As the sun peeked over the horizon of mountains, the rain began to fall from the heavy clouds above. Lightly at first, then harder, the rain began to turn the snow to slush. A small fox scampered to find shelter from the driving rain, dodging the large puddles formed by the melting snow and intense rain. The young kit's fur was becoming drenched and as dingy as his spirit at the moment. The terrified child spied a discarded box and ran for cover only to come nose to spine with a porcupine. The fox jumped back and stared at the stirring hedgehog. The spiny kid groggily turned and invited the dripping fox in then realized how small the box was. He stepped out into the rain to let the shivering fox in first then crawled in, spines outward.
"Hi," the kitten started. "What's your name?"
The kit looked puzzled for a moment. "What's a name?"
The porcupine was dumbfounded. "A name is ... uh ... a name is what I would say if I wanted to get your attention."
The fox blinks. "What about 'Hey'?"
"That's not a name! My name is Billy."
"What does that mean?"
"Its just my name. What's yours?"
"I don't know."
"How can you not know? What do people call you?"
Billy chuckles, "What do they say after that?"
"'Get out of here you filthy mutt!'"
The porcupine's quills shake with laughter. "I'll call you Mutt."
Just then, the box shakes, as a large dog kicks it. "Come out of there you little runts!"
Billy tensed and whispered, "That doesn't sound very inviting."
"Not very happy either," Mutt returned.
"Come out NOW or I'll dump you out!" the dog bellowed.
Billy backed out of the box cautiously and Mutt peeked out after him.
The dog towered over the children and glared down at them. "What are you doing in there?" he barked.
"Just trying to stay out of the rain, sir," Billy stuttered.
"And you! I haven't seen you before. Where did you come from?"
Billy slunk around behind the dog. Mutt shivered and crept slowly out of the box, never looking away from the beast before him. "I came from the forest. I'm looking for someone to help me," he whimpered.
"Well, you won't get any from me!" The dog leaned down to glare at the soaked fox and Mutt cowered. "I don't give pity. Especially to dirty rags like you!" Mutt jumped up and nipped at the dog's nose. Startled, the dog fell back and landed on Billy. Billy tensed at the impact. When his spines hit home, the dog leaped back up shouting colorfully.
"Hurry, let's get out of here!" Billy yelled.
With absolutely no objection, Mutt ran after Billy as he scampered as fast as his little legs would go, leaving the dog howling and pulling out spines.
As they rounded another corner, Billy came to a stop, panting heavily. "THAT was funny." Billy started laughing between gasps.
"But he got hurt."
"That's what's funny."
"Because he was going to hurt us just 'cause he's bigger, but we beat him!"
"Oh, he was?"
"Did you think he was going to make us dinner?"
"Never mind." Billy shook off his laughter. "What are you doing in town, anyway?"
The fox kicked at the ground. "I don't have anyplace else to go. My mom ..." he trailed off as tears welled in his eyes.
"Oh." Billy tried to comfort the pup. "My parents are gone, too; about two years ago. At first nobody noticed that I was alone, but then they came and kicked me out 'cause nobody was paying the bills. Its not easy to find work for kids like us." Billy looked at the young fox, "Are you okay?"
Mutt nodded. "Our house caved in from the rains. I was playing in the puddles. The ceiling fell right on top of her. I couldn't get to her. I heard her scream. She couldn't hear me. I dug and dug and dug and dug and dug ..."
Billy stopped him. "Its okay now. Its all over." He knew he couldn't help him, but he hoped that he could at least calm him down. "Would you like to go get something to eat? You look hungry."
"Come on." Billy took Mutt to a hospice for something to eat.
As Mutt ate, Billy talked about his life, his parents, living on the street and his dreams. Mutt swallowed the food, but was having a hard time with some of Billy's tales. "What did you say your parents did again?"
"Well, my dad was a successful acupuncturist and believe it or not, my mom had carved out a career for herself as a masseuse." Billy saw the disbelief in Mutt's face. "Well, they were!"
Mutt started laughing and Billy stared at him until it became contagious and they both laughed until they could laugh no more.
Billy took Mutt around and showed him how to survive on the street; where to find food; where it was safe to sleep; and where to have lots of fun. The two stuck together and their friendship grew. They became an inseparable, though funny looking, pair.
|10 years later . . .||DuGaul|