sweatshirt and jeans, sipping at a cup of coffee laced with honey, thumbing back-to-front through the new modern trends magazine that had arrived yesterday.
“Fashions first,” she said to herself. “Always fashions first.” Sticking her rough tongue out at the retro 70’s garb hidden in a pictorial somewhere about the middle she instead flipped to the front of the magazine to the celebrity gossip.
A faint moan met her feline ears. She rolled them forward a bit to listen and smiled. “About time,” she said, looking at her microwave clock.
She heard movement, soon the muffled sounds of flushing and running water. She took another sip of her coffee.
Sabrina walked in through the doorway, which in her opinion was the best way to enter the kitchenette. “‘morning,” she said.
“Good morning,” Susan replied as she set her magazine down. “How was the couch?”
“Pretty comfortable,” Sabrina admitted as she scratched behind her head. “I hope our new one’s as nice,” she said, not able to resist the urge to brag just a little.
“I never slept on it,” Susan said with a grin. “I know it’s comfortable for other things, though.”
“Thanks, you tell me that after I sleep on it.” While Susan giggled Sabrina unhooked a mug from the mug tree and poured herself some coffee. Just then she saw the time. “What did you let me sleep this long for?” she exclaimed.
Susan shrugged. “Rest of The Clique’s not here yet, don’t worry about it. Besides,” she added, waving a paw, “you were beat last night.”
“I don’t doubt it.” Sabrina sat in a chair across from her best friend and draped her uncurled tail over the back, scratched her head, and took a drink of her coffee. “I think I ate too much pizza last night,” she told Susan.
“I’m glad we ordered the two-for-one special,” she grinned. “I was wondering if you weren’t getting fed over there.”
Sabrina smiled and shook her head. “No, it’s just being back here with you guys. Matter of fact, I think I’m getting okay at cooking; Chris seems to like everything I make.” She leaned forward. “Think Cindy would give me her lasagna recipe?”
“We’re Clique, ‘brina; of course she will! And maybe since you’re learning to cook so well, maybe you can teach me a few things.”
When Sabrina smirked, the coffee almost came out of her nose. “You?”
“Hey, y’never know! Besides … ” She turned her head away a little, almost blushing.
Sabrina coaxed her. “ … besides … ?”
“Well … ”
“You’re not serious about someone, are you?” she asked.
“Well … ”
Sabrina held her gaze on her best friend. She knew how to make Susan admit it.
Finally, Susan blushed and lowered her eyes a touch.
“ … maybe.”
Susan turned one eye toward Sabrina to see her leaning forward with an open-muzzle smile. “Okay … ” she admitted, “so maybe I am a little bit in love. I’m not sure yet.”
She saw Sabrina’s amused expression, and went on. “My biological clock’s ticking, ‘brina. I’ve free-wheeled with guys since high school, and seeing you in your nice, secure relationship, and Cindy in hers, and Debbye … dammit, I want one, too.”
Sabrina was listening, only her amusement diminished. “A lot’s happened since I left, huh?” she asked.
“I only wish,” Susan told Sabrina as she picked up her mug, “that you’d still been here so I could’ve told you everything when it’d first happened. Over the phone just isn’t the same.”
Sabrina watched Susan park her elbows on the table and take a long drink of her morning coffee. Before she could say anything, Susan continued. “How did you feel when you decided you were in love?”
“I don’t know.” Sabrina thought for a moment, sliding her mug in back and forth half-circles by the handle. “Everything just felt kind of … right. I mean, I didn’t see clouds or there weren’t any fireworks going off or anything like that. It just felt … I dunno … right.”
“Did you feel tingly?” Susan was looking right at Sabrina, but her mind was definitely somewhere else. “I feel the roots of my fur tingle when I think of Josh.”
“Maybe a little tingly,” Sabrina decided.
“I wonder if Cindy felt tingly when she decided she loved Clarence? Or Debbye with Lee?”
“Am I going to be part of a three- or four-ring ceremony?” Sabrina smiled over the top of her cup.
Susan laughed. “Not on your life, girl. When my time comes, it’s going to be just the way I imagined it; a big church and a beautiful white gown with a train going halfway back the aisle.”
Sabrina thought for a moment. Would it be right to ask my best friend if she’s serious about wearing white?
What the heck, it’s my story!
“You’re serious about wearing white?” she asked with a growing smile.
“Of course I a -- hey!” Susan rolled her magazine into a tube and smacked Sabrina’s arm. “Like you have room to talk, girl!” she said laughing. “Speaking of which, I found two bridal shops where you don’t need an appointment.”
“Great, thanks Susan.” Sabrina took another sip. “Wouldn’t it be great if I could get my gown picked out today?”
Susan’s eyes widened with a look of incredulity. “On the first visit? God Sabrina, where’s the fun in that?? Where’s the shopping?”
“Right up there,” Sabrina told her as she ticked off items on her fingers, “with reserving the church, reserving the reception hall, picking out invitations, finding a caterer, deciding the menu, interviewing a band … ”
“Okay, okay!” Susan raised her paws in resignation. “You win, your shopping’s more involved than mine is!”
“Just wait ‘till you have to do it yourself,” Sabrina told her. “Thank God we took care of getting the church and the hall when we did; that’s two things off our list.” She grinned and touched Susan’s elbow. “We beat out another couple for the hall on our date by ten minutes!”
“You are keeping your parents in the loop on all this, right?” Susan asked. “After all, they’re paying for all this.”
“Oh, naturally!” Sabrina assured her. “That’s a given. Plus I’d never hear the end of it if I forgot.”
Susan had set her mug down and was drawing a design on the tabletop with her fingertip, her tail idly swishing behind her. “And … have you decided on your maid of honor?” she asked with a hopeful edge to her voice and one wide-open eye looking at Sabrina.
“Well, yeah,” Sabrina replied as if Susan had just asked the second most incredibly stupid question ever. “We said how many years ago when we got married we’d be each others’ maids of honor.”
“Just wanted to be sure … ” Susan let her voice trail off as she lifted her eyes to Sabrina. “You were Amy’s maid of honor, maybe you’d want her instead; return the favor.”
“You know you can’t get out of it that easily,” Sabrina scolded her. “We made our plans and we’re sticking with ‘em.”
Susan tried, but couldn’t contain the grin or the tiny little bounce in her seat.
The Border collie was cleaning a glass display case when the little bell over the front door tinkled and caught her attention. She watched the quartet of young women walk in through the front door, laughter suddenly becoming oooo’s of admiration as they passed the displays and mannequins lavishly dressed in bridal fashions. She smiled, noticing that the skunk carrying the blue spiral-bound book in one arm seemed a little more reserved than the other three. She saw her pace slow somewhat as she looked, as enthralled by the displays as her friends.
Must be the bride, she thought as she set down the glass cleaner and paper towels, then put on her best saleswoman smile and fluffed the ruffles on her magenta blouse. I can always tell.
Debbye was excited to be here; she was wide-eyed looking at all of the striking gowns and accessories. Cindy was in awe; everything looked beautiful to her. She was transfixed on a brilliant white gown with thin straps that went over the shoulders and a skirt that billowed to the floor of the display platform. She stared, not realizing she was staring, picturing herself wearing it as the center of attention in a small church wedding …
To Sabrina, it was all more than slightly overwhelming; the store looked three times larger than it actually was, there were so many gowns and dresses and …
“Oh, Sabrina!” Susan exclaimed. She was clutching the skirt of a gown in both paws. “Look at this one! Oooo, it’s scrumptious!” She held it up high to her face and ran it over her cheek fur. “It’s so soft, it’s gorgeous.”
“It’s chiffon,” the older Border collie told her from behind.
“Eep!” Susan released the skirt and immediately began trying to smooth the wrinkles from it. “I didn’t know!
The saleslady took the skirt from Susan’s paws and adjusted it. “That’s alright, she assured Susan, “everyone does it. I have cases of them in the back just for these reasons.” She smiled and adjusted the tape measure around her neck. “I’m Tina, welcome to The Bridal Gown Store.” She looked over the group. “Are we each looking for one gown today, or four?”
Cindy looked back over her shoulder at the thin-shoulder-strap gown three feet behind her.
“One bridal,” Sabrina told Tina. “One maid of honor, four bridesmaids, with an option on a fifth.”
Debbye looked at Sabrina. “A fifth?” she asked. “Cindy, Amy, Chris’ sister, me … ”
“Chris’ friend’s wife Angel, remember?” Sabrina asked. “Dexter will probably be his best man, and Angel’s going to be out to here expecting by the wedding day, but she said she’d love to be in it.”
“I remember now,” Debbye said. “My bad.”
Susan grinned. “Your bad what?” she asked.
“I dunno,” Debbye shrugged. “My bad something, I guess. I don’t get that saying either.”
Even with her long ears and sensitive hearing, Cindy wasn’t picking up on a word of what was going on behind her. She’d turned back to the gown again. No thoughts went through her head, only her imagination seeing her wearing it … it was a contemporary design displayed on an armless female mannequin of no particular species, long and silky with a soft bodice with little hand-sewn beads in a pattern that hinted of a --
“Dum, da, da-dum,” Debbye quietly hummed as she stood behind Cindy and placed a small headpiece with a neck-length lace blusher on top of her head and between her ears.
“Debbye! Don’t!” Cindy’s face burned as she blushed hard at being caught mooning over the gown, thoughts of herself wearing it having betrayed her.
Debbye turned her head sideways. “What’s up, Cindy?” she asked. “Sorry, I couldn’t help it.”
Cindy had quickly taken off the headpiece and shoved it back into Debbye’s paws and turned her back, embarrassed beyond belief; to herself only, she had to convince herself. “I just don’t … want to wrinkle it or anything.” She caught a quick breath and forced a smile before turning around to Debbye. “Where’s ‘brina and Susan?”
“Over there.” Debbye pointed past the sales counter where they were standing out of sight. Turning Cindy’s attention back to the gown, she lowered her voice and teased, “You and Clarence aren’t planning on anything you haven’t told us about, are you?”
“Of course not!” Cindy said quickly and followed with a weak smile. She touched Debbye’s arm. “C’mon, let’s catch up.” Cindy led the way to the rest of their group, reviewing her mental notes of the gown as they walked. Spying a business card holder as they passed the sales counter, she allowed Debbye to get a step or two ahead and grabbed one.
“ … of the more traditional gowns,” Tina was saying when they joined the rest of The Clique. “The previous styles did have more elaborate sleeve styles and fullness, the current styles are opting for straps and exposed shoulders. Lately, I’ve noticed a number of young women moving more toward that direction, getting away from the big poofy shoulders and all that.”
“I dunno,” Sabrina said. “I kind of like poofy shoulders.”
“As long as they’re not too poofy,” Debbye added.
“Oh, it goes further than that,” Tina explained, “some don’t even consider white.”
Susan nudged Sabrina with her elbow. “For obvious reasons,” she said in a quiet voice.
Sabrina made a face and elbowed the lioness back
“Let me show you one that just came in yesterday.” Tina led them to a rack against the back wall. “This one was a special order, and it’s about as unconventional as we’ve seen so far. But it’s what the bride wanted.”
Tina unzipped the white garment bag and removed an ankle-length black gown, with a silver-white band of material that ran laterally across the center where the bodice should have been. A nondescript pattern of tiny ivory- and ebony-colored beads decorated the tail cover.
“Oh -- my -- God,” was all Susan could say.
Tina saw Sabrina and her friends wrinkling their collective noses. “It looks much better on,” she said in the gown’s defense.
Debbye couldn’t suppress a laugh. “On what?” she asked with a snicker.
“On fire,” Cindy said.
“This is what she wanted,” Tina explained. “Some people just have a feeling for what they want.”
Debbye ran her fingertips over the material. “She must not have been feeling very well that morning.”
Giggles from Cindy and Susan brought an embarrassed laugh from Sabrina. “So, you’ll be conventional white, then?” Tina asked as she put the fugly gown away.
“Yep,” Sabrina nodded her head.
“Does your church have any restrictions as to the gown?” Tina asked Sabrina.
Cindy shrugged a shoulder. “Why would they?” she asked aloud. “It’s her wedding.”
“Some churches don’t allow for open neck lines or shoulders,” Tina explained, “and they may require a cover for the upper body, and some have skirt length limitations too.”
“Wow, I never thought of that,” Cindy said, casually looking over her shoulder in the direction of the gown she liked.
Sabrina shook her head. “They told me they don’t,” she said. “But I had a fairly traditional gown in mind, so I can’t see any problems with that.”
“In that case, what do you think about mixing traditional with contemporary?” Tina asked. “I’ve sold a few of these recently … ” She led The Clique to a feline mannequin in the center of the store. “It’s satin with a butterfly sleeve and flowery décolletage, and if you reach beneath the dropwaist … ” Reaching a paw behind the bow in the rear, “… and pull, thus … ” a tearing sound made everyone suddenly jump and gasp as Tina tore the hidden Velcro around the waistband and gathered up the large skirt. “ … it converts into a modern miniskirt-style, very trendy for the young bride.”
“Oh, wow!” Susan exclaimed! “Can I get my bridesmaid’s gown like this?”
“No!” Sabrina said quickly.
“That’s no problem,” Tina assured her, “we can order those in this style as well.”
“I, ah, brought a sketchbook with me,” Sabrina said, trying to get the conversation back on beam. “Just some ideas I thought of that I put down.”
“Oh? Let’s take a look.” Tina took the sketchbook from Sabrina and opened it from where she had had her finger marking the first page. “Oh, these are very nice!” Tina said as she looked over them. “Are you an artist?”
Sabrina smiled and nodded. “My major.”
Tina carefully turned the page. Sabrina had sketched five different ideas, two of which she had gone so far as to also draw in skunk models. “I sort of gathered ideas from magazines,” she explained.
“Do you do this professionally?” she asked. When Sabrina nodded with a thoughtful please don’t ask me where, Tina went on, “I’m glad; you do nice work. I particularly like this one.”
Susan looked past Tina’s shoulder. “Oh, you inked and colored this one; I didn’t know that!”
Everyone else leaned in to look at a picture Sabrina had drawn of a young skunk lady in a very-detailed ivory gown, one that made Tina raise an eyebrow. She closed Sabrina’s sketchbook with her finger between the pages and beckoned The Clique to wait here.
The Border collie walked behind the sales counter and returned with a large book and opened it a few pages from the back cover. “We keep a photographic record of all of our customers,” she explained and turned the book so The Clique could see. “This is a wedding from last April.”
She turned the book around for all to see, opened Sabrina’s sketchbook, and laid it beneath two pictures featuring the mink bride.
“Omigod, ‘brina,” exclaimed Cindy, “That’s it! That’s the gown!”
“It sure is,” Sabrina said, comparing the picture to her drawing and back again. She ran the tips of her fingers over the outline in the photograph.
“That is soooo freaky,” Susan said, angling her head this way and that.
Tina picked a swathe of hair from one eye. “Artists do have their insights,” she said, feeling her tail slowly wag and the impending sale.
Sabrina studied the bride and the gown. “She’s so skinny though,” she remarked. “It looks good on her.”
“Will you stop that!” Susan said with a bat of her paw on Sabrina’s shoulder. “Stop berating your figure, there’s nothing wrong with it! Trust me, Sabrina, you would look stunning in that gown.”
“She’s right, ‘brina,” Debbye said, pointing to the picture. “It’s even got the poofy shoulders you like.”
“Tell you what,” Tina suggested, “I have that gown. Let’s try it on and see how you’d look in it.”
Sabrina felt a surge of anxiety pass through her. Actually wear one? “Well, sure,” she replied, “that makes the most sense … ” I never thought I’d have to wear one before my wedding day. Makes perfect sense, of course, they need to fit it …
“Come over this way, Sabrina,” Tina said as she picked up a tape measure, “stand on this platform and let’s take some measurements.
Everyone followed to the fitting area. Everyone but Cindy; she walked by the wrapping desk and slipped a business card into her back pocket.
“I can’t believe how rude that last saleswoman was,” Susan was saying, staring out of the open car window, wind ruffling her cheek fur, a disgusted look on her muzzle.
“I can’t either. At least the first one listened, let alone looked at my sketchbook.” Sabrina turned the corner as the oncoming station wagon screeched to a halt, horn blaring. “I think that’s where I’m getting my gown; I’m going to call her after lunch and order that one I tried on. I did like the way I looked in it.”
Susan turned her head to look at Sabrina. “You know, I still can’t believe you’re getting married,” she told her. “I keep thinking I’m going to wake up and we’re all going to be ourselves from before you got engaged.”
Sabrina was laughing politely. “I know, my head swims sometimes when I think about it.” She followed Cindy and Debbye around the corner and toward the restaurant. Seeing the Temperature light flicker on her dashboard, she added, “Something else I’m going to have to think about, a new car. I think it’s got a small leak somewhere, and I’d like to get one while this one has some trade-in value.
“Oh, yeah?” Susan asked, adjusting herself in her bucket seat. “Any ideas?”
“Sure,” Sabrina said. “What I want is a white Corvette. What I can afford I’m narrowing down between a Neon and a Festiva.”
Susan smiled. “With the two jobs you have you can’t afford a Corvette?” she teased.
Sabrina thought for a moment, then shrugged one shoulder as she followed the other half of The Clique up over the ramp built into the curb. “I didn’t think seriously about it.” She pulled her car into the parking space beside Cindy’s in the parking lot of The Raw Fish. Now programmed by the admonitions of her fiancé, she also pulled on the parking brake before she and Susan released their seatbelts and got out to meet Cindy and Debbye.
“I never had sushi before,” Debbye said as they trotted up the steps to the restaurant.
“That makes two of us,” Sabrina said as they approached the door. “Chris and I talked about trying it.”
“You’re going to love it,” Susan said as she pulled and opened the door. “I’ve been to this one three times. Four, except my date got sick when he ate the barbequed eel.”
“Oh, gross!” Debbye exclaimed with a shudder. “Eating eel by itself sounds bad enough.”
“It’s not bad, really.”
Four heads spun in unison at the voice that came from the casually-dressed polar bear towering behind them. “And it’s one of the few foods that doesn’t taste like chicken.” He smiled and picked up four menus from the front counter. “Konichi-wa goziamasu,” he said to properly greet them, adding a tiny bow for effect. “I’m Hikaru Katayamma, welcome to my sushi bar. I have four seats at the bar open, unless you’d rather have a booth.”
“No, the bar is fine!” Susan said quickly.
“Susan,” Sabrina whispered, catching her attention and jabbing a thumb toward Debbye.
“Oh, it’s not that kind of bar,” Susan waved Sabrina’s concern away. “It’s a sushi bar; it’s fun!”
“Oh yes, Susan-san,” Hikaru said with a smile. “What she says is true, we serve no alcohol here at all. Please follow me this way.”
“A polar bear named ‘Hikaru Katayamma’?” Cindy asked, her eyes roaming up and down the tall, imposing white furred male leading them to the other end of the dining area. “What nationality are you?”
“Swiss,” came her reply as they approached the small early lunchtime crowd.
“Huh?” she asked. “Swiss?”
“Oh, yes,” he said and extended his arm to indicate their seats. “That way we don’t offend anybody.” He placed a menu at each place as each girl took her seat. When he walked away he grabbed hold of a passing busboy and took him to one side. “Listen,” he growled in a low voice, “we had a complaint about the men’s room. Clean and flush the Smekklo out of it and give it a good sanitizing.”
Back at the bar, Sabrina and Debbye and Cindy were watching in rapt fascination at the two rabbits preparing pieces for a dish for someone’s order. The speed at which these two chefs worked and married fish pieces with rice and who knows what all was mesmerizing. They’d barely looked at their menus when a waiter came by for their orders. “Recommendation:” Susan told her friends, “Rainbow Platter. It comes with a little bit of everything. Filling, too.”
“No barbequed eel?” Debbye asked.
“You can substitute steamed eel,” the waiter told her, “octopus, sweet shrimp, or yellow tuna.”
“Tuna!” Debbye said quickly. “Definitely the yellow tuna.”
“Sweet shrimp,” Sabrina said, closing her menu.
Cindy looked toward the bottom of her menu. “Uh, girls,” she said, “you know those are served raw?”
Susan giggled to herself as Sabrina and Debbye quickly reopened their menus.
Chris watched the two wolf brothers from the furniture company lift his old couch onto the back of the delivery van. He’d already signed the paperwork and he held his copy in his paw as he walked back into the house.
He set it on the table and walked into the center of his living room, turned around, and tried to get used to what he saw. Matching sofa and loveseat, white, with tiny little flowers all over both.
“What to do, what to do … ” Chris folded his arms and patted one paw repeatedly against himself. He looked at the VCR clock. “Could have a party, strip to my underwear, and lip-sync Bob Seegar songs … ”
Reaching into his pocket he pulled out the change that he had reclaimed from his old couch and mentally counted it. “Man, how it accumulates over the years.”
He looked at his watch. Still not a word from Sabrina. Dropping the change back into his pocket he walked to his phone and picked it up. Yep, dial tone; whatever the reason she hadn’t called, it wasn’t that his phone service was out. He dialed.
“Hey, Dad,” he said to the voice on the other end. “I cleaned out the change from my old couch. Wanna grab some lunch?”
“Hey, Cotton!” Sabrina greeted the nicely-dressed lop-eared doe on her way to the restroom.
“Hey, Sabrina!” Cotton-Lop told her with a smile. “Still in town, huh?” I thought you’d have been on your way home by now.
Sabrina shook her head. “Nope, heading back tomorrow,” she told her. “Still things to do for Zig Zag.”
Cotton-Lop nodded. “That’s what I’m doing today. My boss found a couple of discrepancies on her third-quarter tax filing. Dumb stuff, but we don’t want to trigger an audit, so I’m all tied up this afternoon.”
“The thought of audits just plain scares me.” Sabrina said, fascinated as always by the brown fur spot surrounding Cotton’s right eye; part of her wondered once if she was spotted anywhere else.
No, not in that way. Sheesh.
“That means they’re doing it right.” She tapped Sabrina on the arm. “Gotta run, see you at the studio sometime!”
“Okay, bye-ee!” Sabrina scooted herself back to the bar where her food was just coming up. Each of the girls were watching as the sushi chefs were working to finish their orders, and the arrangements were spectacular. It was old news to Susan, but she couldn’t lose her fascination watching them perform their culinary magic, either.
One by one, a place of assorted wrapped and unwrapped, rolled and unrolled, tidbits of seafood were placed in front of each one. Cindy rubbed her paws together, while Debbye was trying not to swear out loud as she fumbled with the chopsticks.
“I just showed you how to use those, Debbye!” Susan admonished.
“Oh, shut up!” Debbye fiddled and got them to where she thought was right and picked up a piece of something. “I did it!” she exclaimed! “Uh, what is it?”
“Unagi,” the waiter said as he refilled her beverage.
“Oh.” She nibbled, then took a bite of it. “It’s really good!” she said excitedly, and dipped the other half into a small dish of sauce on her plate.
Sabrina tried left-pawed, then back to her right before Susan took both it and the chopsticks and fitted them for her. “Can’t I just use my fingers?” she asked. “It’s the right size for finger food.”
“No, you cannot use your fingers,” Susan insisted. “C’mon, Debbye and Cindy are doing it!”
“Okay, but if Debbye and Cindy jumped off a bridge … ”
“Hey!” Cindy said with a mouthful of Ika-Maki.
Sabrina angled her arm and picked up a smaller roll of something. “What’s this?” she asked.
Susan, swallowing her own first bite, looked at it. “California Roll,” she said.
Sabrina looked closer. “What’s that … green … in there?”
“Oh,” she said, shrugged, and popped the whole roll into her mouth.
“Sab -- !”
After three chews, Sabrina’s eyes opened wide, far too late for Susan’s warning!
“It’s like a horseradish-hot mustard-kinda thing.”
“Hah ha-ah haaaah!” were the sounds Sabrina made waving her open paw in front of her muzzle while her other dropped the chopsticks and reached for her diet cola glass!
End of Chapter 47