Clarence Skunk, Cindy Lapine, Wanda the Vixen, Susan Felin, Debbye Squirrel, Chris Foxx, Rodney and Ellen Lapine, and Mark the Lemur are copyright Chris Yost. Martin Lupina, Nathan Fenicus, Clint Aardwulf, Nancy David, Pacidy Angelou, Vernon Procyon, Miranda Civet, Sal Simon, Jennifer Ironne, and most others not listed here are copyright Joe McCauley. Zig Zag is copyright Max Black Rabbit. Sabrina Mustelidae is copyright Eric W. Schwartz. James Sheppard, Rhonda Badger, Lilian Bartholomew, and Gypsy Coyote are copyright James Bruner. Marvin Badger is copyright James Bruner after a description by Chris Yost. Lee Evans is copyright Evan Mayerle. Joshua Fox is copyright Joshua Fox. Jake Mackelroy is copyright David S. Adrian. Jake Bunny is copyright Jake Rupert. Kittiara Seng and "Callahans" are copyright Kittiara.
This story is copyright © 2003-2011 by Joe McCauley. This story may not be sold or used for commercial profit in any form or fashion. This story may not be modified in any way. This story may not be posted on any Internet site, archive, or newsgroup without the written permission of the author. Permission is granted for readers to produce an individual copy in print, magnetic or optical media for personal use only.
Characters listed as copyright this author may not be used in other works without the written permission of the author. Permission to use characters that are copyright other individuals was obtained prior to the appearance of said characters.
This is an independent work of fiction that is not canonical with any other work occurring in the same setting or featuring the same characters.
Wanda stepped into the doorway of Zig Zag's office, holding several pages of notes she was ready to discuss, but stopped short when she saw the chair empty. Turning, she wandered down the hall to see where her boss had gotten to. She peered into the editing room where Franklin was working on a scene from Wild Southern Rose, immersed in assembling parts from several takes into a coherent whole. Continuing along the hallway she looked in on the set of Silk Ribbons, where she found her boss surveying the set.
Zig Zag looked over at her, and down at the handful of pages she was carrying. "Yes, Wanda?"
"I have that outline ready," she replied. "Would you like to give it a look over?"
Zig Zag gave the crew there a nod before returning to her office, with Wanda walking beside her. They both sat down, and Zig Zag began flipping through the pages of the outline. Wanda watched her face for any sort of reaction. Finally the tiger-striped skunkette spoke. "Offhand it looks pretty good. I'll have to go over it in more detail but so far I think you have a pretty good handle on it. Do you think you could be ready to start shooting next week?"
Wanda blinked. "Next week? I didn't think we could get a set and a crew ready that soon!"
"Of course we can. It's an instructional video so the sets will be simple. It's unscripted and informal so we won't need a lot of acting or repeat takes. Allen has already agreed to be the producer, and he's got live television experience. He plans to approach it similar to a news segment or a talk show, which means we can cut out a lot of the overhead we would need for a regular film."
Wanda's ears perked as she listened, and finally she nodded. "Oh, I see. In that case, I'd better start running through how to present some of this stuff, rehearsing how I'm going to say it. Gotta figure out what is the best way to get it across."
Zig Zag grinned at her. "Of course, a video on how to be seductive has to include some demonstration."
Wanda grinned back. "Oh, but of course!"
Zig Zag nodded. "With any luck we'll have this one ready to release about the same time as Wild Southern Rose."
The partly cloudy skies kept the heat in check, making the weather perfect for a day at a theme park. Clarence was walking hand in hand with Cindy as they explored their way around Cedar Point. Chris and Sabrina were likewise holding hands a few steps ahead of them. As they walked along, Chris' gaze kept going steadily more upward. "That thing is over three hundred feet high," he exclaimed. "It's called Millennium Force and it's the tallest roller coaster in the park. In fact, it's the tallest roller coaster in the world." They stopped, and he turned to Sabrina with a look of anticipation. "Wanna go on it with me?"
Sabrina gave him a you must be joking look. "I may be brave, but I'm not stupid."
"Stupid?" Chris shot back. "What's stupid about it? It's a perfectly safe ride. It's brand new and meets all the latest safety standards!" Clarence doubted Chris actually knew that, even though it was probably true.
Sabrina looked back at the fox, grinning. "Sorry, but you're going to have to find someone else to go on it with you."
Cindy chimed in. "Maybe if you get in line by yourself you'll find someone else by themselves."
Clarence spoke up. "I'll g..go with you."
Cindy's eyebrows and ears gave a twitch as she turned to him. "Clare, you surprise me sometimes!"
He looked back at her, abashed. "Wh..what? Oh, I g..guess I should have asked you first. Sorry..."
Cindy looked momentarily confused, then shook her head. "No, it's not that. I don't want to go on it either. I just didn't think you'd..." her voice trailed off.
Clarence shrugged. "Why not? Sometimes you gotta try something that scares the pants off of you."
Cindy and Sabrina were both giving him appraising looks. Finally the skunkette padded over to put a paw on Cindy's shoulder. "Hey, if these guys want to lose their lunches, let 'em. Let's hunt down Susan and Debbye and find something less insane to ride on." She looked up at the guys. "We'll meet you back here in a little bit."
"Sure thing," said Chris, as he and Clarence took off toward the coaster.
They found the end of the line. Chris looked at Clarence. "So why did you decide to go on this ride?"
Clarence shifted his feet, crossed his arms, looked around, flicked his tail, and uncrossed his arms. "I don't know. I guess I'd rather do it when I have the chance than wish I had later."
The lock made a satisfying sound as the key slipped into it smoothly, and the door opened. Clarence held it so Cindy could enter first. He followed behind her, pushing the door closed, then padded over to the mini-fridge. "Better get these put away."
Cindy looked over at him as she briefly rummaged in her suitcase. "Those vegetables are much too good to let spoil, as nice and crunchy as they are. Don'tcha hate it when you bring something like that home and forget to put it away?"
Clarence smiled. "Or forget to pick it up when you leave the restaurant."
"I've had customers do that at Callahans." With a couple of items in paw, she slipped into the bathroom and closed the door.
The Box Elder Lodge was everything a couple looking for a romantic escape could want, and more. The grounds and the trails in the adjacent forests were the perfect atmosphere for a walk together, and the restaurant the innkeepers had recommended had been outstanding. Now that they were back, Clarence reached into his suitcase for the DVD they had decided earlier to watch once they were in for the evening. When he had reserved the room for the weekend, he hadn't given it much thought when told that the rooms had recently been equipped with DVD players, but when he later mentioned it to Rodney, the elder rabbit said he was confident it would be the new video format that would replace VHS within a few years, so when Clarence was offered the choice of format for his complimentary copy of the movie, he had taken Rodney's advice. Better to have the movie in a format he might not be able to play for another year than one that would be obsolete in a few years. And now he felt privileged to have a pre-release copy of a movie a week before its official release date.
It was his first time using a DVD player, but he'd seen them used a couple of times so he wasn't too surprised when it presented him with a menu of options instead of starting right into the movie, as a VHS tape would have. He had the main menu up and had 'Play Movie' highlighted, ready for him to press the play button, when the bathroom door opened. He turned toward Cindy, and as soon as he laid eyes on her, whatever he might have been about to say was completely forgotten. "Wow! C..Cindy, you... look..."
He didn't stutter with her very much anymore. That he still did at moments like this brought a big smile to her face, or would have if she hadn't already been wearing one. What she was wearing showed off her body in a most flattering way and gave tantalizing hints of what it didn't reveal, more so than anything else he had ever seen her wearing. "I was just getting into something more comfortable for the movie."
"Um... well... I like it," was about all he could manage. There are no words for what I'm really thinking.
"Why don't you get yourself ready so we can start the movie," she replied.
He needed a couple of minutes longer than usual in the bathroom to cool off and collect himself. Regrettably he couldn't surprise her in return, for like most of his clothing, the lounge pants he changed into had been chosen by her. They wouldn't hide his body's reaction to what she was wearing or anything they did.
She had draped a blanket over the Queen Anne style loveseat while he was in the bathroom. They now sat together on it, legs propped up on the matching ottoman. The two of them kissed. Paws wandered. Other temptations beckoned. After one especially long, lingering kiss, it was Cindy who finally said, "Are we going to watch this movie or what?"
Clarence caught his breath, then nodded. "You're right. Let's watch." He picked up the remote control and thumbed the play button.
There was silence from the television as the Double Z Studios logo appeared. It switched to the Howl Productions logo. The screen went dark.
They heard the sound of an engine starting. A Ford Model T engine. The screen came to life with a picture of a Model T pulling out onto a rural Georgia road. It was overlaid with the words:
As the picture on screen switched to another long range shot, Clarence remarked, "This feels weird."
Cut back to a view of the Model T from ahead, passing through a wooded area as the credits resumed. One screen listed Franklin as the film editor and identified the foley editor and the musical score composer.
Sal and Martin are seen in the middle of the foyer. "Today is a grand day," said Sal. "A proud day for our families. The day I announce the engagement of my son."
Clarence knew it was almost time for Wanda to make her grand entrance. He pressed the pause button.
Cindy blinked, and turned to him. "Looks pretty interesting so far," said Cindy, still snuggled up close against him. "What did you mean when you said it feels weird?"
The scene continues, and moments later, Wanda makes her first appearance at the top of the steps.
"This is... Watching this... is a new experience for me," he said.
"Oh really?" Cindy replied. "Why is that?"
Clarence took a deep breath. "I don't know how to explain it. I've seen the opening credits to movies a hundred times and never gave them a second thought. Only this time, as I'm watching, all I can think is, I was there. I worked with these people to help make this movie. I already know most of the story, yet to watch it now... I don't know how to describe it. I was in the back of the truck with Mark while he was getting those shots of the Model T going down the road. I was on the roof helping Aaron figure out aerial shots. And on this scene coming up, I was holding the collector mike to pick up Wanda."
Cindy's ears flicked multiple times and her head tilted as she smiled at him. "Wow, that's... awesome!" She put her arms around him to give him a kiss on the cheek. "Aren't you glad now you had that experience?"
He kissed her back. Whatever remaining doubts he may have had about working on the film crew evaporated in that moment. "Yes, I am."
She nosed his cheek gently. "Shall we continue watching?"
He smiled and nodded. "Okay."
"Just don't spoil it for me."
He pressed the pause button again and the film resumed.
* * *
To Cindy, it felt like the perfect end to the best day of her life. His reaction to her outfit had been worth the trouble it had been to keep it hidden from him until just the right moment. And to think that of the three outfits that had been in the package from Wanda, this one was the least revealing; the other two would have to wait until after the wedding. As she and Clarence watched 'Rose' make her grand entrance, she paid close attention to the vixen, studying her mannerisms, her posture, her tone of voice. She snuggled up closer against her skunk and thought about the other video Wanda had included in the package with the outfits. She hadn't decided when, or if, she would mention it to Clarence.
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