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Blue
by Jacob Blue Fox
Jacob Blue Fox -- all rights reserved
 

It's strange how life goes. One moment you wish it would all go away the next thing you know you think you're the luckiest man on the face of the Earth. My life is like that, during my childhood I felt like everyone was out to get me but now life is too good to give up. I changed my name to Jacob Fox. I did it because a part of me died on May 9th 2026. I look in the mirror everyday to see a 5'9" 280 pound kid just starting to get his act together. (I plan on losing weight) The only thing I whine about now is my short brown hair that never, ever comes out the way I like it. My hat collection is going on twenty-two. I'm nineteen officially, but it only seems like I've been truly alive for two. Here's the story about the part of me that went cold.

I was eight when my mother got into the accident. I was sleeping in the back of the car; it was nine o'clock at night. We were on our way to my father's cabin in the woods of Hillsboro NH. It was nearly Christmas and mom wanted me to spend sometime with my father to try to bond with him. I hated these trips. I was extremely happy in Manchester. I was a city kid not a country bumpkin. On Saturdays Mom and I would take road trips all over NH, they seemed like adventures. During the summers my mom and I would take a few of her friends and go down to Hampton Beach. The small beach house they would rent was the best. If I knew then what I knew now, I might have been a little scared of the nuclear power plant in the distance. To cross the border into Massachusetts we would have to pass the power plant. That would be the only happy memory I would have for a long while. Our red Oldsmobile was speeding along the highway when a drunk driver crashed head on into us. I didn't even feel the hit. I woke up ten minutes later to the screams of my mom calling out for my father. I tried to open the doors but I was eight and my strength wasn't enough to open the mangled car. Even with my mom's yelling, even with the controlled chaos all around me, I fell back to sleep. The next thing I knew I was in an ambulance having a paramedic ask about my toy I had in my hand. (The only one of my twelve Christmas presents to survive the crash.)

I never knew much about my father. Mom lived in Manchester; she had a great paying job there so she couldn't give it up. My father built his dream home in the woods in Hillsboro. My mom would on the weekends pack up a few of our belongings in the car and we drove the half-hour to the cabin where father would try to grab my attention with hunting and fishing. He even gave me his prized animal identification book which I memorized, but still I hated both with a passion. So it was a shock to find out that we were moving to Hillsboro forever. They tried to warm me up to the idea by showing me around town. Hillsboro looked like it was painted by Norman Rockwell, I would soon learn it was Norman Bates. The town center if you could call it that was a large group of Victorian whitewashed buildings. Most of which were about ready to fall off the cliffs into the Contoocook River. We turned right onto School Street and pasted the whitewashed Victorians. We were about to go down a small hill when I saw it. It was an average sized brick building, above the front door the words High School were carved into the granite doorway.

I asked my mom, "Am I going to high school?"

She looked back and said no. The town had just built a new ten million-dollar high school a half a mile away. The old veneer was placed above the door in 1969. My last day of Manchester schooling ended on June 9th, my birthday. I was so nave, I remember telling my first grade teacher that this was going to be the most fun I will ever have. My mind went into a blur from elementary school to the first days of freshman year of high school. I never was liked at Hillsboro, most of my memories are just one blurred beating after another. All that I can recall is a couple of moments from that span. The first one was when I met Jerome Gross, my eternal friend. It was 3rd grade and my classmates and I were playing on the playground. It was made from recycled materials, like tires, old wooden poles, and ropes.

I was on the tire swing when I heard Joey Carson yell out "Get the Gross kid."

There was a swamp near the playground that we were not supposed to go into. Behind the swamp is Hillcat Drive the roadway to the high school. The only way to escape most bullies was to run through it and hope you get caught. Jerome didn't make it. Two kids had Jerome pinned to the tree. I think they were Aaron Huston and Bob Dawson. Jerome didn't do anything; he was just playing with some other kids. Joey being the class bully decided to "vent" his anger at life on Jerome's face. Jerome to put it kindly wasn't born with the benefit of a butt. He was an easy target it a hard world. Joey walked over to Jerome like he was king of the world. He cocked his arm ready to punch out Jerome. I had to stop him. I grabbed his arm and told him to stop.

"Let go of me fat boy." He said.

Jerome had an easy name to pick on and I was the fat kid of the class and most of the schoolyard bullies used it as an excuse to beat the living crap out of us. This would be no exception. Aaron and Bob let go Jerome and they charged at me. I punched Joey right in the kisser. He fell to the dirt grabbing at his face. Blood came down on to his ancient South Park T-shirt, which his parents got at a Salvation Army. (I now think that he was a little too young to have been wearing a T-shirt like that.) I was next to fall to the ground. Aaron got me right in the left eye. I thought that Jerome ran away to protect himself but he was fighting Bob. Joey was a coward and he ran into the principal's office and told his bullshit story. The next thing we knew Jerome and I was sitting in the secretary's office waiting to go into Principal Heron's office. I looked over to Jerome; he had a bruise on his right cheek, dirt in his wavy brown hair, a smile on his face.

"Thanks for saving me at the swamp Ray." Jerome said.

Holding an ice bag against my left eye I said, "You're welcome."

Our class was less than a hundred people, everyone knew everybody. Jerome had heard of me, but he never knew me. Joey, Aaron, and Bob walked out of office with giant smirks on their faces. Joey thought he had Principal Heron wrapped around his finger, the truth was that I was in control. Our faces turned serious when Mr. Heron called us into his office. Jerome was nervous but I wasn't. I had gotten into a lot of fights before and Mr. Heron knew most of the fights were not my fault. Jerome was and still is a saint. The model of a boy scout. Mr. Heron's office was childish but still professional. On the desk there were McDonalds toys surrounding his desk nameplate. Airplane mobiles hung from the ceiling. I looked up at Mr. Heron. He rubbed his hands through his gray hair and groaned.

"Ray, let me guess. This wasn't your fault, Joey started it and you finished it?" Mr. Heron said.

I agreed, Jerome and I told our stories. Mr. Heron was a wise man, he knew we were telling the truth. Jerome and I did get a couple of days suspended. Joey and his gang got a week. My memory ends right there. There is one other memory that stick out in my mind; it was when I lost most of my innocence. During the seventh grade I was in the courtyard of the middle school, which was just the same building as the elementary school, when Trevor Diggs came up to me. Trevor was the popular kid in school at the time and the fact that he was talking to me was a shock. Other than Jerome Trevor was the only person I had ever considered a friend. I was still nave; I threw the word friend around like it was nothing. Trevor even at age thirteen was big, marine-looking, work boot wearing kid. Trevor and I were hanging out with each other for a couple of weeks when.

"Hey Ray the boys and I are going out to have some fun you want to come?" He asked.

I eagerly said, "Yeah, yes sure. Where?"

"The hill." He said.

The hill was to the left of the field behind the playground. The playground designers place the top of our slide at the top of the hill. The base of the slide was at the bottom of the hill. It was a sixty-foot ride that all the elementary kids loved. The hill was also the place where most of the bad asses of the school loved to fight. After elementary school I stopped going to the hill. I didn't like to fight; I also grew up a little. It was three o'clock on a Friday. I walked up the hill, wondering what kind of initiation I was going to walk into. There was Trevor at the top of the hill his arms were crossed.

"Go into the woods with me." He said with a smile on his face.

We walked deeper into the woods via the Devil's Rock trail. There was Joey, and Aaron standing by the rock. Trevor walked up to them and slapped their hands.

"I told you I could get him up here." Trevor told them.

I tried to turn around but out from the thicket came Les Shea and John Washington. (The only black student in the school.)

"What's going on?" I asked.

They just smiled, not answering my question. John kicked me in the knee and I was on the ground. "The boys" started to kick the crap out me. Trevor was the first to kick me, square in the jaw. They beat me until there legs were tired then they walked away like they did nothing wrong. Trevor was the last to leave. He picked up a rock and walked back towards me. I was lying on the ground, I felt like I was dying. I didn't move when he cocked his arm back. This was the first time I wished I were dead.

"You fat fuck." He said as he spit in my face.

He was about to throw the rock point blank into my face when he heard Aaron call for him. He dropped the rock, two inches from my face. (Lucky me.) I couldn't move. I was paralyzed with fear. An hour passed before Dawn Stanton found me. Dawn was the brains of the class. She had straight black hair that ended at her shoulders. Small round glasses framed her thin face. Most of my classmates thought she was ugly, I had a slight crush on her during high school.

"What happened?" She asked.

I didn't move or say anything. The only reason why she thought I was alive was my breathing. I wasn't dying but I was going insane. I was thirteen years old and I wanted to die. My soul felt like it was fading away. Dawn practically dragged me out of the woods. Amazing if you consider she was only ninety pounds then. I gained some composure and called my mom to pick me up. While I waited for my mom I realized that I would never be a part of the class. By some miracle I didn't have any injuries other than some bruises. (For once fat helped my out.) Paranoia, doubt, and depression grew in me. For the rest of the year I didn't trust anyone, not even Jerome. I became a beating pole for the school. The only way to be part of the group was to beat the living crap out of me. Physically I couldn't be hurt. Mentally I was defeated. I lost most of my will to fight or live. Councilors tried to get into my head but I wouldn't allow them. For some reason I thought the cure was going to be worst than disease. I put on a face happy face whenever I saw Jerome. He knew nothing about my death wish. I tried to escape my pain, tried to stay away from people. I only left the house to go over to Jerome's house or to school. I didn't go to school functions until I was sixteen. Most of my time was spent watching TV. (God what a waste) I became a sports fan much to the chagrin of my father who hated all professional sports. Anything within the Boston sports scene I became a fanatic of. This distraction didn't help my mind set. I wanted to run away from my life but when your body is the prison and your town is the jailer there is no escape. During this time I started to notice the formation of groups. By the time high school came around these groups would evolve into the Drug users, the brains, the jocks and the kings of the world. I was the odd man out.

Sophomore year wasn't a bad year I just perceived it to be. People were starting to grow up but my mind was damaged beyond repair. My soul was dead. It was May 6th and the Prom was going to be on the 10th. By this time I had an ill-conceived notion that God wanted me to die. I had planned for months on how and when I would kill myself. On the day I was going to die, Jerome called in sick. I thought this was a sign. The day started out as usual; the biggest of the drug users insults me while the smallest hits me, the kings would ignore me, the jocks pushed me around, then finally the brains insulted my intelligence. I didn't feel accepted by anyone and I never let anyone get close to me. Everything seemed to be going as planned. Most everyone was concerned about the up coming prom; it was the one time of the year where all the groups got together, except for me. I left the school with the chatter of dresses and tuxes drilling into my head. I wanted them to think about me for once. I ran up the stairs not even bothering to look in the living room. I knew what I was going to see. My father half-dead on his chair, watching the four o'clock news with his coffee in his hand. He didn't even bother to take off his dirty work clothes. My mom would be doing dishes in the kitchen or drinking coffee. At the top of the stairs was my father's pride and joy, his 52-pound salmon he caught in the waters of Lake Ontario. To the left my salvation; the gun rack, specifically the double barrel shotgun. It looked old and rusted but my father used it to shoot at an otter a couple of days ago. I quietly picked the gun out of the rack and took it to my room.

I hated my room and my house. Supposedly this was going to be the dream house my family would live in forever. The house was stained in a brown-orange color. My room is small and badly designed. On the day they drew up where they were going to place my windows a 12-pack of beer disappeared from the fridge. If you were to look at my windows today you would see that one window is a foot lower than the other. Sports memorabilia crowded the walls and my bed took up much of the small space. I placed the shotgun on my unmade bed and took some things off my chair. It was a yellow school chair I stole from of rivals from the next town. For one day I was treated like an average person for what I did. The day after I was insulted by the same people who heralded me before. I put the chair in the middle of the room right in front of my TV, which I stopped watching because I lost interest in the world. I took one final look out my windows not knowing what was going to happen next. To the southwest was the dirt road that I lived on, nothing that would prevent me from my suicide. However to the Northwest, (and down one foot) was my favorite view of New Hampshire.

My pond has always been a place where I could just stare into the water and forget my problems. About ten feet from my house is a spring and stream feed pond, it was the only part of Hillsboro I really liked. My father stocked it with trout, bass, etc. With Sulpher Hill in the background it made a perfect feeding ground for large animals like bear, moose, otters and beavers. It also made for a perfect death trap. My parents would shoot anything animal that came close to the pond. I knew that I was living too far in the woods when I came six inches to black bear eating the bird seed from the bird feeders on our front yard. My father shot his thirty odd six at the bear and he ran away. (I was rooting for the bear.)

After staring at the pond for an hour I sat down on the chair and grabbed the shotgun. I placed the butt of the gun on the floor and the two barrels under my chin. The hammers were cocked as I reached for the triggers. I started to think about my funeral as I rubbed the triggers with my finger. None of the faces in my pretend funeral were recognizable. The pallbearers were anonymous, they carried the closed casket to the nearby cemetery behind the church. I didn't know what church it was but I remember seeing it before. No one spoke or showed emotion as my casket was lowered into the grave. I was satisfied with that image. I started to squeeze the triggers when a thought came to my mind, "This outta' fuck up their prom." But then another thought came to my mind that totally conflicted with my daydream, "Maybe they will think about me this time." Click

I opened my eyes and opened the barrels. For once in my father's life he cleaned out the gun. I softly dropped the rifle trying not to make any noise. My TV was off but I stared at the black screen for a while. I didn't know what to think. For some reason I got up and looked out at the pond again. The sun was setting causing my face to reflect off the glass. I took a hard look at myself. I recognized the face but something had changed. It felt like something had died inside of me but I was still alive. Some would say that I found God that day; too bad I don't believe in him. No, wait. It's not that I don't believe in him it's just that I don't know if there is a God. I don't believe in him but I don't know if he doesn't exist. I figure I have enough problems with my life to worry about, finding God shouldn't be a concern. But if there is a God I will thank him for hitting the reset switch for my soul. That's the only way I can describe it; it felt like someone hit a little red button and said I could start all over again with my life.

I walked down the stairs hoping for some answers. Mom was sitting on the couch near the stairs and my father was still sitting in his favorite chair. The five o'clock news was on, the story that was being broadcasted was a story on a civil rights march in Manchester. My father, in traditional fashion, was blasting the TV with his opinions.

"Well lookie here the niggers are hooking up with the freaks." He said.

Mom just sat on the couch silent. She lost most of the courage and bravado I loved about her when she got into the accident. If she had half the heart she had back in Manchester she would have blasted him for the racist comments he had made. I just walked by, I was still confused about what had just happened.

I knew that what my father said was morally wrong, He always was a racist. He thought that blacks and SCABS were all animals waiting to be shot. Even during the times of Martian flu, he still hated blacks with a passion. I knew what my father said about blacks was wrong. Even with Hillsboro's small black population I had met enough blacks to know they were as normal as everyone else. On the other hand, I had never met a SCAB in my childhood. No one at the school or the town was visibly a SCAB. Once in junior high a kid named John Barton mysteriously disappeared in the middle of the year. Rumors flew around that he became a SCAB. I had seen them before on TV but even I knew that those TV SCABS were stereotyped monsters or fools. Still I had an unwarranted fear of them because they were part of the unknown.

Looking for some privacy I walked into the bathroom. My face still looked the same in the mirror but something still felt wrong, (or right.) I showered and placed the gun back in the rack. The chair was the last thing I put away before going to bed. Before going to sleep I asked myself, "Who am I?" That night I slept like I never slept before. Walking into school on Monday, I knew things had changed. People were happier after the prom and they had a weekend of parting to add to the celebrations. I didn't fear going into the school. The day just went by like it was nothing. Even when I was insulted it just bounced off. I was in a no man's land, I didn't have a reason to die but I didn't have a reason to live either. My mind and soul were trapped between depression and hope. I didn't know where I was going to next. The rest of the year flew by, the world started to become a better place in my eyes. During the summer I soon realized what happened in May. Ray Belanger died on May 9th 2026, and a new persona was forming, Jacob Fox. I wasn't successful in killing myself but I killed the sadness. Everything had changed for me. I guess it was about late July or early August that I left the no man's land and learned that my life was worth living. I became a touch sarcastic as time went by, the sarcasm rubbing off from Jerome. It sometimes gets to the point where it's sickening but people learn to live with it. ( ;-p )

I decided that as soon as I left high school I was going to change my name. Jacob Fox was my grandfather, he died on the day I was born. I had never met the man but I had a strange connection with him. From what I heard he was a major reporter for the Manchester Leader, the number one newspaper in the state. On the day I was born he vanished without a trace. No one at the paper knew where he was, his bank accounts to this day haven't been touched, and his apartment was empty for three months before the landlord finally rented it out. Mom told me stories about his investigations of crooked officials and busting slumlords. She told me I have his brown eyes, his face, and his persistence in asking why. Mom even gave me a picture of him when he was thirty and already balding. (The future looks bleak for my hairline!)

Another miracle happened which helped save my life. I signed up for courses at the vocational center at Concord, specifically the medical vocation. As I walked into the classroom students looked up at me nervously. I was a bit nervous myself, most of the people in the class were from high schools all over New Hampshire. My shyness would have defeated that day, but like I said before I had changed.

"How 'ya been?" I nervously asked the class.

Most of them smiled, happy to see a friendly person in this strange class. This was the oddest classroom I had ever seen. At the back of the room were four hospital beds for labs, to the left offices for the teachers, (We called the offices the fishbowl, due to the large windows surrounding the room.) Then there were the two pillions in the middle of the room dividing the rows of desks. Finally there were the sinks towards the right side of the room, five of them I think. Other than the stark whiteness of the walls it looked like a fun place to learn. As I sat down a fortyish looking woman walked into the room. Around her neck was a stethoscope, on her face was a large smile. With her big glasses she looked a bit foolish but none of us would say that to her face. Her name was Denise Proper and she told us the only away we could ever gain her attention was to call her by her first name. Denise was a nurse at Concord Hospital, she taught the class in between her shifts and she loved every minute of it, even with my sarcastic comments about her sanity. The thing was she not only taught us medical skills but she also taught us how to be confident, she raised my self-esteem to a point where I almost forgot my sadness. She came to my life at the right time and I will be eternally grateful for what she did for me.

Half way through the year we built our skills up to a point where we could go out and be useful to the community. I felt confident when I walked in that day. I was late in getting to the class and the only person who was standing at the clinical assignment sheet was Naomi. Naomi was all business but she had a great sense of humor.

"Hi Ray." She said as she moved a strand of brown hair from her face.

"What did you get?" I asked.

"I'm going to physical therapy. You got lucky, you're going to work at SCAB AT tomorrow." Naomi said with a smile on her small face.

Shocked I blurted out, "What?"

"SCAB athletic training." She said, her smile dropping out sight.

I sat down at a desk, I looked like I was spooked by a demon. I was scared out of my mind. When I have nightmares it usually had a SCAB as a main protagonist. I heard all the rumors about how they could go nuts at anytime. Most people including me thought they were a step higher than animals on the evolution scale. I would soon learn that they we treated as if they were one step lower on the social scale. I was silent for most of the class and Denise noticed. After class I walk to the fishbowl and asked her to move me to another assignment.

"Why?" Asked Denise, "You said you wanted to work with people, you said yourself that you were a sports fan. I just combined the two."

"It's just that I . . .I never actually m . . .met a SCAB before." I stuttered.

A look of disbelief came over her face. She lived in Baron section of Manchester. Back in those days Baron was becoming a haven to New Hampshire SCABS.

She asked, "You never seen a SCAB?"

I quickly said, "I have but only on TV but never believe what I see on TV."

"Well . . .I" She stuttered, "Well you're just going to have to learn to live with it!"

She smiled a wicked smile then walked off. I asked myself, "That's it! That's all! No, 'it's OK they won't bite.' Just live with it!" For the rest of that day I kept wondering why she was so non-chalant about this. I didn't sleep well that night. I kept having visions of animals gnawing off my legs. The next day I was well dressed but tired. My black pinstripe suit was two years old and it was due time for me to get another. The receptionist smiled as I walked up to her desk, her blue eyes were the only things I remember of her. I told her where I was going and she laughed.

"You're a bit overdressed for those guys." She said, "Down the hall and take a right. By the way take care of that suit, it looks good on you."

For a second she helped me take my mind off my SCAB troubles. As I walked my curiosity was playing tricks with me. One second I saw an orderly holding a tray, then a pair of black furry hands grabbed him and ripped him into the room. I closed my eyes for a second, when I opened them I saw the same orderly standing their with his tray smiling at the black elderly lady lying in bed. I kept telling myself everything is going to be fine even though I was about to wet my pants. The training room door was in front of me when I started to get cold feet. Images of my dream flooded my mind. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Calmed I walked in, hoping for the best. The training room was beautiful sight, fully lighted, with a complete weight room, a whirlpool the size of my high school -- and most important of all, funky little toys that only a person with the trainer's certification knew how to use. In the middle of the large room was an office island, like the fishbowl. The only problem with this place was the smell of disinfectant. The next thing that caught my eye were the SCABS. SCABS working on SCABS, SCABS being worked on by SCABS ... it was like a convention - - more like a zoo. They were everywhere, and I figured I was the only "Norm" there. I didn't realize it, but the head trainer walked up behind me.

A deep voice bellowed, "Aren't you a bit overdressed to be here?"

Surprised, I jumped then turned around. At first I thought he was a black bear on his haunches, but after a second look I realized that he had some human qualities.

"Name's David." He said holding out his mal-formed hand.

Nervously I shook his hand. The pads that bulged from underneath his knuckles were rough on my palms. He looked more like a mascot than a professional, he was wearing a white polo shirt with the Concord Hospital logo on the left side pocket, a pair of gray slacks and a large baseball cap that covered his rounded ears. David had a calm manner, he even looked sleepy-eyed.

"Sorry if I look tired, I didn't sleep all that well. I was watching football last night." David yawned, "Don't be nervous, I'm just going to ease you into the routine. Let me show you around the place."

I couldn't keep my eyes off of David's face. It wasn't my morbid curiosity - OK it was little bit of my morbid curiosity, but even with his bear snout poking out from his profile it looked as if he had a smile on his face. My comfort level was growing and I now understood why Denise was so sure that nothing would go wrong. David pointed out to me one trainer after another raising my comfort level even further.

"That's Missy, (she looked like, . . . well a werewolf in a knee-high blue skirt.) She tends to be too passive of her patients so if someone is walking all over her, be the MAN. On the other hand there is Bill, (scrawny looking raccoon-man, it looked as if his shirt hung on him.) We call him Gunho he doesn't take anything from anyone. Finally there is Joe he is working in the whirlpool. Could you go get him for me?"

I nodded and walked away from David. The door to the whirlpool was stained glass and formed an image of the medical staff. I walked in to find two equine figures, one had his arms crossed watching the other dip his arm into an ice bath.

"God this is cold," the zebra grunted, wincing, "If I had know baseball would be more pain than pleasure, I would have quit during little league."

I could tell he was a pitcher, the overkill on the ice was a dead give away. The guy was built I could tell you that much. The zebra striping made him look even more athletic.

"You would think that that fur would be more than just ornamental wouldn't ya?" cracked Joe.

Even I understood that joke and I laughed. Two men look towards my way and Joe's arms dropped from their crossed position. He walked over holding out his hand.

"Hi, you must be the new kid." Joe stopped in mid-sentence and almost psychically said, "Ed put that arm back in the water."

I looked over Joe's shoulder and I saw Ed giving him a dirty look then he moaned as he placed his arm back into the ice water. I told Joe that David wanted to talk to him. Joe gave Ed his final instruction; twenty minutes in the ice water. The last thing I heard as we walked out was a very loud sigh.

"How could you let him do that Missy?!"

Joe's head jolted up, "Oh no Bill's on the war path again."

We practically ran out of the room to see Bill and Missy at each other's throat. "They are going to rip each other apart." I told myself. Their fur was riled, Missy had a slight height and weight advantage but Bill looked more pissed than anything I have ever seen in my life.

"Well I'm sorry that I didn't have them march two by two like you usually do!" Missy yelled back.

Bill's hands were forming into fists, "How could someone like you ever become a trainer? You're too damned laid back."

I couldn't believe that David would let this go on. He was just sitting there watching the show, I thought they were going to kill each other. I had noticed that the last patient had left. This was going to be a private show. I took a step forward and thought out loud, "She going to kill him." Joe grabbed me by my shoulder and placed one finger to the side of his . . .I think nose.

"LAID BACK! LAID BACK! I'll show you laid back!" She screamed.

With that she raised her clawed hands. I thought it was going to be the end of Bill. She dropped her hands down by Bill's ribs and started to . . . tickle him?

Bill's face went from anger to confusion, "What . . .hey STOP! That tickles."

Bill dropped down to the ground, laughing his head off. He flailed his arms about trying to stop Missy. Bill was laughing to a point where he started to get the hick-ups. Laughing myself, I looked over towards Joe, he was shaking his large equine head in disbelief.

"Ha Ha Ha, Hick Stop! Hick" Bill gasped.

David finally got up from his chair, "Alright kids enough is enough. Play time is over."

Most of the crowd looked towards me, Missy was still on top of Bill when David introduced me. Bill saw this as an advantage and turned over Missy and started in on her.

Flustered Missy yelled, "Hey no fair! Ha Ha Ha!"

A wicked smile came over Bill's face, David tried to stop them but the wolf and the raccoon tripped him up and ganged up on him.

"Stop. Cut it out!" Boomed David.

I looked over to Joe, his arms were back in a crossed defensive position.

"Just another day for us health care professionals." Joe sighed.

I took off my glasses and wiped my face, trying to hide my giggling. Learning that my fear of SCABS was irrational wasn't a bad thing. Watching David and his co-workers play drilled a point into my mind; they are human just like me. I just wished the rest of the world could see that point. That was the last time I had ever thought of SCABS in a negative way. The laughing stopped, I quickly put on my glasses and found four furry faces smirking at me.

"Oh shi . . .Ha Ha Ha!" I laughed.

After my hour of work, (one minute work fifty-nine minutes play) I walked out towards the automatic doors of the lobby.

The nurse at the desk laughed, "I told you to take care of your suit."

I looked down and saw fur, wrinkles, and stains. Laughing at the site I said to the nurse, "Yeah you were right. Oh well it was an old suit anyway."

The nurse gave me a smile and I walked out. I didn't care about the suit being ruined. Mom on the other hand. . .

With my new found confidence and will to live, some added benefits showed up. My grades skyrocketed, allowing me to be accepted to McLeod University. The last two years of high school flew by. By the time I knew what was going on it was graduation. Everyone had plans for the summer after graduation but most of my time was spent wasting time with Jerome. The first week of college life was a rush into stress. I guess it's a planned cruel joke professors have for students. The first week was the time where professors dump a whole bunch crap on you and hope you pass out due to the pressure. With schedules, classes, work study, and meeting new people I was on the verge of insanity. Not to mention the paperwork that had to be done for my name change. After a boat-load of classes, I took a deep sigh in the quiet of the McLeod training room. No one was in the sickeningly clean room, other than Larry Smith fellow slave to the work study state. I took an even louder sigh, which echoed throughout the room.

"Rough day?" Asked Scot my boss/professor.

"Do the professors here try and kill you on the first day on purpose or do they do it just to watch us squirm?" I whined sarcastically, "It's only my first day and I'm already spent."

"The first week is always the hardest." Said Larry, whose only sign of SCABS is a pair of white rabbit ears, "It gets easier as it goes along."

Larry is an OK guy just as long as you could survive his California accent and his constant talk about is two hobbies hockey and surfing.

"You learned how to tape right? After the next guy you can go home." Scot said.

Still in a sarcastic mood I quipped, "Y'know for a guy who looks like he could play linebacker for the Pats you're a nice guy."

"Jets baby!" He countered.

"OH shut up 'yorker." I said.

We looked over to Larry, he was laughing at our antics. If you want to have fun job become a trainer! The pay sucks but you get the best seat to any game. As for the next guy to come in for treatment it was Adam Wilcox.

"Hey, Blue, could you tape my ankle up real quick? I want to play pick-up at the parking lot," said the massive, towering man (7'2", 300lbs - sorry, it comes naturally I'm a stat freak). With his Timberwolves jersey he looked more like a mascot that a ball player.

"Sure! Just as long as I don't have to tape those massive wrists!" I said, as I raced to his table. My mind raced as I taped him up. I only thought about the steps of taping: first, the anchors at the head of the Gastrocnemius, then the anchors at the head of the fifth metatarsal, then the "three horseshoes" on the sides of the foot, after that the "basket weave", and then finally cover the exposed areas. Adam had his eyes closed, listening to rap on his headphones. At first glance it looked good; I was a bit cocky at the time, and I called Scot over to look at it.

The first things to come out of his mouth was, "Uh oh."

"Uh oh? Uh oh what, I hit all the steps. All the anchors are on. What's wrong?" I yelled.

"What goes on before the tape?" He asked.

Insulted by his question I said, "Duh! Prewrap."

I took a look at Adam's ankle and I soon realized what I had done. I had forgotten the most important part of a tape job, the prewrap. Prewrap is the yellow foam rubber sheet that goes on the leg to avoid the tape's adhesive from touching the athlete's skin or in this case, fur. Adam looked down at the ankle, then he gave me a wide eyed look to me. At that point I thought my dreams of attacking SCABS were about to come true. Scot put his large hand on Adam's knee and told him that there was adhesive dissolver in the back. Adam's wide eyed look left him and Scot turned to me.

"Go home rookie." Scot said as he smiled through his goatee.

With Scot's final slap on my back, I was off. On the way home, two beautiful women stopped me. Being an internal optimist I thought I was going to maybe have a chance with them. The paper they tore my back killed any false hopes I had. But I didn't leave home empty handed. The cuter of the two kissed me on the cheek. I looked at the paper sign and it had the word Moron in big black letters. The fact that the girl kissed me took me mind off ripping Scot a new orifice. I knew it was Scot, his handwriting is almost as crummy has mine. (We should have been doctors.) I was about to throw the paper away but it was the address on the back that caught my attention. It was for a bar called the Blind Pig. I walked home to the house a friend of my family said I could use during my college years. With my family's background I never knew anyone who was remotely rich. I always thought the only people we knew were truckers and bikers! The house is a white Victorian like the one's at Hillsboro, a strange reminder of home.

It was seven o'clock and the address of the bar was intriguing me. I had never been to a club or bar before, Hell I'll say it I had never seen civilization till I came here. Figuring this would be a good time to relax, I decided that I would just go down there and make a complete ass of myself. (You will soon learn the irony of that quote.) I showered, shaved and got dressed. I took another look in the mirror hoping for a miracle to change my looks, nope. I put on a Sox cap to hide my brown hair. Using a button-up to try and hide the fact I'm overweight, (YEAH RIGHT and a billion dollars is going to plop on my lap!) I walked off. After nearly killing myself on the roads, and learning a few new words I arrived. It didn't look like much, I didn't even look in the windows. I took one final look at myself to realize that I was decked out I blue. Undaunted I walked in.

The first thing to enter my mind was; SCAB bar. They were everywhere. Eating, drinking, shooting pool, Hell even tending bar. My mind wanted me to walk out but it was my heart that told me that this was just like all those other odd moments I had before in my life. I whispered, "Be a man, take one for civil rights." I sat down at the bar and took a more defined look around. Sitting two stools down was a man who looked almost normal, other than the raccoon tail and ears. Next to him was someone who looked more white tail than human. In the far corner of the room was a booth with a bunch of canines, mostly wolves having a ball. In the middle of the controlled chaos was a pool table. This caught my attention because I loved to shoot pool. The two contestants were a she-wolf who looked like she owned the table and a lizard man, species of which I didn't know, who looked like an ATM spitting out Reagans. I recognized her from the university but I never got up the courage to speak to her. I kept looking around the room going through my mental rolodex, quizzing myself on the different species. From what I remembered I saw wolves, a red fox or two, mules, coyote, raccoon, white tail deer, lizard, bull, and one lonely Homo sapien norm, me.

Not even a minute went by before I got up and went to the bathroom. The place looked more like a theme park than a bathroom. I knew most of the porcelain was either a sink or a urinal, the trouble was that I couldn't tell which was which. By some miracle, I found a stall. I was about to leave my "office" when I heard a familiar voice. It was Scot and I wondered to myself, "Why would he be here?" I would soon get an answer. He stripped off his clothes and went down on all fours. Fur flooded down his body, his large hands shrunk down to paws. Claws burst from old digits as his body mass dropped. He gave a slight whine as his cheekbones grew to accommodate larger massiters. When he was done he shivered a bit, growing used to his new anatomy. A large wolf stood where Scot once was. He padded off and I was sitting on the toilet thinking to myself, "Christ another new thing."

A few minutes later I walked out. My mind raced. I didn't know what to do. Hoping for a solution to my problems I took a good look at the bartender. He had a head of a bull and I didn't want to run into him in an alley. I quietly asked the bartender for a glass of water and he obliged just as quietly. Doubt and fear were boiling over in my mind. I so desperately wanted to leave but I also wanted to stay and maybe meet someone.

"To Hell with it." I told myself.

I stuck with plan A and decided to make an ass of myself. You should have seen the bartender's face when I jumped on the bar. I put two fingers in my mouth and whistled trying to grab everyone's attention.

I boldly made my announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen, I am the great Jacob Fox!" I proclaimed. "No, I am not drunk, I just think this is the best way to meet women!" I gestured in a macho fashion with a small smile. "I would buy a round of drinks and try to buy your companionship, but due to the fact of a college tuition I, sadly, cannot." I gave a little half-sniffle. "If you want to buy me a drink, that's okay." That got a laugh.

I must have spilled my drink because the next thing I know, I'm falling and landing on my head. The crowd gathered around me wondering about this oddity that had just fell from grace. If I had seen this scene two years ago I would have had several skid marks on my underwear. The raccoon man, the bartender, a wolf man wearing a cape, and the wolf hustler were looking down on my poor butt. I sat up and looked directly into the sky blue eyes of the wolf woman as she twiddled the pool cue in her hand. I took one final look around and said, "At least I landed on my head!" Then I passed out.

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