"Don't take this the wrong way Harve. I didn't expect these kinds of nights from my kids' school principal. It's been a very extravagant week," said Sheila, who was sitting across a very fancy restaurant table from Harvey Longfellow, the Principal of her kids school.
Sheila was dressed in a long emerald green dress, and golden earrings. They were sitting at a small table waiting for their meal. The tabby sitting across from her was dressed in an expensive jacket, with a clean, very white shirt beneath.
"Well," he said smiling at her, his hand resting on the table near hers, "I'm single and have all my assets intact. Despite the divorce, I'm not exactly scraping."
Sheila leaned back away from the table and crossed her arms, but her voice was playful, "I'm just a country girl. You'll run the risk of spoiling me,"
"On the contrary," Mr. Longfellow said, his voice just as playful, "I feel like I'm the one being spoiled,"
Sheila felt her cheeks flush and turned her head modestly, smiling, "You're laying it on thick. I haven't blushed in years."
"Your husband was right. It's when you're most beautiful," He said smiling.
Sheila's eyes opened as she realized what she just heard. She felt an ache in her heart for her deceased husband, and just stared down at the floor for a few seconds. Harvey pulled his hand away from hers and picked up his wine glass, taking a sip.
"You knew Jim?" Sheila asked, her voice doing a good job of covering the hurt she was feeling.
"Mmm?" Harvey said around his glass. He set the glass down by his empty plate and looked up at her.
"We were in the same unit during the war. I didn't mention it sooner because I didn't know if you wanted to go into it," he said, his smile dropping, replaced with a serious expression.
"Oh my god," Sheila whispered quietly, "What was it like?"
"From day to day it was just survival. We were all wrapped up in thinking we could die the next time out, so we lived each minute like it could be one of the last ones..."
The waiter arrived with their food and presented them with their meals with a flourish and a small bow.
Harvey looked down at this food with unseeing eyes and continued quietly, "Vietnam went in cycles, back and forth between duty, and trying to distract ourselves from it by losing ourselves in drinking, women, and pranks."
Sheila giggled quietly, smiling a little, saying, "Well, I guess Jim never had to lose himself in WOMEN."
Harvey's mouth stayed closed and he just looked down at his plate of food.
Sheila's smile dropped, and she looked at Harvey, distraught, "This is the part where you are supposed to be reassuring."
Harvey eyes darted everywhere but at Sheila.
"Harve!" she said, distressed, "You're not serious! Jim was like that?"
Her ears were set back in sadness, and her eyes held an agony very few know.
"Sheila..." Harvey said simp sympathetically, "I didn't want the conversation to go this way, but I don't think it would be healthy to lie to you."
He reached across the table and grabbed her paws gently, trying to comfort her.
"It was almost nine years ago. I can't say Jim wouldn't have made a great father if he'd made it home..."
Sheila pulled her paws away slowly, standing from her chair, trying to keep the tears from her eyes.
"I think I need to go home for now. I've got a lot of thinking to do... Thank you," she said, her voice wavering.
She stood from her chair and walked out of the busy restaurant, seeming deflated.
"Third army force command, General Beck's office," a voice answered politely over the telephone.
"Um... I was looking for General Kelso," Sheila replied hesitantly, twisting her finger in the curly telephone wire.
Sheila was standing in the kitchen, wearing her old navy green 'Army Wife' tee shirt with jeans.
"He's no longer working at this office. Would you like his new number?" the voice on the other end replied after a pause.
"Yes please," Sheila said, walking over to a drawer and pulling out a pencil and scrap piece of paper.
The monotone voice on the other end gave her a phone number as she wrote it down, "Okay. Alright... Think you."
"Have a nice day," the voice on the other end said, still not showing much emotion.
"Mmm-hmm, buh-bye," Sheila said, distractedly.
She heard the sound of the phone clicking on the other end, and heard the dial tone. She pressed the hang-up button and started dialing the number she had been given. The phone rang for a moment before a female voice picked up.
"Central Intelligence Agency, Operations Devision," the voice said professionally.
"Uh... I'm trying to talk to gen- I mean, Robert Kelso. His old office gave me this number..." Sheila wasn't very comfortable on the phone, talking to somebody she didn't know.
"May I ask who's calling?" the voice asked politely.
"Sheila Black. I'm an old friend," sheila said, smiling as she remembered the black panther.
There was a click on the other end of the line, and a familiar voice asked, "Sheila?"
"General!" Sheila said happily.
"Heh," Kelso laughed wearily, "Not anymore..."
Sheila suddenly felt weak on her feet as the moment of truth approached. She walked out into her living room and laid down on the couch, fearing what would come next.
"I kind of have a silly question. It's the reason I called..."
"Don't be silly. Ask," Kelso replied warmly.
Sheila was getting nervous, "Was Jim... Faithful, during his time overseas?"
"Of course he was," Kelso replied immediately, "I can vouch for that, personally."
"Rob, please," Sheila said, closing her eyes and resigning to her fate, "Don't hold back. I have to know who I can trust."
"You're like family, Sheila," he said softly, "I'd never lie to you. Who told you this?"
"Someone who was in Jim's unit, that I've been seeing. Harvey Longfellow. I think he was a sergeant.
Kelso was silent for a moment.
"I never had a 'Longfellow' under my command..." he said quietly.
Sheila's eyes snapped open.
"Tabby colors? Black hair? Are you sure?" she questioned him in rapid fire.
"I was only a major then. We had very small units in our types of... Operations. I can assure you I remember every man in my unit," Kelso was confident in his words, and Sheila believed him.
"Jesus..." she said, closing her eyes and creasing her eyebrows in disbelief. How could Harvey do this to her?
"Look," Kelso said, interrupting her train of thought, "I've got a meeting at the CDC this weekend, so I'll be flying down. If you'd like to have lunch, we can discuss this in more detail..."
"Rob! It's good to see you again!" yelled Sheila, running up and hugging the black panther that was a head taller than her, "How was your flight?" she asked warmly.
"Uneventful," he replied, hugging Sheila back.
"How are the kids?" he asked as the separated and started walking out of the airport.
"Harder to keep up with every day," Sheila replied with a smile.
"I'm really glad you decided to have them. You've earned a lot of our respect..." Kelso complimented
"The more I thought about it, the less of a real choice there was," Sheila said shrugging off his compliment modestly.
Kelso smiled softly, "Most things in life are like that..."
They were silent for a moment as they walked through the parking lot to the car provided for Kelso. Sheila had taken a taxi to the airport.
"So how long have you been seeing Longfellow?" Kelso asked, getting right down to business as they entered the car.
"Just a bit over a week," Sheila replied, climbing into the passenger side. She strapped herself into the seat and Kelso started the car, "Why do you ask?
"We can discuss it over lunch," Kelso said solemnly, looking at the road as he pulled out into the parking lot.
"I pulled Longfellow's file for you," Kelso said to Sheila over the table at the small restaurant they were at. Sheila was wearing a grey sweater and jeans, whilst Kelso was wearing a long sleeved white tee with jeans.
"You have it?" Sheila asked, tilting her head slightly.
Kelso reached into the briefcase beside him and pulled out a manilla folder with a sheaf of papers inside.
"If this is the same person, based on your description, he never got close to Vietnam. He spent a short military life at a supply depot in Okinawa." he said, watching as she opened the folder and looked at all official records of Harvey Longfellow. There was even the small wallet sized picture of him paper clipped to the front.
"He was in for two years before being discharged on raw terms with the army," Kelso continued, "Reports from his C.O. complained about fraternizing aggressively. He was almost sent to the base psychologist."
Sheila glanced at all the papers inside the manilla folder, including a copy of his Birth Certificate, Drivers License, and Diploma. She threw down the papers, disgusted.
"Dammit..." she said angrily, "That son of a bitch... What does he gain by lying to me about Jim?"
"I can only speculate," said Kelso calmly, "If he destroys the memories of your husband, he has an easier time filling in. One from of predation is to wound and wait..."
Sheila drove to the school and walked into the front office of the school right after they finished lunch. Kelso had taken his car and was on his way to his meeting, but Sheila had called a cab and come directly to the school. The door to the office shut behind her with a sharp CLICK!
She walked past the front desk, walking directly towards Harvey's office. The lady at the front desk looked up from her book sharply.
"Oh! Uh... Ms. Black! Can I help you with anything?" she said nervosely.
"Nope." Sheila replied flatly.
She kept walking for his office and the lady started leaning back in her chair, trying to stop her.
"Er... You can't go in there! He's meeting with the superintendent!" she called frantically.
"Watch me." Sheila said, not even taking her eyes off the door.
The door slammed against the wall as Sheila burst in. There were two people in the room, one was Harvey, who was leaning back in his chair, facing toward the other person. The other person was a pretty tan colored cat, who was wearing a green tee shirt and was kneeling down in front of Harvey. Her hand was in his crotch.
They were both looking at the beautiful demoness standing before them with wide, scared eyes.
Sheila pointed right at the pretty cat and yelled at her, "If you're not the superintendent, then get the FUCK out!"
The woman got off her knees and cowered back against the corner behind her. Mr. Longfellow turned and put his elbow on the desk, his hand on his forehead and his eyes closed in embarrassment.
"Jesus, Sheila, this is NOT how it looks—"
"I don't care. We're through," Sheila said angrily, her arms crossed.
They stood there a moment, Mr. Longfellow gaping like a fish out of water.
"What?" he finally said.
Sheila lost her cool and slammed both her hands down on his desk, her ears turned back in anger.
"Okinawa!? A goddamned supply depot!? You LIED to me!" she yelled at him.
Harvey looked like he had been slapped, and was silent a moment.
"What?" he yelled back, "Who said that?"
"Don't even!" Sheila growled at him, taking one hand off the desk and putting it on her hip, "Don't fucking lie again!"
"I KNOW my damned sources!" she bellowed at him, pointing at him as she leaned up right into his face, "I don't know what you were thinking, but don't you DARE talk that kind of shit about Jim again! DON'T call me! Don't come NEAR me! And stay away from my kittens!"
She spun around and stalked out of the room angrily, glaring at the lady at the front desk menacingly.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK!
There was a loud knocking from the door, causing Sheila to get up from her bed. She was wearing her nightgown and was carrying the magazine she had been reading in her paw. The person pounded on the door again, harder than before.
"The hell..." Sheila thought tiredly.
She looked out the window, and saw Mr. Longfellow standing outside the door. He saw her through the window.
"Sheila, I really need to talk to you. Please let me in..."
Sheila 'tsk'ed when she heard who it was, "Oh lord,"
Lucy woke with a start, sitting up. She glanced over at her clock. It was 12 at night. Upon further listening, she realized that the reason she woke up was raised voices from downstairs. She recognized her mothers voice and Principal Longfellow's voice. She couldn't quite make out what they were saying, though.
She got out of bed, unable to fall back asleep, and left her room, heading for the landing of the stairs so she could listen.
When she got there, she found Fisk already kneeling at the corner, sitting and listening.
"Fisk?" she asked tiredly, "What's going on?"
"Mom's having a fight with principal Longfellow," he replied quietly.
"Sheila... look at me..." they heard Longfellow say.
"No, Harve, not this time. You have to leave..."
"Sheila," Harvey said, grabbing her arms pleadingly, "Don't do this to me. You're the most beautiful woman I've ever met..."
Sheila had stiffened when he grabbed her, and she got angry, "LET GO!" she screamed.
"Sheila!" Harvey pleaded.
Sheila yanked one of her arms free and clawed Harvey Longfellow across the face, "I said—"
Harvey had been stunned when she clawed him, but now he was mad.
"God-dammit!" he yelled slapping Sheila loudly across the face, "DON'T make me get ROUGH!"
Sheila screamed as she fell backwards to the couch.
"Maybe that's how you wan—" he was interrupted by Sheila screaming in fear.
"Fisk!" Lucy whispered, frightened, "We need to call the police!"
She looked beside her and found Fisk gone. Where had he gone!?
"Police!?" she heard loudly from behind her, "MYASS!"
She saw Fisk running past her, carrying his wooden baseball bat in his paws. He raced down the stairs.
Harvey Longfellow brought his claw up to Sheila's face and extended his claws. "If you start to scream, you can say goodbye to this gorgeous face..." he panted lowly.
"Oh... God no..." Sheila whispered, tears running down her face as she felt his hand working free the belt of her nightgown.
"Nng... Your as delightful huff taken as most are willing..."
There was a sharp pain in the side of Harvey's face and his head snapped to the side. He looked around dizzily, looking around for the source of the mind numbing pain dazed, a dark splotch already covering his right eye.
"Whuu..." he mumbled, and turned to see Fisk letting out a battle cry, swinging a bat like a pro.
The bat connected with Harvey's face loudly, some of the bones giving way. Harvey fell backwards in pain, blood spewing from his mouth, staining the carpet under him. Fisk was standing above him, shadows hiding his face, holding the bat at ready. Sheila watched the whole thing curled up on the couch, tears streaming from her wide eyes.
Red and blue lights flooding the side of the house, flashing from one to the other in a hypnotizing pattern. A female paramedic in a green uniform stood outside the door, reading something on a small, yellow-paged notebook she had in hand. Another parametric wheeled a fold-up gurney through the open door, only looking up to speak briefly to the female.
"Broken jaw and nose," he said professionally, "Mild concussion. He'll live."
"Thanks Bill," said the female, scribbling something onto the pad.
Inside that door, in the far corner, Fisk and Lucy sat huddled together. Fisk still had his bat in hand, glaring around the room protectively, his arm around his sister protectively. The dried blood on the bat stood as a warning to anybody who got too close.
"The mother's going to the hospital in my car, you got enough room in yours for the kids?" asked a voice from outside the room.
"Sure thing," another voice replied.
A leopard entered the room and smiled kindly at Fisk, stopping out of range of the bat. Fisk looked at him a second and lowered the bat, allowing the leopard to approach. He kneeled beside him, but not too close, and looked at Fisk piteously.
"Hey Fisk." he said compassionately, ignoring Fisk's defiant glare, "You did a good job buddy. We've got to get you kittens to the hospital."
"Okay," Fisk replied curtly, still glaring.
"I want you to give this to your mother," the leopard said, pulling a card from his pocket and holding it out to Fisk, "It's the card of someone you should see."
Fisk took his arm from around Lucy and took the card.
"Come on," the leopard said, standing, "We've got to get you kittens to the hospital."
A grey and black striped cat with black hair lay on a hospital bed, his face held in place by bandages and braces. His left eye was swollen shut and seeming to glow green and yellow through his fur. His right hand was handcuffed to the bed, keeping him from leaving.
A short, skinny, light grey mouse in a suit and hospital coat entered, a clipboard stacked with papers in his hand. He walked quickly to the side of the bed, and clasped his arms behind his back, smiling.
"You're healing well, Mr. Longfellow. You'll be ready for surgery in a few days."
Mr. Longfellow glared up at him, his ears back and not moving his head. He grunted to show he heard. The mouse didn't take offense, and walked out of the room smiling. When he got to the door, he turned back to the patient and pointed his clipboard at him.
"Get some rest," he said, opening the door, "The nurse will be with you in an hour with your feed tube."
He walked out the door, his smile instantly dropping, shaking his head in disgust with what he had to deal with. He shut the door with a click and looked up, stiffening for an instant when he saw a trio of people in medical coats sitting in chairs just outside.
He shuffled over, and put his free hand in his pocket, not making any more eye contact.
"How is our patient, doctor?" asked the tall black panther evenly.
"He's all yours," said the mouse, starting to walk away, "I'll start the paperwork."
"Rise and shine, Mr. Longfellow..." said a deep and calm, yet powerful, voice.
Harvey opened his eyes and grunted questioningly. He saw a whistling hyena opening a bag and a sour looking older mouse on either side of him, and a tall, burly panther at the foot of his bed, popping his knuckles.
"Your surgery has been pushed ahead of schedule..." the speaker, the panther, said, eyeing him strangely...
Sheila Black sat in front of a clean and neat hardwood desk, watching the chubby grey rat in front of her as he cleaned his small round glasses with a rag he had pulled from his pocket.
"Ms. Black, the DA of Cobb County intends to gat a conviction, and ensure that mistah Longfellow serves long, hard time." he had a southern accent and bobbed his head as he spoke.
"I think our medical evidence will be enough," he said, looking Sheila in the eye and laying his cleaned glasses on the desk, "I wouldn't worry about you or Fisk needin' to test-"
He was interrupted by the phone, which rang shrilly from the corner of his desk.
"Excuse me," he said, apologetically, picking up the phone.
"Baumgardener's office. Mm-hmm... Yes... What? You're kidding... Alright. Thank you."
He set the receiver back onto the stand and sighed.
"Well, we're going to be fortunate enough not to need a trial..." he trailed off apologetically.
Sheila looked up at him sharply.
"How?" she asked, almost desperate.
The rat brought his hands together and rested his chin on them, leaning on his desk.
"Longfellow died." he said bluntly, "Meningitis contracted during reconstruction surgery..."
Sheila stared down at his desk for a while, her face oddly calm as she let this sink in.
"Fisk, you are here because what you saw, and what you did, can place a very large, emotional weight on a growing child's mind."
Fisk was in a yellow-tinted room with no windows and all kinds of certificates hanging from the wall. He and a thin, emotionless looking fox sat at a dull, square wooden table. The Fox was dressed in a professional grey suit, her grey-striped hair hanging behind her head freely. There was a small notebook in one of her hands, and a golf pencil poised at the ready in the other.
"We can't help you work past it if you stay closed up..." the fox said encouragingly.
Fisk stared at the patterns in the grain for a minute in silence, the only noise being the ticking of the clock above the door. His eyes slowly slid up to look at her, then he sighed softly.
"You really want to know how I feel?" he asked quietly, almost sounding afraid to break the silence.
"I didn't freeze, or pause," he said, his voice still quiet, "I just let my brain and body do what I wanted. When the bat connected with his head, it felt good."
His voice was growing louder and he was straightening as he spoke.
"I took control of a wild situation, and it was right." he said forcefully, "Adults are always telling me that violence solves nothing..." he realized what he was saying, but there was no stopping the flow as it burst forth.
"Well, life's not so simple. My mother tells me it's important to be a man. Sometimes that means standing up for what's right, and that can be violent. So I realize being a man isn't about moving strength, its about judgement, and how to act toward each situation..." he leaned over the table, staring at a knot in the grain as he unloaded his burden.
"Principal Longfellow is dead," he said emotionlessly, "I know inside I'm supposed to feel bad, but I don't. I feel nothing. I just hope my feelings don't mean I'm going to be in trouble."
He leaned back in his chair and stared at his hands, which were clasped together in his lap. The fox, who had been scribbling on the pad, smiled and nodded approvingly at the picture of money falling around a money symbol that she had drawn.
Sorry for the long wait, but I'm taking some hard classes in school, and I just don't have the time to do this much anymore. I hope you enjoyed this chapter, and I would like you to know that I agree fully with what Fisk said in his 'therapy' session (I never even noticed that the fox had been drawing until I looked for this project 'o mine). Thank you for reading, and I hope I get time for this more often.