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 29
Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

Howdy folks, Logan Furbody here for Columbus's Independent News Network. Today we've got a ton of good stuff to cover not only on the political front but from local news also. Today's 'Stupid Quote of the Day' is from Al Bore: 'What do you mean I didn't single handedly invent the internet?' In response George Brush replied: "What a maroon." There you have it folks, our choices for the next presidency.

  On a more local front we've been informed that some unfriendly native has decided to give the police a hand, literally. (Cut to scene of cop in a cherry picker basket being lifted up to a light poll.) Someone hung a raccoon's paw from this light post near the police station. Rumors abound as to the origin. However, one source reports that it was from a gang member arrested the other day in the shooting of Mr. Stay Puff. The youth was released after it was determined that the search warrant was invalid. Ballistics show that it was the weapon used in the drive by shooting which now virtually eliminates any chance of prosecuting anyone for the crime. One must wonder if this is because the little wanabee hit man was stupid enough to get busted with the weapon, or is there some other, more sinister reason for his loosing a limb. Time will only tell.


  Returning to the studio after our visit to the gun range, I gave Sheila a quick kiss before heading off towards editing. Passing by Zig Zag's office, I heard her holler out, "Arden, would you come in here for a second?" Sometimes it's hard to sneak past the boss when you're seven feet tall and white.

  Walking into the office, I sat down on the couch near the desk. She had a nice office, but unfortunately the chairs were a bit wimpy for one of my stature. Turning her chair, she crossed her legs and got a serious look. "I know you're new here, and I've been cutting you and Sheila some slack, but I just wanted to ask you to make sure you let someone know if you're going to take a long lunch so we don't worry about you." Nodding, I could understand it, "I'm sorry Zig Zag. I stuck my head in here to warn you we were going to the range after lunch, but you were gone. I'll make it a point to let the receptionist know." Getting a curious look on her face, she asked, "Range?"

  Uh oh. Why did she sound surprised? "The gun range?" I could see her brow furrow, "Why were you going to a gun range?" If she didn't maul James, I think I just might have to. Shifting uncomfortably, I tried to think how to explain. "I'm not sure how to explain this Zig Zag." Without moving, she blinked once and replied, "How about being direct and to the point." Sighing, I prepared for another hospital stay, "Last night, James talked to me after we got out of the Jacuzzi. He wanted to make sure I knew how to use a pistol." Waving her hand slightly for me to continue. "Once he knew I knew how to handle a gun, he gave me three pistols for us to hang onto in case anything happens."

  Uncrossing her legs, she leaned forwards. She looked pissed. Unconsciously I leaned away from her as she growled, "He did what!" Holding up my hands, I spoke rapidly, "Take it easy Zig Zag..." Bearing her fangs, "Don't tell me to take it easy. You people bring guns into my house and workplace without even telling me?" Time to play Gandhi. Crossing my hands on my lap, I just gave her as neutral a response as possible. Glaring at me, she asked, "Well?" Shaking my head, I replied quietly, "Not until you calm down. I have no intention of visiting the hospital any time soon."

  Sitting back in the chair, she closed her eyes and taking a deep breath, I saw her count quietly to ten. Opening her eyes, I could see that she was a little better in control than before. "I'm sorry Zig Zag, but I assumed that James had told you." Holding my hand up as she started to speak, "No, let me finish. James did what he did to protect you and me. I don't know why he didn't tell you yet, but I'm not going to say I don't agree with him about having them. If something happens again, I want to know that Sheila can protect herself, that's why he gave her one AND why I spent time after lunch teaching her how to shoot."

  As I watched, I saw some of the anger leaving her as she remembered what we had been through the last few days. Continuing on, I hopped I'd be able to save James some fur loss, "I have a feeling that James probably brought up the subject with you and you reacted negatively, right?" Nodding her head slightly, "Yes he did. I guess I wasn't very open about it." Nodding, I leaned forward, "Don't you see. James is just trying to protect us anyway he can. Yes, maybe it was wrong for him not to tell you, but I can't say I would have acted any differently."

  Turning back to her desk, she picked up her coffee and took a sip, "All right, I guess I'll let you live for now, but just tell me where they are." Counting them off on my fingers, "There's a 9mm in our bedroom under my pillow, Sheila's carrying a .25 ladies gun in her purse, and there's a .38 special in the glove compartment of the Mercedes." As I headed for the door, she asked, "Is that all the pistols?" DOH! Couldn't duck it. Turning back, "James also had a revolver, but I don't know where he put it." Nodding, she waved me away, "OK. Get going over to editing, Tony said he got a bunch of trade rags from the book store while out at lunch for you guys to go over."

  Heading to video I tried to determine if she was going to rip James a new one or not. I finally decided not, but I do think she would rake him over the coals a bit before letting him off the hook.


  After Arden headed back to Editing, Sheila slipped into Sabrina's cubbyhole and closed the door. Turning towards her, Sabrina smiled recognizing Sheila, "Hey Sheila, twice in one week?" Nodding, Sheila sat down on the corner of the desk. Opening up her purse, she reached in and took out some photocopies. "Sabrina, can I get you to do a favor for me?" Giving Sheila a conspiratorial look, Sabrina snickered, "Are you kidding, I've been playing Dig Dug while I'm waiting on the proofs to come back from the printers." Nodding, Sheila asked, "I need this to be between just us chickens, ok?" Hearing the seriousness in Sheila's voice, Sabrina sat back a little, "Sure, as long as it's not illegal or anything." Giving a small laugh, Sheila handed her the photocopies, "It's not illegal, just very private."

  Opening up the papers, Sabrina saw that they were of a drawing depicting a coin or medallion. The first page had a picture of a horrible face in the middle, with strange script around the outside. The second one had more strange script spiraling from the outside to the inside. It looked like a hodgepodge of symbols, some Egyptian others unrecognizable. Looking back up at Sheila, she asked, "What do you want me to do with this?" Leaning down quietly so as not to have to whisper, "I need you to find out anything you can about it." Looking up at Sheila, Sabrina gave her an odd look, "What do I look like, a reference library?" Defensively, Sheila sat up, "Hey, you went to a University. You took classes on images and symbols and stuff."

  Shaking her head, Sabrina folded up the photocopies, "OK. I'll dig around on the Internet and see what I can find out, ok?" Being better than nothing, Sheila thanked her and headed back to work. If they were lucky, maybe they would be able to find out some way to help Arden's doctor.


  Sitting at his desk, Daniel Khansman fumed. Nobody treated him like that and got away with it. And what did she think she was doing demanding a hundred and fifty thousand dollars for two simple hits! That was absurd. Even if he had wanted to pay it, there was no way he could pay right now; he was tapped out after the election. The money would come flowing in soon, but as of yet he was still behind the eight ball.

  There was one good thing so far today thought. Mike had been most imaginative with is disposal of the Raccoon. Like he said, the stool pigeon would be headlines for as long as it took him to run out of body parts.

  Licking his chops at the thought, Daniel decided that it was time for lunch, and he was in the mood for steak, tartar.


  Having just gotten back from a worksite, James sat down on his desk and began sorting through messages. While he was doing so, Doug came in carrying a note and looking quite confused. Sitting down, he addressed James; "I just got the weirdest message for you from Zig Zag." Reaching across the desk, James took the note and read it.

Walls fixed, will be painted tomorrow.
Carpet will be down tomorrow.
New bed will be in Friday.
Should I leave room in garage for a Howitzer?
  Zig Zag

  Trying to figure out what she was talking about on the last line, it suddenly occurred to James that Zig Zag must have found out about the pistols that he had given Arden. Silently cursing himself, he leaned back in his chair and stared at the roof.

  Seeing the look on his friends face, Doug leaned forward and asked, "Hey, what's up? What was that all about?" Closing his eyes, he gave a sigh of exasperation, "I loaned Arden a couple of pistols. I wanted him to be able to defend himself and Sheila if something happened again." Nodding, Doug asked, "And I take it she's not exactly ecstatic with the idea?" Giving his friend a very pained look, James confessed, "I didn't exactly tell her I was doing it." Shaking his head at what he was hearing, "I'm sorry James, did I hear you say you didn't exactly tell her? Then just what did you exactly do?" Shaking is head, he shrugged, "I started to talk to her about it, but she practically went berserk on the subject. I was going to try to bring it up over lunch, but I got tied up with a client."

  Leaning back in his chair, Doug tried to think of a way out of the situation for his friend. "I'm sorry James, but I think you've dug yourself into a pretty deep hole. The only redeeming feature I can see is that she didn't sign it 'and don't come back'. That means you have some chance at redemption." Nodding, James picked up the phone as Doug stood to leave. It was time to call and beg forgiveness.


  It had been a long day, and my arms hurt again. When I had last glanced at the clock, it was almost four. Sitting on top of the table, I sat tailor style, meditating on trying to relax and revitalize my arms. After an indeterminate amount of time, I heard someone clearing her throat. Opening my eyes, I looked around and spotted Sabrina in the doorway. Giving me a conspiratorial look, she asked, "Does Zig Zag know you're sitting around, sleeping on her time?" Smiling at this I asked what I could do for her.

  Rubbing her neck, she explained, "I've been working on the computer all day. I guess I forgot to take enough breaks and wound up with a stiff neck. Leon swears that you're good at this stuff. Mind helping me?" Nodding, I slid off the table, "Sure, just climb on up and have a seat."

  Climbing up on the table, She squirmed back until her knees were right up against the side. As I walked around behind her, she shot me a worried look, "I don't have to take my shirt off, right?" Chuckling as I started working the kinks out of her shoulders I explained, "Nope. Not unless you want a full massage. Then the only reason that helps is it's easier to get through the fur if I use some oils. It also helps to avoid pulling on the fur. For something like this you don't really need it."

  Felling the tension across the top of her shoulders I asked, "You look down on that new monitor don't you?" Nodding, "Um hum. A little." Remembering how that bothered me, "Can I suggest you take some books and put them under the monitor so the middle is even with your eyes?" Rocking her head back and forth slowly to help stretch out the muscles, "I guess I knew that, I just forgot. I'll get a couple of the old HTML manuals I have and stuff them under it."

  After about five minutes of this she had loosened up to the point where her neck no longer hurt, "Thank you very much." Accepting the thanks, "No sweat. If you ever feel like a full body work over, just let me know." Laughing, she gave me an incredulous look, "There's about as much chance of me getting naked on this table as there is you going out in front of the camera." Nodding, I laughed back, "Only way that will happen if you're out there in front of me." Sabrina got a totally indignant look on her face, "Not in your life time!" Nodding, I bowed with a flourish, "My point exactly." Giving her a wink and a smile, I started cleaning up to go home.


  As we lay in bed, I couldn't help but think about what Nanuk had said to me the other night about the possibility of going home. I guess it showed on my face because Sheila shook me and asked quietly, "Hey, what's the problem?" Glancing down at her, I snuggled a little closer, "Nothing to worry about, just doing some thinking." Turning over, she laid her head on my shoulder, hands folded underneath, "Want to talk about it?"

  "I..." How could I say it without hurting her, "I'm not sure how to say it." Stroking my head with her left hand, she lifted her head up so she could see my eyes clearly, "Hey, you can tell me. I'm a big girl." I closed my eyes, trying to lose myself in the feeling of her closeness, bit it wouldn't work. Unable to avoid it, I decided to tell her, "I had another dream, with Nanuk, in the spirit realm." She stopped stroking my fur and propped herself up fuller, "What did she tell you." I avoided looking at her, "That very soon, I would have to decide if I wanted to go back." Seeing the look on her face ripped my heart apart, "Sheila, I had pretty much assumed that I'd never have a chance to go back. Besides, I'm happy here with you. It wasn't really something I was thinking about."

  Sitting up, she crossed her legs and looked down on me. I could see the pain in her eyes at what I was saying. "Then why even think of going back?" Trying to control the pain I was feeling, I tried to make her understand, "I left my entire life behind when I came here. Not just my job, or my friends, but my family. We were close. I have two brothers and a mother who all think that something horrible must have happened to me. I'll never be able to see them again, to properly say goodbye." Reaching up, I placed my hand on her arm, "You can understand my feelings. I want to stay, but a part of me is aching for home. Now knowing that there may be a way back... It's ripping me apart."

  Trying to look at her face, I realized that I couldn't see her well through the tears. Her head down, she spoke quietly, "I can understand that. I wouldn't want that to happen to anyone." Sitting up, I leaned towards her; "I don't ever want to leave you, not when life was just getting fun." Giving me a hard look she slid off the bed, looking down at me she said, "Fun? Is that all I am to you?"

  As I started to get out of the bed, she went in the bathroom and closed the door. Walking around to it, leaned against the door, and listened. I could hear her crying, "Sheila. That's not what I meant. Since I've been with you, I've started living again for the first time in a long time. Don't you understand? My feelings for you are what's tearing me apart." Not hearing a response, leaned against the doorjamb, "If it were a matter of you just being a romp in the daisies, then I wouldn't even hesitate at leaving. But you're not."

  Sliding down to the bottom of the wall, I sat down, hard. Raising my voice a little, I turned to the door, "Damn it Sheila, don't you realize that I love you! I don't want to leave." Taking a deep breath, I said quietly, "Please don't drive me away now." Why do I always have to open my big muzzle? I need to learn to just be quiet and uncommunicative, like a good male should.

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