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hvysmker
September 20th, 2014, 06:46 PM
One day last month, I was awake and having my third cup of vodka spiked with coffee when I heard a loud "Beep … beep … beeping" from the parking lot. At first I ignored the noise, thinking it was Mr. Edwards from the third floor giving the Meescowski kids a ride to animal school. It can be dangerous for mouse children to walk to the school bus stop and, since he drove to work about that time, he usually gave them a lift.


A minute later, what I thought were stones began bouncing off a partially-open kitchen window. Thinking it was some joker, I ignored the sound, finished the coffee and poured another cup. Before I could sit down again, one of the objects came through and onto the table, rattling to a stop in front of a butter dish. It was a gold coin.


Now, who could be chucking gold at my window? Hurrying over, I saw a huge limousine parked below. A uniformed chauffeur stood next to it, lobbing coins from a large bag at me.


"What the hell?" I yelled.


"The master wishes to speak to you, sir," he said while stuffing a handful of gold into his own coat pocket.


"Who would that be?" I asked, not personally knowing any millionaires.


"Mr. Oscar, sir."


I hurriedly dressed and left my apartment, stopping down the hall to knock on Oscar Rat's door. Nancy Skunk, the rat's adopted teenage daughter, answered.


"Nancy," I told her, "you better grab your Aunt Malodor and get downstairs right now. Oscar's throwing gold coins around down there."


"Gold? He ain't got no gold." She half-turned, screaming behind her, "Aunt Malodor. Uncle Oscar's up to something. We gotta stop him."


Malodor came running, fur still in curlers, to see what the fuss was about. A skunk in curlers is a sight to see.


"Aren't you going to take those things out first?" I asked.


"Not when my husband's throwing gold or something around out there. Half the time, we can't even pay the rent."


With a skunk on each shoulder, curlers digging into my ear, I hurried down to the parking lot. We were slowed a little by a hyena family coming up the stairs while we hurried downward. They were laughing their asses off, but would have anyway -- so it didn't bother us much.


I was out of breath by the time we arrived at the purring limo. The chauffeur opened the door for us. Malodor was first to jump inside the spacious vehicle. Shaking my head at Nancy and the driver, I hurriedly slammed the door. I had only a quick look at my buddy, Oscar Rat, before the door shut with us still outside. He was wearing a pin-stripe suit and smoking a cigar longer than he was tall.


"Why did you do that, Uncle Charlie?" Nancy asked. Now, I'm not really a skunk's uncle, but she calls me that.


I shook my head. "If she sprays that sucker, I don't want to be in there with them."


Nancy didn't hear me. She was busily rushing around, picking up the dozens of coins lying in the grass near the building.


I waited anxiously, keeping an eye on tinted windows while wondering if they'd fog up from the inside. Of course I was dying to find out what Oscar was doing with all that money, but not ready to die for real. I fully expected to see a gray streak in a pin-striped suit as he bailed from a deadly skunk-perfumed limo. I'd seen Malodor when she was angry, and shuddered at the memory.


The door finally opened, while I dodged away. A smiling Oscar Rat jumped down to the asphalt.


"Malodor wants you, Nancy," he called, "to go shopping with her."


Whoooo! Heartbeat slowing, I relaxed, then realized I still didn't know how he stole that money. The rat certainly didn't earn it honestly. He made a decent living rewriting history at the Rat Archives, but nowhere near that much.


As we watched the limo leave, I looked down at Oscar. "Where did you...."


"Let's go to your place," he said, "and I'll tell you about our bank."


"Okay," I said. Then it hit me. “OUR bank? Hey! Wait a minute. OUR BANK!"


***


Back in my apartment, Oscar lost no time in running over and pouring himself a drink of my booze. He then hopped up onto my favorite chair and took a sip.


"Well, you know about President Obama's policy to help out us bankers, don't you?" he asked.


"You'd better explain this, especially the ‘our’ and 'us’ parts, you rat. Where the hell do I come in?"


"Let me see. Calm down, Charlie, old buddy. You know about my part-time job as Rodent Advisor to the President, right?"


"I heard, but how does--"


"Give me a minute, old bean, and I'll explain. You got any potato chips? Or maybe popcorn? I've been too busy to eat."


I grabbed a bag of chips from a cupboard, tore them open, and threw them at the rat.


"Thanks, old buddy."


I knew Oscar, and all those "buddy"s were unnerving.


"Damn it. Explain this shit," I screamed at the satisfied-looking rodent, sitting eating my chips and drinking my booze, "or I'll wring your scrawny neck. This looks serious, very serious."


"Okay, okay. You don't have to yell. It'll only be embarrassing when you have to thank me later."


"Give." I brandished a fist in front of his muzzle.


"All right. Don't get physical. With my job in Washington, I had insider information on President Obama's plan to bail out the banks. See? So I made a few phone calls here in town. I called the manager of those welfare projects on the south side. You know the ones? Those huge buildings across the tracks.


"After making an agreement with him, I called some of my government buddies from Georgie's bunch -- the Neo-Cons. They're out of work, but still have a lot of political pull. We formed the ‘First Rodent Bank.’ All of us invested a couple-hundred dollars in it, sorta seed money, you know?


"Then, after stopping at an office-supply store to buy a few hundred standard condominium contracts, the project manager and myself started knocking at doors. We asked each resident if they'd like to own their apartment, as a condo and for free. No more rent, was our offer.


"All of them snapped it up, except for the guy in CC-230 who was expecting the Romulons to come from outer space and rescue him any day now. He wasn't interested in earth property. The contract also affirmed that they couldn't pay $500,000 for the condos. Actually, I don't think many of them could -- so it wasn't a lie.


"I took all of them signed contracts back to the storefront we'd rented as a bank, then submitted an application for bailout money. With my Republican contacts and silent partners, it only took a week for it to come through.


"We're a new bank, and the Democrats don't have time to check everyone out. We settled for only 20 billion with no questions or oversight. If we'd held out for more, we might be investigated and who needs the hassle?


"My share, after splitting with the others and taking out the cost of filing for bankruptcy, comes to a lousy 2.4 billion -- not bad for a couple of week's work."


I sighed, trying to make sense out of what he'd said. "And where do I come in, old buddy?" I had to ask, sarcastically, though I was beginning to get the answer by my own little self.


"I'll split it with you. Oh, and you'll have some bankruptcy papers to sign. A small matter, since I'm giving you a million dollars to sign them."


"Why me? Why do I have to sign papers, not you and your friends?"


"My partners laid it off on me, and I ... well ... actually, a rat can't legally start a business in this backward country, so I -- I, well ... used your name."


Which was exactly what I'd been thinking. When they finally got around to investigating, I'd owe the Feds all 20 billion dollars. But then, that frickin' rat was giving me a million. Jeez! Nice of him, wasn't it?


I reached to grab him by the neck, but he was ready. Jumping to the floor, that bastard rat ran under the couch. A squeaky voice called out, "Two million?"


When I shoved the couch over, he skitterscratched his way into a convenient rathole, and all without spilling his drink. He did leave a trail of potato chips, though.


"Why are you angry, old buddy?" he called out from relative safety while I was looking around for a hammer or something to break the wall down. "I'm giving you three ... no, four million dollars."


Well, I never did catch him, but did find a key and an address to his ... our ... bank he’d dropped.


***


It was after dark by the time I arrived at the bank and parked down the street. As I angrily approached the storefront, a couple of men walked out of the door. They were wearing expensive suits and carrying cardboard boxes piled to the top with paperwork.


When they saw me, they took off running down the street toward an F-15 fighter plane parked in a vacant lot. The two moved so fast that papers fluttered out and blew toward me.


Since one of the crooks was carrying an all-too-familiar shotgun, I chose not to follow. With a hat pulled down over his eyes, he appeared to be a chubby old guy. The other, clad in spurs and a cowboy hat, led their way into the aircraft. The small guy must have been a pilot.


As they took off into unfriendly skies, I spent my time grabbing loose paperwork.


The door to the bank was still open. Since the front window, too dirty to see through in the dark, had a magic-marker sign saying, "First Rodent Bank of the US," I knew I was at the right place.


The “bank” consisted of one large and empty room -- except for a couple of wooden desks, a few chairs, and a long-gun holder hanging on one wall. One desk had scratches from what were probably rat claws across the top, and the gun holder sported the initials, "DC", etched into one side. Not very auspicious, I thought, for a multi-billion-dollar enterprise.


I continued checking the place out. In a tiny restroom, I found an instruction book on flying that F-15 I'd seen outside. Inside the front cover was an impression of the Presidential Seal. The bookmark was a $1,000 bill, folded into quarters. There were, in my mind, few individuals that could use such bookmarks.


Ah, but those loose papers were a goldmine. They told the story. A scribbled list gave the names of investors, with the strange admonition to "Please turn this in to O before 3/5." Oscar's name was on that list, as well as mine. My name had been forged on a number of other papers.


Not knowing what to do, I locked the door to the bank and went home to think it over. I did notice that Oscar and his family were still gone.


In the morning, I called long-distance to Washington to try to get hold of the President. There was no way I wanted to be arrested for stealing billions of dollars in tax money.


Being passed from one secretary to another, one building to the next, around the capital -- when I wasn't on hold, of course -- I had no luck at all.


Several hours later, I happened to use Oscar's name in an explanation.


"Oh! You're a friend of Oscar Rat's? Why didn't you say so?" the Secretary of Home Defense asked. "Let me see if Oscar's in his office."


"No, I don't want to talk to Oscar. I want the President."


"Is it in reference to our buddy, Oscar?"


"Yes. Yes. It's about Oscar."


"Please hold."


I could hear clicks as telephones switched automatically, along with an occasional mumble in the background. A minute later, I heard. "Hold for the President." A few more clicks, the, "I'll see if my husband has a moment," in a sexy voice. "He's in the bathroom. I'll transfer you." Another couple of clicks, and I was talking to the President ... well ... sort'a. A huge fart almost busted my eardrum. I could almost smell it from there.


"Hi, Oscar. What's up, man?"


"This isn't Oscar. I'm his neighbor, Charlie."


"Oh. That Charlie. I'm surprised you can even use a telephone, in your condition, I mean. Hello, Charlie. How are you today, little man? How are your dollies treating you? Did you pee pee on yourself again? Do you need nice Oscar to clean your little butt?"


"Damn it, cut that out." I froze in shock. I'd just cussed out the President of the United States. "I don't know what Oscar's been telling you, but I'm not a frickin' idiot."


"But Oscar...."


"The hell with that rat. Look, Mr. President, let me read from this list." I explained what I'd learned, and what I'd found. I read him the list of stockholders in the First Rodent Bank, and the message at the bottom. "What should I do, Mr. President?" I asked. "I want to do the honest thing."


"I'll take care of it, Mr. Charlie. You can go back to playing with your dolls in Fantasyland." He hung up.


Well, last week two things happened. Everyone on that list received Presidential Pardons for any crimes, past, present, and future. Also, I got a call from the IRS, saying I owed unpaid taxes on four-million dollars.


No more meddling in politics for me. Leave that for the big brains like Oscar Rat.


Now I don't know what to do. Maybe I should call Oscar for help?


Charlie

jerich100
September 27th, 2014, 05:15 PM
I can hardly find anything wrong with this and found it delightful. I have not read any of your other entries, so I don’t know what your intended audience is. Because the characters are animals, it must be for children. However, it seems to be written for adults. This is good though, because we need much less death, murder, rage, infidelity, theft, selfishness, revenge, and control, and more upbeat inspiration.

There were many descriptions I found wonderful:

The gold coin “rattled to a stop”.
“The hyenas were laughing their a**es off.” I thought that was
“Purring limo”. Nice description, as purring is what certain animals do.
“A skunk in curlers is a sight to see.”
Malodor is the Aunt skunk’s name. Mal+oder. Clever.

Some comments:

When the teenage skunk heard about her uncle throwing gold coins, wouldn’t she say to her aunt, “Why is Uncle Oscar throwing money?” instead of, “We gotta stop him?” The former sounds more curious and innocent, where as the latter is what an adult would say.

Is the main character named Charlie? We first hear his name around the 16th paragraph, which is a bit of shock when I first read it. I had to ask myself, “Who is Charlie?”

If Uncle Oscar wanted only Malodor and Nancy, why was the chauffeur throwing coins at Charlie’s window? How could Malodor agree so quickly to spend Oscar’s ill-gotten money? The scene at the limo is a bit sudden (Jolting? Sharp?) compared to the pace of the rest of the story. The story would work better, I believe, if there weren’t any Nancy or Malodor, and Charlie goes directly to Oscar’s limo.

Toward the end of the story, a gap of time exists before the sentence, “Well, last week two things happened...” That “space” of time isn’t made clear. Perhaps some asterisks?

The story mentions President Obama. This is okay, but when Obama speaks he doesn’t sound at all like President Obama. So, should all mention of Obama be removed and just citing the title of “President”? Or, make him sound like Obama. I would say both, or neither. The other challenge with using a President’s name is it dates the story. Thirty years from now your readers will think, “Obama? Who is he?”

hvysmker
September 27th, 2014, 05:57 PM
Thanks for commenting, Jerich100.

Oscar Rat is my longtime virtual companion, with hundreds of stories by and about his exploits. Although I have sold a few stories and novels, I normally write for the fun of it.

Fantasy writing does NOT have to be for children. I write a lot of adult fantasy.

Charlie in the story is my alter ego. I'm Charlie.

I guess I lived on the right side of the building, Oscar behind the parking lot. Also, of course, I was involved in his scam. Malodor and adopted daughter Nancy Skunk are used to Oscar causing trouble. If you've had more experience with how skunks speak, please let me know.

I'll have to check into that two week time gap.

I don't know how Obama sounds. In real life I've never shared a good drunk with the guy.

The story is already dated by the bailout. Unless there are more in the future?

Charlie