| Story © 2000-2004 by Keith Dickinson.
All rights reserved. Characters Sabrina the Skunkette, Amy the Squirrel,
Tabitha, Carli, Tammy Vixen Shiela Vixen, Clarisse, and Carrie Squirrel
© Eric W. Schwartz. Character Thomas Woolfe © 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© Chris Yost. Character ZigZag © Max BlackRabbit.
Character James Sheppard, Doug and Kelly Granitz © James Bruner. Character
Mark the cheetaur © Mark White Eric W. Schwartz © Mr. and Mrs. Schwartz.
Michael Jones © Martin Pedersen. Arden Eastridge © Keith Dickson.
All rights to additional characters reserved by their respective owners.
Zig Zag revved the engine once before turning off the ignition. She blew out a long breath that took much of her tension with it. She’d lucked out with the cop at the gas station.
Her attention was drawn to the passenger side door as it opened.
“Thanks for the tour, Zig,” Hazel said as she climbed out. She leaned forward against the top and smiled. “So when do I start?”
“Huh?” Zig Zag grunted, her mind not quite in the present.
“When do I start?” Hazel cheerfully asked again. “Monday morning?”
Zig Zag shook her head. “No. I’ve got court on Monday. Let’s make it Tuesday, assuming they don’t lock me up. Be over here at eight thirty sharp and you can ride to the studio with me.”
Hazel laughed. “Can do!” she declared as she closed the door. She leaned on the roof and watched Zig Zag climb out of the car. “OK. I’m going to head home and give mom the good news,” she said with a sinister smile. “I’ll talk to you later---Boss!”
“I’m not your boss yet!” Zig Zag called to the retreating squirrel who simply waved as she disappeared around the corner. Zig Zag chuckled as she hit the button to close the garage door and went inside. She was feeling tired as she tossed her purse and keys on the table by the door, so she headed to the kitchen with the intention of making some tea. After putting a pot of water on to boil, she got down a box of Earl Gray tea along with a cup and saucer. She had just placed them on the table when the doorbell rang.
Grumbling the entire time, she walked over to the door, unlocked and then opened it to see Hazel’s mom standing there looking very annoyed. “Hello, Mrs. Wolfe,” Zig Zag said, having expected this.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing giving her a job?” the squirrel demanded angrily as she entered the house. “I thought we agreed that you were going to try to talk her out of that silly notion!”
“It’s good to see you too, Mrs. Wolfe,” Zig Zag said with a fake smile as she turned toward the kitchen.
“Don’t give me that,” Sandy declared, following behind. “I want to know what in the hell you’re doing giving my daughter a job at your studio?”
“I didn’t have much of a choice,” Zig Zag replied as she took down another cup and saucer and placed it on the table near where the squirrel stood. “Please have a seat,” she said, turning to get the boiling kettle. She picked it up and filled both cups before returning it to the stove.
The squirrel glared at the skunk and frowned. “How could you not have a choice?” she demanded. “It’s easy. Just say no.”
“Look,” Zig Zag said as she sat down. “I agreed to try to convince her not to work for me. I gave her the ninth degree about what she’d have to do if she worked for me as an actress. I brought her to tears with the fact that she didn’t know the first thing about how to do what we do.” She sighed as she dipped the teabag in the water and watched the color seeped from the bag. “On the way out, she begged me for a job promising that she’d learn every dirty trick in the book.”
“Oh, I see!” Sandy declared, ignoring the cup in front of her. “So you decided to go ahead and take her up on it. Is that it? Couldn’t resist some fresh, virgin blood for your studio?”
Zig Zag rubbed her forehead with her free hand as she continued to dunk the teabag. “Mrs. Wolfe, It’s not like that. I didn’t hire her as an actress. I hired her as a gofer.”
The squirrel blinked in surprised. “As a what?”
“Gofer,” Zig Zag repeated as she removed the teabag and set it on the saucer. “It’s kind of an errand boy type job. Someone needs something and she fetches it. It’s nothing to do with being in front of a camera. I promise.”
Sandy harrumphed as she dropped her teabag into the steaming water. “That’s not much reassurance. The only way I’ll know for sure is if I see her face on the cover of one of your videos.”
“Sandy. Please,” Zig Zag pleaded as she sipped her tea. “I’m trying to help out here, but Hazel isn’t making it easy for me. I’m doing the best I can.” She paused for another sip of tea and sighed as she set the cup down. “I’ll tell you what. How about you drop by the studio, any time, unannounced and you can see Hazel whenever you want. No warning, no nothing. Just come on in and track her down. I promise you she won’t be in front of a camera, or if she is, she’ll be fully clothed.”
Sandy frowned as she sipped her tea and then nodded. “I’m sorry,” she finally said as she shook her head. “I know this is difficult for you, but I’m sure you can understand my concerns. I don’t want my daughter doing that kind of filth.” She looked up with her eyes wide at the skunk and winced. “No offense meant.”
“None taken,” Zig Zag replied as she sipped her tea. “I promise I'll do my best to keep her from in front of the camera, but if she’s determined, there’s not much I can do.”
“You can tell her no!” Sandy declared as she set the cup down on the saucer with a loud clink.
“Look. Push comes to shove, if Hazel wants to work in front of a camera, I won’t have much of a choice. I’m not going to let her work for the competition.” She set her tea down and rubbed her forehead, suddenly feeling overly warm. “You wouldn’t want her working for some place like Black Rat Holes. They don’t bother testing their staff on a regular basis to make sure everyone’s healthy. Trust me, if she went to work for them, she’d be in a world of hurt before they were done with her.”
“And I suppose your people will be all gentle kisses and rose petals?” Sandy quipped as she crossed her arms in front of her.
“No, but at least my people are clean. I don’t do hardcore bondage stuff where the whips draw blood and leave scars, which they specialize in.” Zig Zag’s mouth twisted into a snarl. “The people at Double Z studios aren’t just employees, they’re like a family. Everyone looks out for everyone else. Nobody does anything anyone else doesn’t want done. You couldn’t ask for a better environment for her to be in if she’s got her heart set on doing this stuff.” She took a deep breath and let it out slowly as she watched the terrified squirrel across the table from her. “Look. I said I was going to try to convince her not to do it. I keep my word. Once she’s working for me, I’m going to show her the worst possible side of the profession and let her think it’s the norm. If she still wants to act, then there’s nothing more I can do.”
Mrs. Wolfe cautiously watched Zig Zag as she calmed down and began sipping her tea again. She considered what the skunk had said and realized that the female was doing the best she could under the circumstances. “I’m sorry,” Sandy said again. “You’re in a tough situation and I’m not making it easier.” She held her hand up to stop Zig’s reply. “I trust you to do the best you can, but Hazel is a strong willed girl. Once she sets her mind to do something, she does it. If she’s bound and determined to be a---“ the squirrel paused as she swallowed, “porn actress, then there’s really nothing I can do.” She stood from the table and pushed the chair in. “Thank you for the tea.”
Zig Zag got up and walked her to the door. “I’m sorry there isn't more I can do,” she said gently as she held the door open.
“I understand,” Sandy replied before walking out the door.
Locking the door, Zig Zag secured the doorstopper bar before returning to the kitchen. Exhausted from having to deal with Hazel, her mother, and the hangover earlier, Zig Zag decided she needed a nap. She put the cups in the sink without bothering to rinse them and headed for the bedroom. She paused as she saw her clothes piled by the door to the hot tub. With a groan, she bent over to pick them up, but instead stood up and walked over to the hot tub. She squatted down by the lip and picked up the bottle and looked at it. She remembered kicking it as she stumbled towards the door.
A surge of panic shot through her as she set the bottle back down and looked around. Someone had been in her house while she was gone. Scared that someone might still be in the house, she went to the door and hit the panic button, then into the kitchen to find a knife. Zig Zag started to draw a hefty carving knife from the knife stand, but changed her mind and pulled out the meat cleaver.
Armed in case someone was still lurking about, she returned to the front door to wait for the guards. A few minutes later, she jumped as the doorbell rang. Hurriedly she undid the bar and the locks to let the guard in.
“What’s the problem, Ma’am?” The first of two Bull Dog Security guards asked as they entered the house.
“Someone was in here while I was out,” Zig Zag declared. “I don’t know if they’re still here or not.”
“All right,” the first guard said as he nodded to his partner. Nobody else should be here, right?” He watched her shake her head. “And you have no pets?” Again she shook her head as she hugged herself. “Ok. You stay here while we search the place.”
Zig Zag watched as the two guards drew their guns and proceeded to make their way through the house, searching every room and closet. Finally they returned to the front door where she nervously waited. “Nothing?” she asked.
“No. The house is clear,” the second one replied. “Are you sure someone was in here?”
“Yes,” she nodded, pointing to the Jacuzzi. She started to explain about passing out in the hot tub room, but decided not to. “Some of the things in the Jacuzzi room have been moved since I left this morning. Someone’s been in here.”
“Is there anything missing?” the first dog asked.
Zig Zag shook her head. “No. I don’t think so. Just moved around.”
The rent-a-cop nodded. “Well all the doors and windows appear to be secured. You should check them all just to be sure. We’ll go ahead and step up patrols around your house for the rest of the day in case they come back.”
“Thank you,” she said feeling rather embarrassed. Maybe she hadn’t kicked the bottle after all. Maybe it was all in her imagination. She felt foolish. “I’m sorry for dragging you out here.”
“No problem, ma’am,” the second dog replied. “You’re safety is paramount to us. Don’t hesitate to call again if anything else strange happens.”
The first one nodded. “You might also talk to a locksmith and see about getting your locks changed. If someone got hold of a key…” he said, letting the statement drop off.
Zig Zag swallowed and nodded. “I’ll do that, first thing on Monday. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” they both replied almost simultaneously as they walked out the front door.
With a sigh of relief, Zig Zag closed and re-secured the door. She walked back over to her clothes and picked them up as she thought about the bottle. She was sure she’d kicked it into the pool. There wasn’t anything else in the room she could have kicked that would have hurt as much. The empty glass still sat next to the remote control where she’d left it, so it wasn’t that.
With a shake of her head, she walked back to her room. She was exhausted and feeling a bit under the weather and wanted to take a nap. She dropped the pile of clothes on her dresser before climbing onto the bed and curling up with an oversized pillow. Yes, sleep was definitely what she needed right now.
James drove with the windows down to let the wind blow through his fur. It was an absolutely gorgeous Sunday afternoon and he was enjoying a drive back from town to pick up some extra sanding pads and belts. He chuckled at the irrational desire he had to stick his head out the window like he used to do as a kid.
He frowned as he realized that his meandering drive home had taken him by Zig Zag’s subdivision. He slowed down as he approached the gate and considered turning in, but changed his mind. He’d left another message for her this morning, but she hadn’t bothered to return the call. If she didn’t want to talk to him, he wasn’t going to force himself on her.
With one last glance back towards Zig Zag’s, he turned onto the four-lane road that was the quickest route home. Somehow, his Sunday drive had lost its appeal.
Zig Zag groaned as she rolled over and smacked the alarm clock’s snooze button. She whimpered, as she looked at the flashing display that showed 7:00AM in large, glowing green letters. Covering her muzzle with her hand, she began trying to cough up a lung as she sat up. Gasping for breath, she reached over to the box of Kleenex tissues and grabbed a handful. For the next few minutes, she proceeded to empty her nose, knowing full well that it was a losing battle. No sooner did she blow out all the snot, than the damned thing filled up again. With a groan, she reached for the box of cold tablets and popped two into her mouth before draining the last of the water in the glass by the nightstand.
Coughing again as she stood, she shuffled into the bathroom and relieved herself. She’d been like this all weekend and it sucked. She felt like she had an elephant parked on her chest and her head wanted to explode. A glance in the mirror showed her how truly gruesome her cold was. She looked like something you’d find in a dumpster. Her hair was totally out of control, her fur was matted from lying in bed all day and her eyes were puffed up like a prizefighter after nine rounds.
She grabbed a thick housecoat from the bedroom door and slipped it on as she made her way to the kitchen. She stifled a cough as she turned on the stove and set the kettle on to boil. A glance at the clock on the wall showed her that she’d have to get a move on if she had any hope of making it to court. She slumped against the counter and gave a quiet, sobbing whimper at the thought of trying to go out in public. Finally, she admitted there was no way she'd be able to make an appearance and reached for the phone. She stopped, remembering that she’d taken it off the hook for a reason.
Tired, achy, and coughing, she shuffled over to where her purse and the phone charger were and groaned. The phone wasn’t in its cradle. She dug through her purse and pulled out the cell phone. With a practiced flick of her thumb, she opened the cover and hit the button to bring up the speed dial list, but found the phone was dead. Her brow furrowed with annoyance as she hit the power button and watched it run through its self-test diagnostics. Finally the status display came up with large red letters flashing “LOW BAT.” Zig Zag cursed mentally as she hit the speed dial for David’s office with the hopes that the battery would last. She watched the “Connecting” message appear for a few seconds before the phone shut itself off. “Son of a bitch,” she complained as she flipped the phone closed before dropping into its charger cradle.
Annoyed that she’d forgotten to keep her cell phone charged, Zig Zag returned to the kitchen where the phone was off the hook. She reattached the handset to the cord and returned it to the cradle, waited a minute and then picked it up again. Hearing a dial tone, she dialed David’s cell phone number and waited.
“This is David,” a cheerful voice answered over the phone.
“Dabid,” Zig Zag said, unable to breathe properly. “Dis is Zig Zag.”
“Jesus, Zig. You OK? You sound like crap!” the lawyer declared.
“No. I’ve got a zummer colt ant don’t dink I’ll be able to make court today,” she explained, trying unsuccessfully to stifle another round of coughing. “Zee if you can ged the judge to give us a condinuance, will you?”
“Continuance?” David said sounding confused. “Zig, didn’t you check your messages?”
“Messadges?” she echoed in confusion. “What messadges?”
“From Friday!” the voice declared. “Zig, the FBI sent a video taped deposition from Sheila, along with a transcript, to the DA’s office. You’re off the hook. The DA and I are meeting in Judge Hardcastle’s chambers this morning to formally have the charges against you dropped! You’re free and clear!”
Zig Zag just stood there with her mouth hanging open as the kettle began to whistle. They were dropping the charges! It was really over! It was really over!
“Zig? You there?” David asked sounding concerned.
“Uh, yah!” she replied as she took the kettle off the burner and turned off the heat. “Oh my god, David. Id it really ober?”
She heard the tabby on the other end of the line chuckle. “Yah, Zig. It’s really over,”
“Oh, dang God,” Zig Zag declared as she began to quietly cry with relief. “Dang you, David. Dang you.”
“Hey! No problem, Zig,” the voice replied. “Listen, you take care of yourself and get better. Don’t worry about the details. I’ll take care of everything, OK?”
She nodded. “Dangs, David. I will.” Hanging up the phone, she wiped away the free flowing tears before reaching out to the answering machine and hitting the play button.
“You’re tuned to U-62, Columbus, Ohio’s Independent News Network Station!” the voice from the TV announced as the U-62 logo flashed on the screen.
The scene cut to the familiar face of a ferret sitting behind a news desk. “Hello, folks! Logan Furbody here with your Independent Network News at Noon! What’s today’s top story? Why, it’s justice truly being served! Yes, you heard me right! Something actually went right at the courthouse today!” The camera panned out, up, and to the right, leaving room for a picture of the DA, which faded into view. “Der Uber Fuhrer Daniel Khansman had to swallow his pride today as he and the council for the defense met in Judge Hardcastle’s chambers this morning to drop all charges against the one and only, Zig Zag! Word has it that on Friday afternoon, the DA received a videotaped and typed deposition from the FBI clearing Zig Zag of all wrongdoing. Why, I hear you ask, did he wait until today to let us in on the secret and not tell us on Friday? This reporter can only speculate that Der Uber Fuhrer was attempting to wag the dog as he and his goon squad looked for some way to do spin control on the bad news. Fortunately for us, the truth has prevailed. Zig Zag has, as this reporter predicted, been cleared of all charges.”
The picture of the DA vanished and one of Zig Zag took his place. “As we all know, Der Fuhrer has been cracking the whip over his people to find any possible mud they can sling at our tarnished temptress of the tiny tube, but the Teflon target traversed the treacherous terrain triumphantly! Congratulations, Zig Zag on a victory well earned!”
The picture of Zig Zag faded and one of Sheila Vixen appeared. “On the other side of this story we have Sheila Vixen. This reporter has learned that Miss Vixen’s time in New York is limited. She is scheduled to return to Columbus some time this week. We still have no official word as to when that may be. Good news, I hear you say? Yes, and no. Word has it that our voluptuous vixen has suffered serious psychological trauma while in the hands of Jimmy “The Jackhammer” Zetti. She’s currently in protective custody at a private facility undergoing treatment.” The picture of Sheila faded as the camera zoomed back in on Logan. “Word has it that the FBI currently has Mr. Zetti in custody, along with several of his gang of rapists. Although Jimmy denies knowing anything about Sheila Vixen’s captivity, word has it that one of his cronies has rolled over on him, spilling the beans as to exactly what happened. We’ll keep you apprised of the Zetti case, as well as the status of Miss Vixen’s return.”
James sat at his desk with his muzzle buried once again in the proposal for the county. He was checking off the notes he’d made on the hard copy of the proposal with those he’d copied onto a note pad. With a flourish, he marked off the last item just as the phone rang. Without glancing at the phone, he picked up the handset. “This is James.”
“Jamed, dis id Zig Zag,” the horse and scratchy voice announced.
“Zig Zag?” James echoed as he turned his full attention to the phone, his brow furrowed at the way she was talking. “Are you OK?”
“I’m zig,” she announced as she covered the hand piece and coughed.
James winced and groaned internally as he slumped backwards in his chair. No wonder she’d not returned his calls. She’d probably been out of it all weekend. “Hey! I’ve been worried about you,” he said, regretting not having followed up on his instincts the prior day and stopped by to check on her. “How are you holding up?” He glanced at the clock and realized that she was supposed to have been in court an hour ago. “What happened with court? Did Dave get you an extension?”
“You habend heard?” she ask with a small chuckle. “Da Eb Bee Eye send da DA a depoziton, probig dad I had nodig to do wid id. Dey dropped all de chargged.”
James smiled as he sat forwards. “Hey! That’s great news!”
“Dangs,” Zig replied. There was a pregnant pause before she spoke again. “Jamed, I wand do apologize do you for nod redunrig your callz.”
“Don’t’ worry about it, Zig,” he replied, thankful that she apparently hadn’t decided to push him away after all.
“No! Lisden. Id was all my fauld,” she declared hastily before coughing again. “I forgod to pud my cell phone on da charger when I god home on Zadurday. I didn’d even dink to check it undil today.”
James felt that cold, hard feeling in his gut fade as he smiled into the phone. “Zig. Really. It’s all right. I’m just glad to hear that you’re doing OK---err--- well, as OK as you can be and still be as sick as you are,” he declared with a chuckle. “All you need to worry about is getting better so that we can go out and celebrate your victory in style!”
“Z'dill,” she said, unwilling to let the matter go. “I habend been dreadig you berry fair ladely, and I wanded to apologize for id. Id’s really been bodderig me.”
“To be honest, Zig. It’s been bothering me too,” James confessed quietly into the phone. “With you not returning any of my calls, I was worried you might not want to see me any more.”
“No! Oh, god, Jamed! I’m zo zorry, I didn’d mean ---“
“Zig! Zig,” the coyote interrupted. “Listen. It’s OK. It was all just a miscommunication. That’s water under the bridge.”
Zig sighed into the phone. “Sdill, I feel bad for puddig you trough dad.”
“Don’t worry about it,” James said with a chuckle. “What’s important is for you to get better. Do you need anything? If so, just let me know and I’ll be glad to fetch it for you.”
“No dang you,” she said before launching into a round of coughs. “All I need ride now id some zleep I ding. If I do, dough, you’ll be de fird one I call.”
James nodded. “OK. I’ll call you tonight before I head home just in case you need something,”
“And Zig?” James paused for a moment as he waffled between saying what he wanted to, or just saying goodbye.
He let his breath out as he made his decision. “I love you.”
The voice on the other end was silent for a moment before responding. “I lub you doo, Jamed.”
James let out a long sigh as he hung up the phone. Reclining back in his chair, he closed his eyes and relaxed as he let all the pent up emotions and stress from the weekend fade away.
Hazel frowned as she looked at her watch. It was eight thirty sharp just like Zig Zag had told her, and there was no answer at the door. She resisted the urge to hit the doorbell again as she waited for Zig Zag to answer. Her patience exhausted, she reached out to ring the doorbell again just as she heard the locks being undone on the door. She looked up expectantly as the door opened.
“Hazel?” Zig Zag asked, squinting through the crack between the door and the frame. “What are you doing here?” she croaked in a horse voice before turning her head and coughing.
“Are you all right?” the squirrel asked as she saw Zig Zag’s disheveled appearance. “You look like crap!” Her eyes got wide as Zig Zag shot her a dangerous look. “You said to come over at eight thirty. Today’s supposed to be the day I start at the studio!”
Zig Zag groaned and banged her head against the door a couple times before turning her head and coughing again. “Sorry, kiddo. I’ve been sick all weekend. I’m not going into work today.” She paused to think for a minute then nodded. “When’s your birthday?”
“All right, then,” Zig Zag replied with a nod. “Hopefully I’ll be up to speed come Thursday. Come over at eight thirty and we’ll head to the shop then. Oh, and bring your birth certificate, ID, and social security card.”
Hazel nodded. “Ok. Can do. If you need anything in the mean time, let me know and I’ll fetch it for you.”
Zig Zag nodded. “Thanks, but I don’t think I’ll be needing anything. I’m feeling a lot better than yesterday and should be pretty much over it by Thursday.’
“OK,” the squirrel replied with a shrug. “See you Thursday.” She turned and walked back home as Zig Zag closed the door. She’d really been looking forward to meeting everyone at the studio today, but that would just have to wait until Thursday. That’s assuming that she didn’t explode with excitement before then.
“Wow. I guess this is it, eh?” Hazel excitedly said as they approached the front doors. “My first day at Double Z Studios!”
“That it is, Kiddo,” Zig Zag replied as she held the door open for the young squirrel. She herded the girl over to the front desk where the receptionist sat.
“Zig Zag!” the attractive female raccoon that sat behind the receptionist’s desk declared. “It’s good to see you back. Who’s your friend?”
“Thanks. Maurine, I’d like you to meet Hazel. Hazel, Maurine,” she said, introducing the two to each other. “Hazel’s is going to start working here today.”
“She is?” The raccoon shot her boss a confused look for a second before putting on a pleasant smile and offering her hand to the squirrel. “Good to meet you.”
Hazel shook hands with the female and smiled. “Thanks. It’s nice to meet you, too.”
Zig Zag reached over the lip of the desk and grabbed a clipboard with some paperwork and a pen on it, which she handed to the squirrel. “OK. I need you to fill out this paperwork, and then give it, your ID, Social Security card, and birth certificate to Maurine. Once that’s done, she’ll set you up with an employee packet, and get you rolling on an ID card as well as the employee orientation video.” Zig Zag turned to the raccoon and nodded. “Once she’s done with all that, send her to my office, OK?”
“Sure thing, Zig,” the receptionist replied. “Oh, what are we hiring her as and what scale?”
“She’s our new gofer. Start her at eight an hour. If she works out, we’ll see about bumping it up.” She turned to the squirrel and smiled. “OK. Go ahead and do whatever Maurine tells you to,” she paused and smiled at the raccoon before looking back at Hazel, “within reason, that is, and then we’ll see about putting you to work.”
Hazel beamed a large smile at Zig Zag and said, “OK. Thanks Zig!”
Zig Zag turned and walked back to her office, greeting the various employees she saw on her way. The tiger striped skunk dropped heavily into her chair as she opened her purse and removed a cough drop, which she promptly tossed into her mouth. She dropped her purse onto the floor next to the wall behind her desk and scooted her chair forward to deal with the mail. There was a large number of letters, a few manila envelopes and a thick white envelope with a courier’s receipt on the outside.
She picked up the fat package and examined the label. The return address was for the U-62 TV station. Curious about the contents, she opened, the package and removed videotape with a note wrapped around it.
Congratulations on your victory - Logan
“Oh-kay,” she muttered as she turned on the combination TV and VCR and then slid the tape in. A burst of static filled the screen for a few seconds before the screen settled down to show the hood of a cop car racing down the road. “What the hell?” As she watched she saw the cop pull over a car and park behind it. A few seconds later, she watched as the cop, a large polar bear, walked up to the vehicle he was chasing.
"Evening, officer," she heard the driver say as the cop stopped just behind his door. Zig’s ears cocked forward as she listened. That voice sounded familiar.
"Evening, sir," the cop replied, shining the flashlight onto the driver briefly before shining it around the interior of the car. "May I see your driver's license, registration, and insurance please?"
Sure thing, officer," the man replied as he dug out his wallet. The driver handed some papers to the cop after rooting around in his car for a few seconds. "So how bad is it?" the driver asked.
The cop compared the picture on the ID to the driver’s face before pointing the flashlight to the ground. "You realize you were doing sixty seven in a fifty mile an hour zone?"
"Not until I saw your lights," the driver quipped with an apologetic smile.
The cop nodded. "All right, sir. You just stay put in your car while I run these, and I'll be right back," the cop directed before turning to walk away.
As she watched, she saw the cop walk back to his car as the driver leaned his head back against the headrest. She couldn’t quite figure out who was in the car. The vehicle looked familiar, but the video being black and white made it hard to recognize. The image rocked slightly as she heard the cop climb in. She could hear him typing on the computer keyboard in the car for a minute before he climbed back out of the car and returned to the vehicle. “Sir?" the cop asked. "Have you been drinking at all tonight, sir?"
"Huh?" the driver grunted as he sat up. "No. In fact, I haven't even had dinner yet."
"Uh huh," the cop grunted as he opened the door. "Would you step out of the vehicle, please?"
Zig Zag gasped as she watched James get out of his car and walk around behind his car so he was in the middle of the video. Her initial shock was replaced by anger as she watched the cop giving him a sobriety test. “Mother fucker,” she growled under her breath as her claws dug into the upholstery of her chair.
"All right, sir," the cop said as he wrote something down on his ticket book. "That's good enough. Mind telling me what the rush is tonight?"
"No rush, really," James explained, running his fingers through his hair. "I was just having a bad night. Had a fight with the girlfriend and was annoyed at the lights. Seems I've hit every red light south of the county line tonight. You add this ticket and it'll make for a perfect evening."
It was right then that Zig Zag realized the date in the window was for Thursday, the same night they’d had their argument.
The cop gave him a knowing nod as he handed over the ticket book. "I understand. Some days it feels like you shouldn't have gotten out of bed. OK. I'm ticketing you for doing sixty-five in a fifty mile per hour zone. If you'll just sign at the bottom, we can finish this up and you can go have some supper."
Signing the book with a flourish, James handed it back to the cop. "Thanks. That's appreciated."
"All right, sir," the bear said, ripping off a copy of the ticket and handing it to James along with his ID, insurance, and registration. "The court date is set for the twelfth at ten fifteen a.m. You can swing by the courthouse and enter a plea any time before then and/or simply pay the fine."
"Understood," James replied with a nod.
"All right then, sir," the cop said, flipping his book closed. "Have a nice night and drive safely."
"Thank you, officer, I will," James gloomily said as he looked at the ticket before putting it away. Checking to make sure no traffic was coming, he walked back to the driver's side door and climbed in. He started the car and checked to make sure there was no traffic before pulling back out onto the road.
Zig Zag hit the stop button and then ejected the videotape. She yanked the tape out, and proceeded to shout a long stream of curses. Her rage partially vented, she hit the intercom for the receptionist. “Maurine! Get me Logan Furbody over at U-62, now!” She released the button and sat back, fuming, her face twisted into a raging snarl.
Two minutes later, the intercom beeped. “I have Logan Furbody for you on line three,” the receptionist announced.
She snatched up the phone and punched button for line three so hard she heard something plastic crack. “You god damned mother fucking son of a bitch! Who the fuck do you think you are?” she demanded.
‘What?” came the confused voice from the phone.
“You cock sucking little weasel! What the fuck do you think you’re going to do with that videotape, huh? Do think you can blackmail me, you fucking bastard? Who the fuck do you think you are, going after James like that?”
“I have four words for you Zig Zag!” the voice shouted over the phone. “Just four words!”
“What?” the skunk demanded.
“That’s the only tape!” the reporter declared.
Somewhere inside of Zig Zag’s brain, there was a rather large, heavily-loaded train of thought, which had built up an incredible amount of speed. Unfortunately for her, that train had just derailed, leaving her mind a confused, jumbled mess. “What did you just say?”
Logan sighed into the phone. “That’s the only copy, Zig Zag,” the reporter repeated. “I didn’t even keep a copy for the studio.”
“When my source at the PD offered me the tape, I bought it up to keep it off the air, not to use it against you,” Logan explained. “We may take the occasional cheap shot, but never at a bystander.”
Zig Zag could feel her ears burning. “Oh god,” she muttered into the phone. “I am so sorry, Logan! I shouldn’t have gone off on you like that.”
“No shit,” he replied, sounding mildly annoyed. “Here I am doing you a favor and you jump down my throat for it.” He let out a small chuckle. “You really should think about taking some anger management courses.”
“Yah, you’re right,” she admitted as she mentally kicked herself for jumping to conclusions. “Look. I’m really sorry. Let me find a way to make it up to you, OK?”
The voice on the other end of the line was quite for several seconds. “All right. You want to make it up to me? Fine. How about giving me an exclusive interview?”
“No,” Zig Zag instinctively replied. “I’m not about to let you guys screw me over by asking a bunch of loaded questions.”
“It won’t be like that,” Logan declared. “Here’s the deal. You agree to answer any question I put to you in an honest and straight forward manner and in return, I’ll grant you final editing control for content.”
“You’re offering me editing control?” she asked, taken aback by the offer. “Complete editing control. My people do the editing?”
Logan paused before answering. “All right. They do the editing, but they do it here at the studio. I’m going to be honest with you Zig. I’m going to ask you some very tough questions, but none of them will be loaded. I expect you to play fair and let me use whatever comes out in a reasonable manner.”
Zig Zag chewed on a lock of hair as she considered the proposition. “Ok. You’ve got a deal. I’ll have David draw up the contract.”
The reporter gave out a loud bark of laughter. “Zig Zag, he’s had that contract sitting on his desk for the last three months, waiting for you to agree to do the interview.”
“What?” the skunk demanded. “With all the points including using my own people to edit it?”
“Yep,” Logan replied with a chuckle. “We figured you’d demand something like that so he went ahead and wrote a couple of different versions, including one that covered that stipulation.”
Zig Zag sighed and shook her head as she wondered for the first time in a long time exactly who David was working for. She let out a chuckle and nodded. “All right, you’ve got a deal. When do you want to do the interview?”
“Sooner the better. How about tonight?” She could hear him shuffling papers in the background. “That will give me enough time to put together an advertising campaign to make it fit a two hour slot that we’ve got open on Sunday evening.”
She blinked in surprise at the suggestion. Things were moving a bit too quick for her liking. “Um, I don’t think that’s a good idea. Can’t we push it back a bit?”
“Well, I guess so,” Logan replied sounding rather disappointed, “but that would mean we couldn’t get it on the air until next Sunday. Frankly, you’re still hot news and I’d like to hit while the iron’s still hot.” He waited a minute for a reply before continuing. “Come on, Zig,” he wheedled. “After all the things I’ve done behind the scenes with David to help with your case, you owe me! Besides, by doing it this quickly, you won’t have time to try and plan out answers in advance. The interview will be more honest and candid.”
Zig Zag sighed again and nodded. “All right, you win,” she reluctantly agreed. “What time do you want me down there?”
“Seven sound good?” Logan asked.
“All right,” she replied, penciling it in on her day timer. “How long should I plan on being there?”
“I’m planning on a two hour special, so let’s say four hours, OK?”
Zig Zag winced at the thought of being grilled for four hours, but the more she thought about it, the more she realized that they’d probably be cutting a lot of it in editing. That was probably the only way he could be assured of getting some good stuff. “All right. Four hours it is,” she agreed.
“Sounds good. I’ll see you tonight, Zig Zag,” Logan happily declared before he hung up the phone.
Replacing the phone in its cradle, Zig Zag leaned back and groaned. “What have I gotten myself into?”