Started: 11-14-12, 2:34AM
by Tooie Kangaroo
Blacky the Hero
It was another beautiful day in Cottontail Pines. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and nearly all the animals were out and about. Even as pretty as the day was, you could almost make out a storm cloud forming over top the head of Blacky the skunk. Not that this was anything unusual for him. Blacky always did seem to be in a bad mood about one thing or another.
As he walked down the main path of Cottontail Pines, he ran into a very excited Flopsy. The white, lop-eared rabbit blocked his path with nothing but a big smile on her face. He tried to step from side to side, but she just kept blocking him. Finally, he yelled, “Flopsy, what has gotten into you!”
She giggled. “I’m trying to cheer you up!”
“How is blocking my path supposed to do that?”
“It was just a joke. What had got you so bent out of shape?”
“The sun’s too hot.”
Flopsy rolled her eyes. “It feels fine. There’s a nice cool breeze.”
The skunk forced himself passed her. “I know. It’s freezing.”
The rabbit followed him. “There’s no reason to be so grumpy. People would like you more if you cheered up once in a while.”
Blacky huffed. “I’m plenty cheerful. Most animals just aren’t used to my special style.”
Flopsy did not seem to understand what he meant; however, she ran back ahead of him to remind him, “Don’t forget about the play. I’m going to play Miss Cottontail in the Origins of Cottontail Pines presentation the day after tomorrow at mid-afternoon. You aren’t going to miss it, right?”
The skunk rolled his eyes. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“Really? I was made for that role, you know?”
“Yeah, that’s probably why they picked you to play her the last seven times.”
Flopsy seemed to agree. “Well, that is true. I look forward to seeing you there! I really like having your support!” She was already leaving.
Blacky called back to her. “I promise I’ll be there even if they make me sit in the back row again!” She waved back to him seemingly not getting the complaint he was making. He wondered if he should have been less subtle.
Blacky proceeded on his way towards Donut Park. He had promised a young squirrel named Walnut that he would play with him despite it interfering with his usual daily plans. The boy’s mother, Mrs. Chipper, waved to him as he passed by, “He should already be waiting at Donut Park as usual, Blacky!”
The skunk barely slowed down when he replied, “I’m not going to be able to play with him every day, you know? I have very important things that I have to take care of!”
She scurried up to him and reminded, “You know how much Walnut likes you, Blacky.”
Blacky grumbled, “I know. I like him too, I suppose. I wish he would stop comparing our tail sizes.”
“He just wants to be like you. Why not just let him do it?”
Blacky once again grumbled, “Okay, fine. But I won’t let him feed me any more of those disgusting acorns.”
Mrs. Chipper smiled and finally let him go. “You both have fun.”
The skunk waved back to her and proceeded to Donut Park where many children were busy playing. Many of the adults were here too watching to make sure the kids were safe; however, Blacky could not find Walnut anywhere. He said to himself, “I thought Mrs. Chipper said he was at Donut Park.”
He almost panicked but suddenly caught glimpse of him just through a thicket of trees. Walnut was just outside of Cottontail Pines wondering about. Little children were never allowed to go out alone. The adults must have not seen him do it. Blacky continued to grumble as he pushed through the unruly bushes.
“Walnut, what are you doing out in the great fields!”
The little squirrel popped his head up from through the tall grass. “I found wild blackberries! I’m picking them for Mrs. Peggy! Do you want any?”
Blacky was annoyed as he made his way through the thick grass. “Do you have any idea how much trouble we’re both going to be in if they found out you were in the great field picking berries?!”
The boy just stood there as if unconcerned. “If I give them the berries, they’ll forgive me.”
The skunk smacked himself in the face at such an absurd argument. “Come back to Donut Park!”
“I will! I just need to get a couple more. Besides, I want to see if my tail is as big as yours yet.”
“You never know.”
“Trust me! It hasn’t been long enough for…” Blacky suddenly saw a strange movement out of the corner of his eyes. Upon further inspection, he was almost sure that there was a wolf sneaking up to the boy in the tall grass. Without even a single moment wasted, the skunk darted through the grass and snatched the boy up. As if the boy did not weigh him down at all, he whisked him back towards Donut Park clearly hearing the huge beast in pursuit just behind him.
The tranquility of the playground was suddenly shattered as the skunk and boy shot through the thicket with the huge wolf padding right over the swing sets. The frightened skunk dashed as fast as he could towards the great oak tree achieving speeds like never before. Many adults around him were shouting, “Wolf! Wolf!” These cries did little to stop the large beast from pursuing his next meal.
Just as Blacky zipped past the oak tree, two large badgers sprung out towards the wolf blocking him from continuing. The wolf slid to a stop, not wanting to tangle with their kind.
Mister Hooty the owl called down from a tree branch, “Fang, you are not welcome here! You are never to enter the borders to Cottontail Pines!”
Fang the wolf peered about as if he had no idea. He replied in a very overly-energetic, patronizing way. “Oh, my goodness. It does seem that I have strayed. I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere.”
The owl was not having any of it. He replied, “I am in no mood to hear your lies, Fang! Go back to where you came from!” The badgers swiped and growled at the withdrawing wolf.
Fang rolled his eyes and turned about. “Very well. Far be it for me to disrupt your pretty town, but in the future, I would look more closely to where your children are playing. Anything could happen to them out in that field.” He trotted back across the borders.
Blacky was already yelling at the squirrel. “How could you be so stupid?! Do you know how dangerous it was to be out there?! That wolf was going to eat you if I didn’t save you!”
Walnut was just crying his heart out. He was unable to say much more than just, “I’m so sorry!”
“Well, sorry isn’t good enough! When your mother finds out what you did,—.”
Blacky was immediately interrupted by Coffee the ferret who turned the skunk around and began leading him away. Coffee was a one of the reporters for the Cottontail Press. He spoke in a very overwhelming, yet flattering manner, “I saw it as plain as day. You saved that boy from certain doom. It’s the most amazing thing I have ever seen since the brilliant display of flight brought on by the Avian Wonders two years prior! A well-coordinated team of birds is one thing, but the skunk who saved a child from certain doom is news that people want to hear, and I aim to give them your story!”
Blacky was taken aback by the sudden offer. “Who? Me? But I was just—.”
“Coming to the rescue like the true hero that you are!” Coffee interrupted. “Just think of all the people who will be inspired by your story! You’ll be an inspiration to all of Cottontail Pines!”
Blacky’s eyes went wide. “I would?”
“Truly! Truly! Truly! All you have to do is tell your story, and by tomorrow morning, everyone will know of what you did. It is a good thing to consider, my friend.”
Blacky smiled. Maybe telling a little about himself would not be such a bad idea. “All right, I’ll talk with you, Coffee. Just don’t say anything bad about me. That’s all you reporter-types seem to look for.”
“I guarantee that this article will be nothing but one hundred percent, top-of-the-line, grade A, undisputable truth, dear Blacky. You can count on me.”
Somehow forgotten in the interruption, Walnut just stood there watching his best friend walk away with the ferret. He rubbed some tears out of his eyes, and ran back home to be with his mother.
* * *
It was early morning. Blacky opened his eyes and grumbled as he stretched out in his bed. TO himself, he said, “Well, I guess this will be just another day.”
He stepped out of bed and scratched himself as he looked in the mirror. After rubbing his eyes and brushing his fluffy tail fur a bit, he walked out only to be confronted by his unusually happy mother and father. Still groggy from sleep, he asked, “Is breakfast ready?”
Mother skunk pulled her son into a tight embrace and squealed out with glee, “My son is a hero! I can’t believe it!”
Father added, “Why didn’t you tell us what happened yesterday?! It’s all over the newsleaf!”
Blacky made a supreme effort to get away from his mother’s loving grasp. “I just saved Walnut from Fang the wolf. I told Coffee the ferret about it, but I didn’t think you would both be so emotional about it.” He thought for a moment. “What do you mean ‘all over the leaf?’”
Father handed him the newsleaf with his story on it. He turned the pages but everything was about him, and there was quite a bit more on there than what he had told Coffee. He looked at the report with wide eyes. “Was I the only thing that happened yesterday?”
There was a sudden knocking at the front door. Blacky put down the newsleaf and opened the door. There was a cute girl rabbit holding a pen and paper out. She shouted, “Can I have your autograph?!”
Blacky nearly fell backwards at the sudden request. It was then that he noticed that his entire front yard was filled with many, many animals from all over Cottontail Pines. All of them cheered when they saw him at the door.
The surprised skunk looked back at his parents for support. His father advised, “You better go out and meet your public.”
Blacky looked back at the bunny who was still waiting for his signature. He took the pencil and scribbled his name for her. As soon as he was finished, she held the pad to her chest and squealed as she ran away.
Slowly, Blacky walked out into the crowds. He was suddenly bombarded with questions which he tried to answer as best he could. “What were you thinking when Fang was chasing you?!”
Blacky responded, “I just wanted to get Walnut back to safety.”
Another asked, “Was it true that was the fastest you have ever run in your life?!”
“I think so; although, I have been told I am faster than most of my friends.”
“How did Fang respond when you called him a big ‘fat head’?! I bet that made him mad.”
Blacky had no memory of every calling Fang a ‘fat head’; however, he still replied, “He looked pretty mad. I think that’s why he was chasing us so fiercely.”
“Have you always been this brave?!”
Blacky puffed out his chest. “I do what I can for Cottontail Pines! It’s all in a days work!”
Everyone cheered and led the skunk towards Oak Pass. The questions never stopped, and Blacky never stopped answering them. Mister Hooty was waiting for him. “Ah, Blacky. It seems your act of heroism has enamored the people of Cottontail Pines.”
Blacky smiled and dramatically puffed out his chest. “It was nothing, Mister Hooty!”
The owl fluttered down to the skunk and presented him with a medal around the neck. “I hereby bestow you this medal of bravery, Blacky. You have done us a service.”
Blacky looked down at the shiny medal and smiled. Everyone cheered, “Hurray for Blacky the hero!” No sooner than they did this was the skunk lifted up by the happy people.
It was right around this time that Flopsy and her timid rabbit friend, Goober, came upon the large crowd. They saw Blacky being celebrated over near the oak tree. The white, lop-eared rabbit said, “I guess the newsleaf was right. I sure am happy for Blacky.”
Goober agreed, “He did a very noble thing, but I don’t like how he is being tossed about by all those animals. That’s pretty dangerous.”
Flopsy smiled. “He’ll be all right. Let’s wait until he’s a bit less overwhelmed.”
When Blacky finally made it back to his feet, he saw his friends and franticly pushed through the cheering animal to greet them. “I guess you both heard the news.”
Flopsy beamed. “I knew you had it in you! Way to go, Blacky.”
Goober added, “Congratulations. That’s a nice medal that Mister Hooty gave you.”
Blacky held it for a moment. “Yeah. I never earned anything like this before. Did you notice that everyone wants to talk to me? That’s never happened before. Usually, most animals just try to get away from me.”
Goober raised a finger. “You are usually very grumpy, Blacky. They must not want to be bothered by it all the time.”
The skunk seemed confused. “When have I ever been grumpy?”
Flopsy giggled. “I guess you never seem to notice when you are. By the way, I’m looking forward to seeing you at the play tonight.”
Blacky cocked his head. “The play?”
The white rabbit seemed a little perturbed. “The Origins of Cottontail Pines. I’m Miss Cottontail! Did you forget?”
Blacky waved his paws. “No! I guess this whole hero thing has gotten me a little mixed up. I’ll be there tonight.”
“Great! And once again, congratulations!”
The friends waved to each other, and once again Blacky became absorbed in into his crowd of fans.
* * *
It was noon. Blacky was still at Oak Pass. He was recounting his tale of heroism to the crowds which they had made him promise to do. “There I was,” he said dramatically, “face-to-face with that scary wolf, Fang. He was growling and everything, but I just walked up, kicked dirt in his face, and I said to him, ‘Hey, fat head! You better not hurt my friend Walnut!’ That sure didn’t make him very happy, so I just picked Walnut up, and I ran at lightning speeds back to Cottontail Pines!”
One of the animals asked, “Were you scared?”
“No! I’m not scared of Fang. I dare him to come back! I’ll show him a thing or two!”
Although not everyone believed him, there were still a lot of animals who were sticking by him. In truth, things like this did not happen very often in Cottontail Pines, and for the time being, Blacky was very popular. He was becoming so popular, that it was all he was thinking about.
* * *
The next day, Blacky did not seem as grumpy as he usually was. He walked about the town wearing his medal garnering all the attention that he could. It worked for the most part. “Have you ever seen a wolf?” he asked Cupcake the mouse.
Cupcake’s eyes went wide. “No. What was he like?”
“They have huge, scary eyes and giant, sharp teeth! They growl a lot and snap at you if you get too close!”
The mouse trembled. “That sounds so scary.”
“It wasn’t that scary to me. In fact, I want him to come back just so I can show him a thing or too. Skunk’s aren’t totally defenseless.”
Cupcake shook her head. “I hope he doesn’t come back. A wolf is way too scary for me.”
“Well, that’s my job around here. I’m the hero. I’ll take care of that wolf if he comes back.”
It just so happens that Mrs. Chipper was standing nearby. She waved over to the skunk and Blacky said goodbye to Cupcake. “Mrs. Chipper! Look they gave me a medal.”
She nodded with a slight smile. “I never got a chance to thank you. You know, my son came home all by himself that day.” It sounded like she was a little upset about that.
Blacky did not seem very concerned. “Well, I got him out of danger, didn’t I?”
Mrs. Chipper sighed. “You have no idea how much I appreciate it. He’s my baby, and I wouldn’t know what to do if something bad happened to him. I just think you may be loosing sight of the more important things. Is there any reason you didn’t come see Walnut yesterday? He really wanted to see you.”
Blacky defended himself. “Well, I was gonna, but I had the whole award ceremony, and everybody wanted to talk to me, and you saw Cupcake just now!”
“I know, I know. I just wanted you to know how he feels.”
The skunk nodded. “Well, I’ll come see him soon. There’s still people out there that need to know there’s a hero in town.”
The squirrel looked down for a moment before turning about. “I hope to see you soon, Blacky.”
Blacky walked away saying to himself, “Can’t she understand? People like to hear about me after what I did.”
He saw Mr. Rupert the possum up ahead. Blacky thought to himself, Mr. Rupert has eight kids who would love to hear about what happened. I better go let them know.
At mid-afternoon at the Origins of Cottontail Pines play, Flopsy peeked through the curtains looking for a certain skunk. “Where is he?”
Gumdrop the mouse–a dear friend of Flopsy’s–asked, “Where is who?”
“Blacky. His seat is empty.”
“Oh, him? I hear he’s been busy telling everyone about his dashing attempt to beat up Fang the wolf. He probably just forgot.”
The bunny frowned. “You don’t know Blacky though. He’s always come to my plays. Besides, he promised.”
Gumdrop checked the rabbit closely. “Are you gonna be all right?”
Flopsy sighed but nodded. “I guess so. I just hope he shows up. He’s really not that bad of a guy.” The play was about to begin, and Flopsy took her place as the curtain was called.
* * *
The next morning, Blacky was up at the crack of dawn. He jumped out of bed, enthusiastically stretched himself, and skipped into the dining room. The skunk barely noticed his parents glaring at him as he sat down. He noticed that there was nothing to eat. “Hey! Where’s breakfast? A hero’s got to eat, right?!” The skunk boy suddenly noticed that his parents were not very happy with him. “Did we run out of food?”
Mother skunk waved her finger at the boy. “You should be ashamed!”
Blacky became defensive. “What did I do, Mom?!”
They both stepped aside and there was Gumdrop. She may have just been a mouse, but her anger made her seem several times as tall. Blacky just froze.
The mouse stomped up to him and poked the skunk right in the chest. “I can’t believe you missed Flopsy’s play! Do you know how much she wanted to see you out there?!”
Blacky went into a panic. “Oh, my gosh! Gumdrop, you have to understand. I went to Mr. Rupert’s and his kids didn’t want me to leave! They all wanted to wear my metal and all!”
“But you promised you would go see her!”
Gumdrop made a cute, squeaky growl and stomped her little foot. “Flopsy was crying after the play! You don’t know how much you mean to her! If you weren’t going around bragging about what you did, maybe you wouldn’t have forgotten about your best friend!”
“Look, I’ll go see her right now!”
Gumdrop stomped out of the house. “Don’t bother! I have to go back and brush her fur till she stops crying!” Even though she was just a tiny mouse, she was able to slam the door pretty hard.
Father skunk said, “Do you have anything to say for yourself, Blacky?”
The skunk frowned even more than he usually did. “I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. I was really going to see the play, but I just forgot.”
Mother got down on her knees and hugged her son. “I think the fame went to your head.”
Blacky huffed. “It was that stupid Coffee the ferret that did this to me. If that article hadn’t been written—.”
His mother covered his mouth. “I don’t want to hear it. That was a good article even if it was a little exaggerated. You still shouldn’t have forsaken your friends like that.”
Blacky’s eyes went wide. “Walnut!”
Father asked, “What about Walnut?”
“I forgot that Walnut wanted to see me yesterday! I forgot him too?!” He grabbed his hair. “Oh, gosh! I’m a horrible person!”
Before his parents could say anything, Blacky was out the door. He ran as fast as he could to Walnuts house. Quickly, he knocked on the door. Mrs. Chipper opened the door. “Blacky?”
The skunk answered, “Is Walnut home? I really need to see him.”
She smiled and opened the door. Walnut was right behind her holding a stuffed skunk plush. He winced when he saw it but still walked inside and gave him a hug. “I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have abandoned you like that. You’re my friend. I went a little crazy after what happened.”
Walnut hugged him back. “I thought you were mad at me for going outside the borders. I thought you didn’t want to see me anymore.”
Blacky shook his head and looked into the little boy’s eyes. “You’re my friend. I want to be here for you. Who else are you gonna compare tail sizes with?”
Walnut laughed. “Mine is still gonna be bigger someday!”
Blacky removed his hero’s medal and put it around Walnut’s neck. “You deserve this just as much as I do. You’re a brave kid, even if you are annoying sometimes.”
The boy laughed. “That sounds like the Blacky I know. Thank you. Are we going to Donut Park today?”
“Yes, but I need you to wait just a while longer. There’s someone I need to go see.”
“I understand. I’ll wait here till you come back.”
* * *
Flopsy had stopped crying for a while. Gumdrop was still hanging around the house, but she was for the moment alone in her room. She gasped when she suddenly saw the chubby legs of a skunk crawling into her window. She yelled, “Blacky?! What are you doing?!”
He answered without turning, “I brought something for you. Just be patient!”
Blacky reached over the window sill and picked up the biggest bouquet of flowers Flopsy had ever seen. He turned around and set them at her feet. “I am so sorry. I’ll never do anything like that again and not just because I honestly think Gumdrop will beat me up. It’s also because you are my friend, and I should have come to see you like I had promised.”
Flopsy smiled and gave him a hug. The skunk was a little unprepared for it and groaned. “Girls. Ugh.”
She asked, “Did you crawl through the window to avoid Gumdrop?”
“You bet I did.”
She giggled. “I don’t blame you at all. You’re a good friend, Blacky.”
The skunk smiled and replied, “Yeah, I know.”