One Night at the Furs Only Club
By Charles Matthias
No particular impetus behind this tale, just a desire to look at a slice of life and a favorite pastitme of mine.
It was a modest gathering, Aaron noted, that evening as he stepped through the double doors into the club room. Cassandra was as usual leaning over the back of the couch, her feline tail twitching in the air behind her as she reached for God knows what back there. Marcus and Tim were sitting opposite each other at the checkers board, their yellow eyes transfixed on the red and black pieces between them. Amber was sinking into the couch a few feet away, her muzzle stuck between the pages of a book, while her glasses continuously slipped down to her nose. Carl sat acropss from her and tried to get her to chat, but she just kept looking back at the pages of her book. Even Sean was there, which was unusual; he sat alone by himself in one corner, munching on a small candy bar of some kind, chewing thoughtfully as he watched the others.
Aaron grimaced, and choking back a bit of bile, he crossed the threshold and was quickly met by Carl's piping voice. "What ho, Aaron! Glad you could join us tonight!"
It wasn't that Aaron didn't like their club President, it was just that the ferret's cheerfullness tended to grate on his nerves. Sitting down opposite the two checker fiends, he leaned back and asked, "So, is this it for tonight?"
"Well, it is seven o'clock, but I figure we can wait a few more minutes for the rest of them."
Aaron looked over at the Siamese and called out, "Hey Cassie, find anything down there?"
She gave him a mischevious look and then waved with one paw. "Why don't you come take a look yourself."
Aaron shook his head. "No thank you!"
Marcus grinned as he looked up from his game. "Are ya afraid of a cat?"
Aaron glowered at the wolf morph, trying not to think about the joke. Why the Hell did his parents want to become mice? Wolves and cats and deer he could understand, but mice? Sighing, he curled his tail up behind him on the couch and leaned back. "So what are we going to do tonight to forget that we are freaks?"
Sean turned his head at that, nearly smacking his growning antlers into the wall. "You're in a cheery mood tonight."
Crossing his arms in front of him, Aaron tried to ignore the others while he sat in the chair, his legs dangling before him. The others quickly forgot his snipishness and got on with their own business. Tim continued taking more and more of Marcus's black pieces on the checker board, Amber read her book, and Cassandra did whatever it was she did back there. Carl got up from the couch and crossed over the room to try and get Sean interested in doing something, anything than just sitting there.
When the door to the Furs Only Club shut suddenly a few moments later, all heads turned to see who had entered. Aaron climbed up the couch and peered back over the top at the odd looking fellow that stood there. "I take it this is the Furs Only Club?"
Carl nodded and walked right on over, his sinuousy body bursting with energy. "That's right! I'm Carl, the President. Who are you?"
The figure that stood in the doorway was of medium build with a slight paunch, and a short tail. His fur was a ruddy grey, and there was a playfullness to his dark eyes. Yet the most odd characteristic about him was his face. It tapered down into a six inch long narrow snout that wiggled about as he talked. "My name's Roy. Good to meet all of you. I just transferred here, and was hoping to find a club like this. Is this all there is?"
Carl shook his head, inviting Roy into the room. "Nope, there are about twice this number, but not everybody can come all the time, tests and all that."
"Not all of us want to come either. What are you?" Aaron asked, thanking his parents for not being so crazy as to become something like that!
"Aardvark," Roy said with a bit of aplomb. "And who are you?"
After the introductions went all around, and they had gotten Cassandra to actually sit in the couch it was time to get down to club business. Not that they ever really had any, but the other members did like to make a show of it.
"So, what do you guys normally do here?" Roy asked before Carl could start off his soliloquy for the evening.
"Well, I was just about to get to that," Carl replied, but Aaron cut him off.
"We sit here, stare at the walls and talk about how much our life sucks usually. Why, what did you have in mind?"
Roy seemed quite taken aback by the hostility in the mouse's remarks. His snout twitched a moment, as did his ears, but the playfullness was still there in his eyes. "Well, we usually went and did something together as a group that was fun. My favorite was bowling night. I was never much good at it, but we always had a good time there. Do you guys have a bowling alley anywhere near here?"
Marcus nodded. "Yeah, its a short drive from here."
Amber shook her head. "Our club charter doesn't allow us to spend our money on nights off campus."
"What kind of stupid rule is that?" Roy asked.
Carl grimaced. "We had to include it in the charter so the School Senate would let us make a club."
Roy just shook his head. "Well, that's no fun! Hey, why don't we go anyway? It is something to do. So we have to spend our own money, so what?"
"People will stare at us," Sean murmured quietly. Aaron nodded his assent, crossing his arms in front of him.
Roy laughed at that. "So? People always stare! You know why, because they're jealous; that's what my Dad always says."
"Oh give me a break, how can they be jealous of that," he pointed at Roy, "or this," he pointed to himself.
"Doesn't matter if it's true or not. It's all about attitude!" Roy said, getting up to his hindpaws. "I say we get out of here and go bowling, have a really good time, what do you all say?"
Cassandra nearly jumped up from her seat. "Sounds like fun, I'm going!"
Marcus and Tim were quick to join, the two wolves always in the sport for a game of some sort. Carl was on his paws next, trying as usual to lead them to the bowling alley, even though it hadn't been his idea. Sean begrudgingly seemed to accept the idea, glancing at his three-fingered hands and muttering about how he was going to even roll the ball. Amber silently joined the others. Only Aaron remained where he sat.
"Aren't you coming, Aaron?" Tim asked as they all stood by the doorway.
"Come on, Aaron, it should be fun," Marcus chided him, his yellowed eyes sparkling mischieviously.
Roy looked at the others and said, "Hey, you guys go wait outside, I'll talk to him a minute okay?"
Carl nodded. "Okay, we'll figure out which cars were taking. I guess I'll drive one. Come on you furs, lets go!" Pretty soon, the only two left in the room were Roy and Aaron. Only the lingering scent of his companions remained to remind the mouse that they'd even been here before.
"Aaron, what is your problem? Don't you even want to go out and have some fun with the rest of us?" Roy asked, his eyes filled with concern. He sat down next to the mouse, his snout dangling comically from his face.
Aaron did not look at the aardvark, but scooted away a bit, and accidentally sat on his tail in the process. "I'm perfectly happy by myself, thank you."
"You don't seem happy."
"Look, just leave me alone okay! Go have your fun, go pretend your normal, and pretend that everybody else isn't laughing at you. I'll just go back to my room and read a book or do my homework."
Roy grimaced slightly, blinking for a moment. "You think it's hard being a mouse? Try being an aardvark sometime. The shit I've had to put up with is unbelievable. But when I lay down to go to bed, I want to do so happy about myself. I'm proud of what I am, despite what anybody else says. You should be too.
"I would like to have you along to go bowling. It will be a lot of fun. And besides, they may jeer at us, but so what if they do? No seriously, so what? We are special, you have to believe that. I believe it."
Aaron just stared blankly at the wall, trying not to let Roy's words sink in. "What if I don't want to be special? What if I just wanted to be a human being, and not a fur?"
"Well, you do have that choice, if you have the money and if you qualify for the procedure. They don't seem very interested in reversing it from what I hear though."
Aaron just turned away form Roy again. "Look, just leave me alone, okay?"
Roy stood up from the couch, and nodded. "Okay, I'm sorry. I would like to have you come bowling with us though. Can't you try at least this once?"
Aaron sighed visibly, his teeth yearning to gnaw on something. He pulled a bit of tough fabric from his pocket and chewed on that a moment to calm himself before he stood on his hindpaws. "All right, I'll come," he muttered between bites. Roy visibly smiled, and escorted him to the door where the other furs waited outside. Marcus and Tim both gave the much shorter Aaron knowing winks while Cassandra flicked her tail in his general direction. Sean was just sort of staring off into space as usual, while Carl was leading them towards the parking lot. Amber was carrying her book in one paw, and did not seem to notice.
The mouse breathed deep and walked along behind the rest, trying to ignore the stares that passing humans leveled at them all as they went.
"Gee, another gutter ball," Amber remarked as she watched Carl stare down the alley in disbelief.
The ferret pointed at the lane, where all ten pins stood defiantly, "Did you see that? It robbed me!"
Roy laughed as he got ready to bowl in the other lane. It was a pretty quiet night at the bowling alley, one of the few nights that they did not have a league. So the eight of them had requested two lanes. Aaron had to admit that it was kind of funny to see the receptionist's face when she asked what shoe size they all wore. Still, it was also a bit embarassing to have to use one of the six pound balls!
"Hey Carl, are you going for a perfect game or something? You haven't hit a single pin in the first four frames!" Tim chuckled heartily, as did his brother Marcus.
"Hey, we're on the same team! You are suppose to root for me!" Carl objected, though he was having a bit of trouble from hiding his own mirth. Even Amber, the fourth member of their team was trying to keep her ursine face straight.
Roy only knocked down a few pins on his roll, and then it was Aaron's turn. Tim was bowling in the other lane, and managed to leave only one standing. The mouse watched him for a moment, hefting the six pound ball in his paws. To the cheers of the others on his team, the wolf slowly approached, sending the ball forward with a graceful swing of his arm. It rolled slowly, but steadily heading straight for the last surviving pin. And then it passed it by just the barest breath when the ball suddenly hooked to the left at the last second.
"Oh! It was so close!" Marcus wailed as his brother shook his paws in the sky in mock defeat.
Aaron looked down the lane, and knew that he would probably only manage to get a few pins like he had the past three frames. It was inevitable. Cassandra was the best on their team so far, knocking down all but one or two pins each time. Sean did about as well as Roy and Aaron normally did, though he did seem to be more interested in how he was doing than normal.
Stepping up onto the lane, Aaron scuffed his sandles upon the floor. Since the quality of the lanes are paramount to the bowling alley, they had to be kept in excellent shape. Since their footpads came equipped with an automatic scratch and dent device known as claws - or in Sean's case hooves - they had to be fitted with special shoes. Unfortunately, the only ones his size that Aaron could use were his sandles, and those tended to slip.
Taking a few jerky steps forward, Aaron tossed the ball onto the lane, shuddering at the crash as it struck the center of the alley and kept rolling. He watched it for a moment as it weaved a bit off center, heading straight down in the most perfect path he'd ever seen. It struck just off center of the head pin, and suddenly, all of them tumbled in a noisy crash! Aaron stood there staring at the spectacle, his mouth agape, and his tail curling about his legs. Whoops and cheers from the other furs caught his attention and made it clear what he'd just done. He'd bowled a strike!
"All right, Aaron! You did it!" Roy cheered, his long snout waving back and forth.
"Oh, there's more than meets the eye to that mouse!" Cassandra snickered as her tail flicked back and forth.
Sean came onto the alley and patted him on the back, "Great job, Aaron. That was so cool!"
Marcus and Tim both gave him a wag of the tail and a competitive grin, while Amber was picking out the mouse's ball in her large paws. "I think I'll use the lucky ball this time," she murmured, to everyone's delight.
Aaron sat back down, his whole body filled with the excitement of having bowled a strike when he noticed a group of college students approaching them. He could smell the beer on their breath as they drew closer. He even recognized a few of them from his classes at the university.
"Hey, who said you freaks could come in here and bowl?" one of them, a freshman named Derek, called out to the delight of his cronies.
Roy and Carl both stood up, staring the freshman down. "Who said you freaks could come in here and drink?" Roy shot back, his face completely calm. Carl looked at Roy with a bit of admiration. Aaron watched the aardvark, and then looked down at his own grayish-pink paws.
"What the fuck are you man, an elephant?" one of the others asked, pointing at Roy's nose.
Marcus let out a low growl beneath his breath, as did his brother Tim. Amber began tossing the six pounder back and forth between her paws. Cassandra was idly examining the claws on one of her paws, her slit eyes glaring up at the drunks. Sean took off one of his shoes and began tapping his hooves on the hard tiled floor. Even the staff began to take an interest in the confrontation, but remained at a distance. Roy shot back after a moment's pause, "I'm an aardvark; if you spent your time in classes instead of making asses out of yourself by getting drunk, then you might know that."
"Are you messing with us?" Derek shot back glassy-eyed.
"Why should I? You've messed yourselves up pretty well. You don't need my help."
Derek laughed harshly at that, his gaze a bit uncertain. "The damn elephant thinks he's funny. Go find a circus you freaks. If you don't get out of here, we'll call the pound on you!" His cronies chuckled as they pointed and jeered.
Aaron stood up then and walked over to Roy's side. "Why don't you all just climb back under the rock you came from."
"Oooooh, the little mousey talks tough!" Derek jibbed. "What's your fucking problem, Mickey? Want us to show you what a real man is?"
"I know what a real man is, and I certainly am not looking at it!" Aaron called out. He then glanced up at Roy who stood impassively at his side. A smile crossed the rodent's muzzle. "You all are just jealous!"
Derek blinked at the words, his mouth opening to say something else, hanging there for a few moments, and then closing again. Behind him, the security officer was gently tapping his club in one palm, watching them with keen interest. Derek noticed the man out of the corner of his eyes, and his lips curled into a sneer. He then turned about on his heels and grumbled, "Let's get out of here." His cronies were quick to follow suit.
Roy turned to Aaron and grinned, his long snout sniffing at the air. "Thanks! You sure told them!"
Aaron wiggled his whiskers after a moment. "Let's get back to our game, shall we?"
"Absolutely!" the aardvark called out with a good bit of enthusiasm.
Later that evening, the eight of them returned to the college campus and to their regular club room. They were chatting, hooting, and making quite a bit of noise as they clomped and padded their way down the hall. As they finally returned to the room, Aaron felt a bit of regret that the night was over. Amber sat back in her usual spot, but did not pick up her book. Cassandra sat on her haunches, chatting with Sean, who seemed quite animated for once. Marcus and Tim howled into the air as they celebrated their narrow victory. Carl was fawning over Roy the entire time, as Aaron sat down in his usual spot chewing on his piece of fabric.
"Look," Carl was saying as they came through the door, "I think you should be the club President. You have way cooler ideas than I ever had."
Roy shook his head, patting the ferret on the back with one paw. "It's okay, Carl, really! I just want to come here and spend some good time with my new friends."
"Are you sure?"
"Absolutely!" Roy said as he sat down next to Aaron on the couch. "I still can't believe the college won't let you do that with your club money!"
"Well, I'm sure we can think of something," Sean pointed out.
"Why not use it to buy shoes for ourselves?" Aaron pointed out. "I mean, they won't let us use it to pay for the games, but if we have our own shoes, that takes care of most of the cost anyway."
"Hey, now that's an idea!" Marcus grinned. "Still, it's kinda expensive to go bowling every week don't you think?"
"We can make it a once a month event," Roy suggested. "I'm sure we can think of lots of things to do together at the next meeting!"
Aaron grinned. "I can't wait!" They all were in complete agreement about that!
End One Night at the Furs Only Club
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