Chapter Two: Who Cares For Whom?
After a short stay in the hospital, Greg left to return the world of the work. Grateful for the vacation, he immediately regretted it. The mound of paperwork that lay on his desk beckoned him back to the same tedious life that he had been leading. Greg sat down and turned on his computer and logged onto the network. Twenty-five messages were waiting for him. It was going to be a long day indeed. Mayhap a bit of something to take the edge off? He opened the drawer to see a familiar flask looking back at him. Always a good friend, always there when you needed it. He reached for it...
"Where the hell have you been?" asked a short Labrador retriever standing in the doorway. "You know we nearly lost the Anderson account because of you." He began tapping his foot. Greg hated that.
"In case you didnít get the memo," Greg said as civilly as he could, "I was in the hospital, thank you. Now do you have something more for me or can I get to work?"
"Actually," said the dog smugly, "I have a file that I need you to process first."
"Put it on my desk and Iíll get to it when I get caught up," said Greg testily.
"No," said the dog. "Now."
Greg looked at that evil grin on his bossís face and saw him not as a civilized creature, but as a primitive enemy. Something inside Greg snapped. A feral instinct surfaced and Greg jumped backwards, knocking his chair over. Instinct took over and Greg leapt at his boss and landed a solid right hook to his jaw. The Lab fell backwards into a mail cart as the rest of the office turned to stare at him.
"Oh my god, heís gone feral," came a whisper from the back of the office. Greg meanwhile was looking at the diverse office crowd. Various canines and felines looked back at him, all natural enemies. Too many to take on at once; find an exit. The EXIT sign loomed like a red beacon above the stairway, and Greg ran for it on all fours. Security had just come from the elevators as Greg scampered down the stairwell to the emergency exit. He slammed into the door and fell out into the street where he regained himself. He shook his head and thought about what had just happened. That hadnít happened since...
He needed a drink.
Angie walked down the hall holding a clipboard and looking at a chart that she had just pulled. Just another boring day at the office. A few slow cases and a few rushes left Angie wondering why she chose nursing as a profession. Sure, she wanted to help people, but most of the time she was either filing out paperwork or dealing with people who didnít want her help. It was almost enough to make you want to scream. Then she realized that she was screaming at the top of her lungs to some poor old otter in a wheelchair. Angie shook her head, apologized, and walked off down the hall. She needed a vacation from this mess she called a job. Dr. Lynx stopped her in the hall.
"Angie, why were you screaming at Mrs. Lutra?" asked the bobcat.
"She ran over my foot," muttered Angie as she began to walk away. Lynx grabbed her arm.
"Look, Angie," he said firmly. "You need a vacation."
"Iím fine, really," said Angie.
"No, your not," replied the bobcat. "You need to go away somewhere. Listen," he fished in his lab coat pocket and pulled out a small envelope with a cruise line emblem on the front, "here is a ticket for a cruise ship. I was supposed to go with my wife next month, but we just found out that she is pregnant."
"Thatís wonderful, Dr. Lynx!" exclaimed Angie. "I know how much youíve wanted to have a kitten."
"Thank you Angie. But what you can do for me is go on this trip and have fun. Iíve seen you here since you got out of school and youíve havenít missed a day yet. Youíre a hard worker, so consider this a bonus."
"Thank you Dr. Lynx," said Angie as she pawed the envelope.
"You know Angie, you donít have to call me Dr. Lynx, you can call me Steve. I am your cousin after all."
"I know Dr. Lynx," replied Angie. "But weíre on company time here, so letís keep it professional."
Greg threw a wad of bills at the taxi driver and stumbled out of the car, and through the door. He slammed it behind him, only to close it on his tail. The brief jolt of pain told him to kick the door for hurting him. He turned and placed his foot into the solid oak door and immediately regretted it. He felt the claws bend back and he fell to the ground.
"Door, 2, drunken raccoon, 0," he said to no one in particular. He hobbled up the stairs to his soft waiting bed, which he hadnít made from the night before. An empty bottle lie next to it, the remnants of a few days work. He stared intently at it and pronounced it finished as he passed out forward onto his bed.
Several hours later, he awoke to a ringing phone. He groggily pulled the phone towards him and picked up the receiver.
"Hello?" he asked, quietly.
"This is WANM radio and youíve just won our grand prize!" shouted a voice over the phone. Greg immediately dropped the phone and grabbed his head with both paws.
His brain retaliated with a massive surge of pain.
"You still there?" asked the overly loud DJ.
Greg picked up the phone gingerly and held it back from his face. "Yes, what can I do for you?" he asked.
"Youíve just won a ticket on a cruise line for next month!" yelled the DJ. "And all we need is you name!"
"Are you sure?" asked Greg, trying to collect his thoughts. His head still hurt, and he wasnít sure that he had even entered a contest.
"Yep," said the DJ, "your number is right here. Whatís yer name?"
"Greg Procyon," he said weekly, as he look for aspirin on his night stand.
"And whatís you favorite station?"
"Beats me," said Greg. "Whatís your call letters again?"
"Thatís right, only on WANM!" screamed the DJ. Greg dropped the phone completely on the floor. He grabbed his head again and reached for the cord to throw the phone out the window. A voice came across the other end before he could yank it out of the wall.
"Hey, buddy," said the voice, "You okay?"
Greg picked up the phone and noticed the volume switch on the side. He turned it down to minimum and answered.
"Yeah, I just have a lovely headache," replied Greg.
"Sorry about all the yelling then. Hey, we need your address so that we can ship the tickets to you."
"Yeah, no problem," said Greg as he dumped the aspirin to his waiting paw. He gave him his address and hung up the phone. Then he looked at the clock. It was nine AM. Funny, Greg thought he had come in at five and then fell asleep shortly afterwards. He severely doubted that he had slept for sixteen hours, but he didnít remember what he had done in that time either. Time was slipping away from him faster than he could see. Then he remembered his job. He called into his office.
"Hello," he began.
"Greg, youíre lucky I donít have your ass thrown in jail," yelled a familiar voice "Youíre fired!" A click and a dial tone showed that he no longer had a job. Luckily, Greg had paid all his bills last week. He sat down on his bed and looked up at the ceiling. Well, being unemployed for a few days never hurt anyone.
"He gave you what?" asked the badger.
"He gave me two tickets for a cruise ship next month," said Angie. "I donít know what Iím going to do with the second."
"Iím always free," said a greasy looking weasel sitting in the chair across from the patients sitting in the waiting room
"Fred, why donít you go chase ambulances like a normal bad lawyer?" asked the badger.
"Because, Anne, they come to me here," he said.
"I should have you removed from the premises," said Anne, "but then youíd just go somewhere else and harass them."
"Ah, you know you love me,"
"Right," said Angie. "Iíll be sure to remember that when Iím catching some sun on the deck of a cruise ship."
"So who are you going to take?" asked Anne. "What about Vince?"
Angie shuddered at that thought. "No way," said Angie. "Iíd rather take him," she pointed to Fred.
"Is that an invitation?" asked Fred.
"Not on your life," replied Angie. "You know, you might attract more clients if you had a better suit."
"Whatís wrong with polyester?" asked the weasel.
Greg sat staring at the blank of his computer screen. Now was the change that he had been looking for. He now had a motivator to start writing something worth writing; namely, he was out of work and he needed some income fast. What was the best way to make a living writing? Start small and move up. He did a quick search on the net and found a company willing to pay small sums for decent short stories. Sounded like a plan, but first, he needed to get an idea. He thought back to his favorite subject, that of love and romance. Those did not make good short stories though unless you were really talented, though. So he decided on a second choice: war fiction. He even had a correspondent for that.
Several hours later, Greg sat back and looked at his work. Not to bad, he thought. Needs and experts touch though. He uncovered his phone from a pile of papers and punched a few numbers on it.
"Hello?" asked a heavily accented voice.
"Geno, looking for something to do?" asked Greg.
"Sure," he replied. "What do you need?"
"I got a story here that I need you to look over for me," he said. "I need an expert opinion."
"What and Iím the expert?"
"You were in the Italian Navy, you know."
"Ah, one of those stories. People these days didnít know what went on back then and they think they can write all about it."
"At least look at it will you?"
"Ah, sure, just slip it under my door."
Greg printed out the story and put it in a manila folder. He then dropped it into his now empty brief case and closed the lid. Greg looked back at the screen and saw the words begin to melt off. They fell from the screen and began to speak what they said. He shook his head and looked again. They were back on the screen now, no longer mocking him from a pile on his desk. Greg grabbed at a bottle lying next to the computer and took a drink. So now he was hallucinating. He hoped that he could sell a story before he went completely insane. There wasnít much opening for a new mad man to be a writer these days. Stories were expected to be insane, not their authors.
Angie picked up the phone and put it to here ear. Of course she heard the one voice that she didnít want to here.
"Angie, this is your mother." She cringed and fought the urge to immediately hang up.
"What can I do for you mother?" she asked as nicely as she could muster. It wasnít much though.
"Well, Iím calling to see how your doing, and how things are going," she said. Angie knew why she was really calling. She wanted to know if she had found someone to father her a grandchild. Angie decided to play along till she mentioned it.
"Oh, Iím not doing much, work mostly," she said as she reached for a can of soup. "Just trying to keep my head above water."
"You know itís easier to live on two incomes, dear."
"Yes, Mother. I know," replied Angie as she cut the top off the can. She looked at the sharp edge and considered cutting the phone line to end this conversation.
"Why donít you settle down with that nice Vince fellow that you were talking about?" asked her mother.
"Vince is a creep. I found him cheating on me with a possum, Mother." Angie hated to remind her mother of this, but this was the fourth time.
"Well, Iím sure heís changed..."
"No mother he hasnít," said Angie, as she leveled the can lid. She figured if she could cut the phone cord with this by throwing it, the conversation deserved to be over. She snapped her wrist and the can lid shot forward. It headed straight and true till it hit the phone line, then bounced off. Sheíd have to improve her technique for next time.
"What was that ping sound?" asked Angieís mother.
"Oh, nothing," replied Angie.
"You have to be dating someone," asked Mother. "Anyone at all?"
Angie thought for a minute. She wouldnít believe her if she said that she wasnít dating anyone. So she used her standard defense against this question.
"Actually I just started seeing someone, nothing serious though," she said while looking for something that she could use as an excuse to hang up.
"Oh really? Whatís his name?" she asked suspiciously.
She hadnít asked that before, so obviously she was catching on. She thought for a minute. No one came to mind right away. Then a name just popped into her head.
"His name is Greg," she said, thinking back to the patient in the ER that day.
"Oh really?" asked the mother. "What is he?"
Angie struggled to remember his chart from the days before. "Heís three quarters raccoon, one quarter skunk," she said, glad to be able to remember such things under pressure.
"Youíll have to bring him by some time so I can meet him," said Mother. "How about in two weeks for supper?"
Angieís mind reeled at that. Her mother knew what she was up to, and she had been caught. She could confess or...
"Canít do that mother," she said. "Weíre going on a cruise."
"A cruise?" asked her mother incredulously. "Thatís nice, who paid for it?" she asked.
"Oh, um... Dr. Lynx did. Anderaís pregnant you know and they didnít really want to go on a cruise after that news."
"What?" yelled Mother. "Iíll have to call him right away!" The other end went dead. Angie knew that Steve hated calls from her, but she was in deep enough already. Oh well, she could always tell Mother that he had disappeared on the ship. She chuckled at that thought. Throwing someone overboard wasnít such a bad idea anyway.
Chapter 1 Back to Main Page Chapter 3