Spontoon Island
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15 September 2005

Let's Doe It [Lets Fall In Love]
Willow Fawnsworthy created by M. Mitchell Marmel
Reggie Buckhorn created by EOCostello

"Let's Not Duello On The Subject"
by E. O. Costello & M. Mitchell Marmel

"Let's Not Duello On The Subject"
by E.O. Costello &  M. Mitchell Marmel

Reggie Buckhorn, Lodge, Sgt. Brush, Inspector Stagg, Baron and Baronin von Kojote,
Senor, Senora and Senorita de Ciervos, Po'na (c) E.O. Costello
Willow Fawnsworthy, Rosie Baumgartner (c) M. Mitchell Marmel

"Sister Susie's Sewing Shirts for Soldiers"
Lyrics by R.P. Weston, Music by Hermann Darewski
(c) 1914 T.B. Harms

Part 4

 The first thing I did when I got back downstairs was to pour myself a double scotch and down it. The second thing I did was to pour myself another, and down *that*.

 "Let me guess," Willow drawled from the comfort and safety of an armchair. "Things didn't go according to Moyle?"

 I shook my head ruefully. "Oy. Not exactly."

"So? What happened?"

 I sighed. "Where to begin? Maybe with Lover Boy's boxer shorts..."

 "How do you know he was wearing boxer shorts?"

 "You remember that shriek we heard? Belonged to, go figure, another doe. Red deer, not one of your species. She claimed the lava-lava and was looking to complete the outfit."

 Willow giggled. "So, what kind of boxer shorts does Reggie wear?"

 "Bright pink silk jobs, with little hearts on them. I can't imagine who'd be meshugenah enough to wear something like that. Or buy it, yet."

 A dark scowl from the armchair.

 I boggled a bit. "You?!"

Willow nodded. "As a joke. Didn't think he'd actually wear them, but...you say he did when he came to come see me..."  Willow adopted a dreamy look, and it wasn't hard to figure where her thoughts were going. I offered her a Scotch to get her focus away from the solitary sin.

 "Anyhow, Reggie's gonna skate. The hotel isn't going to press charges, and neither is Daddy. Daddy's little angel (like hell) threw a hissy-fit when the pawcuffs were brought out."

 "I heard that. I was wondering who had the pair of lungs."

 "Ohhh, yeah. The little one, who wanted your boyfriend's boxers, she's gotta pair of lungs, all right... And that nightie she was wearing... Between her and Mama-san, who, incidentally was getting REAL familiar with Lover Boy's tuchas...I figure he got some punishment, at least."

 Willow glowered, and I could see the knuckles on her paw go white as she gripped her glass. I don't think she liked the idea of other does getting the advantage on her. I, for one, didn't like the look in her eyes, so I changed the subject.

 "Saw your dad up there, by the way."

 Success. Willow perked her ears up. "Oh? How was he?"

 I nodded appprovingly. "A real mensch. Managed to keep things more or less on track.  Not easy with the meshuginahs we had upstairs." I paused. "...Y'know, he's...kinda cute, too, if you don't mind me saying."

Willow sighed. "Probably a moot point. Was he wearing his wedding ring?"

"Yep. Not hard to miss."

Another sigh. "Mama may be...gone, but I don't think Da, well..."

I nodded. "Yeah. Too bad."  It was, too. Guy like that could use a little mothering, maybe put some spark back in those eyes...

Speaking of eyes, Willow was giving me one.  "Any reason you're not telling me something?"

Like father, like daughter. Oy. This wasn't gonna be easy.

"You remember I was saying about the meshuginahs up there, right?"

Willow narrowed her eyes. "Ye-es?"

"Well, Papa Deer up there -- every pot's got a handle, his is de Ciervos -- well, he gotall huffy about what I was doing, and gave your boyfriend an earful about honour and such."

Willow giggled again. "Honor? Heh, heh, how dashing. He's been reading romanticnovels. So what did he do? Make Reggie challenge you to a duel?"

Dead silence.

More dead silence.

 Willow paled a bit. "He DIDN'T."

 "Go figure. It's legal here in the Spontoons. Don't ask me why or how; Po'na explained it to us, and Spontoonie gives me headaches, sometimes. Anyhow, Nature Boy..."

 Tap-tap-tap went the hoof on the floor. "And that's another thing. His name is Reggie.  Use it."

 "All right, all right, already. *Reggie* didn't make with the glove across the puss like yousee in the pictures. He poinked me good and hard in the schnoz." Another belt of Glenfinchich. "And, brother, he's gonna wish he hadn't done that when I get through with him."

 A sudden chill in the room. "Why?!"

 Blame it on the Scotch, but I sproinged a set of claws. "How do you like your boyfriend? Julienned?"

 Bang! went the Scotch glass on the table. "No. You. Don't."

 I unsproinged. "Hunh?"

 Willow pointed a finger at me and air-poinked my nose. "You HURT Reggie...you even TOUCH Reggie, and I...I...I..."

She began to shake all over. Uh-oh. In a flash, I was on one knee next to the chair, holding a shaking doe. "Willow! I'm sorry! Dammit, I'm supposed to keep you from gettng all ferblungert, and now I've gone and done it." She shook harder. I sighed and murmured,  "Dammit. NOW what do I do?"

There was a gentle cough from a dark corner of the room. The cough was connected to a small, flat-tailed shadow, which also connected to a small guy in striped trousers.

"I apologize, Miss Baumgartner, for overhearing the conversation, both the earlier one upstairs, and the one down here."

I gave Lodge the fisheye. "Can't see how you could possibly miss the first one. Say, how'd you get in here? I didn't hear you come in."

 "Professional skill, Miss Baumgartner. Am I to understand there is a problem here?"

 Willow sighed, putting her head in her paws as I got to my feet, patted Willow's shoulder, shrugged and nodded at Lodge.

 "Miss Fawnsworthy? If it is at all of interest to you, I would be pleased to offer my assistance in this matter."

 Willow looked up, with wet eyes, and sniffed. Lodge produced a clean handkerchief from somewhere. I wonder if he learned that in valet school. Willow dabbed at her eyes, and blew her nose, and looked up at Lodge, blinking.

 "I assume, Miss Fawnsworthy, that that is a request for my services. Very well. I take it you wish to have an end result in which Mr. Buckhorn comes out unscathed, at least physically?"

 Another sniff. "I don't want him humiliated, Lodge." A glare at me.

 "As it happens, Miss Fawnsworthy...and Miss Baumgartner...I am not without experience in these matters. My prior employer, that is, before I was engaged by Mr. Buckhorn, was the Count de Conejo, a gentleman whose nocturnal activities often landed him in these sort of situations. I was present, many a morning, at engagements that called for, as the phrase goes, 'weapons for two and coffee for one.'"

 Willow sniffed again. "That...doesn't sound particularly promising, Lodge."

 "If you will permit me, Miss Fawnsworthy. I have enough experience in these matters to ensure that the proceedings will be dragged out for some weeks, and that the final resolution of the matter will be a case where both parties will require coffee."

 I raised an eyebrow. "You mean you can keep Natu...Mr. Buckhorn focused on this instead of Willow for the next six weeks?"

 "You have ascertained my point, Miss Baumgartner. Permit me to suggest that you appoint me as your second in this matter, and I will ensure that everything is arranged to your satisfaction, and that of Miss Fawnsworthy."

 I snorted. "Nu, like I had a better offer?" I stuck out a paw. "Consider yourself appointed." Lodge shook my paw gravely.

 Willow looked hopeful. "You really think you can help Reggie, Lodge?"

 Lodge nodded gravely. "I will do my best to ensure satisfaction, Miss Fawnsworthy. Mr. Buckhorn may be trying at times, but he is a generous employer. Which reminds me.  May I please be excused? I believe that Mr. Buckhorn is in need of a change of clothes, and I don't wish him to catch cold."

"H'm. Nice case of pneumonia-"

"No." Simultaneously from Lodge and Willow.

I sighed. "I know when I'm licked. Carry on, Lodge." I turned towards Willow. "'Kay, kiddo, the coast should-" I turned again. How the hell had Lodge gotten OUT? I wanted to learn those 'professional skills'. "...should be clear by now. Lemme grab the Scotch and a nightgown. I'll stay in Les' room for tonnite." A reproving, slightly tipsy finger at the doe.  "ALONE. 'Less it's an emergency."

 Funny, I didn't see any mouse in Willow's room. Oh, well. Willow DOES make for a nice cuddle.






"Willow, wake up."


"Willow, could you please unwrap your arms from around my waist?"


"Willow, I gotta use the little cheetah's room."


"Lissen, I don't wanna drag you there...!"


Eventually, I got myself extricated.


"We have to stop sleeping like this."


I took another bite of toast as Willow attacked her oatmeal. "People are starting to talk."


I grinned. "Everyone at the Lotus is convinced we're an item."


"Would you knock that off?"

Willow swallowed a mouthful of grey mush. "Knock what off?"

I sighed. "Never mind." I shook a finger at her. "Now look. I don't mind helping you, and, frankly, I enjoy your company in bed, even if we don't really do anything besides cuddling, but..."

Willow nodded ruefully. "I know, I know, too much temptation." She sighed.
"Problem is, it seems that I can't sleep unless a) I'm doped to the gills or b) I have someone to cuddle with."

"Lover-boy?" I suggested.

Willow shook her head. "That's out until at least Christmas, maybe beyond."

I sighed. "You know, the more I think about it, the more I think Merino's an idiot."

Willow shook her head harder. "No, he has a valid point. Remember, I've... done some pretty bad stuff."

I looked at the pretty doe. "With justification, methinks."

Willow sighed. "Be that as it may, I accepted the penance and I have to live with it."

My mouth quirked. "Well, I don't think Merino's going to sign off on a cuddly cheetah girlfriend as a sleep aid. Even if she's a nice Jewish girl."

Willow grinned. "True enough." She finished her oatmeal, stood and stretched. I
enjoyed the show, as always. "Which means he's the one who has to come up with a suggestion..."


"Okay, this guy's a Jesuit, right?"

Willow nodded.

"Years of schooling? Seminary? All that?"


"And the best he could come up with is 'hug a pillow'?"


I shook my head ruefully. "I think I'll ask Rabbi Steinmink. He's been married for years, maybe he'll have a better idea."


"Y'know," I mused, "they MUST have some sorta interfaith jungle telegraph or something."




"What in the world is that?"

"It's a plush stuffed buck."

Willow raised an eyebrow. "I can see that, but where'd it come from?"

I snickered. "Believe it or not, the hotel gift shop. Got a buncha different species.  They're pretty popular during the tourist season."

Willow nodded absently. "That would explain the lava-lava with what I believe you said were rude slogans in Spontoonie?"

"Yeah," I grinned. I handed her the two-foot tall toy. "Here, go give it a test drive."

Willow put her right forefinger on her cheek. "I believe I will call him...Mini-Reggie."





(firmly) "Nope."

"How come?"



"A distinct bouquet of formaldehyde, with an under-note of sewing machine oil."

I sighed. "That'll be from the fabric dye. Is it the lava-lava?"

Willow shook her head. "No, definitely Mini-Reggie."

I growled. "Can't launder the damn thing, it'd ruin the stuffing."

"Dry cleaning?" Willow wondered.

"Noooo, that's essentially soaking it with gasoline. Don't think that'll help much." I sniffed Mini-Reggie. "Faint, but I can see it being annoying."

Willow looked wistful. "Too bad Mini-Reggie doesn't smell like Real Reggie."

A lightbulb lit. "That's it!"

"What's it?"

"We'll get those idiotic boxer shorts-" A cold glance from Willow. "Okay, those very tasteful and lovely boxer shorts from Romeo. Stuff 'em into Mini-Reggie so the buck scent doesn't fade so fast and voila! Instant sleep aid."

"Good idea," Willow applauded. "How we gonna get them?"

I smiled. "Leave that up to Aunt Rosie."


Near as I could figure, the best way to get what Willow wanted would be to intercept some of The Great Lover's laundry as it was being sent out. Personally, I couldn't see Lodge washing the Buckhorn indelicates. Me, I wouldn't touch them with a ten-foot laundry pole. But where there's a Willow, there's a way, sez me, so...

The high-class hotels like the Grand, the Marleybone and Shepherd's send their stuff out to a little joint about a block from Hotel Row. Beats me how they keep everything straight during the height of tourist season, but I guess they do, somehow.

I dressed in my agent-of-DuCleds Chemicals best, slapped on the pince-nez, and walked into the shop. The fellow on duty was a small, pudgy fox, whose muzzle barely broke counter-level. This meant you could see his eyebrows pretty easily, and they were wiggling as he saw me come in.

"Here kitty-kitty-kitty-kitty, nice...OW!"

My work was done for me by a much taller wolf, who fetched the little one a good one across his ears.

"Mind your manners, Cannizorro. Can't you see we're dealing with a lady, here?"

The little one whined as he rubbed his ear. "Hey, I can hardly see over the counter, let alone the lady."

The wolf snorted, and shoved the fox to the side with a paw to the face. "I'm terribly sorry, ma'am. Now, what I can I do for you today?"

I smiled at Handsome. "Well, I need some clothes, you see..."

The little vulpine wasn't going down quietly. "Why, you don't like the ones ya got on?" His two-tone whistle got cut off by a paw to the nose from the wolf.

I glared at the little guy, who ducked under the counter, and turned back to the wolf.

"No, I think there's been a mistake. Some laundry from Reginald Buckhorn got sent here, when it shouldn't have come here. There was a set of silk boxers that needs to be hand-washed."

The wolf scratched his chin. "Well, I don't know, ma'am. Have you got the ticket?"

"No, I'm afraid I don't."

The fox poked his nose over the counter. "Hey, if she's got no ticket, she doesn't get a shirt." There was an implication in his eyebrow wiggle that the wolf and I didn't mistake, and he got another fwap.

"Sorry about that, ma'am. You see, we need the ticket, because there's a lot of confusing names among our customers, especially when we have so many Asian customers. I mean, take this suit for example. It belongs to a Burmese gentleman staying at the Marleybone. U Nu."

The fox looked puzzled. "Hey, Lupo, U Nu what?"

"The gentleman at the Marleybone, U Nu."

"I dunno anyone at the Marleybone."

"No, no, no. The gentleman at the Marleybone. His name is right here on the ticket, see? U Nu."

"I didn't know nothin' till I seen that ticket just now."

"Ooooh, why don't you pay attention to your work? Say, have you finished pressing that dress for that Tonkinese over at the Grand?"

"You mean Wan Dai?"

"Don't be ridiculous, Cannizorro, I told you to finish that this morning."

"Hey, Lupo, I am gonna finish it. You know that."

"Now you're being confused. U Nu has the suit, Wan Dai will have the dress."

"Naw, she's gonna have it in time for dinner tonight."

The wolf looked confused. "Who?"

"You know who."

"No, U Nu has the suit, and Wan Dai has the dress."

"I know that. You're tryin' to confuse me, you are. Why don't *you* do what ya supposed to, an' tailor that guy's shirt."

"Which guy?"

"The guy from Hong Kong stayin' at Shepherd's. How Long."

The wolf furrowed his eyebrow. "Well, I think the gentleman's taking a 32 short I don't see how that follows. Who's it for?"

"You know."

"No, U Nu has the suit, Wan Dai has the dress..."

The fox put his arms across his chest. "Yeah, an' the shirt is How Long."

"I told you, 32 short. What's the matter, you lose the ticket?"

"No, I got it right here."

"Are you going to tell me whose name is on the ticket?"

"Yeah, Wan Dai."

"Well, how about right now? What's the matter, don't you trust me?"

"Of course I trust ya, Lupo."

"Good, then whose name is on the ticket."

"Wan Dai."

"Oooooh! I think you know who's on the ticket."

"No it ain't, it's Wan Dai, not U Nu."

"No, I don't. You have the ticket in your paw, right there. You'd better give it to me.

*You'll* lose it, you're so careless."

"Eeeeeeh, sez you. I'll bet *you* haven't found those pants belonging to the guy
from Shanghai. He called from the Majestic this morning."


"You know."

"No, U Nu is the man with suit, Wan Dai has the dress, and the shirt is How Long."

"Ya told me. 32 short."

"What is?"

"The shirt, you know."

"No, U Nu has the suit. Now, are you going to tell me the name of this gentleman from Shanghai, so I can find his trousers?"

"Wai Mee."

"Because I'm asking you."

"I know. Wai Mee."

The wolf raised his hackles at his little chum. "Listen, are you going to be obnoxious? You're keeping this lady waiting. Now tell me the name, please, of the gentleman who's looking for his trousers so we can get on with it."

The fox began jumping up and down, and waving his paws. "You know, WaiMee!"

"No, no, NO! U Nu has the suit, Wan Dai has the dress, and the shirt is How Long."

"I know, I know! 32 short."

"Will you stop yammering about that shirt. You'd think you were doing the tailoring.  Heavens."

"Ya keep bringing it up! Don't wave ya finger at *ME*, Lupo."

"Oooooooh, you're next to useless. Why don't you get back to pressing that dress for the lady?"


"Wan Dai."

"Oh, now *YOU'RE* the one who's bein' obnoxious! Listen, I ain't got time t'figger out ya little riddles, Lupo."

The wolf gritted his teeth, and looked up at the ceiling. "Oh, why me?"

"What about him?"


"You know."

"No, U Nu has the suit, Wan Dai has the dress, and the shirt is How..."

"32 SHORT!"

The two of them began slapping at each other at this point, and I figured I was not going to be getting any help from this pair. Time to re-think my strategy.


Good news: One of the regulars at the Lotus is a maid at Shepherd's, and she didn't mind me borrowing a uniform and showing me the employees' entrance.

Bad news...

I was hoping that the lobby of Shepherd's would be quiet. If this skirt were any higher, it would be my necktie. No guests, lucky for me. Just the desk clerk (a mountain lion with fur like Pepto-Bismol), a duck behind the cigar stand reading the Spontoon Mirror, and the janitor, a dog who, instead of doing any janiting, was sitting at the piano, picking out "Sister Susie's Sewing Shirts for Soldiers." (#) I figured that it would be simple just to cross the lobby and go upstairs. I figured wrong.

"But lo! A fair Parisian, come to turn up the beds...!" Damn blabbermouth lions.

The duck tossed aside his paper, and waddled out from behind his post. "I knew a guy from Paris, once. He was always plastered. Say, this does look like a French maid."

Piano Boy stopped tickling the ivories. "Naw, Julius, I think that'sa Swedish maid."

"Don't be silly, Benelli. Swedes aren't maid. They're born. And besides, they give you a massage."

"I get-a my massage from Western Union."

The duck rolled his eyes, and turned to me. "Well, as long as you're working here in this hotel, allow me to introduce you to Benelli, our janitor. He's unforgettable, but I still think you should make the effort. You know, we don't get many cheetahs around here."

"Yeah, atsa because Stagg ran them crapshooters outta the laundry."

"No, Benelli, she's a cheetah. She's a feline."

"How's she feline?"

"Funny thing, I don't know. I'll ask her. Hey, how *are* you feline? And if you've got no feline, can I do your feline for you? Frankly, I've a feline you're fallin'."

I cleared my throat. "Look, I'm just here to turn up the beds..."

The duck wiggled his eyebrows. "I'd be careful about that. Turn up the beds in this joint, you'll never know what you find. There's many a morning I've turned up a bed.  Actually, there's many a morning I've turned up in bed. I'm think of turning over a new leaf.  That'll allow you to leaf me be. I vant to be alone."

I was all for that, but the lion butted in again.

"You'll pardon the question, the enquiry e-ven, but are you sure you work here, mygood lady?"

The duck pointed at me with a cigar. "Such a question. Can't you see she's on time, properly dressed, and eager to carry out her duties? Of course she doesn't work here."

The piano player played a few bars of 'Where Do You Work-a, John?' "Hey, I try the work one time. I no-a-like it."

"Why not?"

"You no can cooka the spaghet' in the work. Justa the stir-fry."

The duck looked interested. "Won ton?"

The piano player shook his head. "Naw, justa half-pound or so."

The duck rolled his eyes. "Benelli, there's millions of starving children in Africa who could use the oxygen you're wasting." He turned back to me. "Well, at least he isn't the worst in his family. He's got two sisters, Chocolate and Strawberry. His mother's maiden name was Spumoni."

The pooch beamed. "Atsa right! Ice cream."

The duck waggled his cigar. "Frankly, hanging around you, I'se scream, too. Why don't you go chase your tail?"

"I get-a bored with that. I go chase someone else's tail."

The duck looked me over, and leered. "Say, there's an idea."

I smiled sweetly and sproinged my claws at Bright Boy to give him the message that wasn't a good idea.

The lion was impressed. "Heavens to Wusthof, an impressive display of natural-born cutlery."

The duck looked 'em over. "Yes, that *is* an impressive set of claws."

The dog was less impressed. "Aaaah, you no fool-a me, there ain't no Sandy Claws."

The duck shrugged. "That depends. Maybe she's been beach-combing."

I was getting pretty irritated by all of this, especially since I was wasting time.  "Anyway, I've got to get upstairs to the penthouse suites."

The duck raised an eyebrow. "Say, you oughta be careful up there. There are two bucks up there. Which is two more bucks than are down here. This hotel would have to give me a raise to pay me starvation wages. All I've got is a bill. It may be homely, but it's just my bill."


Good thing the penthouse floor was a lot more quiet than the lobby. Also a good thing that Willow had told me which one of the suites belonged to Reggie, since I figured that would keep me from meeting the other buck that that duck referred to. Again I figured wrong.

I had bent over to work on the lock to the suite when I heard a soft *Honk-Honk*
from behind me. Turning around, I found a buck, though from the way he was dressed, I think this buck was short about twenty cents.

It was a somewhat smallish reindeer, with reddish curly hair, a cherry-red nose, and an impishly childlike expression. He was also wearing on overcoat that had horns stuck all over it. Looked like a trained seal's flunky. He raised his dented top hat with one paw, and squeezed the top of his cane with the other.


I put a finger to my lips. "Shhhh!"

The deer looked at me, puzzled, and then reached into his pocket and pulled out a tiny horn.


I whispered at him. "Shh. Can't you see I'm working he--"

I looked down, to discover that I was holding his knee. I put it down, and he put it back.

"Knock it off, you stupid hat-rack."

The deer blinked, and used a finger to flick off my frilly cap.

"What are you, some kind of wise-guy? Stupid reindeer." I bent over to pick up the cap. This was a mistake.


Please don't ask how he got me to squeeze his horn. I straightened up and glared at him, and he looked at me with an air of perfect innocence. I wanted to julienne him, but there was a problem. I was holding his knee, again. I put it down. He put it back. I put it down. He put it back, took it down, and took my knee. It took me a few beats to realize where he had one of his paws. The other paw, of course, was free.


"Listen, Bright Boy. One more sound, just one more sound, I'm gonna dice you. Capeesh?"

The deer blinked, and reached into his pocket, and pulled out a backgammon set, spilling the counters all over the floor.

I stepped away.


I looked down to discover there were about a dozen small horns at my feet. The deer pouted at me, put a finger to his lips, and made shushing motions with his other paw.

That did it. I sproinged my claws at him and made to grab him by his shirt collar.  Which he didn't have, since all he was wearing up top was the pair of suspenders holding up his pants. This boggled me for a few seconds, which is a few seconds I didn't have. I made to use my claws, only to find that I had marshmallows stuck on them. The reindeer beamed, and reached into his overcoat pocket, and took out a small blowtorch.

I decided retreat was in order. Bright Boy, seeing that I was making to leave, put his paw over his nose, and when he removed it, the nose was flashing green. He took out his cane.


Luckily for me, the stairs were nearby. I took them two at a time. The reindeer slid down the bannister, with the result that both of us hit the lobby at the same time, and the deer resumed his pursuit, honking merrily. The duck was back at his cigar stand, watching all of this calmly.

"See Spot. See Spot Run. Run, Spot, Run!"

The dog began to play "Sabre Dance" on the piano as the deer chased me around the lobby furniture. It was getting wet outside, but I decided out was a very good place to be, right now, and to coin a phrase, I made for the exit, stage left.

The lion looked worried. "Heavens. Mr. Randolph is about to pursue that young lady into the storm, the squall e-ven."

The duck shrugged, and the last thing I heard him say before I left was: "Don't worry.  Randolph the Red knows rain, dear."


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