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. Michael Jones (c) Martin Pedersen. Arden Eastridge (c) Keith Dickson. All rights to additional characters reserved by their respective owners.

Identity Crisis - Chapter 21
Make a run for the border.

  After taking care of my morning necessities, I used my crutches to walk back over to the bed. Climbing back in, I picked up the phone David had given me; flipping it open I turned it on. Time to reach out and touch someone. Selecting the number for the ZZ Studios I hit dial.

  A female voice answered, "ZZ Studios how may I direct your call?"

  "Yes, I would like to speak to Zig Zag please."

  "I'm sorry, but Zig Zag is not in the office yet, is this an emergency?"

  "Well, yes and no. Do you know if she can be reached on her car or home phone?"

  "I'm sorry, I'm not allowed to give that information out. Is there a message I can take?"

  So much for anonymity, "This is Arden."

  There was a pause, "Are you on the cell phone?"

  Very smart girl, "Yes I am."

  "Please hang up, I'll call you right back."

  Hitting the disconnect button, I waited for about twenty seconds until the phone rang. "Hello."

  "Hi. I'm sorry, but I've had a couple of people call claiming to be you, Zig Zag's at home right now."

  "All right, thank you. I'll give her a call there."

  "OK. I hope you're feeling better. We're all pulling for you here."

  Nice to know I had friends, "Thanks a lot. I hope to be seeing everyone soon."

  Saying the usual parting prattle, I disconnected. Selecting Zig Zag's home number, I hit the connect button.

  After about five rings, I hear a click, "What!" It was a speakerphone.

  Uh oh. Sounds like I interrupted something, "Ummm Zig Zag?"

  A sigh of exasperation could be heard, "Yah, who is this?"

  "This is Arden. Look, if you're busy, I'll call back later."

  I heard her scrabble to pick the phone up, "No! Don't! It's all right! You just caught me in the shower. How are you?"

  Whew. For a second I thought she might have been practicing aerobics, with James. "I'm doing fine. In fact, I wanted to let you know that I'll be getting out today."

  I could hear the surprise as the bomb dropped. "What? How can that be? It's been less than a week since the accident!"

  Smiling at her confusion, "I know, but the doctor and I have discussed it. The episode I had yesterday morning shouldn't happen again. Also there's a concern about my safety with the news that got out. Before the hounds were just interested in me. Now they will be after me with a vengeance."

  Not taking my word for it, she continued to argue, "But what about your leg? Should you be up yet? And how can you be sure you won't have another attack?"

  I really shouldn't, "Remember that little trick you did with my tail?"

  I could almost feel her hesitate, "Yes, I remember, what about it?"

  I almost didn't want to tell her, "Well according to the doctor, laying on my stomach so long isn't good for my genus. My lungs couldn't bring in air properly. Since my heart was already taxed trying to pump blood while compressed it couldn't quite handle it when the adrenaline hit me from the shock. Assuming you aren't planning to pull that on me again, I think we're safe."

  She didn't want to give up, "What about your other injuries? The leg, your ribs and your concussion?"

  Taking a deep breath, I tried again, "The doc agrees that I can go. I may not be healed, but I'm not bad enough off to require bed rest. He was only keeping me here as a precaution. I promise Zig Zag, get me out of here and I be a good little bear."

  I listened as she thought about it on the other end. Finally she spoke, "OK. I'll arrange to have you picked up by someone from the studio. Call the receptionist and let her know when you'll be getting out. And Arden, I want you to answer one question for me and I want an honest answer. If you don't and I find out later, I'll have your balls for lunch."

  Ouch! "I can only try Zig Zag. I promise to give as honest an answer as I possibly can."

  She didn't sound entirely satisfied, "Were you responsible for the accident and death of whoever that was in Kansas City?"

  DOH! I was, but I wasn't!!! How the hell do I answer it without blowing things? "Zig Zag, if I am somehow responsible, I swear I'm unaware of it. I'm starting to remember some stuff, but I honestly don't know anything about that accident or the guy in it." A stretch, true, but if you think I really didn't know about him or the accident.

  She didn't sound satisfied, but apparently she'd go along with it, "I'll accept that, for now, " and with that she hung up.

  The last thing I ever wanted was to get on Zig Zag's bad side. In this world, that would be a fate almost worse than death!

  What else could go wrong?

  As I turned off the phone, the door opened. Looking over I saw Sheila carrying a couple of shopping bags.

  As I sat up, a smile crossed my face from ear to ear! "Sheila!"

  She came over and set the bags down on the end of the bed. Blocking my view of one, she turned towards me, holding something behind her back. "You gave us quite a scare you know."

  Damn, that's right! She had been in the picture on the TV with that detective and the doctor after the resuscitation. "Yah, sorry about that. You could say that Zig Zag put me in a hard position and the detective just pushed me over the edge."

  She gave me an odd look, trying to figure out what I was talking about. Time to change the subject, "But hey, I'm just fine OK? No sweat! I promise. I'm even getting out today!"

  Nodding she smiled, "That's great news!"

  She lowered her head and became a little more serious, "When I left the other day, I wasn't sure I ever wanted to see you again. What you said," pausing to find the words, "what you said scared me."

  I wanted to reach out to her and make her understand that I never meant to scare her, but before I could screw up the courage she continued, "I've had 'fans' that were a little overzealous in their admiration for me. What you said reminded me of one of them." Seeing the look on my face she took my hand with her free one and continued, "I understand that you said what you did not because you were some fan with a fantasy," Little did she know, eh? "But because of what happened and how it made you feel. I promise, I'll try not to run away any more, OK?" As she finished, I watched as her eyes searched for an answer in mine.

  As I looked into those piercing green eyes it was all I could do to reply, "I want you to understand, when I said I could never harm you, or never allow you to come to harm, I meant that with all my heart."

  Looking down, to break contact with her eyes before I screwed up again, "You know nothing about me other than the fact that my head is harder than the door of a 98 Mercedes."

  Having the appropriate effect on the mood, she chuckled a little. Smiling I squeezed her hand, "I don't know how things are going to turn out with this death certificate thing. Nor do I know if I'll ever be able to tell you about my life before we met. But if you don't mind, I think I'd enjoy getting to know you better and would appreciate it if you would help me get my new life going."

  She smiled, and got a particularly impish look to her eyes, "All right, but only on one condition."

  Oh-Kay, what's she got in mind now? Watching her wearily I bit, "All right, state your condition."

  From behind her back she brought forth the biggest damned spiked collar I had ever seen. She could almost use it for a belt. Smiling she dangled it out in front of me. "Philippe told me about his 'work of art', so I picked up a little fashion accessory for you." Dropping it in my lap, she folded her arms and smiled, waiting for me to do something.

  Pursing my lips, I nodded, picked up the collar and tried to put it on. After a couple of attempts, I finally got the catch to hold. Leaning back, I crossed my arms, cocked an eyebrow and waited for her decision.

  Leaning forward she grabbed the long fur on the top of my shoulders and yanked me forwards, before I could react I discovered that I was being kissed by a very foxy lady. As she released me I fell back against the bed, the spikes punching holes in the pillow. Trying to get a grip on the situation I blinked a few times. "What was that for!"

  Reaching behind her for a bag, she laughed, "If you're going to hang around with me, you're going to have to learn to loosen up. You were so tight you probably couldn't get out of bed without taking the mattress without you."

  As she brought the bag around, she dumped the contents on my lap. It was clothes. She had been shopping for clothes. And unless she was planning on becoming a conjoined twin, then they were for me.

  As she starting holding stuff up to me I felt a sense of dread as I realized that I had just been promoted from some obsessive fan to a dress-up toy.

  Listening to her talk as she showed me the combinations she had picked out, I slowly realized that maybe being a toy wouldn't be that bad at all.


  James checked the clock. Mr. Khansman would be getting to his office in a couple of minutes. Washing out the cup, James poured some fresh coffee and added exactly one and a half teaspoons of sugar. As he was stirring the mixture, he heard the fax machine by his desk answer. Quickly putting the cup on a try along with two unglazed donuts he walked over to his fax. Checking the cover page, he smiled. More brownie points were going to come his way.

  While the fax was being printed, he saw Mr. Khansman exit the elevator and go into his office, closing the door behind him. Looking at the fax James's face slowly fell at what he read. His sudden victory was turning into a disaster. Removing the fax from the machine he laid it on the platter and walked towards the DA's door. Pausing to gather his courage, he knocked lightly on the door, and then peeked in.

  His boss smiled at him. He would have been relieved if it hadn't been such a predatory smile. "Come in James."

  Swallowing, James entered the room and closed the door. Approaching the desk, he put the coffee and donuts on the desk in front of his boss. Looking at the paper still on the platter, he finally said, "I'm afraid I have some bad news sir."

  Having just finished taking a sip of his coffee, Daniel set the cup down and leaned back in his chair, "And just what would that be James?"

  Taking the fax from the platter he set it on the desk in front of his boss. "I had a friend from law school who works at the capital in Topeka pull up all the information he could on the dead man."

  His eyes closing into slits, Daniels glared at James. Swallowing James continued, "The dead man was not Ursus maritimus, but rather Ursus arctos middendorffi."

  Closing his eyes, Daniel spoke slowly, "In English please, James."

  Looking rather sheepish, "Our man is a polar bear, the one in Kansas City was a Kodiak, a sub-member of the Grizzly species."

  Sighing, Daniel picked up the fax and began to examine it. "This is a most unfortunate turn of events James. I am most disappointed."

  James KNEW he was cat food, "I'm sorry sir."

  Tossing the papers back on his desk, he picked up his coffee again, "That will be all James."

  As he left the room, James kissed any hopes of a quick promotion good bye.

  After the door closed, Daniel took out a cell phone, hitting an auto-dial number he listened.

  A grumpy voice answered, "Do you have ANY idea what time it is?"

  Letting out a little growl he replied, "I know EXACTLY what time it is."

  The voice on the other end became very attentive, "I'm sorry, I didn't know it was you."

  Turning to look out the window, "I need a favor."

  "Yah, sure. Whatever you need."

  "You know about that white fool that's been all over the TV?"

  "Sure, who don't?"

  "I need him removed from the scene."

  "I'll get my boys right on it."

  Smiling, Khansman disconnected the call, confident that his contacts would eliminate the problem.

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