They had spent the past six hours at the Busch Gardens theme park, exploring every inch of the living attraction, yet never stepping foot to the rides. Lilliana realized then that the meek little mouse was not a thrill seeker, but a nature lover. She sat and watched the tiny mouse sleep peacefully on one of the two kings sized beds, while she printed off the content of her virtual fax inbox. Hearing the alert from her laptop Lilly looked back at the travel printer, It was out of paper again. How did Susan get all this so quickly? This is a lot more than she made it out to be. That chinchilla is a miracle worker. She dropped more paper into the feeder and removed the small stack and started the thumb through it. She pulled the six page form out and set it aside for later. She looked at the top of the first page:
September 6, 1997: Baby Doe, anonymous turn over to state. Approximately two weeks old. Healthy kangaroo mouse. six pounds eight ounces….
She flipped through the small file. Susan could get in so much trouble for this. I hate to see what she wants in return. She counted through the individual case sets. What this fuck? This can’t be right. SShe slipped her earpiece in and pressed the button on the side and aside “Call Susan on cell.” She waited for the chinchilla to pick up and continued continued to jump around reading in the file. “Hey there Susan, its me again… Yah, that’s what I am calling about… First, how did you get this stuff on a Sunday… Ok, ok, I won't ask. The less I know the better… sure I can shred it later. There is a lot to read here… Are you sure this is all her’s?... Nine homes if fourteen years?... Yeah, I see that… How the fuck do these guys slip through the cracks?... I don’t give a shit if its unsubstantiated… The fucker went to jail five times during the investigation… And this here, FAMILY RELOCATED… who the fuck cares, take the girl with you… That looked like the best place she was… From there it looks like a skipping record… Returned special needs… returned problem child… May need counseling… No Shit she needs help… No, she’s passed out… the little guy was overwhelmed with Busch gardens… I have never seen a kid take so many pictures… I think this was the first time she really smiled in years… Wait a sec, what’s this stuff here at the end?... yeah the pictures… Someone took the time to file these?... So what's this going to cost me?... Don’t pull that shit… I don’t care, I’m not doing that… yeah laugh it up, still not happening… What do you mean getting late? Its only 9:00 out there… Ok, I need to make another call anyway… I am going to fill it out in a few… first thing in the morning, have to get a notary… You take care of yourself… I think three weeks from now… TTFN”
She set the file aside and pulled a pen from her bag. She slid the forms in front of her, then pressed the button on the earpiece again, “Call General on cell.” She started to fill out the forms. As she waited for the answer “Wow, someone taught you to use caller ID?... It’s about that letter of recommendation you offered… not quite, I am looking for a character reference for an adoption… Fuck you old man… If you saw what I was looking at, you would reconsider your jokes… She's a runaway… ward of the state… Yeah that about covers it… I have my ways of getting things… Kiss my ass, when did she call you?... I still got everyone’s number… once a month like we promised… Back to what i wanted… Asshat, if you already drafted it up why did you make me ask for it?... Ha Ha, you got the bitch to beg… Yeah, I will… Hold on a sec” Lilly picked up the phone and snapped a picture of Cecily sleeping, and then fumbled through sending it as a text message. “You need to get with the times old man, texting photos is old hat… Skype, live video… Yeah she is a cutey… growing on me like a fungus... I asked myself the same thing… Shit, I don’t know. We’ll figure that out when we get to it… Thanks, I owe you one… the answer is still ‘fuck no’... Call you on the first… yeah we do need to do a get together… Get Susan to set it up, she was always good at that shit… Ok, go eat, I will be here… Bourbon Alley?... Yea it’s on my list… sometime next week… no I don’t have a date set, I’ll get there when I get there… How many?... OK, the usual drop box?... I got you covered, are we square then? I might need another letter for a job… I don’t care what the others say, you’re great in my book… have a good one, and thanks again.”
She leaned back in her chair with a sigh, “The paperwork is always the hardest part for me. And you’re talking to yourself again Lilly. As long as I don’t answer I’m not crazy. Well you just answered nut job.” She laughed to herself and went back to filling out the forms.
June 10, 2013
Lilliana woke to the sound of running water. Slightly disoriented she reached for the wall at the side of the bed. When her hand closed around nothing, she jumped up with a start. Landing on her feet eyes wide, she scanned the room. She put a shaky hand to her head, “You’re not in the dust bowl, that was six years ago. Get a grip Lilly.” She looked around the room trying to pull herself back into the present. Hotel letterhead and loose printer paper was spread across the floor. She picked them up to find on each a rough sketch of flowers or animals, all scratched out with the complementary ballpoint pen. She sat with her back to the bed and slowly went through the pages, amazed at the talent displayed. Lilly was so enthralled that she did not hear the shower cut off.
As she walked into the room with a towel wrapped around her, Cecily let out a soft ‘eep’ when she saw Lilly on the floor with the papers. “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to wake you up with the TV.”
After she jumped with a bit of surprise for the added presence, Lilly looked at her, “Sorry for what, having talent? I couldn’t draw a stick figure if my life depended on it.” she patted the floor beside her, “Com’ere. I am clueless here, tell me what they are.”
“Just stuff we saw at Busch Gardens” she said as she fidgeted with her tail.
“You read all the plaques; I was just there for the nature walk.” She thought for a moment while Cecily slowly came over and sat a foot or so away for her, “You like this stuff? Drawing I mean. You're pretty good at it.”
“It’s ok I guess.”
“‘OK’ my ass. When did you wake up?”
“About an hour ago.” Cecily responded quietly.
“You did this stuff in an hour? You’d be a fuckin’ Rembrandt if you took your time.” Lilly said as she slapped the papers with the back of her paw. “You should have told me you like doing this shit. You’ll need something to fill the time on the road. I was going to stop by a bookstore this morning; we have a full day’s drive to Orlando. We got about three days’ worth of stuff to do down there before we head off to the Bourbon Alley in Tennessee.” Lilly reached her arm around Cecily and pulled her close, “Look here Squeaky, we have some long days of driving ahead of us. After breakfast and FedEx, let’s hit up the book store and stock up on reading mats and a sketchbook or three.”
Cecily looked up and asked, “FedEx?”
“I got to send off these custody forms and get the ball rolling on the adoption. Susan will kick my ass if I don’t overnight them today. For now, I need a shower and you get dressed.” Lilly stood up and made her way to the bathroom, “So what's going to be for breakfast today, Sisy?”
Speaking up uncharacteristically, loud enough to be heard in the bathroom, Cecily asked, “Why do you keep calling me Sisy?”
“Well, slut, heffer, and asshat didn’t seem to fit, so take it or leave it, Squeakers.” Lilly said from the other side of the door.
She sat in silence on the floor listening to the liger hum as she showered. Cecily held the bundle of loose sketches in her hand. Is she really going through with this? She felt a tear forming on her cheek. Don’t do it, Cecily. Don’t get sucked in. She will give you back like everyone else. it’s only a matter of time. She tossed the papers across the floor and buried her face in her hands. It’s only a matter of time. She kept telling herself. The sudden silence from the shower being cut off sent Cecily into a frenzy of gathering the paper. No.No.No. don’t let her see. Don’t show weakness. That is what always ruins things. Be strong, just deal with it. Having shoved the papers into the trash she ran to her duffle to get dressed in a fresh set of cloths.
Lilly came out of the bathroom, towel over her shoulder, “So you come up with breakfast ideas yet, or am I going to have to do it again?” As she passed the trash can she stopped and pulled the drawings back out, “What the fuck, Sisy? I wanted to keep these. I now have art to display on the fridge.” She looked over at the small mouse and saw a look of panic in her eyes, the same look when she bolted the day before. “Fuck, I screwed up again.” she said as she slapped her hand to her forehead. “I am sorry, Cecily. Don’t listen to me, half the time I speak before I think.” She dropped into the chair nude, “Hell, I never think before I speak. You know what? I was told by an old friend that I was missing the filter between my brain and my mouth that tells me ‘you shouldn't say that’. That has gotten me into so much trouble it’s not funny. Here let me try this again.” she paused a moment she put on the fakest grin she could manage, “Hey there Cecily. Why don't we keep these as a reminder of our trip to Busch Gardens? They are so much cooler than photos.” She dropped the smile, “How was that?”
Cecily just stood there as she recovered from a state of panicked silence, and looked wide eyed at the liger for a long moment. Then she looked down at the floor once she was able to collect herself. “You’re nude?” she managed to squeak out.
She looked down at herself then back at the mouse, “So are you under that towel. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Or is that just me being insensitive again? Personally, I think you should flaunt it if you got it. On the topic of our hot bodies, what you want for eats? We got about two hours before FedEx opens, and I think the B&N here is 24 hours.” She pulled her duffle into her lap and said, “Put some rags on that hot bod so we can strut our stuff at the bookshop.”
As she stood in line at the FedEx store, Lilly gave the forms one last check. Checking addon items, lease still good for two months, even if she was not planning on staying there and the apartment was empty. Expedited background check request, that one might need another phone call. Damn, I am burning through favors on this one. We are going to need to get to Oregon faster than originally planned. Bureaucratic bullshit. In person interview. At least we will still have the cruise. She moved up to the counter, “I need this signature notarized and this overnighted.”
“Just one moment, ma’am, let me get the public notary” the young fox behind the counter told her as she went to the back of the store. Lilly Looked out the window to the Camaro where Cecily waited. I really hope this temporary custody shit goes through, she needs this.
Cecily sat in the passenger seat of the red ‘73 Camaro, B&N bag clutched tightly to her chest. This is never going to work. Stuff like this never really works. As she sat there she looked over at the driver seat. She stood to look into the store windows, Lilliana was at the counter. She climbed over to the driver seat, sat and looked between the space in the steering wheel and the dash, her feet got nowhere near the pedals. With her height she would never be able to drive. She sat on the edge of the seat and put one hand on the wheel and the other on the shifter, like she had seen Lilly do so many time now.
“So how does it feel?”
Cecily screamed from the unexpected Lilliana standing outside the car.
“I’m sorry, I…”
Liliana interrupted her “Sorry for what? You keep saying that for no good reason. Your a fifteen year old girl sitting in the sexiest hunk of steel in this parking lot. I would be right where you are if it were me.” She leaned in the window. “Looks Like we will need to do something about the height. These things are not made for some people. We can fix this, I am sure. No girl should ever be stuck depending on a guy for a ride. Slide over Squeaky.” She said as she opened the door to sit down. “We have a decision to make here. Susan is awesome, and I trust she has already formed some sort of plan to expedite the temporary custody process.” She looked over at Cecily, now back in the passenger seat. “and from the sounds of what she was saying last night, we just want to keep quiet about it and go with the flow. I don’t ever question the girl.” She cranked the car. “The choice we have to make right now is head out to Portland now, with a quick stop at the JD distillery for a package. Or just hope for the best and keep going with the zigzag to places I want to see.” Looking over at Cecily again, “I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to leave anything to chance here.”
Cecily looked back over at Lilly, “But what about your vacation? All the things you have planned?”
“Shit, you haven’t figured it out yet? I don’t really have a plan here. The plan was really to waste a month goofing off before taking the cruise. Now I found something…” She looked down at the mouse, “More like someone that needs my time and attention. And that is more important to me than goofing off; we can do that any time.”
“Why are you doing this?” Cecily asked “You're giving up a vacation for a runaway you don’t even really know.”
“When I look at you I don’t see a runaway. I see a young girl who has been through more than anyone your age should have been. I have more than I need, and no one to share it with. I want you to come along for this ride of life. And I think my friends are going to bend a few rules to get us there. People are prepared to give up a lot here to make this all happen, just because I ask. Together we got a snowball started rolling down hill, and it has just gotten too big for us to stop now.” Lilliana said as she pulled out the receipt for the FedEx Overnight package.
“You’re crazy. You make it sound like people are going to break the law here. And for me.”
“Not break the law, I hope. Just push things a bit faster than normal. If I need to I still know a few more people that can grease the gears. We just need to get past this custody thing, then it should all be downhill from there.”
“What about the Home study and stuff? I hear that can take years.”
“That is after the temporary custody or Protective custody if you will. All you need to worry about is being you, and having fun. I will worry about the rest of the stuff. OK, Sisy. If it all falls apart, I have another idea. But we will worry about that when we have to.”
“This sounds bad. You're putting yourself out.” Cecily said getting quieter with each word.
“Now you sound like General Helfgrad, ‘When will you take things seriously SGT. Fargo?’ Lighten up girl, we have a long adventure ahead of us here. If we worry about the small stuff like being put out for a short time, or failing at what we try to do, we might as well do nothing. And that sounds like no life at all.”
“You’re crazy Lilly.” Cecily said as she bucked her seat belt.
“And you’re intrigued. Let’s see where this little slice of life takes us. To Tennessee and the Bourbon distilleries.” Lilliana cheered as she shifted the Camaro into gear and letting it roll.
Susan Shelby, A plump chinchilla, sat in her office, phone in hand. “You owe me this after last year’s Christmas party… Don’t make me to it Jeff… You know I will… Come on now; give me more credit than that. You think I got this far playing by the rules… You got it… how long will it take?... Good… See you tonight.” dropping the receiver back into its cradle Susan thought to herself, I hope that little mouse of yours is worth all this.
This is a work of fiction and is meant for entertainment purposes only. All names and characters in it is fictional, a composite drawing from several individuals and from imagination. No reference to any living person is intended or should be inferred. No animals were harmed in its production. Businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. All art of minors are simulated pictures. All models over 18 years of age. Some actions and activities may be illegal or dangerous and should not be attempted. All products, services, and characters copyrighted to their respective owners. Some content may not be safe/suitable for work or school. Some content and depictions may be illegal to view in some areas. Some content may be illegal to view by those under legal age of connect.