This was entered as a submission into a Convention Book: If you like please comment and give suggestions for next years writing.
Adam stood straight backed in front of his father's desk trying to patiently wait for the coming earful or worse punishment. Setting the papers he was reviewing aside the leopard looked across the desk to his twelve year old son. "Why did I buy you the bike?" he asked.
"To deliver for Mr. Creaver, Sir." Adam answered, once again trying to stop his erratic tail twitch.
"And where is your bike to be kept when your not delivering?" The older leopard asked.
"At home in the shed, Sir." Adam answered.
"So then why was it laying outside the train station after lunch?" The father asked slowly.
"Sorry Sir. It was just for a few minutes. I promise it wont happen again." The older leopard pushed his chair back to rise causing thee younger to flinch with the scrape of wood. There was a rhythmic click across the wooded floor as Adam's father moved to stand in front of the window.
"I was told there were a bunch of hoods causing a ruckus for more than an hour before they were forced to leave." Adam's tail locked in place as his ears spread flat. With out turning to look at his son he continued, "I will NOT allow my son to be seen as a sap following around behind delinquents to turn out as some dew dropper. You are a Telain and you WILL start acting like one!" His father took a deep breath making a decision. "Your mother is right if I expect you to be a gentleman I will have to start teaching you or find a school who can."
Those words chilled Adam more than the thought of the switching he believe was coming. Martha had already been sent to school the week after his fathers marriage. In the two years since he had only seen his younger sister once at the house. She had cried on his shoulder for nearly an hour before his other mother had found them. When she had seen that she had once again sent Martha away after being home for only two days.
"Adam, if you can no behave properly like a man then I see no choice but to let your mother have her way." The young leopard had actually opened his mouth to protest but stopped seeing the anger in his fathers face as he turned around. "Your Mother Adam! Not 'other' mother or some lady. It is time you started treating her with the proper respect and obedience." He paused making sure his son understood. "That Woman, was, is nothing but trouble and no where near a mother. Her father should have taken reined her in years ago. She never did realize men are the reason the world runs so well. Your Mother is ten times the woman that female ever was, well mannered and good breeding."
Adam had heard several stories about his real mother, she was supposedly a flapper before they even existed. She was also rich, he had found out that was why dad had married her in the first place. He knew grandfather still had his father running a great deal of the business even after his mom had left. Adam flinched and hunched down after feeling the slap against the side of his head. "Pay Attention," his father growled over him, "And stand up!"
"Yes Sir." he replied standing up straight once more. He waited for another blow or worse the order to bend over the desk, but with a sigh his father stepped away.
"We are going to try something new. Adam walk you bike home. Put it away and then read and do the lesson you mother has in the study. I expect you to be done before supper and dressed properly before you eat. You will act every bit of a gentleman as you can then tomorrow you will get up and do exactly as your told. You will be where and when we tell you to be, doing what is expected of you. Lastly you will no longer hang out with Justin and those other boys. We are going to improve you manners or we will find a place that can teach them to you."
Adam was nearly shaking from his fathers words. He couldn't believe one afternoon of fun could cause him so much trouble. It had been fun, but not that fun. He wondered how many weeks he would have to wait this time before he was able to slip off for some fun. His friend would all be calling him a high hat again by the end of the month.
They had spent the afternoon rolling hoops through the station between trains. The started the iron hoops at the top of the stairs and rolled them down trying to cross the hall and make it out the front doors and down the second set of steps all the while having the ticket vendor yelling at them while they laughed. Billy was the one trying to get one last roll through after the train arrived and had almost knocked over a feline lady. They had been ready to scatter when they heard her shouting, only she had been telling everyone to stand back so she could watch them and then even join herself. They had watched the adult cheetah with awe until one of the trains conductors finally told the female that all of them would have to leave.
The female had laughed calling the boys with her and proclaiming loudly that this had been the dumpiest joint she had ever been thrown out of. They had followed her outside where they all stood shocked as she passed each of them a dime thanking each of them with a kiss on the forehead for the wonderful fun. Everyone of the five boys had stood and watched her walk away. Always there had been yelling and many times punishment for the things they thought up for fun. This was the first time ever that one of their adventures had gotten them dough and a kiss.
Adam checked his pocket several times on the walk home to make sure it was still there. His father had never allowed him to keep any money. He had of course found a penny here and there but any time he had gotten a tip from a delivery or earned anything his father had taken it all to put it towards his future. This time maybe he could keep it long enough to buy something.
He was still struggling with the reading and poetry that Lady Telain had set out on the desk when Barlane an older doe and one of the two house servants entered the study to check on him. She set down a plate with a half sliced apple and a small strip of jerky. "Chin up young Adam its not so bad." He started grumbling till his nose picked out the sweet scent of molasses that had been smoked into the meat. Adam snatched up the jerky chewing slowly and sucking on the flavor of his favorite treats. He had finished chewing and was eating a slice of apple before he remembered to say thank you.
Barlane smiled adding a second stripe of meat from her apron pocket to the plate. "Remember tomorrow is another day." she told him. "Make it though today and you never know what tomorrow will bring." She chuckled cheerily as she watched him sucking on the second piece. "You always did like those berries."
Adam looked at her puzzled, "What?"
"Oh never mind just something new I heard today." She smiled one more time at him before waving him back to his reading and walking out. Adam had watched her till the door closed as he chewed through the second piece. Sighing he went back to the book trying to memorize enough to please his 'mother' when she questioned him at supper.
He had stood next to his chair for a full ten minutes before dinner reciting a poem and answering nearly all of her questions correctly. When he was allowed to sit and eat she had corrected him every few minutes on exactly how he was supposed to eat, how he was sitting and even how he was holding his fork. He had dutifully answered 'yes mother' or 'yes mom' each time she spoke to her immense pleasure. He had also received his fathers nod of approval the few times he had looked that way. He tried to excuse himself when he was finished but she had stopped him and had him stand next to her chair inspecting his clothes and brushing off a crumb that had stuck to his pants.
"I told your father there was a gentleman under that rag-a-muffin. We will just have to work hard to bring it out. Run along now." she said patting his shoulder, one of the few physical touches she had given him in past two years.
Adam nearly tore off the shirt when he reached his room. He hated the fact she was allowed to make all the decisions in his life and the fact she had his father agreeing to all she wanted. The only good thing on his list was the fact he was the only kid in town that had a bike but the only reason for that was because she thought working would build his character and delivering was considered by her an acceptable job with just enough work in it. The entire rest of the list in his opinion was bad. He had to study more because she felt his education wasn't good enough. And now even his snacks had changed to fruit or a slice of bread or something other than meat, because she felt that would spoil supper. She had also been planning things to keep him occupied and away from his friends, twice he had already overheard her say 'that will keep him away from those 'other' lads'. He crawled into bed that evening wondering if there weren't some way to get his father to allow him some time of his own. He would have to stay way from Justin and the others for a while but it was so unfair that he wouldn't be allowed to see them or have any fun at all.
Adam woke to Charles knocking on his bedroom door. The male dog had walked in before he was even really awake telling him to hurry and dress in good clothes because his father was taking him to work today. He still wasn't really understanding what was going on as the small lamp was turned on and clothes were tossed on to the bed by the servent. The young leopard groaned hurrying to dress knowing that if he made his father wait things were only going to be worse the whole day. He grabbed the two thick slices of bread off the counter in the kitchen and had one finished before he was even out the front door.
Thankfully he didn't see his father outside yet but he was surprised to hear the sputtering of an automobile on the street out front and was even more shocked seeing the same feline from yesterday walking towards him. "Well Adam, I was hoping that was you yesterday. Were you able to buy something nice, maybe something sweet?"
"Excuse... umm. Madame?" He stumbled over the words. Where yesterday she had been wearing a long skirt and nice clothes and a pretty hat today was entirely different. The feline was wearing a skirt half of yesterdays length with white stocking showing. Her blouse was tight across her chest and she had a males jacket hung over her shoulders against the chill of the morning. Adam could only think that Justin's assumption yesterday that she was a flapper was entirely true.
She stood staring at him a moment before the door behind Adam opened. "Elane?" his fathers shocked voice sounded from behind, "What?" The males tail lashed a few times as he took a deep breath, "YOU are Not welcome here." he growled out.
"Oh well hello Thomas. And that is just fine, I do not think I could truly spend any time in that house. Come along Adam it is time I took you home." Adam stared blankly trying to figure out what was happening as the woman spoke.
"How dare you. He has a home and a real mother. You will not just show up here..." He stopped seeing the heavy envelope letter she waved back and forth.
"I spoke with father, you remember him right? He was very upset that first you send his granddaughter off to some boarding school and now you were talking about sending his grandson off as well. I already took Martha out of that horrid place last year."
"You WHAT?" Thomas said shocked wondering how she had gotten away with that without him even knowing.
She swatted his chest twice with the envelope before he grabbed it. "A letter from father, I will be taking Adam for the next two years. We can discuss what will happen after that." Elane was staring over his shoulder to a feline figure standing in the doorway. "A bit small, is she really able to handle you in bed?" The door slammed shut and Adam's jaw dropped at the frank blunt assessment of the small lynx. Thomas' face matched that of his son as she continued. "You always were a bit rough especially the bites but maybe time has softened you out."
Elane turned to the young leopard, "Adam your grandfather has left you with a decision. You are twelve and from what I hear around town responsible, a good worker, even if you get yourself into trouble." she said grinning, "You will be the one to choose where or should I say whom you would like to stay with. Your father, or Me, your mother."
Adam had spent the last few minutes confused over who she was. It wasn't until she said the words that he finally allowed himself to believe. "Mom?"
Not hearing the questioning tone of his sons voice Thomas went in to a lather. "Stupid fool. I raised you, she walked out! If you leave do not come back EVER!"
"Thomas, Dear calm down." Elisa spoke.
"YOU have no right to call me that. ADAM! Come we are leaving!" Thomas turned and stormed down the path leaving a still stunned and confused boy on the path.
"Dad?" he called out after the retreating body that never even bothered to turn back. He felt ashamed, he felt upset, he felt like crying, and for the first time that he could ever remember he felt his mothers arms wrap around him and hold him tight.
"It's okay Adam, it will be jake." He did sniff and wrap his arms around her just as she moved away but she was still smiling at him as she knelt down. "I promise I wont ever leave you or Martha again. I have a house and it has a bed just waiting for you. You want to see Martha again right?" Adam nodded trying to wipe water away from his eyes as a thump behind him made him jump. "Thank you Barlane, remember if he gives you any trouble just let dad know."
"Trouble ma'am? There wont be no trouble." Adam turned to look at the deer as his mother reached out to pick up a small yellow suitcase and headed for the car. "You better save some of this for your sister." Barlane spoke as she handed over a large cloth wrapped bundle that smelled of meat and molasses. Adam tried to force it into his pocket as she continued. "I told you, 'you never know what tomorrow brings'. Now hurry along you should not make you mother wait." she said turning his shoulders and giving his back a push.
Adam slowly walked to the automobile trying to absorb what was going on. He climbed in to the covered back and sat down next to his mother who gave him a smile. The vehicle sputtered and jumped forward before its engine revved up and Adam was off on his first ever automobile ride. Elane was careful not to press or even speak to her son as the vehicle drove them through town simply smiling and nodding each time he looked at her.
"Welcome back Madam." The doorman had jumped forward when the automobile rolled up in front of the hotel.
"Thank you. No wait leave the case and please have the others brought out, the train should be leaving in an hour." Elane turned to the driver after she stepped out, "I trust I still have your services?" she asked the jitney.
"Of course Miss all day if you need them." He replied shutting down the engine.
Elane nodded and held a hand out to her son to help him out even as the doorman had done for her. "Are we going somewhere Mad..um, mother?" he asked quietly following her to the open front door of the hotel.
She led him into the lobby before moving to stand behind him. She leaned down keeping her voice low. "I thought we would go to Chicago first, then stop in New York before we went south so you could meet your grandfather."
Adam was looking up and back at his mother stunned by the plans she had just dropped on him. "Adddammm!" he barely had time to look forward before the form plowed into him pressing both him and his mother back. After a few seconds he realized who it was and hugged tightly to Martha losing most of his confusion for the first time that morning. He hugged his sister tightly smiling even as he felt his mother bend down and grip both of her children tight.
"Your coming right?" he could hear Martha ask as she pressed her muzzle into his chest squeezing even tighter. Adam could only nod not trusting his voice and trying to sniff holding back his tears. First and auto ride, then a train ride, Chicago.. New York.., his sister and his mother. Adam was smiling all the way to his tail tip with happiness, his greatest adventure had just started.
He felt a tug on the cloth that was stuffed into his pocket even as he felt his sisters muzzle and nose angle down. "Hey what's this?" she asked.
"MINE!" Adam growled as he heard his mother chuckle behind him while she squeezed his arms tight to his body helping her daughter free the treasure. Even as he struggled to keep his pocket away he was smiling and blinking back tears.
There was one last big shock waiting at the train station, Thomas was standing on the stairs when they arrived. Elane got and spoke with him while the kids stayed in the automobile before she finally beaconed them forward.
"You may both go with your mother for now and can come back anytime you want. If in two years you wish to come home with me you can as long but only if you behave properly." Thomas spoke. He gave both of his children a stiff hug before helping to remove the luggage and getting in the back seat himself.
"Dad wait!" Adam called just before the auto started forward. He pulled out and unwrapped the last three pieces of jerky that he was saving out of his pocket. He ripped a small end off of each piece before handing one to his mother and one to his sister. Then he walked down the few steps and handed the last piece to his father keeping the small pieces for himself. He jumped back up the steps to stand next to his mother before popping one of the pieces in his mouth. Although Thomas and Martha had quickly bit in, Elane paused before she took a bite.
"Maybe we can have a real meal when we get back Thomas. Just us, maybe not like the family you want but at least a family in part." She said before chewing off a piece herself. Thomas just nodded as he tapped the drivers shoulders and the auto rolled off.
"Well." Elane spoke hearing the cry of the train whistle in the distance. "Let get a wiggle on."