The Front—A Ten Minute Fic

by "The Enduring Man-Child"

The following was originally posted at The Acorn Cafe in response to a challenge by Rain Crow to members of that community to write a CNDRR fan fic of approxomately ten minutes length. It is posted here exactly as it was there, without benefit of a beta. Please enjoy in spite of its shortcomings.

"One moment, please," said the petite young Shrew as she vacated the seat behind her desk to speak with the bank manager. And it was not long before said manager, an impeccably dressed rat, assumed that seat and gazed pointedly at the perpetually confused Mole.

"So, Mr. Avogadro, you wish to empty another of your safety deposit boxes?" he asked.

Mole could only say "Uuuuuuh," which was what he usually said.

"I must say you have been making quite a few withdrawals lately," the Rat continued in an openly suspicious tone that, as might be expected, sailed right over Mole's head. When there was no reaction to this he produced a key and said, "This way, Mr. Avogadro." As he had learned to do, Mole followed him behind the short swinging door that separated the bank's employees from its clients and finally into the cavernous room with the said boxes . . . the plurality of which were supposedly being used by this same nondescript Mole for no telling what. Of course, while they technically were registered to Mole, he was merely a front. All the goods stored in them were Fat Cat's.

"Number 335, you said," the Rat asked, to the the usual "Uuuuuh" which indicated agreement, or at least failure to disagree. On coming to the correctly numbered compartment he stopped and began to hand Mole the key, only to hesitate finally take the opportunity to speak again.

"You know, Mr. Avogadro, we are one of the oldest and largest animal banks in New York City. Our reputation, despite the current financial crisis, is spotless. And while I cannot, per bank policy, view what a client is storing in a safety deposit box, I can only hope that you are not using us for dishonorable purposes."

This time Mole did not say "Uuuuuuh." He said, "Dishonorable? What does that mean?"

At this the Rat sighed in defeat, handed him the key, and left.

Mole's eyesight was of course not too good, and he had only been accompanied by Snout on his first two visits, the first of which required someone who could assist him to mark an "X" on the correct form and help him find the correct receptacle. Since those two times he had been on his own.

Mole sighed as he unlocked the box and felt around in its contents. "Empty it," Fat Cat had told him. He didn't precisely understand what Fat Cat's business was, but he offered steady employment and his bark was worse than his bite (to use a slightly ironic phrase). He could feel hard, round objects of some sort and some cold metal ones as well. Whatever these things were, Fat Cat was stashing a lot fewer of them, and withdrawing a lot more, than in the past. The Rescue Rangers were making business difficult and his temper was of late even sourer than usual.

Using almost exclusively the sense of touch, Mole emptied the contents into the sack his boss had given him and began to feel his way out of the room. The aforementioned Rat was quick to return to him and escort him outside, after retrieving the key.

"Good day, Mr. Avogadro," he said to him. "I hope that in the future you will be depositing more and withdrawing less."

Mole began his trek back to the Happy Tom Cat Food Factory. Whatever these things were, Fat Cat was certainly using a lot of them lately.

Suddenly he froze in his steps as an Aroma tickled his delicate nose. It smelled like . . . no, it couldn't be . . . was that . . .

A candy bar?

Turning toward the source of the tantalizing smell he discerned a young Pack Rat who was indeed unwrapping, very slowly at that, a large sized candy bar such as inhabited Mole's dreams.

"Wow. Where did you get that candy bar?" Mole asked him innocently.

"What? Oh, this old thing?" And he waved it under Mole's quivering snout. "I'm not really sure I even want it. I might trade it to you for, say, that bag you're carrying."

Mole's mind blanked completely. Fat Cat disappeared, forgotten, as did his freshly completed errand at the bank. "It sure does smell good," he said.

"For the bag, it's yours!" the crafty young Pack Rat said.

There was no doubt whatsoever about what he was going to do.

The consequences when he reached his journey's end were most unpleasant.

But the candy bar had long been eaten by then, so it was worth it. No doubt whasoever about that, either!

The End