"Is this the place?"
"Lemme check. Belmont Park Apartments, five-ninety Belmont Drive. Eeyup, this be th' place a'right."
"Coolsauce. Looks like a nice place. Nice surroundings too, I like the park. Anyway, let's get this thing unloaded, I have to get it back to the rental place before five. What's your number?"
"Eighteen-E. Fifth floor."
"Awesome. Sure hope they have a lift."
"One way ta fin' out."
A soft giggle followed that dry statement. Shortly after, both doors of the yellow Hymer rental truck were opened and the two owners of the voices stepped out, respectively a grey wolfess wearing green camo pants and an old army shirt from the driver's side, and a female Golden Retriever in a plaid blouse and jean shorts, and a cream-colored Stetson hat with a dark green band around it, from the passenger's side. The wolfess was quite pretty to look at; she had dark steel-grey fur with yellow and blue accents; the underside of her tail was light yellow, her chest and stomach were light yellow, the underside of her muzzle, lower part of her cheeks and the front of her throat were yellow, and there were two somewhat wide, triangular shapes of yellow over her collar bone, just above her bust. Two more streaks of the soft light yellow were just above her eyes, and her feet were light yellow as well, with two bands of light blue above them. Her fingers and the tips of her ears were colored in the same light blue color, while the skin of her nose pad and paw pads, and probably more intimate spots as well, was only an ever so slightly darker tint of blue. She had short black hair coming down to just above her shoulders, and dark blue eyes. Another outstanding feature about her was the army clothing she was wearing, and a black leather collar with metal spikes sticking out from it around her neck.
The Golden Retriever had quite some more outstanding features. For one, her fur was a lovely deep golden color, like dark honey, running out into lighter gold on her lower arms and legs, on her shoulders and hips where it was complemented by an array of small white freckles, over her muzzle and up between her eyes to her forehead, at the tips of her ears where it was also complemented by a couple of white freckles, and over her entire chest and tummy, as well as the upside of her tail, with the middle of her tail being dark honey-gold and the underside of her tail being white. Her hair was white as well, pulled into two braids that came down to the middle of her back. Unusually, the thumbs, pointer fingers and ring fingers of both her light golden paws were white as well while the middle fingers and pinkie fingers of both paws were light golden in color. A nice contrast was formed by her eyes, which were a bright blue, almost cyan in color, set off by a splattering of white freckles under her eyes and over her cheeks. She was the one who had spoken with the strong, sugary drawling country accent.
Both of them crossed the curb and walked up the short drive of the large apartment building the small yellow truck was parked in front of. A large glass door led into an entrance hall with a short corridor to one side which led into a similar hall that was filled with rows upon rows of mailboxes. The main entrance hall had a wall and a half covered in doorbells, each and every one of them with a number and name next to them and a small circle of little holes. A door with a single glass pane in it led further into the building, sporting a small plate next to it with another doorbell, a big red one, and a sign reading "Visitors press for service here".
Unable to help themselves, both females scanned the rows of doorbells until they found the one marked 18E, looking at the nameplate. It was blank. With a light chuckle, they stepped up to the second door, where the Golden Retriever pressed the large red doorbell. A moment or two later, a feminine voice sounded from the speaker near the bell.
"Hello?" the Golden Retriever said. "This is Goldie Davies, I'm movin' inta apartment 18E 'ere t'day?"
"Oh! Right. One moment please."
There was a faint click. The grey wolfess tried the inner door, but it was still locked. She quirked an eyebrow, but after a couple of moments the door was opened by a female feline wearing a dark green pantsuit. The grey wolfess quirked both eyebrows over the lady's looks, but didn't say anything. Her reaction was rather understandable, however; the feline had no hair on her head, her fur was a clear purple in color, running into yellow over her lower arms and paws, her lower legs and feet, and from the underside of her muzzle across her chest and tummy. The same yellow painted markings in the form of two small vertical stripes between the felines deep green eyes, and a few sporadic leopard-like rosettes at her shoulders, hips and along her back. Her whiskers were the same yellow as well, and seemed incredibly thick. And perhaps the most outstanding feature was her tail; sleek like any feline's, but at the end it was formed into what almost looked like some sort of scythe.
The Golden Retriever Goldie also looked with surprise at the woman but didn't comment, merely taking off her hat and offering a friendly smile while shaking paws with the feline woman.
"Welcome to Belmont Park Apartments," she said with a friendly smile. "My name is Felicia Fussell, I'm the manager here."
"Uh... thank ya," Goldie said. "I'm Goldie Davies, an' this be Samantha Mason, friend o' mine, she's helpin' me with th' move."
"Pleased to meet you," the purple and yellow feline smiled. "If you would like to follow me to my office, we can get your paperwork in order and get you the keys to your apartment."
"Thank ya," Goldie said again.
Holding her hat in her paw, she and the grey wolfess followed the purple and yellow feline through the inner door. It led into a large hall from where several corridors led into different directions. Near some of the walls were small groups of seats and tubs with large plants in them, there were a couple of vending machines selling either bottles of soda, water or energy drinks, small snacks, or packets of cigarettes of different brands, and one small vending machine even was filled with small items for everyday use, like toothbrushes, small emergency sewing kits, small first aid kits, small basic toiletries kits, fur brushes, disposable razors for both males and females, small deodorants in both spray-on and roll-on form, and also packets of condoms and lady's hygienic pads. It seemed like something that would be more in place in a hotel or at an airport, but nevertheless it was nice that such a thing was available.
On one side was a large reception desk walled off by a thick pane of glass. Next to that was a door with a sign reading "Manager's Office", and it was through this door the purple and yellow feline led the two canine women. Sitting down behind her desk, the feline motioned at the chairs in front of the desk while pulling open a drawer of a large file cabinet with her other paw.
"Have a seat," she smiled, turning to the drawer. "Miss... Davies, you said, apartment 18E, right?"
"Tha's right," Goldie nodded.
"Ah yes, here you are," Ms. Fussell nodded, pulling a folder from the drawer. She opened it and took out several stapled-together wads of paper. "If you would like to have a read through these and sign them, please? This is your rental agreement, this is the security disclaimer, this here is for the cost of services and amenities that are either included in your rental price or that you have to pay for yourself. When you're done, I would like you to pay your security deposit and a month's rent in advance, please."
Goldie nodded again and started reading through the bundles of papers, mostly skimming through them but reading certain parts with a bit more attention. While she was doing so, the grey wolfess tilted her head and looked at Ms. Fussell with one eyebrow a bit quirked again.
"I beg your pardon," she said slowly. "I mean no offense, but I just have to ask... what are you? You look like some kind of pokemon, but those don't exist, they're video game characters. So, what are you?"
Ms. Fussell smiled at the grey canine.
"I get that a lot. Yes, I do indeed look almost exactly like a Liepard pokemon. I am, however, under these colors and looks, a very plain puma." She made a light gesture with one paw. "I have played the video games ever since they first came out when I was a child, and loved them like nothing else. And when the Liepard made its debut in the games, I was hooked on it and wanted to look like one."
"I'd say you managed," Samantha said slowly. "How?"
Ms. Fussell shrugged a bit.
"Cutting off my head hair, fur dye, whisker extensions and a tail extension. There's fur salons that work wonders around here."
"I see. Well, damn, I heard of game fanatics, but I never seen anything this extreme I have to say," Samantha guffawed.
"I admit it is rather extreme," Ms. Fussell agreed, letting out a soft giggle. "I do get a lot of strange looks, but it has its advantages as well; some people think I can do dark magic and think twice before crossing me because they're afraid I might strike them down with a Pursuit attack."
"Haha! Well, I suppose that could come in handy sometimes," Samantha laughed shortly.
Goldie also let out a giggle while she handed the bundles of papers back to the feline woman, having signed all of them.
"I ain't sure if I shoul' be r'lieved this place 'as such a powerful manager, or worried 'bout what might 'appen when I accidentally flood the toilet or som'th'n'. Anyway, 'ere y'are, Ms. Fussell."
"Thank you." The feline woman looked through all the bundles of papers, nodded at the signatures and singled out the copies of each bundle to hand those back to Goldie. "Here are your copies. You can write me a check for the security deposit and first month's rent, and then I'll show you the place."
Goldie nodded, reaching into the back pocket of her denim shorts for a somewhat crumpled checkbook and accepting a pen from Ms. Fussell so she could write out a check for the amount due. The purple and yellow feline checked the details and signature against Goldie's driver's license, nodded her satisfaction, put the check away in a small metal cash box and rose up from behind her desk.
"That's all in order, thank you, Ms. Davies. If you would like to follow me, I will show you where to find the apartment and give you a quick tour."
Both canine women rose up as well and followed the feline back out of the office. As they stepped through the ground floor hall, Ms. Fussell pointed out several things while walking.
"The stairs are over there, and the elevators are there. Through there, you can go down to the basement; we have a laundry room there available to our tenants, plus small storage units. There's fire escapes on both sides of the building, from the roof down. Apartment 18E has a fairly large balcony which connects to the east fire escape." She halted by the lifts and pointed. "There's a goods lift over there, I will inform our janitor Dave of your arrival so you can make use of the goods lift to transport any furniture you may have," she said before stepping into the elevator. "I take it you have a truck full of belongings with you?"
"Yea," Goldie nodded. "I rented a small Hymer, an' though I don' own much yet, it filled up that small truck pretty effectively."
"Right. You can park it at the back, and Dave will let you in and help you load everything in the goods lift and carry it to your apartment," Ms. Fussell said while they rode up to the fifth floor. "Do you have anything that requires assembly?"
"Bookcase or two, an' a small entertainment unit thing. The bed's one piece, jus' need ta put th' mattress on there," Goldie said. "It's pretty straightforward stuff, an' I brought me tools too."
"Oh, right, so I don't need to ask Dave to help you assemble your furniture?"
"Naw, we'll be fine, but thank ya."
Ms. Fussell nodded and led the way again as the lift doors chimed open at the fifth floor, pointing out a couple more things as they walked through the corridor.
"As you can see, there's plenty of fire alarms, and clearly marked fire hoses and extinguishers. There's a trash chute over there. I have to ask you to please not stuff pizza boxes or anything similar down it though; it'll get blocked. We've had some troubles with one or two tenants doing that in the past." She stopped by a door with a brass number 18E on it and pointed to the end of the corridor. "There's an emergency exit down there, it leads to the fire escapes. And this is your apartment."
She unlocked and opened the door, showing the two canines into what looked like a very roomy apartment. Straight to the left of the door was a kitchen, sectioned off from the rest of the room by a small counter running about a foot or two into the room from the door, being a part of a work counter running along the outside wall as well, holding a stove and oven. Next to the oven and stove was a large refrigerator which seemed to be part of the built-in appliances, and from the other side of the refrigerator the counter ran on towards another short wall with a small window in it, under which was a double sink. At the end of that short wall the counter ran back towards the front in the form of a breakfast bar sectioning the kitchen off from the rest of the room.
The room itself was very large, easily spanning twenty feet towards the wall opposite the outside wall with the front door in it. There were two doors in that wall, both closed. To the right was a simple plain wall, while to the left the wall consisted of panes of glass looking out over a balcony and the park behind the building. There was a sort of long, low cabinet under the glass wall, a good foot high, and the glass wall stopped about two feet away from the wall where the kitchen ended, the space in between forming a very short corridor that dead-ended at a door and had two more doors, opposite one another, in it, the right door obviously leading onto the balcony.
As Ms. Fussell showed the two canines around the apartment, she showed that the door opposite the balcony door led into a bathroom which had a toilet, bath tub with shower, a sink and a small full-body fur dryer booth in it. The door the very short corridor dead-ended at simply gave passage to a storage closet. In the wall opposite the outer wall with the front door in it, the two closed doors led into two bedrooms, the left one clearly being the master bedroom as it was quite large and had a widow overlooking another part of the park, the right one being smaller but still fairly roomy and having a smaller window overlooking the same side of the park.
Of course, everything was very empty, the only furnishing being built-in closets in both bedrooms, the low, long cabinet or whatever it might be under the window wall, and the rows of cabinets under and above the counter in the kitchen. There weren't even very many lamps; on the corner of the wall where the kitchen ended and on the wall with the doors to the bedrooms in them were small, very basic light fixtures, and there was a ceiling lamp in the bathroom, but from the ceiling above the kitchen area, on two spots over the living room area and in both bedrooms merely hung bare lightbulbs from short wires. There was no wallpaper either; all walls were painted, but at least they were painted in fresh, light colors. The floor had different types of covering; baby blue tiles in the bathroom, what appeared to be lino in a checkerboard pattern of mustard yellow and caramel brown in the rectangle that was the kitchen area, very slightly faded short-shag purple carpet in the second bedroom, cream-colored carpet in the master bedroom, and the whole rest of the floor, from the front door to the back wall, was covered in what appeared to be light-colored laminate parquet in a fishbone pattern that didn't entirely smoothly connected everywhere, and which had slightly discolored patches where apparently large rugs and pieces of furniture had been.
Having shown Goldie and Samantha the entire apartment, Ms. Fussell walked back to the kitchen area and lay a few things on the breakfast bar.
"Right then, Ms. Davies, here is the copy of your rental contract, a code of conduct for this building, a list of phone numbers, names and services that you might probably be needing at some point or other, and your keys," she said, holding up two rings with keys. "These here are all keys to the front door, and they fit the lock of the balcony door as well. As you can see, there's plenty of spares. These keys here are for that closet by the balcony, those two windows overlooking the balcony, the small one is for your mailbox downstairs, this large one is for the front door and the inner entrance door of this building, and this one is for your storage unit."
"Ah, thank you," Goldie smiled, tilting her head a bit. "Uhm... storage unit?"
"That's right," Ms. Fussell nodded. "As I mentioned, when you go down to the basement level, there is a laundry room there on one side, and the other side plus the two floors below it are divided up into small storage units for each of the compartments." She gave a light shrug. "They are not very large, about ten by fifteen feet, but it's just a bit of extra space to store any or your old or surplus items you have no storage room for in your apartment. Incidentally, your storage unit is on the lower of the two floors below the basement. I can show you if you want."
"Ah, yea please, that woul' be nice, thanks," Goldie said with another smile, taking the two rings of keys and putting them in a pocket of her denim shorts.
Ms. Fussell nodded again, making a motion with her paw and leading the way out of the apartment and back to the elevators. Reaching the ground floor, the purple and yellow feline continued leading the way, through one of the short corridors and down a short flight of stairs into the basement. Indeed, on one side the floor opened into a large room filled with washing machines, dryers, as well as several small machines on the wall dispensing coins, laundry detergent and fabric softener, while on the other side there merely were two narrow corridors with numbers of doors on either side, and a flight of wide stairs leading down in one corner.
Going down these stairs, they ended up at a lower floor that had the narrow corridors with lots and lots of doors in them on both sides, plus another flight of stairs leading down to yet a lower floor that looked exactly the same. Ms. Fussell halted by one of the narrow corridors and pointed at the sign that showed the numbers 11E-20E. Each door also had a small white plastic plaque with a black number on it.
"As you can see, all doors are numbered according to the apartment numbers, and your storage space is near the end of this corridor. There's an open rack on one side to put things in, the rest is just open floor space, but you can hang shelves if you'd want."
"Right, thanks," Goldie nodded with a smile. "Well, I s'pose we'd better get a move-on an' start bringin' my stuff up to th' apartment. Gotta get that truck back to th' rental place in time 'gain an' all."
"Of course. I'll introduce you to Dave and let you arrange everything with him," Ms. Fussell said.
They went back up to the ground floor again, where Ms. Fussell introduced them to the building's janitor David Greer, a short, but burly rust-brown and white Corgi man in a pair of jean overalls over a plaid flannel shirt and a bright red bomber jacket. He promised them to help them with moving the furniture and boxes, showing Samantha where she could park the truck at the back of the building. The wolfess went to do just that, driving around the building and parking the truck with its back towards the emergency exit at the rear of the building while Goldie talked a bit with the janitor.
The moving of her belongings was done pretty quickly, as Goldie didn't own all that much yet. The largest items were a bed and mattress, a wardrobe closet, a futon couch and a recliner chair, a small entertainment unit and a desk plus some small cabinets. For the rest it were just a number of boxes, a couple of suitcases and two or three large plastic bags filled with linen like bedsheets and towels and the like. It didn't even take an hour and a half to bring everything up to the fifth floor, the small amount of belongings making it seem as if Goldie's previous abode has been a dorm room.
Of course, the bed and the wardrobe closet were put in the largest of the two bedrooms. The futon couch, recliner chair and the entertainment unit were put in the large living room area along with a couple of the cabinets and small side tables, while most of the boxes were put in the second bedroom. Goldie figured she would sort those out later - the most important thing for the moment was to get everything out of the truck and into her new apartment. When that had been done, both she and Samantha went back down and got into the truck, driving it back to the rental agency where they had both left their own cars. Funnily enough, they both owned a Chevrolet Caprice, though Goldie's one was a white 1985 one whereas Samantha's Caprice was a gunmetal grey 1998 one.
They both drove into town, doing a bit of shopping to get some necessities, from simple washing up liquid and shampoo and toothpaste to food and drink. Arriving back at the apartment building, they parked on the parking spaces that were on both sides of the building and brought their shopping upstairs. Just as Goldie was fishing the ring full of front door keys from her pocket, the door of the apartment opposite her, number 17E, was opened and a woman stepped through with a small garbage bag. Samantha quirked an eyebrow at the sight of her, while the woman herself and Goldie blinked at each other for a moment, both seeming to be surprised by the other being there.
It was rather clear why Samantha had quirked an eyebrow. For one, the woman was a Chinese Crested dog, somewhat short in stature and incredibly slender, and of course with as good as no body fur at all. The fur she did have, which were a couple of poofs at her wrists and a large plume at the end of her tail, was obviously dyed as it sported a very bright, almost cyan tint of blue. The two front locks and bangs of her hair were the same cyan color, while the rest of her hair, as well as the silky fur on her large ears, was clear white in color. Her skin was black, with random patches of a more flesh-pink tone over her muzzle and up between her bright blue eyes, at her hips, on her arms and legs and on her thin tail. Strangely, on the left side the flesh-pink tone ran from just below her elbow and her knee, whereas on the right side, it only started at her wrist and ankle. And even more strangely, the fleshy pink on her lower arms and legs ran out into a clear white that covered her paws and feet. For another, she was wearing a one-piece catsuit in very tight semi-glossy lycra that was bright purple with a wide yellow band running from the neck across the shoulders and down along the sides of the legs, also including the sleeves. And the tightness of the garment left very little indeed to the imagination, clinging to and outlining the woman's slender curves in almost exquisite detail, and all too clearly proving she was not wearing a bra.
Samantha remained silent however, and after the woman and Goldie had blinked at one another, the woman cracked a smile and set down the garbage bag she was carrying.
"Oh, well, hello there! I don't think I've seen you before. Are you moving into Timmy's place?" she smiled, offering a paw.
"Uh... I guess?" Goldie said slowly, thumbing at the door of 18E behind her. "I jus' moved inta this 'ere apartment."
"That's Timmy's place, indeed," the Chinese Crested woman nodded with a smile. "He moved out a couple of weeks ago, went to Florida with his mother after his father passed away, poor soul. Well, welcome, welcome in Belmont Park Apartments! I'm sure you will love it here! I'm Yao Niang Lei, but you can just call me Yanni, that's much easier." She turned to Samantha. "And is this your girlfriend?"
"Uh... thanks," Goldie said, a bit bewildered. "I'm Goldie Davies, an' this be Samantha Mason. She ain't me girlfriend, she's jus' a good friend o' mine, 'elped me with th' move an' all. She won' be livin' 'ere neither, it'll jus' be me, though I will be lookin' fer a roommate soon."
"Oh, alright. Well, very pleased to meet you, Goldie! And you too, Samantha," Yanni smiled, shaking paws with both canines. "Well, I better go and get rid of that mess. I'm sure you have tons of unpacking to do, but when you're all settled in, feel free to drop by for a drink! I'm a gymnast and dancer, so I'm usually home during the day to do my practicing, see."
"That explains the outfit," Samantha muttered under her breath.
Yanni didn't seem to have heard it, or otherwise she skillfully ignored it as she picked up the garbage bag again and started making her way down the corridor, looking back and waving at the two canines.
"Looking forward to chatting with you again! Good luck with the unpacking and all! And I love your hat!"
Both Samantha and Goldie looked after the short, slender woman for a moment, then looked at each other and shrugged. Goldie opened the front door to let them both into the apartment, setting her box of groceries down on the short kitchen counter right behind the front door. Samantha brought in the other two bags of groceries and put them down on the breakfast bar, curling her lips into a bit of a smirk.
"Looks like you have a very interesting neighbor."
Goldie took off her hat and put it on the counter as well, scritching behind her left ear a bit.
"Yea..." she nodded slowly. "Wow, tha' was kinda unexpected." She shrugged. "Ah well, she seemed friendly 'nough." She started unpacking and putting away the groceries she had bought, checking the refrigerator to see if it had gotten cold already. "D'ya wanna drink or som'th'n, Sam? Or d'ya hafta get goin'?"
The wolfess checked her watch.
"Matter of fact, I reckon I better skedaddle. Still got a fair bit of a drive, and the highway's bound to be packed."
"Right," Goldie nodded. She stepped around the breakfast bar and hugged Samantha. "Thanks 'gain fer all th' 'elp, 'oney. 'Ave a safe drive 'ome, an' we'll be in touch, 'kay?"
"Sure thing," Samantha replied, teasingly ruffling Goldie's white hair with a paw. "You take care of yourself now, huh?"
"Will do," Goldie giggled, running her fingers through her hair before opening the front door and seeing Samantha out. "Be seein' ya, Sam."
They waved at each other, and while Samantha calmly walked down the corridor towards the elevators, Goldie stepped back into her apartment and closed the door. She looked around her a bit in the still quite bare apartment, one paw on her hip.
The low coffee table, the futon couch and the recliner chair were more or less in place. The entertainment unit was assembled, and the TV and small stereo were set inside it. The small cabinets and drawer chests were set in the places they would most likely stay. The bed was put in place, assembled and more or less made, the wardrobe closet was in place.
There were still a lot of boxes and suitcases to unpack. Books and DVDs to be put in the entertainment unit, glassware, chinaware, pots and pans and cutlery to be put in the kitchen cabinets and drawers, clothes to be put in the wardrobe, towels to be put in the bathroom, and a whole lot of knickknacks and trinkets to be sorted out and either put on shelves or cabinets, or in storage. Still a whole lot of work to do.
Goldie's look drifted over to the sixpack of Coronas sitting on the breakfast bar. There was still plenty to unpack, plenty of work to...
Eh, screw it. The Golden Retriever grabbed one of the Coronas, uncapped it on the edge of the mica countertop of the breakfast bar and sank down in the recliner, putting her feet up on the edge of the coffee table while she took a swig from the bottle. A lot of work had already been done today, and she still had plenty of time to fully settle in.