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Posted 9 March 2011
The Gaze: The Glass Goose
Story & art by Warren Hutch

Spontoon Archipelago, 1939
Story & art by Warren Hutch
© 2010 Warren Hutch


    "What th' Sam Hill d'y'all mean y'all're checkin' us out early!? Y'low down, yellow bellied, tail draggin sidewinder?"
    The white furred fox dabbed his forehead with a folded handkerchief as Jane Early gripped the edge of the front desk, standing on tip toes with her tail bristling behind her. Dorothy Pearl stood off to one side, hugging herself and looking weary and miserable in her thin satin slip, her disheveled hair sticking out in a tangle from beneath her dark colored, veiled hat.
    The natty vulpine cleared his throat tentatively. "I... I'm quite sorry, ladies, but your room has been damaged and is no longer available."
    The rabbit cocked an ear as she turned her head an indignant 45 degrees. "Then give us another room."
    The fox folded his hands on the desk register. "I'm sorry...  er... ma'am, but there are no other rooms available at this time."
    He rang a bell on the counter and glanced over his shoulder with a jerk of his head before turning his helpless expression to face her again.

     Dorothy let out a sigh and laid her hand on the furious rabbit's shoulder. "There's no use arguing about it, Miss Early. They've already made up their minds they're not going to risk another room getting destroyed. We're being thrown out."
    The hotel manager's ears levered back in alarm, his skin going pale under his already white fur as he started guiltily.
    The tan furred doe's eyes flared, and she launched into a stream of invective of such breadth and poetic inspiration about the shortcomings of the manager and his parentage that his skin soon flushed bright red as his brush frizzed out behind him. Roused from its slumber, the parrot by the veranda began screeching and bobbing back and forth, calling "Do you have a reservation?" again and again.

"Checking Out Early" from The Gaze: The Glass Goose - story & art by Warren Hutch

Checking Out Early - by Warren Hutch (Larger file here - 1.7 MBytes)

    Struggling to keep his voice even, the fox reached up a shaking hand and rang the bell on the counter. "We... we've taken the liberty of collecting your things and bringing them down to the lobby. Th-thank you for... uh... thank you for your patronage."
    A nervous bellhop approached with the females' suitcase and duffel bag in hand. Miss Early rounded on him and snatched the bags out of his hands with her buck teeth bared in a snarl. "I'm gonna check thru these, and if somethin's missin', I'm gonna come back here an'..."
    She's cut off at the sound of Mrs. Pearl's petulant, raised voice. "Come ON, Miss Early. Lets GO…"
    She stumbled forward and made her unsteady way out the lobby, her tail hanging limply behind her as she went. The tan furred rabbit cast a final, blistering glaze back at the nervous fox as the bellhop fled for the safety of the upper floors, and stalked angrily out of the hotel, the luggage clenched in her fists.

    As they walked past the fragrant, flowering hedges in front of the hotel, a long eared figure slipped out of a nearby alleyway and fell into step behind them, flanking them along the shadowy side of the street as they made their way along, stepping in and out of streetlights as they headed East.
    A low whistle came from the darkness shrouded figure, to which Miss Early replied with a whistle of her own. The rabbit and she cat nodded to one another and ducked around a corner out of the orange glow of a neon sign, out of sight of the main thoroughfare, and waited.
    Presently, the figure stepped into the light, a tan furred rabbit doe dressed similarly to Miss Early, who dipped an ear and waved to them as she approached, a large bundle slung over her shoulder. "Evenin' gals. Looks like we've had a busy night, huh?"
    The doe who'd been with Mrs. Pearl nodded. "Y'all don't gotta say that twice. Where've y'all been?"
    The rabbit set the pack down at her feet and grinned at them, patting the canvas wrapping of the bundle proudly. "Well, I got th' campin' gear and whatnot, and some new duds fer Missus Pearl. I got back jest in time to see th' cops lead me out the front door in cuffs, so I ducked down an alley an' kinda laid low, 'til jest now when I saw y'all leavin' th' hotel. I'm guessin' from whut I was hearin' from th' lobby that we got kicked out."
    Her double nodded ruefully. "Ayep. I guess I don't really blame 'em. We did do a number on that hotel room."
    At this, Mrs. Pearl flicked an ear. "Right, so while we're on the subject, could you please tell me what happened now?"
    The rabbit doe pushed her hat back on her head and scratched the side of her nose. She leaned diffidently back against the wall and shrugged. "Sure thing, darlin'. Not too much t' tell. I was in the room, takin' a nap, doin' some yoga, and sparrin' with myself. No footwork, jest blocks n' holds n' whatnot. Keepin' it quiet so the neighbors didn't git suspicious. Which is good, 'cos all of a sudden I hear a rattlin' at th' door. Someone was a'pickin' the lock."
    She furrowed her brow and pursed her lips. "So all of me grab some wall on either side o' th' doorway an' keep an ear cocked. An' o' course this is all happenin' so fast that none of us had a chance t' git a stitch o' clothes on."
    She shrugged as a blush spread across Mrs. Pearl's features. "Anyhow, who comes in but this skeevy lookin' fox with a fake eye, jest like yer hophead waiter described him, followed by our sushi-munchin' buddy from th' water taxi." She let out a chuckle. "He was still lookin' a might wrung out. T'ain't nothin' as sad n' ornery lookin' as a wet cat, no offense Missus Pearl."
    The brown furred feline blinked and shook her head. "None taken."
    The rabbit doe shrugged and continued her story. "So I jumped 'em. Th' fox went down like a bag o' fertilizer with jest one kick t' th' head, and spent th' rest o' th' fight on th' floor, which weren't exactly a healthy place t' be seein' how hard me an' his buddies went at it. Got a purty thorough second hand stompin', tho, th' poor bastard."
    She shook her head ruefully and continued. "Well anyway, that neko had his fuzz up an' he came at me with a knife, all shoutin' "banzai" and such. Mean as a snake and twice as slippery, I tell y'all. Got me right here fore I disarmed him." She tapped at the cut on her lip. "I almost wish I'd let him keep his pig-sticker, 'cos he flips out and goes all ninja on me, switchin' purty smooth between jujutsu and karate. So I uncorked a l'il krav maga, a l'il jeet kune do, some ishin ryu, and some o' my own special doekido on his sorry butt, and then proceeded t' use his face t' dust the furniture some."
    She winced with a measure of embarrassment as she ran a finger along the faint bruise on her face. "Well, I thought I had the poor bastard outnumbered four t' one an' was gittin' ready t' play full contact twenty-questions, when this dog comes barrelin' into th' room, throwin' punches and tossin' me right and left. Knocked the first one he hit coldern' a brass doorknob. Took a couple o' reshuffles t'git my eyes t'uncross."
    A rueful look crossed her face. "He was good, tough as a damn brick and big. Too strong fer arm n' leg locks, kept me offa his knees and had a good guard on his throat, shrugged off a couple kicks t' the face, and he was wearin' a cup so hittin' his joy buzzer weren't gonna do it." She shrugged as her feline companion blushed a bit redder. "If'n I'da had th' boots on it mighta been different, but y'all gotta go with what y'all got. Best I could do was pop a whole mob o' dupes and bum rush him. Well, necessity bein' th' mother o' invention, we knew we weren't gonna hold him fer long, and since we couldn't keep him down we figgered we oughta toss him out, so we hefted him on our shoulders like he was crowd surfin', and gave him the ol' heave-ho. I reckon if a bunch o' me couldn't make him see our point o' view, then let him go argue with gravity a spell."
    At this her duplicate rolled her eyes. "Y'all jest can't go fer one fight without tryin' t' recreate a mosh-pit, can ya?"
    Her double snorted as a look of weary confusion flitted across Dorothy's face. "It's gonna be what... fifty-somethin' years at least 'fore any real ones happen, and by then th' best I'll prolly be able t' do is roll over somebody's toes in a wheelchair."
    She shrugged with a toss of her head. "Anyhow, it worked. Frankenpooch hit th' street like a bag o' toasters an jest lied there moanin'."
    The rabbit doe tugged irritably at an ear. "Well, t'weren't long fore I heard a different music, tweetin' cop whistles, comin' up the street. And feet a'runnin' up th' stairs and down th' hall. All I had time t'do was git my numbers down t' jest one o' me." A blush came to her face. "Got the last pair combined jest as th' hotel detective an' a couple o' big bellhops come blunderin' thru th' door. Lordy the way their eyes bugged out, seein' me standin' there in th' altogether, right in th' middle of whut musta looked like a dang bomb crater, and them two scumbags at my feet waitin' fer th' tooth fairy t' come."

Janes Tale

Janes Tale - by Warren Hutch (Larger file here - 2 MBytes)

    She rolled her eyes. "They jest sorta froze there with their dumb yaps hangin' open fer what seemed like five minutes or so. I actually had time t' consider jumpin' out the window and usin' that big goondog like a crash pad, but by then thar was a crowd o' cops n' tourists millin' round and I figgered I might as well jest stay put."
    She pursed her lips ruefully. "I put my hands up an' surrendered. And even then they jest stood thar gawkin' as a crowd gathered behind them. Some of th' peanut gallery started whistlin' and makin' jokes." Her brow furrowed as she blushed redder and cast a look at her feline cohort. "Y'all're a lot dirtier-minded these days than all them ol' black n' white movies on th' classic movie channels let on, I might add."
    She shook her head and shrugged. "Well, finally somebody's brain reconnected an they let me toss on a shirt an' some boxers, then th' cops led me off. They marched me over t' th' police station n' booked me fer assault n' battery an' disturbin' th' peace an' whatnot. Took my prints an' photos. And tarnation' if'n that matron o' theirs don't keep her hands in the dang fridge between strip searches. Y'all'd think they woudn't even have t' do one considerin' th' state I was in when they arrested me. Then they tossed me in th' holdin' tank n' thar I sat fer th' rest o th' afternoon." She fixed her companions with a weary gaze. "An that was that. Y'all showed up a l'il while later and y'all know th' rest."
    Her double looked at her with a cocked eyebrow. "So whut all happened at th' station with Missus Pearl?"
    The rabbit doe beckoned her with a toss of her head. "Come here an' find out."
    With a nod, the duplicate stepped forward and vanished, her vacated clothing dropping empty to the ground. The bruise and cut on the remaining Miss Early's face faded to almost nothing, as the rabbit doe crouched down and began to gather up the empty garments. She looked up at her feline companion ruefully. "I wish I could keep a couple dupes around t' carry all this stuff, but I don't reckon we wanna take a chance on anybody else seein' double."
    Mrs. Pearl nodded gravely to her companion. "Yeah. We're making a lot more of a splash around the Spontoons than I would have wanted. I guess we should be more careful."
    With a sigh, the rabbit crammed her discarded clothes into her duffel bag, and pulled her canvas jacket out of the tangle, unfurling it with a flap as she walked around behind her feline cohort. With a gentle flourish, she laid the jacket over the tabby's hunched shoulders. "Right, and that includes not catchin' a cold. It's gittin a l'il chilly."
    Mrs. Pearl smiled warmly at her as she drew it tighter around herself. "Thanks, Jane. I dunno what I'd do without you taking care of me like you do."
    The rabbit doe gave her a rueful shrug. "Well, y'all'd probably be lyin' down fer a good night's sleep in a nice clean bed, fer starters..." She bent down and hefted the large bundle to her shoulder along with her duffle bag, crouching under her load with a weary look on her face. "I got a couple bedrolls in here. Guess we oughta go find a couple park benches or somethin'..."
    The feline dipped down and picked up her suitcase, looking over at her companion with an equally tired expression. "Well, at least a park bench won't be bugged."
    The rabbit winced and slapped at the side of her neck in irritation, peering at her palm in the hazy light with a grimace as she swayed to regain her balance, wiping her hand on her trousers. "Not by electronic ones, anyhow..."
    They shared a resigned look into one another's eyes, and stepped out of the alley, heading down the street side by side.


"No Place To Go In Paradise" from The Gaze: The Glass Goose - story & art by Warren Hutch
No Place To Go In Paradise - by Warren Hutch (Larger file here - 1.7 MBytes)

        The Gaze: The Glass Goose