by Jacob Blue Fox
© Jacob Blue Fox -- all rights reserved
Birthday cards, presents, hugs, compassion, and wisdom. That's what I missed about my grandfather. His strange disappearance might have been thrown into my mental Rolodex if he had vanished on some other day than my birthday. The joys of presents and handwritten cards were flooded by the misery of a something lacking. Cake wasn't as sweet, the tearing sound of wrapping wasn't as enjoyable, my birth was the ying mixed with the yang. June 9th is a day I tended to dread. It was 28th of May when I received the letter.
''Donnie, two g and t's.'' Asked Edwina.
Donnie nodded and started to mix his cocktails. I was sitting alone, a rarity for I'm usually talking to one of the numerous customers. My melancholy made me stare into my clear root beer; my newest of favorite tonics. The aura of sadness surrounded me, the fact that Phil didn't scoot on over to the seat next to me gave the impression that he too was having a bad day. Another Blind Pig rarity was occurring behind my back, Jack was playing eight-ball with Wanderer. Pascal was the one behind the eighty-eight keys tonight, she was playing something that should be performed in a concert hall. With the first year of college behind me I thought I could start a new life in a new town, forget the bad stuff and live life. I guess that's the thing about memories, they tend to stick around.
''Package for Mr. Fox?'' Yelled the UPS man at the door.
''Jacob Fox?'' I asked.
I signed for the little box and tipped my cap to the blue collared man. None of my family knew I wasted time watching people get wasted on alcoholic and unalcoholic drinks. Jerome said he was going to visit my old Victorian on my birthday, he said he had a double surprise for me. Knowing his terminology, a stripper and hooker would soon be lap dancing in my face. Inside the box was a pin of a wolf howling at the full moon. At first I thought it was from Raven. We were still companions even after she sent my GPA to the academic Hell, 2.68 even though it should have been 3.1. The letter in the box was folded like origami and its shape was that of a sailing ship. Reading it gave me the shock of my life . . .
To the man-child who stole my name,
It's been a long time since I've seen you. You were just a premature baby barely surviving when I was sent away. Even then I knew you were destined for greatness. I want to see you again, but I want to make it challenging. I call this game the fox hunt, it is a treasure hunt where you are the hunter and I'm the fox. Somewhere in New Hampshire I am hiding. I love my homestate and I want you to know as much as you can about it. Here's your first destination, I might be on an island where glaciers sent giant boulders into the ocean. Try and get here by the 30th. Come and get me.
My Grandfather was alive, the notion never would have crossed my mind. The family thought he had finally bitten off more than he could chew. Killed in some foreign local, bringing home his version of the truth. I quickly got up from my seat and threw a Reagan on the counter.
''Where you going, Jacob?" Asked Edwina.
''Home!'' I yelled out.
I grabbed a charter flight to Manchester Airport and stayed at a b and b in Portsmouth. The location my grandfather was talking about was the Isles of Sholes off the New Hampshire coast. They were small granite specks New Hampshire and Maine have been fighting over for what seemed like eons. Nine small rocks, two miles off the coastline created so much political posturing for ages. New Hampshire compromised and spilt up the islands: four to Maine and five to New Hampshire. It has now become a tourist trap, I had been their once. Other than a beautiful church style building on the main island, they were just giant rocks cursed with mimes.
A short ferry ride and several pills for motion sickness later I was standing on the largest of the islands. The park bench on the dock looked like salvation after an exceptionally rough journey on the choppy seas. Finding my land legs I spent some time people watching. Mimes were entertaining, if your could call it that, the small crowds of out of staters. At first I thought they were playing elevator music but then I realized that they were playing WZID, the crappiest radio station on the planet. Just when I was about to declare this place Hell, a voice interrupted the noise pollution.
'Would Jacob Fox please come to the visitor's center?'
After the break, some old singer named Tori Amos came over the air-waves. I got up and steadied my weak knees. Like I said before, the tourist center was an old church modernized to support telephone services. Even with the overhead wires it still looked medieval and beautiful. The girl sitting behind the desk had a slight East Asian flavor about her, the red silk blouse she barely wore just covered her nipples. I also noticed her eyes, animal in shape and quality. Her skin was gothic in quality, if she didn't have those animal eyes I would have risked everything for a date with her.
''How can I help you?'' She asked in a Japanese accent.
''I'm Jacob Fox.'' I said with a sly grin.
''Someone left this package for you.'' She responded with a smile of her own.
''Is the person who left this still here?''
''No he left an hour ago.''
She reached over her counter and handed me the brown box. It was then I noticed at the tips of her fingers she had claws. I gladly took the gift and decided to risk my neck.
''Can I ask, what type of . . .''
Before I could finish, I watched her shift from a milky white twenty something to, if I'm finally correct with my SCAB PC, a middle grade white fox morph.
''Arctic fox you are.''
''I prefer kitsune.'' She said with a touch of Japanese culture.
Due to recent events relating to my new pair of rounded glasses and a certain weasel morph's left hook I decided to review my Introduction to biology notes and memorize them.
She smiled again, ''You know I'm getting out at five, would you like to?''
The shock nearly killed me, a beautiful woman asked me, ME for a date. What I said next was the true surprise.
''You don't want to deal with this fool. I'm going out of state soon. Besides you can find a better man than me.'' I said as I placed a kiss on the side of her muzzle.
''Who said I wanted a relationship.'' She said with a vixen's grin.
Morning came and I finally got a chance to open my package. Within the box was a large bit of granite, and a note in the traditional shape of the Old Man of the Mountain . . . .
Sorry you just missed me, but I could feel the foxhounds nipping at my heels
This time I want you to visit the New Hampshire's most recognizable landmark. Due to several attempts to save this treasure, bits of the granite slope had to be carved out. In your hand is a bit of the Old Man's nose. I know it's a lousy present but up here that half pound rock you got in your hand is worth eighty bucks. And on with the chase!
Enjoying Northern New Hampshire,
''What did you get?'' Moaned the reynard, named Snow.
''Nothing much, what time is it?'' I said.
''Nine o'clock. You have you go don't you?''
''Yeah, I hate to bump and run but I have to find my grandfather.'' I said as I pulled on my pants.
She placed a paws to her chin, ''I understand, I have a grandfather too, when your in New Hampshire. . .''
''I'll give you a call, by the way your sister is cute, but I don't she likes me.''
''I'm sorry things didn't work out. I thought you were her type, hope you enjoyed staying at my house. By the way? Why do you have to sleep naked?''
"I hate rough things against my skin.''
Snow smiled and waved good bye from her bedroom window. Most of the long four hour drive from the seacoast to the White Mountains was spent recalling what could have been, a dangerous thing to do when you consider most of New Hampshire's highways are carved into the cliffs of the Appalachians. The geographers really got off on naming the area around the Old Man. The lake and river at the base of the peak were named Profile. The town a quarter mile from the turnpike was named Indian Head, and the little area by the side of the freeway, in which you can catch a glimpse of the freak of nature was designated 'prime profile watching area.' Being from New Hampshire, I got sick of seeing the damned face wherever I went. This made me a New Hampshire blasphemous and the fact I'm a democrat didn't help any.
The weather had opened up and rain started to come down in buckets. I wasn't surprised to see only two women at the 'Prime Profile Watching Site.' I wasn't even surprised to see the two of them making out next to the green and white official state marker. They were both college aged and I wasn't bothered by their actions. As I walked out of the car I overheard their conversation.
''Suzie someone is coming.'' Said the blonde.
''So?'' Said a very . . .Um healthy brunet.
''It might be that kid.''
Being a jerk I forced my way in the conversation, ''Yup!''
''Hi, someone told us to hold this for you.'' Said the brown haired girl as she threw the case at me and continued with her sexual rebellion.
I stood there, I knew it was rude but I couldn't keep my eyes off them. They kissed and clutched each other like the world was going to end. The word threesome kept coming to my mind but I kept my thoughts to myself. My mom's voice telling me to be a good boy ended any unchivalrous ideas. Turning my eyes away, I walked back to my rental car and opened my latest clue in the fox hunt . . .
You just missed me again,
Here's a new toy for you, OK it's temporary gift. I want you to go fly this kite someplace where the winds blow over 200 MPH. Just don't get blown away. If you don't know where this is check WMTW on the radio. I'm sorry if this seems like I'm jerking you around but I think this is fun, besides you need an adventure.
Freezing in June,
The two women moved back to their car but I could still hear the muffled grunts coming out of their brand new Saturn. Young love, no matter how unorthodox is still love. Too bad it seems like I'll never get to see that happen in my life. Gramps was giving me simple clues, I guessed he wanted to get caught. I wasn't mad he was sending me on this little jaunt, so far. My new destination was the Mt. Washington Weather Observatory. Mt. Washington, the highest mountain in New England, was geographically located perfectly for some of the worst weather in the world. Blizzards in July, wind speeds over 200MPH, it's a weatherman's nightmare and dream all rolled into one. It's also only a half an hour from the Old Man, and there was a hotel at the base of the peak. Other than usual meteorologist, the Mt. Washington Hotel was empty. I even think the owners were grateful to see someone other than the 'usual weather wackos.' When I told them what I was about to do, the wife, a black bear morph, grabbed a parka out of their storage compartment below the counter and gave it to me. Not a good sign. The gatekeeper at the base was just a positive.
''You would have to be a fucking wacko to go up there.''
''How bad is it?''
''They expect to break the world's record for highest wind speed today.''
''OH is that all? I'm going up any way.''
''You're certifiable and suicidal.''
''Then I guess Mt. Washington is the perfect place for me.''
At first glance, you would think that Mt. Washington is covered in a mystical fog. You of course would be wrong, that mystical fog is nothing more than just deadly storm clouds dumping numerous amounts of snow, most of which is blown off the summit and onto the slopes below. At the very top of the menacing peak is the observatory. I said that Mt. Washington is the home of looniest people on the planet, well that's the world's greatest understatement. First of all Mt. Washington is home of two different races, one's a foot race from the base to the top, if the elevation doesn't kill you the weather will. The second race is a quick car race to the top, the crazy part is that the road that the race is held on is only a car width and it's a looooooonnnnnngggggg way down! 6,288 ft. to be precise. Fortunately for me I got a nice truck to take me to the top.
As I forced myself out of my vehicle and out into the steel curtain of air, I tried to recall how many times my nice truck nearly got blown off the road. With heavy footsteps I dragged myself into the gray building, saying things like, 'Thank God I'm fat!' The cleats I bought from the owners of the inn were a blessing, if I still had my sneakers on I would be halfway to Maine. You should have seen the faces of those weather geeks when I came a knocking, they probably thought I was a yeti.
''Geez what are you doing here?'' Asked a . . .I think a frink-morph, (ring-tailed lemur, I knew that much.)
''I'm trying to get to a package. Did anyone leave a box for Jacob Fox?''
''Nobody left a package but someone leave that.'' Said the black and white face.
Unlike the previous gifts, this one was unwrapped and it was larger than the other two. Sitting on the floor was a stuffed gray and white bunny sporting a pink shirt with white hearts, tied around the neck was a note written on paper with the Harley-Davidson logo on the back. I tried to find anyone who looked closely like my grandfather but only twenty and thirty year olds graced the room. I sat down on the cold floor and opened the note, while the rest of the group stared contently at the monitor watching to see if the record was going to be broken . . . .
Like your new toy?
You just missed me, (SIGH) I am right now in a biker bar, sitting next to a biker chic with a cloverleaf tattooed to her neck. She has a bit of a thing for rabbits, she even has white pig tails trying to get that bunny ear thing going on. The next place for your enjoyment is a ship named after the mountain you are currently on now. Try and catch up.
Sitting on a hog,
I knew that biker chic, Clover. She did have a bit a thing for rabbits, and Phil. :-0 I scooped up my rabbit and looked outside the quadruple reinforced window. My rental was rocking to the wind sheers. I decided that if I were going anywhere, it would be after the storm.
''Jeff look at this!''
''I see it! I see it!'' Yelled the lemur.
The numbers of the digital display were slowly going up and up. Anticipation grew as the red numerals went passed 284MPH.
''Come on hit 290!'' Yelled a second lemur, a more feminine version of Jeff.
At 289.8, most of the crowd held their collective breath. At 289.9 the only thing that could be heard was the wind most likely sending my truck to Oz.
''Come on, Come on.'' Screamed the thin, bearded, guy at the keyboard.
The computer released a click and the crowd went insane. At 290.1 someone pulled out of thin air a bottle of champagne. Getting caught up in the excitement I kicked in my sarcasm. Rocks, Ok more like boulders knocked off several bit of my trucks paint job.
''Do you think this is covered as an act of God on my rental agreement?'' I asked Jeff.
''I think so.'' Said the smiling lemur.
I noticed the cots and looked around at the room, they were planning on staying the night. Then it came to me, most weather in New Hampshire is unpredictable, they were prepping for the worst, I wouldn't blame them.
''How long do you think this is going to last?'' I asked the furry lemur couple.
''Two days from now.'' Yelled the bearded man.
''I don't think so,'' Jeff yelled back as he looked down to his watch, ''Three . . .''
''I hate it when he does this.''
''Two . . .''
''Jeff this is stupid, we are going to be here forever.''
''One . . .''
Just as he put down his arm, the winds started to die down and sunshine started to poke through the window. A slight smirk came over Jeff's face.
''Are you God?'' I asked in all seriousness, ''How did you know it was going to pass?''
''I guessed. You have an hour before the next storm passes.'' He said with confidence.
''I just hope my truck is still in one piece, bye.''
Before I left, I looked back to the lab and I saw Jeff go down on one knee, like the champagne a ring magically appeared from thin air.
''Will you marry me, Teresa?''
She nodded as she hugged the long tailed one. They looked like the perfect couple, even with the black and white tails. Quickly I grabbed a piece of Mt. Washington stationary and jotted down my number and address. I slipped the number into Jeff's pocket as they embraced, I wouldn't have minded being the best man. With a slight 60 MPH wind brushing my parka, I jumped into my truck hoping it would start. My new companion, who I humorously named 'Phil' sat the passenger's seat, I prayed for a vroom. I got a cough, wheeze, and a slight purr. At the base I grabbed a bumper sticker from the toll/information booth.
This truck climbed Mt. Washington
Weirs Beach, a quiet little place in central New Hampshire. Still waters, few people, very peaceful. Then Hell breaks loose and 10,000 bikers storm in with their Jack Daniels walk up taste testing centers, tattoo parlors, large men throwing each other into the Lake Winnipesaukee and instant drive up bars with black POW MIA flags all over the place. Tight leather, big biker chicks, no helmets, no Japanese bikes, and men who need to bathe. In other words my kinda place! I was raised in this culture, most of my uncles on my mom's side were bikers. My grandfather on my father's side was a trucker, and most of his kids went into the armed forces. The family reunions were . . .adventurous to say the least.
Trying not to look conspicuous I dressed in as much black as I could, which was hard when you have a three-foot high bunny under your arm. My kite was tied to my backpack and the piece of the Old Man was in there with my clothes. The pin was tacked on to the back of my Bruins cap.
'The M.S. Mount Washington ready for boarding.'
I bought a ticket and got on just in time. As I leaned against the railing I listened to two bikers get into a debate about the relationship between science and religion. The religious one had a gray beard and pony tail, the second was more clean cut and looked to be a biker novice. He wiped away at his black skin and told about his years as a college professor in a small town college. While the gray beard, who looked a lot like Jerry Garcia, told about his years as a priest. Not your stereotypical biker chat but this type of conversation is common amongst the rebels. Most bikers are independent from the infamous gangs of lore.
''Do you guys know where I could find a woman with white pig tails . . .''
''Clover is listening to the band.'' Said the professor.
I tipped my cap and worked my way down to the ship restaurant and bar. She tapped her small toes to the beat of some oldies band. As usual she had her ivory tresses done up like rabbit ears.
''You still have a thing for rabbits, I see.'' I said.
''Jacob, who's your friend there?'' She questioned as she pointed to my toy.
''A gift of my grandfather's, I call him Phil.''
''How is Phil?'' She asked eagerly.
''He's still his old lapine self.''
''Is he seeing anyone?''
''I don't know,'' Hoping the conversation wouldn't stick with Phil I changed it, ''I guess you know why I'm here?''
''Yes, your grandfather is a nice guy, I'm supposed to take you to Manchester and his 'Old stomping grounds' I think?''
''Ah the paper. Well I've got all my stuff, you got a sidecar?''
The rest of the hour-long trip was spent in conversation, mostly about Phil. As we docked I tried to pump some information about my grandfather but Clover was intent on talking about Phil. In the parking lot was her bike, another shrine to lucky foot kind. Air-brushed to look like white fur, her gas tank and side car looked more furry than mechanical. With the bike rumbling the ground beneath me, I strapped Phil in the car and got behind Clover.
''I was just wondering,'' I yelled at the top of my lungs trying to be heard over the roar of the Harley, ''If a rabbit's foot is supposed to be lucky, how come it's not lucky for the rabbit?''
''Do you know how much sex a rabbit has?''
The rest of the trip was a silent drive, as silent as a Harley can get. Manchester was a stark contrast to the wooded roads of the interior of New Hampshire. I have always called Manchester a Boston wanna be. My grandfather's old paper, the Manchester Leader is the most conservative paper in the state. It held a buffet and dance when Bill Clinton announced his adultery on the air. Their faces were of shock when Clover and I pulled up to the front of the brick building. Before I got off the bike she gave me a hug.
''You know if I didn't have a thing for my Phil-bunny, I wouldn't mind being your foxy lady, Jacob.'' She flirted.
I thanked her and walked to the double doors. The guard got a good look at me and stopped me.
''I'm sorry you can't come in.''
''We don't like your kind around here.''
''Who do you work for?''
''I report directly with the editor-in-chief.''
''Really tell your boss that the grandson of Jacob Fox is here and your blocking his way.''
The burley man picked up his walky talky and gave my message. I was shocked as Hell he even sent my message. He knew I had the upper hand and it showed on his face when he opened the door. The décor of the lobby was posh, wood paneling and the title of the Manchester Leader in gold above the receptionist's head. At first I thought one of the suits was taking a break in the secretary's chair, but then I realized that this was the receptionist. He looked like he should be roaming the floors of Wall Street, not sitting behind a desk as an unnoticed paper pusher.
''Hi. How can I help you?'' Said the man in a deep voice.
''Did someone leave a package for me?'' I was getting bored with this question.
''Are you Jacob Fox's grandson?'' He asked as I looked at his nameplate.
''Yes, Mr. Banter.''
He pulled a brightly wrapped package from underneath his mahogany desk. It was about the size of a jewelry box for a necklace. It was at this point that I was beginning to become bored with the game. I just wanted to see my grandfather, I just wanted to have a happy birthday for once, I just wanted him to remove my guilt because I wouldn't believe he was alive until I saw him. . .
Don't worry your almost home free,
You made it this far, congrats. Now you have gone all over the state to find me, now you're going to cross the border. Go to the place where revolutionaries still live. Go to the place where Patriots still fight every week. I hope you come out happier than you enter.
Fighting traffic in Massachusetts,
This was a first I was stumped. At first I thought he was talking about a historical site. Plymouth Rock, Old Sturbridge Village. I looked deeper into the package and found the answer and I nearly kicked myself. Inside was a pair of tickets to a Revolution game. For years I called myself a sports fan, I followed the Patriots and the Bruins and the Red Sox and the Revolution. Go figure this was going to be the first time I would be going to a game. As I walked out of the building, I gave a little one-finger hello to the rent a cop at the door.
Hailing a cab in Manchester is a pain in the neck to do. The easiest way is to find a hooker and she'll get you the cab. If you think I'm lying just ask any street-walker in the downtown area. During the old times, cops used cab drivers as sniches against hookers. That pissed off the prostitutes and they created an unofficial boycott of the cabbies. It got so bad that half of the cab companies in Manchester closed down. The pressure got too much when the harlots threatened their famous johns they would bring out their dirty little secrets if they didn't turn up the heat on the cab drivers. There nearly was a law banning cabs in the downtown area of Manchester. They got the hint, cabbies stopped becoming sniches and now most hookers now have a number of a cab company in their purses. 'Do you have the number for a cab?' has even become a password for johns asking for the services of a hooker. Fortunately a cab was passing by when I stepped out. Too bad, I could afford to lose my virginity.
Foxboro sports fans are the most kind, polite, and knowledgeable group of people I know, I am so glad to be a part of this special group.
''What the fuck were you thinking? Your man was offsides! Why the Hell did you pass to him you stupid shit? Go fuck yourself Aarons!''
The seats were ok. To my left were two maniacs painted in red, white, and blue. They were two minutes and a half a beer away from a disorderly conduct charge. On the other side of me a couple of college kids, one of which was a full ocelot SCAB, dressed in soccer jerseys other than the Revolution red white and blue screamed at the ref for being as blind as bat. Most of strange jerseys are from the former international clubs the Revolution players used to play for. The occasional Patriots jersey didn't surprise me, even with new found popularity of soccer this was pastime for the big time Pats fans. I was in a white t-shirt, which was stained by the makeup of the two lunatics beside me. Forty minutes had passed and the score was tied nil to nil. This was the opportune time to go to the bathroom. Most wait till the last three minutes, but by that time everyone is heading to the W.C. Halftime is the perfect time to catch the hot dog guy.
Even with my plan I nearly missed one of last open urinals. As I released my internal pressures, I was shocked by a semi famous presence. Walking in was the Revolution mascot, a medium grade red fox morph. His nickname was Slyde, but his real name was John Adams. John's story was so amazing that they are thinking of making it into a book. He was a homeless guy who found a suitcase filled with a million dollars. John should have taken it but he returned the money. The cash belonged to Jonathan Craft the owner of the Revs, Pats, and Foxboro Stadium. Craft offered the money back to Slyde if he could do a favor for him. Relieve the Revs, of their un-P.C. fabric fox mascot and just be the mascot for one year. That was three years ago and John has been Slyde ever since. He took the last urinal to my left and we started onto conversation.
''Damn it. I thought Craft spent a hundred million dollars on this offense?''
''I guess he didn't get his money's worth.''
''Hi, names Jacob Fox.''
He gave me a shocked look, ''You're Jacob Fox!''
Confused I said, ''Yeah.''
''Someone told me to give you something, hold on!''
He zipped up and washed his hands. I did the same and we walked down to his office, one of the owner's boxes. John told me this was his new home and station. The second part of the Slyde story became a part of the Mass mythology. He bought stock in a small company which was trying to create a smaller version of voders, and it grew beyond belief. By the time a year passed, the one million became two hundred million. John became a partial owner of the Pats, and he still acts as the team mascot.
''Head supporter, I like to call myself.''
''Oh. What did my grandfather give you?''
I thought this was going to be the end of the rainbow he was going to tell me where he was and I was finally going to have my hug.
Is that the hunter's horn I hear?
Almost there, this is the last place you have to go. First of all you have to find a place where you can sit and always find a companion. He's kinda silent but you can get used to it. Next to him is a pair of ratty old size 14 shoes. It will be nice to see you.
The thrill nearly overcame me. I wanted to see my grandfather right their. I just wanted to hold him, see him, be a part of him. Questions filled my mind; where were you, why didn't you write, why didn't you tell mom where you were? Finally I was going to have some answers. As I sat down in the chair of the office I noticed a message coming over John's computer. It was a notice asking for a trade of the Pats star defensive lineman, John Bragg for two Jets stars, Larry Benton and Bob Glove. Inside information, no John quickly deleted the message and looked out to the field.
I had to ask, ''If you're so high up on the sports food chain, why are you still the mascot?''
With a smile he said, ''I like being the mascot, when I was a kid I always wanted to be a clown. SCABS kinda put an end to that and this is my way of having fun on the job.''
''I could see that.''
''The games about to start,'' He said as he put on the oversized goalie's Technicolor jersey, ''Showtime!''
Red Auerbach was the greatest basketball coach in basketball history. He led the Celtics to the championship fourteen times. Eight in a row in the fifties, still a record today. To honor him they gave him a statue in Fanneul Hall. Of course to be quirky, Boston fans placed his statue on a bench. So you can sit and talk to Red, if he talks back you're in trouble. Next to him is a bronzed pair of Larry Bird sneakers and a plaque. It was ten in the morning and I couldn't sleep, the excitement got to me. Every one of the presents my grandfather gave me crowded my backpack. Sticking out of the bag was a floppy eared gray hare. Red was sitting there with his arm resting on the back of the bench. I waited, sitting next to the bronze figure, hoping for some inspiration to rub off. A gray haired gentleman walked by and then he got a good look at my sack.
''Is that your bag?'' He asked.
''Nah, I just stole it from a old woman.'' I said bitingly.
''Cute, can I sit down?''
''I'm expecting someone but if you want you can rest your feet for a while.''
He sat down in between Red and I, the man looked nervous. His hands shook in his lap, I at first thought he was going to have a heart attack.
''I'm your grandfather Jacob.''
I jumped up, ''Bullshit! I saw a picture of my grandfather. He was as bald as an eagle and he looks nothing like you. Cut the crap man, who fuck are you?''
His hands stopped shaking and a slight smirk came over his face. ''I told him this wouldn't work.''
''Why has he been jerking me around? Why doesn't he want to see?'' I was so mad, I didn't even wait for the answers, ''I'm outta here!''
''No wait!'' The old man yelled but I was gone.
It took me a while to get over my grandfather's cruel joke. I spent a few days in my house, I was lost in my own mind. Calls would come over the phone but I wouldn't answer them. A few of the guys from the Pig came to my house but I was up in bed staring at the ceiling. Crying was the only thing I was strong enough to do. I nearly fell back into my pit of despair, I wanted to die, but I couldn't. Dates faded, I didn't even know what time it was when I finally got up the strength to get out of bed.
The night was cool and the full moon shone on the river. My favorite park bench was behind me and I leaned against the black fence keeping me from the river. Inside I was still crying, outside my face was the same as I had left it, woeful. I would have killed myself but I had a lot to live for and I knew it. For some reason I also had my presents my grandfather gave me, I wanted to throw the bag in the river but I couldn't bring myself to do it. Putting the river behind me, I plopped down onto the bench. Sighing is one of my favorite activities and I was going for the gold that night.
''Can I sit down?''
I looked to my right and there was a red fox with a voder hanging down around his neck. How ironic I went looking for one fox and I find another.
''It's a free bench.'' I said with a touch of melancholy.
''You look sad.'' Said the mechanical voice, sort of generic compared to the other voders.
''Yeah I am.''
''Why?'' Asked the fox.
I turned bitter, ''I'll tell you why I'm sad. Twenty years ago my grandfather left my family without a trace. Last week I get a letter from him saying, 'hey I'm alive try and find me.' He jerks my ass all around New England and he sends his friend to take his place. He didn't even bother to make sure the guy looked like him. Why the Hell would he do that to me?''
Without even knowing it I was standing and I was kicking the iron fence. Anger raged in me and it caused my cheeks to redden.
''Maybe something happened to him, and he didn't sob want you to see it.''
I caught the sob coming from the fox and I looked down to see that the sly creature was crying. I went down on one knee and lifted his muzzle with my hand. Two tears crashed down to the ground, he sniffed rapidly trying to catch the fluid running from his nose.
He shook his head and more teardrops cascaded from his face. Clicks from his confused voder didn't distract me from him. All those questions I wanted to ask him jumbled in my mind.
With one final loud sniff he tried to gain his poise. I pulled my cloth handkerchief out of my pocket. Placing it at the end of his nose he blew. A thought about fox snot came to my mind but I didn't think it was the proper time or place.
''Where do I begin, How I became a SCAB or why I haven't been around?''
''I have a feeling they are one in the same.''
''A week before you were born my editor wanted me to cover the one year anniversary of the Hassan incident, that's what it was called back in those days. I was in Vienna and I became sick. I was staying with some members of the Japanese press at the time. Ito Masatora and his wife Sachi were their names and they took care of me. At first I thought it was the flu, but one day I woke up and I began to grow fur.'' He stopped a bit and continued on with his tale, ''I became a fox. . .a full fox morph. There was a huge panic at the time and Ito hid me in their hotel. By some miracle they got me out of Europe and they took me to Japan. Even in the first years of the flu Japan had become supportive of the victims of SCABS. At first they thought they were going to protect me until they found a cure. Eight years later I gave up hope. By that time I had become an unofficial Godfather to their child Snow. . .''
''Snow! As in the Snow who was holding my package at the Isles?''
''Yes, Also at that time the voder was just being invented in Japan and I was the first one to get one. During those times the voder was clunky vest that weighed a ton. You don't know how hard it is not having your voice. Anyway, five years ago I moved back to America and I got a job at the Sentinel in the sports department. To keep people from knowing what happened to me I changed my name to Reynard Bledsoe.''
A bit of pride came over his face, ''My condition has been a bit of an advantage. No knows who I am and I am small enough to fit in a small space and listen to conversations between owners. I was their when the Phillips for Dawson trade went through. If I wasn't a SCAB I would have won the Pulitzer that year. A couple of weeks ago I read the article Underwood did on you. I thought at first it was a fluke. Some kid in town had the same name as me. I read the column and it was you, I knew it was you, I just knew. The man you met at the Auerbach bench was my fellow reporter Charlie Dixson. I didn't know you saw me back in the days.''
''Why didn't you tell mom you were alive?''
''And have her look for me? You know when she puts her mind to something she never lets go.''
The point was well taken. Mom was like a bull in a china shop when she wants something. He answered most of my questions, even if I had another one to ask I didn't have the mental strength to ask. I sat there with my legs spread out. My jaw was dropped down into my lap, I didn't know what to do, I was beyond dumbfounded. He jumped off the bench and turned to me.
''Do you want to continue this at your house?''
Too stunned to think I just nodded. He started to scamper off, but I didn't move. Gramps ran back and sat down on the ground.
''What's wrong?'' He asked.
Not even moving, I asked, ''Can I have a hug?''
With a tongue-lolling smile he jumped in my lap and placed his two paws on my shoulders. I wrapped my large arms around him and held on for dear life. His cold wet nose pushed into my ear and his panting was the only thing I could hear from him. I let go and he placed his forepaws in my lap. Most of my wit came back to me with that hug.
''Do I have to change my name now?''
''No. I'm keeping my pseudonym, you can be Jacob Fox for a while.''
''There is someplace I have to go before I go back to the house.''
''The Blind Pig?''
''How did. . . ''
''I'm a reporter, and on occasion I get a drink from their.''
I tried to run his face through my mental Rolodex, trying to see if I had seen him before, but with no luck. While rummaging through my mind I found a question I was dying to ask but I didn't want to offend anyone.
''Do SCABS like to be petted?''
I had to ask. For months I would see fur covered creatures who looked like pets, I fought temptations to grab a hold of someone and pet them. My old mind set was locked and kept alive the barrier between man and animal.
''First of all, most SCABS don't like to be called SCABS, too un-PC, (groan). Second yes we do like to be petted, in fact we like it a lot.''
Immediately I scratched behind his left ear. A look of joy came over his face like you wouldn't believe. His ears twitched as I worked all around his head.
''Ohhh . . . you're a good grandson, little to the left.''
''I'm not going to sit here forever for your benefit. Let's go the bar.''
Darkness on a late night is something you don't normally see at the Pig. I guess it's the only normal thing you would see there. With Reynard padding behind me, I walked up to the door. Nothing moved and nothing was visible. They could never surprise me in the dark, being part animal I would see their glowing eyes. My human instinct pulled at the door and it opened. I walked in and my grandfather's tail brushed up against my leg.
''Yo! Anyone at home?''
For years I planned and made sure I knew what day was my birthday. A surprise birthday party never would have been a surprise. This time I didn't even know it was the week of my birth. Standing in the middle of the mob was Donnie with a cake, man shaped. (cute) Wanderer walked up to me and removed my Patriots cap and placed a party hat on my head. Actually there were three different cakes on the bar. One of the cakes was canine shaped and was made with the latest chocolate substitute, Chocosin. A carrot cake sat next to that. It was shaped like, what else, a rabbit. The third was a fruit-cake.
''I should have seen your eyes out the door.''
''Do you know how long we have been standing in the dark with our eyes closed?'' Said Doug.
''You didn't have to do that for me.''
''speech!'' Some fool yelled in the background.
My eyebrow shot up, I was feeling cocky, sarcastic, and witty. A deadly combination for me, unarmed and dangerous is my middle name.
''You want a speech! I'll give you more than a speech! I'll give you some poetry! Sit down and let the fireworks begin!'' I yelled.
I motioned for a drink from Donnie and a glass of water quickly came to my hand. As I sucked down the liquid, rhymes and a lack of reason exploded in my mind. With everyone's attention aimed at me I looked around the room.
As I stand here today, On the day of my birth,
With each prank, with each tease,
I would like to thank you all, one by one,
First of all there is Raven, the girl who sets boy's hearts afire,
Then there's Jack, don't worry I won't say the A word,
When the days get dull, when the conversations get a little borin'
Then there is Phil, watch out he might get in your head,
And of course there's my favorite biker Clover, she always makes my cheeks red,
Then there are the two Dr. Bri's, they can cure what makes you ill,
Of course there is Doug, a smart guy like me,
I'm almost done, done with this farce of a poem,
Almost done, I'll finish it,
For Phil is a bunny, and Derksen is a bug,
Through out the whole poem I worked my way around the room, to each person I was referring to. When I got to my grandfather's bit we re-enacted the scene in the park. A loud aw filled the room, tears filled our eyes. This was the greatest moment of my life, and the cake was the sweetest thing I have ever tasted in a long time.
''It's about time you showed up.''
The voice came from my kitchen and I was so glad to hear it was Jerome. Using the lock picking skills I taught him he broke into my house and was about to hand me my birthday surprise.
As I turned on the lights, I yelled out, ''OK. Where did ya' hide the strippers.''
I looked up and saw Jerome for the first time in a year. He had changed was an understatement. Jerome's usual wiry frame was tipped by a pair of raccoon ears, from the back of his pants a tail swished back and forth.
''Surprise.'' Jerome said.
At first I thought it was another cruel joke, but as I circled him I realized the cruel joke was life itself. For most of my childhood SCABS was never a part of my life, I guess this is the disease's way of making up for lost time.
''Son of a. . .'' I groaned.
''I guess you now know why I didn't go back to Hillsboro.''
''Does your mom know?''
''Yeah she's cool with it. I wasn't planning on moving back anyway.''
''If you need a place to stay over the summer, I have a big house and the utilities are cheep.''
''My bags are already in the guess bedroom.''
I figured he got used to his situation when he quickly changed the subject, ''So tell me about this bar you hang out at.''
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