The Skipster Says: Late yesterday morning, the Foxster and I made a little trip into downtown Pleasantview, Alabama, as a follow-up to Tara's calls concerning the rush-job needed to supply all the licenses -- especially the all-important liquor license -- necessary for the opening of Kewl Beanz!TM We took the limo -- after all, the Foxster hardly ever takes his precious black Borgatti out of the garage -- and since it was such a beautiful, sunny day, Gretchen and Tara asked if we minded dropping them off downtown for a little shopping spree. In fact, after saying good-bye to the ladies, even the Foxster and I did a little sight-seeing before heading to our 1:00 appointment at the town hall.
First, we supplied the very helpful town clerk with our IDs. Carol was a cheerful young woman who was wearing a little "smiley face" name badge with her name hand-written on it. She looked at the Foxster questioningly as she read his name. "Lynch? Your last name is Lynch?"
He nodded. "Well, it is the reason our studio is called Simpson/Lynch..." he replied amiably.
"Oh," said Carol, matter-of-factly. "I was expecting Fox, I guess." The Foxster and I smiled; this reaction was hardly new. "Why do they call you 'the Foxster?' I mean, if you don't mind my asking?"
"Of course I don't mind, Carol. But it's a long story, and frankly... kind of boring."
"Well, maybe you can tell me all about it sometime, at lunch, or... a late dinner?" Obviously, Carol was attracted to the Foxster, as she kept leaning over the counter to try to see his eyes through those dark sunglasses he always wears.
He smiled apologetically. "Not unless it's okay with you if I bring my girlfriend Tara along." Carol blushed. "She is a great conversationalist," he added, trying to ease Carol's evident discomfort.
She blushed again, but smiled back at him understandingly. "Maybe some other time... Foxster," she said wistfully.
Back to business... pretty much. I don't know what preconceived notions you have about Alabama, if any, but what I've found is that the folks down here are really open and friendly. Especially when the Foxster goes grocery shopping at our favorite supermarket, and he gets to flirt with a perky cashier with strawberry-blonde hair named Buffy... who also wears a "smiley face" name badge, now that I think of it. Buffy usually ends up telling the Foxster about some bitter old drunk who thinks he's a chef, and comes in all the time to mess with her head... But I digress.
As we were filling out all the forms for licenses, Carol engaged us in idle chit-chat. She mentioned that roughly fifteen years ago, Pleasantview residents were thinking of changing the town's name to "Sweet Home," in order to boost the tourist trade by selling Lynyrd Skynyrd items in the local shops.
The Foxster's interest perked up. "Oh, really! Well, that certainly makes more sense than Kentucky Fried Chicken using 'Sweet Home Alabama!' I mean... Kentucky, and Alabama? What's the connection, anyway?" Carol and I waited patiently for The Foxster to finish his little rant. My interests in music and his are vastly different. "I mean, did Neil Diamond want too much money for 'Kentucky Woman?' Geez, they could've used 'My Old Kentucky Home.' At least that's in the public domain..." He noticed we were staring at him. "Okay, okay... So tell us more, please."
I just went on filling out the forms while Carol told her story. But I'll admit, I was intrigued by what I was overhearing.
Carol said that the measure to change the town's name was soundly defeated when some old dude named "Gabby" Pleasant (whose family the town was originally named after) stood up at a packed meeting, and began spouting some authentic Southern gibberish about how "Nobody [was] gonna rename this town..."
The Foxster and I agreed with Carol's story by saying, "Yeah, who could argue with that?"
We signed off on all the forms, paid the paltry forty-seven dollars for our various licenses, and we were on our way!
* * * * *
The foyer and reception area of Simpson/Lynch Studios. Kato is standing there apprehensively, as he hears the white limousine pull into the driveway.
The Skipster enters the reception area. followed by the Foxster.
Foxster: Hi, Kato. (looking around) Where's Carla?
Skipster (to Foxster): We gave her the afternoon off, remember?
Foxster: Oh, right. I forgot. (to Kato) Gretchen and Tara still haven't called for a ride back from shopping yet? (Kato shakes his head. Foxster laughs.) Oh, great, more shoes to fill my closet!
Kato: Mr. Foxster... I have some bad news for you.
Foxster: What's up? (brief pause) Is Tara...?
Kato: Tara's fine. It's about Orson. I've just spent over two hours at the local veterinarian's office with him. He's still there, as a matter of fact.
Foxster: Oh, no! What's wrong with him?
Kato: I spotted him outside of the kitchen this morning, and when I picked him up to bring him into the kitchen so I could feed him, he yowled like I'd hurt him. He scrambled out of my arms and ran into the kitchen. I followed, and noticed that his breathing seemed erratic.
Skipster: This does sound serious.
Kato (nodding): I gently slid his food dish over to him, but he seemed to have no appetite. (Skipster and Foxster exchange meaningful glances.)
Foxster: Oh my God, this is serious!
Kato (nodding): I'll get to the point, Mr. Foxster. After some tests and x-rays at the vet's...
Foxster: Kato, wait. Why didn't you call me? (brief pause) Did you call Tara?
Kato: No! I'm sorry, but I was so concerned that all I thought of was getting immediate treatment for him. I picked him up carefully, and drove him into town myself. Again, I'm so sorry...
Foxster: Don't be, please! It's okay. I'm glad you acted so quickly! (pause) Wait a second... How did you get him into town? We had the limo.
Kato (hesitating): I... I took the keys to your Borgatti from the kitchen key rack. (Kato flinches, almost as if expecting to be struck.)
Skipster: You took...? Ohhhh, boy...
Foxster (after a long pause): Fine. I don't care. (pause) What did the vet say?
Kato: Have you ever heard of a... (trying to remember) pneumothorax? (Foxster shakes his head, while Skipster swears softly under his breath.)
Foxster: What the hell is that? And how worried should I be?
Skipster (softly): Foxster... Orson is pretty healthy, for a fat cat. I'd suspect traumatic pneumothorax. It happens when there's a sudden injury to the chest, such as a knife... a gunshot wound... even a sharp hit on the chest. We had to deal with this in the Army on quite a few occasions. (Foxster and Kato stare at Skipster.)
Kato (nodding): The vet said he had two broken ribs...
Skipster: There you go. Maybe Orson was accidentally hit by a car?
Foxster (to Kato): Damnit, did he sneak out again?
Kato: Not that I know of. Of course, we'd have to ask Gretchen and Tara, and Carla...
Skipster: And maybe Vickie?
Kato (with a slight edge in his voice): Of course. Can't forget her. (pause) Anyway, they think they can save him, thankfully. They've given him some pain-killers, and inserted some sort of air tube in his chest. They've also put him in a small cage to restrict his movement. I authorized all of that, even though I had no right to...
Foxster: Had no right? Are you kidding? Kato, you probably saved his life! I can't thank you enough!
Skipster (to Foxster): Do you want us to drive you to the vet's?
Kato (to Skipster): There's really no need, Mr. Skipster. Orson's condition was stable when I left. I told them I'd... that is, that we'd call them first thing in the morning. (to Foxster) Of course, I'm not trying to be insensitive! I'll gladly drive you there, of course, if you'd...
Foxster: No... no. But thank you, both of you. I suppose we can wait until the morning. And I really should be here when Tara gets home, so I can tell her myself.
The Foxster turns and leaves the kitchen without another word.
* * * * *
The Foxster's bedroom. Foxster sits there silently on the bed, with the door closed, staring at a picture of his girlfriend Tara, and Orson.
* * * * *
The Pleasantview residence of Milo Fenderbender, as Milo arrives home. Milo is an average-looking man, about fifty years of age, with a penchant for talking to himself.
As Milo enters the living room, he notices a large manila envelope on the coffee table.
Milo: Where the hell did this come from? (pause) Hmmph! No matter. I can guess.
Milo picks up the envelope and opens it, extracting five 8"x10" prints. He quickly flips through the first three with disinterest.
Milo: Who the hell are these guys? (sees the fourth photograph) Hey, this broad ain't half bad. Nice cleavage. (flips to the fifth and final photo) Whoa, Nellie! Now this, I like! What a freakin' cutie! I could rack up some serious mattress time with this little honey!
Milo casually drops the photos onto the coffee table without placing them back in the envelope, and heads for the kitchen to get himself a beer.
To Be Continued...
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