Friday, February 26, 2010

Men in the Middle

Scene One: The downstairs hallway of Simpson/Lynch Studios, moments before the end of our previous post. It is approximately 9:30 a.m. on Monday, February 15th. Summoned by Carla, the SnL receptionist, the Foxster runs downstairs from the second floor and enters the hallway. He sees Tara holding Vickie against the wall... by her throat.

Foxster: Oh, [expletive deleted]!!!

Couldn't resist including this shot again!

Foxster (yelling): TARA!!! Let her go! (As the Foxster approaches the two women, he notices Tara's left arm pulled back, as if she is about to throw a punch. She doesn't look at him; her eyes are locked on Vickie's.) Now, Tara!

Finally, Tara turns toward the approaching Foxster. She lowers her left arm. Then, with a quick glare at Vickie, she releases her iron grip on Vickie's throat and steps back two or three paces. Vickie places both hands on her neck, her breathing erratic. The Foxster steps between the two women.

Foxster (to Vickie): Are you okay?

Vickie (her voice trembling and raspy): I... don't know...

Tara: Is she okay? What about me?

Foxster (to Tara, without turning to face her): You look just fine at the moment! (to Vickie) Look, maybe you should sit down somewhere, or get a drink from the kitchen, or probably both... I don't know. (brief pause) But don't leave, okay? We'll need to talk, obviously... (The Foxster turns to Tara.) And we need to talk now.

Tara: Fine!

Tara walks away from the Foxster and Vickie, heading toward the bedroom she shares with the Foxster.

Foxster: Tara? (Tara stops, and turns to face him.) Not there. Upstairs, in the conference room.

Tara's eyes open wide in shock and outrage as the Foxster heads toward the stairway, and exits. After a moment's hesitation, she follows and exits, leaving Vickie alone, still leaning against the wall.

* * * * *

Scene Two: The upstairs conference room. The Foxster stands behind the Skipster's usual seat, as Tara enters and slams the door behind her.

Tara: What's with the dramatic location?

Foxster: I think you can guess. (brief pause) Sit down, please. (Tara makes no move to sit.) Fine, suit yourself. (pause) I hope you realize you're putting me in a very uncomfortable position.

Tara: Oh, sure. I suppose you'd rather be consoling poor, helpless Miss Vickie Wicked right now. I'm sure she could think of a "position" or two for the both of you...

Foxster: Knock it off, damnit! I meant that you're forcing me to play "boss man," and to treat you accordingly!

Tara: Why are you taking her side?

Foxster: I'm not taking anyone's side. But I obviously needed to split you two up, and since you evidently had the upper hand... well...

Tara: Don't you even want to know exactly what happened down there?

Foxster: Of course I do! And maybe I'll be able to ask you for myself, if you'll stop mouthing off long enough for me to get a complete sentence in edgewise!

Tara pauses for a moment. The defiant look on her face subsides, and she nods. She sits in Gretchen's customary seat near the Skipster's chair. The Foxster remains standing.

Foxster: First things first. As your employer...

Tara (interrupting softly): You're really enjoying this, aren't you?

Foxster (removing his dark sunglasses and looking Tara in the eyes): Is that what you think? Do you really believe that?

Tara: No. (brief pause) Sorry. Go on, I'll shut up.

Foxster: Thank you. Anyway, little altercations like that...

Tara: "Little altercations?"

Foxster (sighing): So much for shutting up...

Tara: Okay, I'm sorry. (pause) And you can put your glasses back on, hon. I know how this light must bother you.

Foxster: Well, yeah, it does. Plus I can hardly see you without them. (The Foxster puts his dark sunglasses on again.) Your actions downstairs could leave SnL open to a lawsuit... or two, or three... or forty-seven. And after the Skipster specifically told you and Gretchen to "play nice" with her... (pause) What the hell set you off like that?

Tara: She made some sleazy little dig about Skipster wanting to "make a baby" in Hawaii, and followed up with a crack about the possibility of Gretchen not being able to have children. I put my hand on her arm -- gently -- and said she'd better not ever make such a thoughtless remark to Gretchen herself, and... (pause) Well, evidently I didn't take my hand off soon enough. She swore at me, and slapped me right across the face!

Foxster: Which is when you went for the throat, literally?

Tara: Pretty much.

Foxster: I know you, Tara. You're no one to mess with. (brief pause) You could have choked her to death. (A slight smirk plays across Tara's face. The Foxster smiles in spite of himself.) Don't say it...

Tara: Can't stop me from thinking it.

Foxster (shaking his head): Enough.

Tara: And... I suppose you'll be wanting me to apologize to her?

Foxster: Well, yeah.

Tara: Fine, if she'll apologize for the slap!

Foxster (shaking his head): Unconditionally. (pause) But whether she does or doesn't follow up with an apology of her own, you let me know, okay?

Tara: Then you believe me? About the slap?

Foxster: Never a moment's doubt. (pause) Okay, I'd better go track her down, and hear what she has to say. (The Foxster walks toward the door, and opens it.)

Tara: Hey, Foxy? (The Foxster turns to look at Tara.) You're a pretty good boss... but I still like you better as my boyfriend.

Foxster (chuckling): Yeah, so do I, sweetheart. So do I.

The Foxster exits, leaving the conference room door open.

* * * * *

Scene Three: The home of Vickie Wickie, early the same evening. There is a knock on the door. Vickie opens it. Milo Fenderbender stands there. Vickie turns without a word and walks into her living room. She sits on the couch, at one end.

Milo closes the front door and walks into the living room behind Vickie. He notices a new addition to the room, a terrarium on a wrought-iron stand, which contains a three-foot long red-tail boa constrictor.

Milo (pointing at the snake): Visiting relative from out of town, I assume?

Vickie: Shut up. And sit down. (Milo attempts to sit next to Vickie, but she frowns and points to the opposite end of the couch.) Over there, horn-dog.

Milo (sitting): Okay, so what's the latest chapter in the ongoing soap opera? You obviously didn't call me here just because you were feeling the need for company.

Vickie: I'll make this quick. Tara and I had a fight today...

Milo (interrupting): By "fight," I assume you mean argument?

Vickie: Let me finish! And no, I mean fight! The chubby little troll had the audacity to grab my arm, and when I belted her across her smug little face, she pinned me to the frigging wall in a choke hold!

Milo (whistling): She did? Wow. (brief pause) And where did you hide Tara's body, once you'd broken out of it?

Vickie: Well, to be honest...

Milo: That'd be a first.

Vickie: Will you stop it! (brief pause) I was caught off guard. The sawed-off sack of [expletive deleted] is a lot stronger than she looks. I almost blacked out! I was never so glad to see that blonde boyfriend of hers. He separated us, and took her upstairs, supposedly to lecture her, but more probably to boink the little whore on the conference table. (pause) The Foxster cornered me in the rec room about twenty minutes later, and did his best to smooth things over by asking me my side of it, blah, blah, blah... I tried my best to act like the wounded little puppy, of course.

Milo: Of course.

Vickie: Which was easier for him to swallow due to the timing of the whole thing, I'm hoping. (pause) Now listen up, Milo. As soon as I can, I'm going to be giving you copies of the SnL staff's personnel files. I want you to use every scummy contact you have to find out whatever dirt exists on any and all of them. And you can start with that godless little slut, Tara!

Milo: Glad to. By the way, I'm fast becoming one of the best customers at Kewl Beanz!, and don't think little Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay hasn't noticed! She usually sends over a free espresso or two whenever I'm around. And I actually kind of like hanging out in the Krebs' Krib room. Nice 1960s atmosphere. Heh. This dreary little town of Pleasantview loves her, too, no doubt because she's employed half the formerly-unemployed at her booming little establishment. (laughs) In fact, I've noticed that more and more women -- and little girls, too -- have been getting their hair styled like hers. She's the Dorothy Hamill -- or the Farrah Fawcett -- of the 21st century, you might say.

Vickie (impatiently): If you're done rambling, and singing the praises of that little tramp, may I finish? (Milo nods.) I'll give you a call the moment I get those files.

Milo: Got it. (standing) Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time for my nightly caffeine fix. (Milo walks toward the front door. As he nears the terrarium, he looks back at Vickie.) By the way, what did you name him? Or is it a "her?"

Vickie: Name who? (brief pause) The snake? Oh, for...! It's not a pet, stupid, it's... an amusement!

Milo: "Amusement?"

Vickie (nodding): At feeding time, when I throw in the live baby mice.

Milo: That's what I love about you, Vickie. You're such a sentimentalist.

Milo exits.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Fox(ster) in the Hen House!

Scene One: The conference room of Simpson/Lynch Studios on Monday, February 15th, at approximately 8:10 a.m. The Foxster sits in his usual seat at the end of the conference table, and Tara sits at hers. Both are dressed somewhat informally. The Foxster is drinking tea instead of his usual coffee. He also has a large bottle of cold & flu medication in front of him.

On the floor between the Foxster and Tara sleeps their cat, Orson. Orson has recently been discharged from the grandiosely-named Pleasantview Animal Hospital... a facility about as large as the average bachelor apartment.

Vickie enters through the open doorway.

Vickie: Good morning. (brief pause as Foxster and Tara smile and nod in greeting) I got here as quickly as I could, Mr. Foxster.

Foxster: It's okay, Vickie. I just wanted to get together ASAP to get this day out of the way as soon as possible.

Vickie: I don't understand...

Vickie walks toward her usual seat, on Tara's right.

Foxster: Oh, Vickie? Would you mind sitting in Kato's chair?

Vickie (shrugging): Okay, sure, Mr. Foxster. (Vickie bypasses her seat and Tara's as she walks toward -- and then around the back of -- the Foxster, so she can sit in Kato's usual seat. As she passes Orson, his eyes pop open and he hisses at her, although no one notices. Vicki sits.) So... What's going on, exactly? (Vicki points at a covered display board on the wall.) I'm guessing it's something big, if that's any indication. And where's Mr. Skipster?

Foxster (laughing): Patience, Vickie, all will be answered! (brief pause) But first, I'd really prefer it if you'd drop the "Mister" from our nicknames. After all, Gretchen and Tara don't use it...

Vickie: Well, no, but they're... (Vickie smiles sweetly at Tara.) involved... with you and Mr. Skipster personally, off the job, and Kato still says it...

Foxster: Well, in Kato's case, he says it's just a sign of respect, so I... (pauses while struggling for a less redundant word, which he can't find) So I respect that. (pause) Anyway, if you'll recall, Kato left this weekend for a short leave of absence, and the reason that the Skipster and Gretchen aren't here this morning is that all four of us got up at roughly four a.m. to see them off at the airport!

Tara (teasingly): Which, of course, is another reason that this meeting was called an hour earlier than our usual conferences. David figures that as long as he had to wake up early...! (The Foxster laughs.) I haven't even had time to put on my working clothes yet!

The intercom on the conference table beeps. The Foxster stands, and leans forward to answer it.

Foxster: Yes, Carla?

Carla's Voice (in a monotone): Mr. Foxster, this is Carla, from downstairs...

Foxster: Yes, Carla, I know where you are...

Carla's Voice (in a monotone):
Miss Wickie is here. Shall I send her up?

Foxster: Uhhh, Carla... She's already up here.

Carla's Voice (in a monotone):

Foxster: Besides, Carla, Vickie works here, remember? She doesn't need permission to enter the building any more.

Carla's Voice (in a monotone): Okay.
(Carla disconnects. Foxster, Tara, and Vickie shake their heads.)

Vickie: So, you said you were "seeing them off" at the airport?

Foxster: That's right. After an unfortunate misunderstanding between them yesterday... (Tara lightly kicks the Foxster under the table.) Which I... umm... won't get into, the Skipster decided to take Gretchen on an extended vacation... to Hawaii!

Vickie: Wow. So we're really going to be busy while they're gone, aren't we!

The Foxster stands and walks over to the covered display board, which he uncovers. He walks back to the conference table, sits down again, and takes a sip of tea.

Right-click on this picture to see it -- and the display board
-- in a much larger form, in another tab or window!

Foxster: That's just it. We're not. The "to-do" list Tara prepared on that board is an indication of that. In fact, Vickie, once you and I tie up a few loose ends today and tomorrow, we're going to be pretty useless for a bit! Which is why, during this period -- however long it may be -- I'm actually offering to pay your weekly salary while keeping you strictly on an "on call" basis. Tara's the lucky one. Kewl Beanz! still needs her full-time.

Tara (teasingly): Yeah, lucky Tara! (All laugh.)

Foxster: So... I guess that's it, then. I have some real work to do, at least for today, and I know both of you do, too, so... Meeting adjourned, or some damned thing... (All laugh.)

Tara (rising): Good! Now I have time to change, before I have to zip over to Kewl Beanz!

Vickie (to Foxster): Is it okay if I run home and put on something I'll feel more comfortable in, too? (She stands.) I just threw this on when you called, and it really wasn't what I'd planned to wear...

Foxster: Go right ahead.

Tara and Vickie exit through the main conference room door. Foxster enters the work area adjacent to the conference room by its side entrance, and sits at his computer.

* * * * *

Scene Two: The long, first-floor hallway of Simpson/Lynch Studios, roughly an hour later. From opposite ends, Vickie and Tara enter. Both are wearing different outfits than in Scene One. Each nods in greeting to the other. The two continue walking toward each other as Vickie speaks.

Vickie (cheerfully): So... It's gonna be kinda quiet here without Gretchen and the Skipster, huh?

Tara: I guess.

Vickie: Hawaii... (sighs) How romantic. But I hope they don't... (She hesitates.)

Tara and Vickie are about five or six feet away from each other. Tara stops, her eyes narrowing slightly.

Tara: You hope they don't... what?

Vickie continues walking, and is about to pass Tara as she speaks.

Vickie: Well, you know... People get carried away sometimes, and... I just hope the Skipster doesn't want to make a baby while they're gone. I mean, that "Peeps" article implied that she might not even be able to have children...

Tara (indignantly, as she places her right hand on Vickie's right arm in a restraining fashion): I sincerely hope you wouldn't ever say something that insensitive to her!

Vickie: Give me some credit. (Vickie's cheerful tone is suddenly gone.) And get your [expletive deleted] hand off of my arm, you little bitch!

* * * * *

Scene Three:
The work area adjacent to the conference room, moments later. The Foxster sits at his computer, working. The nearby intercom beeps.

Foxster: Yes, Carla?

Carla's Voice (in a monotone): This is Carla, from downstairs.

Foxster (rolling eyes): I know where you are, Carla! What is it?

Carla's Voice (in a monotone): Did you ever see Destry Rides Again, with Jimmy Stewart?

Foxster: Yes... Look, Carla, I'm really busy...

Carla's Voice (in a monotone): Do you remember the catfight between Marlene Dietrich and Una Merkel?

Foxster: Yes. (brief pause) Carla, get to the point!

Carla's Voice (in a monotone): I think you'd better come downstairs, Mr. Foxster.

The Foxster jumps up from his chair and exits hurriedly.

* * * * *

Scene Four: The downstairs hallway, moments later. The Foxster enters from the stairway.

Foxster: Oh, [expletive deleted]!!!

To Be Continued!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"V" is for...

Scene: The private movie theater of Simpson/Lynch Studios. It is approximately 1:00 p.m. on Valentine's Day. The Skipster sits on Gretchen's right. Next to the Skipster, on his right, is an empty seat. On the right of that empty seat sits the Foxster.

Foxster: Okay, okay, where's the birthday girl?

Skipster: "Birthday girl?" You mean Tara?

Foxster: Of course! She is the only one who isn't here yet...

Skipster: Tara's birthday is the same day as Valentine's Day?

Foxster: Yup.

Skipster (pause): Oh. (shrugs) I didn't know.

Foxster and Gretchen (simultaneously): You never asked! (All laugh.)

Foxster: So... Where the hell is she?

Gretchen: Be patient, Foxster.

Foxster: Easy for you to say. My nose is all stuffed up from whatever I've come down with, and the air conditioning in here isn't helping any.

Gretchen: (teasingly): Please stop the whining.

Foxster: (feigning offense): I'm not whining. It's my clogged sinuses that make me sound like that.

Gretchen: Do not be so much of a... (long pause)

Foxster (teasingly): Can't think of the word?

Gretchen: I know the word. I do not like using it. (All laugh.)

Foxster (to Skipster): Are you going to let her talk to me like that?

Skipster: (kiddingly, in a deep, menacing voice): Don't be talkin' 'bout mah woman like that. I'll kick yo' ass.

Gretchen: (chidingly): Skip...

Skipster: (sighing): Fine, fine. (in his normal voice) I'll kick your butt. (Gretchen and Foxster laugh.) Out of curiousity, anyone check how much is in the SnL account lately?

Gretchen (looking straight ahead): As of forty-seven minutes ago? Six million, four hundred and thirty-seven thousand, eight hundred and two dollars... (pauses and looks at Skipster) and sixteen cents. (Gretchen bats her eyes playfully.)

Foxster: That's all?

Gretchen: Do not forget, much of corporation's net worth is what you call "working for you." Invested in Kewl Beanz!, paying various salaries, and so on. Plus, we still await second check from NBC.

Skipster (looking at Gretchen admiringly): Anyone ever tell you that you're remarkable? (The Skipster glances sideways at the Foxster, indicating Gretchen with a tilt of his head in her direction.) German precision engineering.

Tara finally enters at the rear of the theater. She quickly approaches the others, carrying two large plastic buckets of freshly-made, buttered popcorn.

Skipster: The birthday girl has finally arrived!

Tara: Oh, Skipster, you remembered my birthday? How sweet! (Foxster clears his throat, but says nothing.)

The Skipster, the Foxster, and Gretchen applaud and sing a quick rendition of "Happy Birthday." Tara stands there uncomfortably. Then Tara hands one of the plastic buckets of popcorn to Gretchen, and sits on the Foxster's left.

Tara: Can't watch a movie without popcorn!

Foxster: "Movie." They're freakin' YouTube videos.

Tara: On this screen, they're movies. (pause) Boy, I'm glad you're not sick often, hon. You're a grouch. Why can't you be more like the Skipster? Even when he is a grouch, he's not a grouch. (Tara winks at Skipster and Gretchen.)

Skipster (pretending to write note): Note to self: Give birthday girl a raise...

Gretchen: Foxster, these movies are supposed to show how much you and Skipster love Tara and myself. Sometimes you are as romantic as a... (pause) as a kohl.

Foxster: What's a kohl?

Tara: That's German for "cabbage," sweetheart.

Foxster (as others begin laughing): As romantic as a cabbage? What the hell does that mean?

Tara (giggling): I don't know, exactly, but I like it! (All laugh, even the Foxster.)

Gretchen: Foxster, you should try to be more romantic, like my Skip. (She snuggles against the Skipster's arm.)

Foxster (to Tara, in a "stage whisper"): I just got unfavorably compared to the Skipster in the romance department. Write down the date.

Gretchen: Stille, Foxster! I want to hear the song you chose for Tara.

Tara snuggles up to the Foxster. The Foxster hits the red button on his chair that starts the big-screen projector. The lights in the theater automatically dim, as the video appears on the big screen.

Tara: My gods, David, that was a beautiful song!

Foxster (seriously): Well, it is how I feel about you. (pause) I feel like I've known and loved you all my life... and even longer. (brief pause) Happy birthday, hon.

Tara: That is exactly how I feel about you! I could have written those very words!

Gretchen (looking adoringly at the Skipster): It is my turn now. I cannot wait until my surprise!

The Skipster smiles fondly at Gretchen and taps the red button on his chair that starts the big screen projector.

Foxster (to the Skipster): I keep forgetting... You're new at this.

Skipster: What? What did I do wrong?

Foxster: Let me put it this way. You know that trip you've always wanted to take to Hawaii? Well, this might be a good time to pack up the Don Ho shirts...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Incoming! (A Theme Thursday "Mirror" Post)

Scene: The work area adjacent to the conference room at Simpson/Lynch Studios. It is early Thursday morning, approximately 9:00 a.m.

The Skipster is sitting at his desk, reading a letter as the Foxster enters.

Foxster: Damn. You grabbed the mail before I could? (The Skipster doesn't reply. The Foxster sits at his computer.)

After a long period of silence, the Skipster gets up and hands the Foxster the letter he's been reading. The Foxster looks up.

Foxster (smirking): You sure you want me to
your mail?

Skipster: It's okay. I just want you to see this.

The Foxster leans back in his chair and begins to read, while the Skipster walks into the main conference room and makes a new pot of coffee.

Skipster (yelling): Coffee?

Foxster (holding up a black mug which the Skipster hadn't noticed): No, thanks. I'm fighting a cold, or the flu, or some damned thing. I'm drinking tea, believe it or not. (pause) Caffeine is caffeine, right? (The Skipster nods, as the Foxster begins reading.)

* * * * *

Dear Mister Skipster,

Both Dotty and I were overjoyed when our dear Gretchen called us with the glad tidings! Both Dotty and myself have always prayed that Gretchen would finally find a good man to love her. Never in our wildest dreams did we ever imagine it would be you!

Gretchen has written to us constantly since she started working for your fine organization. She has told us about all the wonderful friends she has made, and how Miss Tara is teaching her English at last! We had always tried to get Gretchen to learn English, but she can be very stubborn (as you might know) and had always refused for reasons known only unto herself.

When Gretchen got that promotion to Operations Director, she called us right away. We couldn't see her face, but we knew she was beaming with pride. Thank you and your very nice partner Mister Foxster for giving her a chance to prove herself!

Mister Skipster, you spent too much money on that beautiful ring! Knowing our Gretchen the way we do, she would have been happy with a "Cracker Jack" ring! Ha ha! Dotty just read that last part and said "Kris!!! It was beautiful ring! He bought it because he loves her!" Oh oh. I am in trouble now! Ha ha!

Our entire family is so happy for you both! We know you will never hurt her in any way.

Just to let you know we have something in common, since you never had much time to get to know us like your partner, Mister Foxster did. When I was in Germany being much younger, I worked in West German film industry. I actually directed three movies you probably never heard of. Then I discovered music, and decided to go into that. Sometimes I wonder if I should have remained in film, as I really do love movies.

Dotty and I are having break from show in Vegas in a week, and would love to visit you in Alabama. (Don't worry, it will just be Dotty and myself, not entire band this time. Ha ha!) We have been talking about retiring shortly, as the family band can do very well on its own. We really enjoyed Pleasantview, and have been thinking about buying a retirement home there.

We look forward to seeing you all again! God bless all of you!

and Dotty Von Grüber

P.S. Dotty and I have enclosed a check for your engagement present.

* * * * *

The Foxster finishes reading. Skipster sits back down.

Skipster (clearing throat): They're ba-ack! Analysis, Mister Spock?

Foxster: How much was the check?

Skipster: Who cares? I'm never going to cash it.

Foxster: Endorse it to me, then.

Skipster: Stop being a wise-guy. What do you make of all this?

Foxster: Your reading comprehension skills are as good as mine... well, almost. (smiles) You read the letter before I did. Uncle Kris and Aunt Dotty wuv their little Gretchie-poo, and for some strange reason think you're the ideal man for her, and...

Skipster: Come on, David, I'm serious!

The Foxster thinks long and hard for a moment, removes his dark glasses and looks the Skipster right in the eyes.

Foxster: Fine. You want "serious," you'll get "serious." Both barrels. I think it's time I held up a mirror to you.

Skipster: Me? I want to know what you think he's up to!

Foxster: "Up to?" What do you have against Uncle Kris, or Gretchen's whole family, for that matter?

Skipster: That's your serious answer to my question? Another question?

Foxster: So I'm Irish; sue me. (pause) I mean it, though. That whole family is nothing but a bunch of sweethearts, but you resented them from the moment they set up their tent on the property.

Skipster: I was afraid they were there to sponge off of Gretchen's new boss... or bosses, once you rejoined the fold.

Foxster: Yeah, but they didn't! In fact, they were even more than generous when Simpson/Lynch Studios fell on tough times for that brief but alarming period. I know that Tara and I were offered plenty of free meals courtesy of the Von Grübers, at a time when every penny counted.

Skipster (defensively): We pulled out of it...

Foxster: Yeah, eventually, but it was tough sledding while you were out of your head, thinking you were "Big Daddy-O" Skipster! The only thing they "took" from us was several square feet of unused property, which ended as soon as they got the gig in Vegas!

Skipster: Well, that damned Oompah music kept me up all night...

Foxster: Is that the best you've got? You're not exactly the type for hot chocolate and jammies by eight, anyway!

Skipster: So, you can really blame me for suspecting their motives?

Foxster: What "motives?" It was obvious that they were just finding an excuse to hang around while making sure that their little girl wasn't being taken advantage of by the big, bad Hollywood vultures! I mean, haven't you ever... (long pause) Oh, my God... Of course you haven't!

Skipster: Haven't what?

Foxster: I keep forgetting... You're new at this.

Skipster: You keep saying that. Stop saying that! What are you talking about?

Foxster: You've never been subjected to anything like that, have you?

Skipster: Anything like what?

Foxster: Gretchen's huge family. Hell, anyone's huge family!

Skipster: So I was an only child? So what?

Foxster: And you yourself told me, not long ago, that what family you did have wasn't very close. Domineering mother, passive father...

Skipster: Are you analyzing me?

Foxster: You got a good look at Gretchen's large, closely-knit, protective, loving family, and you couldn't deal with it. Probably scared the crap out of you, or at the very least, disoriented the hell out of you.

Skipster: Sonofa...! You are analyzing me!

Foxster: Hey, you asked for my analysis.

Skipster: Of Uncle Kris! Not of me!

Foxster (softly): I'm just holding up the mirror, like I warned you that I would. (brief pause) Truth hurts?

Skipster (after a long pause): Maybe a little.

Foxster (putting his dark sunglasses back on): I'm right, you know.

Skipster (smirking): I hate that... you know. I hate it when you're right. Did I ever tell you that?

Foxster (chuckling): More times than I can count. I lost track after 47.

Skipster: I've gotta admit, it bothered me that you warmed up to them so quickly, and vice versa.

Foxster: Well, sure, that's because I'm so freakin' wonderful. (seriously) That, and the fact that I have... well, had... such a big family. And it was nice to feel that way again.

Skipster: "Had?"

Foxster: Long story. Several long stories, actually. But... let's save that for a day when I'm on the analyst's couch and you're holding up the mirror, shall we?

Skipster: Sure. (Foxster rises, taking his mug of tea from the table as he heads for the door.) Oh, and... Thanks.

Foxster (teasingly): Oh, shut up. (brief pause) Wait until you get my bill.

Skipster: Where are you going now?

Foxster: I'm going to stop in at Kewl Beanz!, and spend some quality time with Tara. How about you? Are you going to sit here all morning?

Skipster. No. (brief pause) No, actually... I think I'll go and find Gretchen, and spend some quality time with her.

Foxster: Ah. Not a lot of work's gonna get done in the ol' studio today...

Skipster: I can live with that.

Foxster: Really! (pause) Good. You're learning. (Foxster exits)

* * * * *

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