Story (c) 2000 by Keith Dickinson. All rights reserved. Characters Sabrina the Skunkette, Amy the Squirrel, Tabitha, Carli, Tammy Vixen Shiela Vixen, Clarisse, 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, Mr. Canis, Dexter Collie, Angel Collie, Sarge and Endora Mustelidae, Wendy Vixxen, and Wanda Vixen(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. Character John Silverback (c) Himself Character Kittiara and the restaruant "Callahan's" (c) "Kittiara" Character Katja (c) Herself Character Mark the cheetaur (c) Mark White Eric W. Schwartz (c) Mr. and Mrs. Schwartz. Arden Eastridge (c) Keith Dickson. All rights to additional characters reserved by their respective owners. 
Identity Crisis - Chapter 10
The price of fame

  After getting me settled into my new room, the orderly left with the gurney.  Double-checking the sling on my arm, the doctor chuckled quietly.  "I hope you know that you are now going to be a target for the media?"  He told me.

  I knew I had really stuck my nose.... err snout in it good.  "How do you mean doc?"  I asked.

  "Miss Zig Zag is a bit of a local celebrity here with the newsies.  She is one of their favorite targets permitting them to point out the sins of her existence.  You have challenged them, and they will respond."  He answered.

  The press would be like a pack of wolves, smelling fresh blood the hunt would be on.  Me and my big mouth.

  As the doc finished up with the sling, the phone next to my bed rang.  The ICU hadn't had any phone, so having one ring here startled me.  Glancing at the doc, I picked it up.


  "Mr. Nanewk?"

  "That's Nan-NUK, emphasis on the second syllable."  I told the person on the phone.

  "Mr. Nanuk, this is Bill Treeman from Channel 5 news, I was wondering if I could ask you some questions."  He replied.

  Gods, but these people were fast.  No sooner had I gotten in bed, but they were calling.

  "Look Mr. Treeman, but I really have no comment at this time."  I told him.

  I hung up the phone as he started sputtering something about it just taking a minute.

  Fifteen seconds later, it rang again.  The doc just leaned back against the wall, his arms folded, smiling at my predicament.

  Picking up the phone, I said in a falsetto voice that quavered, "Hello?"  I said.

  There was silence on the line.  The doc stifled a laugh.  I continued, "Hello? Bobby? Is that you?"

  I heard a distinct click as the other party hung up.  Chuckling I unplugged the wire from the handset so I wouldn't have to listen to it, and tossed it on the table next to the phone.

  Holding up my good hand I conceded, "OK doc, you were right.  Think the hospital would mind screening my phone calls?"

  Nodding he moved towards the door, "No problem, my boy.  We've done this kind of thing many times.  Anyone in particular you wish to allow through?"  He asked.

  "Other than Zig or anyone from ZZ Studios, nope.  Just have them leave a message and I'll review them."  I answered.  "And doc?"  He paused, "Thanks!"  I said.

  Nodding he opened the door.

  "Hey doc!"  As he turned back to me I continued, "If you won't let me walk around, how about a wheel-chair?"  I asked.

  "Where will you go?  You can't wonder too far or you will be mobbed."  He asked.

  "I want to go visit Sheila."  I told him.

  His face softened, and he smiled.  "Ahhh to be young again.  I will have an orderly come by with a wheel chair."  He replied.

  Satisfied, I lay back on the bed and tried to relax.  My mind was running a thousand miles an hour imagining what Zig Zag must be going through right now.

  As Zig Zag finished signing out her various possessions from the property room at the police station, she began replacing her jewelry.  She picked up a necklace that James had given her.  It was white gold inlayed with black onyx, the letters dusted in diamond flakes forming her corporate logo for ZZ Studios.  It was a spectacular example of craftsmanship and probably had cost him a small fortune.  Putting it on, she scraped the rest of her stuff into the handbag, picked it up and walked rapidly to the door.  The sooner she could get out of this dump the better.

  Exiting into the foyer of the Police Station, she spotted James Sheppard and her lawyer David Leery.

  As she approached them, James spotted her and stepped towards her.  Taking her into his arms he held her tight, giving her a kiss on the head.

  Pleading slightly, she whispered, "Just get me out of here, please!"

  Leading her outside, James, David and a few of his office aides formed a flying wedge, forcing their way through the media circus.  Glowering at the barking news hounds, they quickly made their way to a waiting limousine and quickly got inside.

  Sitting across from Zig Zag and James, David wrapped his tail around his waist, the tip tapping lightly on his leg.  Being a large gray colored cat of indeterminate origin, his only distinguishing mark was a large white patch around the end of his snout, framing it like a goatee.  Opened the liquor cabinet, he removed a small bottle of scotch.  Pouring it into a glass, he handed it to Zig Zag who quickly tossed it down.

  Squenching her face for a moment, she gave a cough.  "Gods I hate that stuff."  She said.

  Pulling her close, James held her tight, wanting to protect her.  "Don't worry love.  Everything's going to be OK."  He told her.

  Leaning her head on him she said quietly, "The bastards strip searched me.  For a damned moving violation, they arrested me, hauled me off to jail, and strip searched me."

  Glaring at David, James demanded, "Just what the hell is going on here?"

  Sighing, David finished pouring himself a drink, and answered, "The new district attorney is trying to make a name for himself.  If you remember, he promised to "run the riff raff" out of this town if elected.  Apparently he's decided to make Zig Zag his first victim."

  Taking a gulp of his drink, he continued, "Don't worry.  From what I ascertained from the police station, the accident was caused as much by the elements as well as the guy you hit.  There was no indication that you were speeding at all, and, according to the doctor, he didn't think you could have been doing more than 35 or 40 miles an hour when you hit him.  Otherwise his injuries would have been far more severe.  As for the arrest and strip search, I think we've got the makings of a good civil case.  Make the bastards think twice about pulling another stunt like that with you or anyone else."

  Hearing this, Zig Zag relaxed a little, sagging into James side as he softly kissed her head.

  "On the other hand," David continued, "The guy you hit may turn out to be your guardian savior."

  Hearing this Zig Zag perked up and gave David a quizzical look.

  Smiling he continued, "Apparently a news crew slipped past security at the hospital and caught him inroute from the ICU to a regular room.  When informed of your arrest, he agreed to an impromptu interview in which he accepted all responsibility for the accident and ardently defended you and your actions."

  Unable to believe what she heard, Zig Zag looked up at James who only smiled and nodded confirmation.

  "Not only that, he then continued to berate the local news community for dragging your name through the mud.  They had to physically restrain him from assaulting the news hound that that made a snide comment about him defending the woman who had assaulted him.  You can't buy good publicity like that."  David said smuggly.

  Taking a deep breath, Zig Zag relaxed, and snuggled into James side a little more.  Arden had defended her against the press.  She remembered their conversation, and how he had help her come to terms with what had happened, somewhat.  She was still haunted by the accident, but it no longer held the guilt that it once had.

  "David, I want you to contact the hospital.  Tell them that ZZ Studios will pay his bill.  Not the insurance company, but the studio."  Looking at the lawyer, Zig watched as he made a note in his PDA.  "Also I want you to go to the hospital and meet up with him.  Anything he needs, he gets.  Carte blanche."  She told him.

  David raised an ear at that, but made the note.

  "Also make sure he has a way to reach us whenever he wants.  Home, office and car phones.  Damn.  Get him one of those digital cell phones too.  Last thing we want is some snoop taping his phone conversations."  She instructed, thinking quickly.

  Concerned, James asked quietly, "Aren't you going a little overboard with this guy?  I know you like to take care of your own, but you don't even know this guy."

  Closing her eyes, she quietly replied, "Ask me about my visit to him in the hospital some time."  David's head snapped up at this.  "Our talk there, and what he did for me on TV are more than enough for me to take care of him."  She answered.

  Looking up into his eyes, "It's something I have to do."  She told him bluntly.

  Kissing her lightly on the lips, James smiled, "You're the boss."

  Laying down on her back so that her head rested in his lap, she thought to herself, "Just one big dysfunctional family."

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