Dark Riders of Marblecliff
06 Shifting Plans
▂▃▅▇█▓▒░۩۞۩ August 24, 2013 ۩۞۩░▒▓█▇▅▃▂
▂▃▅▇█▓▒░۩۞۩ Miracle ۩۞۩░▒▓█▇▅▃▂
The moose looked over at the older otter that sat at the far end of the bench seat of the old Chevy truck and asked, “Why am I here and not out with Sisy practicing her driving?”
“Because you know the boy I’m supposed to be looking for,” Hank said in reply as they pulled up in front of Blackfoot Custom Autos. “Come on,” he continue flatly while he cut off the engine and got out of the truck. As they walked through the parking lot, they passed a brand-new royal blue Corvette, still with the Temporary Tags on it.
“Fine, like you could miss him,” the moose said as she got out of the truck. “All you have to do is look for the walking snowball unless he’s covered in grease… or been dyed pink.” Daisy looked back over her shoulder with an icy glare as she walked toward the open service bay doors.
Hank just shrugged as he said, “Could be worse.” He walked toward the main entrance and showroom as he said, “We might want to use the front door.”
As she was about to turn around and head for the main entrance Daisy saw the Samoyed hybrid roll out from under the rusted-out shell of an El Camino with a wire brush in his paw. The car was caked in dirt, and looked like it had been half-buried. “Hey, Snowball,” she hollered into the workspace, “I have someone that needs to talk to you in the main office when you get loose for a minute,” before heading inside.
“Sure thing. Give me just a minute to wash all this soil off. My mom will kill me if I track dirt onto the carpet,” he said as he stood up and walked off to the rinsing station.
The front display area of the shop had an array of custom-built toys, ranging from a dune buggy built from a modified Volkswagen Beetle to a Ford F-350 with a tonneau cover on a hydraulic lift system, creating a canopy over a gas grill, condiment station, and a pair of nineteen-inch LCD TVs. Rounding out the showroom was a Subaru hatchback, decked out with a roof rack filled with skis and snowboards, but instead of wheels, it had four sets of snowmobile treads.
Hank stopped at the rubber mat just inside the door and wiped his bare paws before he stepped onto the show room carpeting. Digging in the chest pocket of his overalls he pulled out the mangled business card and flipped it over to look at the back. As he scanned the showroom, waiting to be noticed he meandered over to the F-350 and began inspecting the custom bed on the vehicle.
“May I help you?” a female voice sounded from the far end of the room. He looked up to see the samoyed woman approaching him.
Wiping his paw off on the bib of the overalls Hank turned to greet her. “I hope you can,” he said as he held out his paw toward her. “Name’s Hank and I’m looking for a…” He glanced down at the hand written note on the back of the business card and read, “Wrench Jockey named Dick?”
“Derek,” The moose said as she entered the showroom scrubbing her hooves on the rubber mat, “And he said he’s on his way in.” Walking over to stand beside the half dressed otter Daisy said, “you probably don’t remember me Mrs. Blackfoot, I’m Samantha’s friend Daisy from the cruise.”
“If you are here for a delivery, ve take zhem around back,” the older woman said. “Vhat company are you vith? I can get him zhe paperwork to make zhings a little faster for you.” She smiled politely as she spoke.
“No, Ma’am,” the otter said. “I am here to get an estimate on a custom restore job on a Chevy Nomad.” He pointed out the window at the rusted out Nomad wagon on the trailer behind the beat up Chevy truck.
She looked him over as she said, “Are you sure you vant to bring it to us? Vork here can get quite expensive.”
“Just following orders, Ma’am,” Hank replied. “The cost is not really the issue, the unrealistic time frame is. I don’t have a shop set up to do it myself, and my time is limited with other projects I need to work on. Someone put it in Lilly’s head that this is the best shop, with the best mechanics in town, and I can guarantee she won’t accept anything less for this one. I’ve learned that if she has a name attached to something, it’s best to work with them.”
“I think I can handle this one,” the younger Samoyed hybrid said as he walked in from the shop drying off his paws. “I think we can thank Mr. Burke for this recommendation,” he said with a smile at Daisy.
“Derek Blackfoot, this is Hank Heartken, yet another member of the Dark Riders you haven’t met yet,” the moose herm said jerking her head towards the otter.
“Nice to meet you, Sir,” he said, reaching out with his freshly-dried paw to give the otter a shake. “And thank you for your service.”
Wiping his paw off on the bib of his coverall again he reached out and took the boy’s offered paw in a firm grip as he said, “Thanks. The hulk is out front and she’s expecting miracles.”
“What hulk?” the boy asked.
“The remnants of a sixties Chevy Nomad wagon,” the otter said. “She wants to get it restored and modified for Cecily… for her birthday.”
“Her birthday?” the moose nearly shouted in response. “Miracle my fuzzy a… behind, even Jesus Christ couldn’t pull that off in two weeks.”
“Let me see what we’re working with here,” the wolf mix said, leading the way through the lobby and back out into the parking lot. The vaguely car-shaped pile of rusty bolts stuck out like Gilbert Gottfried in a Tibetan Monastery among the other cars. “I’ve got bad news for Miss Fargo,” Derek said with a frown, “This isn’t ‘Pimp My Ride.’ We don’t have MTV paying us to work on one job consistently for that short amount of time. Six weeks, I can have something respectable. Any other big occasions coming up?”
Hank shrugged as he looked at the boy before he turned to the moose and asked, “What do you think?”
“I think Lilly thinking that anyone can make that,” she said pointing to the rusted heap behind the old truck, “into anything other than scrap metal in two weeks is crazy, even for her. Hell I’ve learned she expects the impossible but this time she’s shit out of luck on getting it done in that short of a time. Six weeks sounds good… but I’m not sure if it will be anything she’ll accept. Only other holiday that would make sense is what, Christmas?“
“I think I can get that to pass,” Hank said. “Just hope your ready to fix the birthday thing.” He turned back to Derek and asked, “What can you do in four months?”
“I’ll give you a rolling Sistine Chapel,” the Samoyed grinned.
“I hope you’re as good as you think you are,” the otter said. “Where do you want me to drop it?”
“My workspace is Bay 5. There’s a small garage across from the bays for the projects not currently being worked on. You can unload it back there, and I’ll put it next to Lola. I’ll make yours one of my three personal projects,” Derek said proudly. “The first one is almost done, and the other one has a Christmas deadline, also.” He pointed back towards the shop and said, “That El Camino is Samantha’s present.”
“Goddamnit…” Daisy muttered softly. “Why the hell do you people do this shit to me? I not only have to keep my muzzle shut about Sisy’s surprise, but now about Samantha’s too? Fuck me sideways,” she added as she turned towards the old Chevy truck and stalked off.
Derek strolled over to a small, 2-car garage across from Bay 5 and keyed in his security code, then opened up the door. The young Samoyed waved his paws, guiding Hank as he backed the truck up slowly and carefully so that he could unload the Nomad and not have to push it too far. Once they were as close as they were going to get, the otter parked the truck and he and Daisy climbed out.
As she walked around to the back of the truck, the moose stopped and stared at the other car in the garage. It was a vintage-looking European roadster, painted a very vibrant yellow with 2 black racing stripes, with open wheels in the front and a removable soft-top. “Is this Lola?” she asked.
“Yep,” he said proudly. “She’s almost done, but she can keep your girlfriend’s Nomad company for a while. She won’t be going anywhere until November.”
“What’s in November?” she asked.
“I get my license,” he grinned. “That there’s my own personal car.”
The Otter looked at the pair as he said, “We need to get this thing put away and back to the house before Squeaker gets back from her drive.” The three of them quickly get the Nomad into the empty space, Daisy steering while Derek and Hank push.
Hank looked at Derek with a smile. “Here’s the deal, Cecily grew up most of her life thinking she would never drive on her own. This thing needs to knock her flat on her back for twenty paces. You’ve seen Daisy’s toy, and Cecily has a little happy spot for automotive muscle in her. You can blame that on Lilliana and her Camaro. Just see if you can make this something really special for the girl.”
“Just tell me what she likes, and I’m sure I can draw something up. If Miss Fargo likes it, my mom will give you a quote,” the young canine answered. “I can go anywhere from like-factory-new to absolutely insane.”
Hank put his paw on the boy’s shoulder as he said, “There is only one thing Lilly will care about, the classic look. At least from the outside. For Squeaker, music and art. If you can do something with that she will love you forever.” He turned and started walking to the truck as he added, “You might want to think up something soon, the liger is a bit of a slave driver, and never cared about price tags.”
“Hold up, now, Snowflake,” Daisy interjected, “what do you mean by ‘absolutely insane?’”
“Wait right here, I’ll get the buggy,” he said excitedly. “You guys are gonna love this.”
They watched as Derek disappeared back inside the shop. A few minutes later, the showroom doors swung open, and the modified Beetle from earlier came rolling out, with the Samoyed boy driving it.
“I thought you didn’t have your license?” the moose asked.
“I don’t. Thankfully, the state recognizes this as an off-road vehicle, and I’m not taking it off the lot,” he explained casually. “I’ve got room for one more, if either of you want to get in.”
“Ah, what the hell,” Daisy said with a shrug. As she got into the passenger side, she noticed the three-point harness in her seat.
“You might want to buckle yourself in,” her friend’s boyfriend warned her.
“What for? You said we weren’t leaving the lot,” she asked, genuinely confused.
“Trust me,” he grinned. “You wanted to see ‘absolutely insane.’ I’m going to give it to you.”
“Fine,” she huffed, not sounding totally convinced, though there was a slight twinge of fear in her voice.
As she fumbled with the complicated restraints, Derek drove the car around to the far back of the lot to a sandpit no bigger than the size of a volleyball court. Looking over at Hank, he asked, “Does your phone take videos?”
Daisy laughed at the question, and butted in, “He’s lucky his phone takes calls.”
“You’re going to want to show this to Miss Fargo,” he said to Daisy. “Show him how to record video, and show your girlfriend’s mom when you get home.”
Hank pulled out the advanced smartphone that didn’t match his backwater look in the least as he said, “I can handle a little video.”
A few minutes later, Hank was standing twenty yards away, holding Daisy’s phone just like she had shown him. “Now, it’s time for some fun,” the canine boy smirked.
“If you say so, but I don’t know how fast you think you can go before you run out of sand,” Daisy quipped.
“You’ll see,” Derek replied, flicking a switch on the center console. “Hang on tight.”
As he hit the switch, he turned the steering wheel as far left as he could. The front tires of the dune buggy turned in towards each other, while the rear wheels turned outwards. He applied some light pressure to the accelerator, and all four tires began turning in different directions, causing the car to spin in place.
“What the fuck?” Daisy exclaimed, suddenly gripping the rollbar overhead.
“Don’t worry,” the Samoyed yelled over the throaty growl of the engine, “In order to keep it from flipping, it can’t go past first gear like this. Still, it’s a lot of fun!” To emphasize his point, he pressed down harder on the gas, causing the vehicle to rotate faster and faster.
The young moose screamed as the centrifugal force of the ride made her feel as though she was about to be thrown from the car, but her safety harness kept her securely in her seat. As the world spun past her dizzy eyes, she thought she saw Hank backing even further away from them as sand sprayed out in all directions.
Finally, Derek eased up on the gas, and the car’s rotation slowed to a halt. He let out an exuberant laugh and pounded his paws on the steering wheel. “Oh, shit, that’s fun!” he exclaimed. “Do you want to give it a try?”
“I think I’ll pass this time snowflake,” the moose herm said as she blinked rapidly, trying to stop the world from spinning around her. “I gotta give ya this one, wasn’t expecting a cookie cutter from a modified Bug, it’s a hell of a lot more fun than those six wheel pieces of shit that do it though.”
As Derek jumped out of the buggy to talk to Hank, he asked, “So, a classic Nomad look on the outside, I got that. On the inside, how crazy do you want me to go? One a scale from one to ten, with one being factory and ten being that.” He pointed over to the Volkswagen where Daisy had managed to get both hooves back on the ground.
“Can’t honestly answer that,” the otter said putting the phone away. “Might need to find out what the girl is looking for in a car."
“Men,” the moose said as she nearly stumbled into the Samoyed boy, still trying to get her equilibrium to settle again. “Think like a sixteen year old girl that loves art, music and photography and you might get a clue. For that girl the sound system will mean a lot more than how crazy it is. Bit of fair warning though, I don’t think there is a genre she doesn’t listen to to one degree or another.”
“How’s this sound? I’ll keep most of the outside looking classic, but I could use that roof rack to mount 12 high-speed cameras in waterproof housings, and sync them up to a Bluetooth system inside the car,” he explained as the vision started to come together. If Sisy saw something at the ten o’clock position, she could just say something like, ‘camera ten, take picture,’ and the car would, in theory, take the picture for her. It just depends on the height and distance of the subject matter in relation to the car.”
The otter shrugged, as he said, “the girl has an eye for a shot. She’ll figure it out if you can get it to work.” He looked at Daisy for a moment as she wobbled slightly. “We should get back, Cupcake. They should still be planning the party.”
“Yea, we should. Good seeing you again Derek and good luck on the rust bucket. Who knows if you do good with it Hank may even look you up for idea for that pile of bones of his,” the moose said as she walked towards the truck only slightly unsteady.
“My truck is fine,” the otter said as he reached his paw out to the Samoyed mix. “Thank you for doing this, Its important that it gets done right.”
Climbing into the truck next to the moose, Hank looked over and said, “They’re not going to be happy knowing that their one big surprise for Squeaker is not going to be ready. You have any ideas to fix it?”
“Why the hell is it my problem… fuck that, I don’t even want to know,” the moose said crossing her arms across her chest. “You know what,” she said as a thought came to mind, “I just might after all. She can get her license, and if Lilly fills out the paperwork her motorcycle learners permit on the same day. You think that crazy woman can plan out a bike trip for the weekend?”
Starting up the truck he asked, “Do I really need to answer that?”
“Not really, but you did kind of confirm it there Hank,” Daisy said as a grin spread across her muzzleമ
▂▃▅▇█▓▒░۩۞۩ Plan A.5 ۩۞۩░▒▓█▇▅▃▂
As Daisy followed Hank back into the great room from the motor court she saw Susan, Alex and Detlev sitting in a circle talking. As soon as they came into view the eagle hopped to her feet and nearly shouted, “‘sabou’ time ya goddere. Ya needa make a guess liss fer da party.”
“Slow down and speak english, Boomer,” Susan said with a smile as she turned to see Hank and the moose in the entryway.
“Nah that’s okay Susan,” Daisy said in reply as she walked into the great room, “I’ve been around her a bit longer and I’m starting to understand chi… Alex a little better. I kind of figured the shit pile was going to land on me over Sisy’s birthday party so I’ve been keeping track of the people she talks about from school, hell it’s not like anyone else would know who she talks to there,” she added as she shoved a paw into the pocket of her shorts. “Here, this is the list of people I can be pretty sure she would want to be at her party. Beyond that fuck if I know for sure, other than her little filly buddy Juno maybe.”
“Ima get dat ban’ across da stree’ ta play,” Alex said as she took a seat again. “Che likes dem, lissenin all dat time when dey are dere.”
“Ant a bonfire,” the Badger said in his deep german accent, “Zis chould be a night to rememper for her.”
Susan looked over her shoulder at the moose as she said, “And she needs to be kept in the dark about it. Or else it won’t be a surprise, and you know how those work right?”
“Yea I know how those work… thing is we have another problem. Where is she? Out with Lilly I would assume since you’re in here blabbing it out loud,” Daisy asked looking the eagle in the eyes.
“Come on, Squeaker out in the country with the new engine in the Camaro?” Susan asked. “I don’t expect them back till Monday.”
“I almost wish that were true,” Daisy said with a heavy sigh. “I’ am not looking forward to Lilly hearing that there is no way the Nomad will be ready in two weeks. Fuck was she even remotely serious about that shit?”
“Lilliana is not a fool,” Detlev said, “She knows ven somezing is not possible, Een ven she asks for it. Zee quevstion iz Vat have we got to offer as an alternative?” As the Badger spoke everyone in the room turned to look at Daisy.
“Well, after the whole ride to school debacle went down, I did promise Squeaker that as soon as she got her license we could go out on the bikes and ride till she was sick of it. But I think I have a better idea, a girl’s weekend out. Bikes and tents and open road, think Lilly would go for that?” the moose asked as she looked from one of the adults to the other.
Susan and Alex looked at each other with a smile as they reached across the gap between them and hi-fived. “Score one for Cupcake. That’s about six weeks before the Driver’s Training is over. Plenty of time for the Party and planning a trip after.” She looked around the group and asked, “So who gets to take credit for it?”
“I say we let her have this one,” Hank offered. “She took the fur dye job pretty well, and did handle things with the… Movie outing... and school well.”
“Meh,” the moose replied with a shrug. “Doesn’t matter to me either way, but just so you asswipes know, I am still pissed about the dye job. For fucks sake I’m still finding pink spots that I missed.”
The group laughed as Daisy mentioned her continued plight from their prank. “You can thank Alex for that, We were done when the first two boxes were finished.”
“Bu’ ya missed spo’s,” the eagle said with a frown on her face, “Wha’ would’ it ‘ave looked like if Che ‘ad ta go ta school like da?” Sounding more concerned about Daisy being more embarrassed by a shoddy dye job than being pink.
“Oh, and the skirt thing was my idea,” Susan said with her paw in the air, “and you do look good in them, you should try it more.”
“We’ll see about that part,” the moose said as she sat in one of the unoccupied camp chairs. “Maybe after I can be fairly sure there’s not gonna be a big spot of pink showing if I do. In the meantime, is there anything else to do or figure out for Sisy’s birthday?”
“Party covered, guest list in the works, impossible present covered. I think we got it all,” Susan said as they all sat back in their chairs. “My only question is, when the hell are you going to finish the kitchen, Hank?”
“Waiting for the last of it to come in, maybe next weekend,” the otter replied. “We can just order pizza again tonight.”
“Hey Hank,” Daisy said as she rolled her head back and stared at the ceiling. “Just remembered another thing that I know Sisy would love to see finished her bathtub. That girl has a serious want for a bubble bath going on.”
“It should be in next week also,” he said. “Had to special order it. A garden Jacuzzi tub for two. Not something they keep on hand at most shops. Should take a day or two to put it in, But I will have to take out one of the windows to get it up there.”
“Hot damn,” the moose herm said as she seemed to sink further into the cloth chair. “I could kiss you for that, but my luck Squeaker would walk in right about then and I don’t feel like explaining that shit to her.”
Hanging up the phone and slipping it back into her pocket, Susan said, “They asked that Alex not answer the door this time.”
“I ‘ad my ‘ousecoat on,” the eagle protested.
“I ‘ad my ‘ousecoat on,” the eagle protested.
“But vas is fastened, ant were you vearing anysign else?” Deltev asked with a smile. Alex only folded her wings over her chest and slouched into the seat more with a huff, while the others started to laugh. “Oh, vone more zing, Daisy. Mizz Grahm callt to ask if you vould vork tonight because Sunnchine called in sick.”
“May as well, I’ll call her and find out what time she needs me to come in,” she said as she nearly forced herself out of the camp chair. “May as well head up and get a shower first anyway, thanks for letting me know she called General.”
As Daisy left the room Susan leaned into the circle and said, “We have one more week before it’s open season again, any ideas?”