Chapter 35: Recipe for Disaster
"Youíre serious, arenít you?" asked Sam.
"Iíve never been more serious about anything in my life," said Greg. "I love Tammy to death. Sheís the greatest little kid that anyone could ever wish for. You sister would be proud." Sam looked down at the table and shook her head.
"Iím really glad you found somebody so sweet," said Sam, sadly. "You think you could do the same for me?"
"I donít know," said Greg. "Iíd take you in a heartbeat if I didnít care about Angie so much." Sam smiled at him and held his hand.
"Donít do anything silly on my account," said Sam. "Iím just an old flame."
"Youíre more than that," said Greg. "Youíre my best friend, my first love, and the girl I lost my innocence too."
"Me too," said Sam. "I can still remember that night on that hillside." She blushed furiously as she thought about it.
"Itís okay," said Greg. "Youíre allowed to think about the past and glow about it. But youíve got to get yourself back together."
"I know," said Sam. "But where do I start? I lost my apartment, and I have nowhere to stay till I can get back on my feet." Greg thought for a minute, and started speaking his idea slowly.
"If youíd like," he began.
"I couldnít ask for that," said Sam. "Itíd be too weird."
"Just till you get on your feet," said Greg. "Iíll even get you an interview with the school Iím going to teach at come August."
"Thank you," said Sam, stirring her coffee. She smiled and shook her head again. "You know Angie is a very lucky raccoon."
"So sheís told me," said Greg. "Tammyís told me the same thing. Thatís why Iím going to ask her to marry me." Sam hugged her friend and gave him a peck on the cheek.
"Oh, my little boy is all grown up now," she said, mocking his mother.
"Thatís all the approval that I need," said Greg.
"Who said I approved?" asked Sam. "I still have to meet her and see if sheís worthy of you." She took a bite of her sandwich and grinned at Greg. "You know," she said, "people are always showing up on you."
"Itís a nasty tendency that tends to get me in trouble more than it helps," he replied. Sam grinned widely at him.
"Especially you," said Greg. "Why if Angie were here now, sheíd immediately want to know who you are and what youíre doing here with me."
"Jealous type?" asked Sam.
"Protective," said Angie. Gregís heart stopped and his limbs went cold as he turned around to see his girlfriend standing behind him. "Going to introduce me?" asked Angie with a grin.
"Sam?" asked Julie. "Wow, I havenít seen you in years."
"You either," said Sam. "I saw your movie, fantastic acting, I must say."
"Why thanks," replied Julie.
"This is Sam," said Greg, finally. "Sheís an ... old friend."
"Old friend nothing!" said Julie. "Sheís the girl he lost..." Greg stomped on his sisterís foot.
"A game of strip poker too," finished Sam. "Heís very cute in his boxers." Angie looked at Sam, and then back at Greg. He leaned over and started talking to Tammy.
"Tammy," said Greg, "you can have my car because Angie is going to kill me."
ĎThanks, Mister Greg," said Tammy. She looked at Sam and blinked. "Do I know you Miss Sam?"
"I doubt youíd remember me," said Sam.
"Can we not get into this now?" asked Greg. "Letís all head home and have a nice long discussion."
"Oh youíre not going to weasel out of this one," said Angie.
"Someone call?" asked Fred, walking in the cafe door.
"Hi," said Julie. "Youíre about to witness a murder, so pay attention."
"Oh, I do so hate to see innocent men get beaten up," said Fred. He noticed the rabbit sitting at the table with Greg. "Oh, hi, Sam. Havenít seen you in a while."
"Likewise," said Sam. "Oh look, itís starting to rain, weíd better get everyone home."
"Great idea," said Greg, grabbing his coat. "Tammy, Angie, you come with me. Sam, you go with Fred and Julie. Weíll all meet up at my place? Okay?" Greg grabbed his daughter and ran to his car down the street.
"Oh, Iím sure this is going to be a fun explanation," said Angie, running after him.
"So you back to trying to get my brother again?" asked Julie.
"Not at all," said Sam. "Heís a great guy. Angieís a real lucky girl to have him."
"Gregís one heck of a lucky guy to have Angie," said Fred. "Sheís a great person."
"So Iíve heard," said Sam.
"Does Tammy know you from somewhere?" asked Julie.
"Itís a long story," said Sam, "but Iíll explain..."
"Youíll have to pardon me for being over protective," said Angie, "but might I inquire as to who the hell she is?"
"An ex," said Greg, briefly. "Also, Tammyís aunt."
"Eh?" asked Angie. "Did I hear that right?"
"Yes," said Greg. "If I remember correctly, her sister was pregnant when Sam left for England."
"Almost six years ago," said Greg.
"I have an Aunt?" asked Tammy. "COOL!"
"You had an aunt before," said Greg. "This one is just blood related."
"Blood?" asked Tammy. "Icky, no thanks," she replied, sticking her tongue out. Greg laughed a little and pulled into his drive.
"Well, I guess this insanity leads directly up to the house," said Greg. "Everyone in and Iíll explain the whole mess."
"What a story," said Angie. "You have probably the best and worst luck of anyone I know. Iíd have trouble believing it if weirder stuff hadnít happened previously."
"Thanks," said Greg. "I think." The entire menagerie of animals sat in Gregís living room, listening to him talk about the events of the day.
"So," said Julie. "What are you doing for Thanksgiving?"
"Well," said Sam "Nothing really."
"Iím sure Mom wouldnít mind if you tagged along," said Greg.
"Actually," said Sam, shifting uncomfortably, "Iíd feel too weird."
"Thatís okay," said Greg. "I understand."
"What about you, dear?" asked Julie.
"Believe it or not, I actually have a case to take care of that day," said Fred. "Amy and John are excellent employers, but man are they workaholics."
"Thatís why theyíre the best in town," said Greg.
"That doesnít make it easier," said Fred. "Anyway, we have to get going."
"Work?" asked Sam.
"Actually," said Julie, "Weíre going out to see a movie."
"Oh," said Tammy. "You be nice to Miss Julie, Mister Fred."
"Nothing but," said Fred. "See you later." They walked out the door leaving Angie, Greg, and Sam sitting behind in the living room.
"Iím going to bed," said Tammy. She hugged Greg and gave him a kiss on the cheek. She did the same for Angie and then ran up the stairs, waving as she left.
"Cute kid," said Sam. "Alex would be proud."
"Thanks," said Greg.
There were a few more animals left in the camp, mostly those who were there the longest and who had given up hope long ago of returning to their homelands. Paul never gave up hope, though. He still carried with him the faded and torn picture of his wife and daughter. This was the day that heíd leave for good, the day that heíd strike back against his tyrant. He brushed off his khakis and smoothed back his red fur. He sank back into the parapet, pretending to be asleep
"You sleeping on duty again?" yelled a large rat in heavily accented English. "I will kill you where you stand if you are asleep."
"Go to hell," replied Paul. He puffed on his cigarette and checked the machete at his side. Where were they?
"Puerdon?" he asked. "I think you are not realize that it is we who are in charge here. I am the man, right behind Señor Altildes. You follow my orders, or will shoot you in the head."
"Your English sucks," said Paul. The rat went to slap the fox. Paul grabbed his arm and shattered the bones with one quick motion. He saw the jeep pulling up to the front of the compound from his perch. Grabbing the ratís gun, he jumped down the flights of stairs and into the main courtyard. He stopped when he saw a large horse pointing a rifle at him.
"Where do you think you are going, Señor Foxx?" asked the horse in broken English.
"Iím going home," replied Paul, leveling his weapon at the horse. "And youíre going to have to kill me to stop me." The horse chuckled as a pack of wolves slowly came up behind him.
"You think I have a problem with killing you?" he laughed. "Iíll kill you just to watch you die." The wolves pointed their weapons at him, obviously itching for the kill.
"Do and you shall never see Raquel again," said Paul in growling tones. "Iíve been stuck here for twelve years. Iím not above having someone else be killed so I can leave." The horse stared him down from the yards that passed between them. The horse motioned his head, and the wolf pack set out to find the girl in the compound. Paul hoped that he wouldnít call his bluff. He did have Raquel, but she went with them willingly. Where were they anyway? He saw just behind the horse, a familiar black and white lady approaching behind him. Paul grinned slightly and soaked in his imminent revenge.
"And if you leave?" asked Señor Altildes.
"Itís her decision to come back," replied Paul. "But for right now, letís just say that I hold all the cards." His grin became a smile of fangs.
"Do you now?" asked the horse. "Did it ever occur to you that I am the most powerful man in this country?" Paul as the skunk silently leveled the barrel behind the horseís head.
"The correct term is Ďwasí, Señor Altildes," said Marita. The horseís eyes opened in shock, and closed immediately after Marita pulled the trigger. The black jeep came crashing through the gate, making enough clatter to cause disturbance of itís own. The wolves came running as Paul and Marita ran for the jeep. They opened fire on the car, but the jeep sped away with the two passengers safely inside the bulletproof glass.
"You okay?" asked the driver.
"But of course," said Marita. "Paul, you okay?"
"Iím fine, Marita," said Paul. "Thank you Geno."
"Not a problem," he replied. "I wanted to see that scum ball taken down as much as you did."
"Iím not sure thatís possible," said Paul, climbing into the front seat.
"Tammy had the right idea, you know," Greg yawned. "Iíll go get you a pillow and some blankets. Feel free to watch TV or read if youíre not quite tired yet."
"Thanks," said Sam, "though I suspect that Iíll be asleep soon enough." She looked at Greg and shook her head. "Are you sure that Angie doesnít have a problem with me?"
"She said she didnít," said Greg. "Sheíll usually tell me if she has a problem with something."
"Okay," said Sam. "Sweet dreams."
"You too." Greg walked back up the stairs, leaving Sam sitting alone in the dark with much too much to think about.
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