User:Jetfire/A Rolling Stone Gathers No Veil
|Paradise story universe|
|Works by Jetfire on Shifti|
A Rolling Stone Gathers No Veil
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Phew, what a weekend. It was a blast though.
Let's see, I guess it really started on Saturday. Mom called and warned me she was on her way down around 9, so I had time to pack a change of clothes, some toiletries, including things I didn't want others to see I had, and my brushes. With drizzly rain in the forecast, I also grabbed a windbreaker. My fur meant the cold wouldn't bother me much, but being coatless would draw too much attention. And a coat would keep the water off me at least.
By ten, I was outside my apartments, overnight bag next to me, relaxing on the wooden swing, idly scratching my claws into the wood. Mom called to let me know she was just turning off the highway, and I confirmed I'd be waiting. I hung up and stared up at the gray sky, enjoying the crisp autumn weather on my furry face. Soon enough, the familiar SUV was pulling into the parking lot.
"You all set?" I asked, opening the back door and tossing my bag in. I slammed the door shut and climbed into the front seat, twisting slightly sideways so my tail wouldn't be too pinned.
"Yeah, I can't believe I'm going to see the Stones again. Twice in one year." Mom was more than a little giddy over the concert. "You got a jacket with you? They're calling for rain showers."
"Don't worry, It's in my bag." I pulled the seatbelt around me, and we were off. (After a quick stop at Tim's for a breakfast snack)
I dozed most of the way down to my cousin Tanya's place in Truro, half listening to mom babbling on about what she had experienced in the Moncton concert and what to expect this year and on various other topics.
At Tanya's, we waited for the rest of the crew to arrive from the island. We would have two carloads full heading down for the concert in the end. I set myself up on a stool at the breakfast bar in the kitchen, and just listened to the conversations going on around me. I half expected to see more Changed in my family as my uncle and cousins arrived, but they were all normal. We had a preConcert meal and soon enough we were off.
We arrived in Halifax and made our way to one of the Park and Ride lots on the outskirts of the city. With something like 4 cruise ships in dock, some big University sporting event, a film festival, and one of the biggest concerts the city ever hosted going on that weekend, travel downtown was expected to be all but impossible. Even in the 'burbs, it was thicker than I had ever seen it before. We gathered our coats and hoped on the special service buses that were shuttling people down town to the concert location. It was only drizzling rain at the time, enough to make everything a mess and to chill the air.
What followed was a few hours of loud noises coming from the direction of the stage, broadcasting over an increasingly wet crowd. The crowd seemed to enjoy it, but I didn't care for the opening acts, so I endured and waited for the main acts, munching on some jerky I'd bought on the way down. The rain continued to drizzle out of the sky, light enough to not hide anything, but thick enough to thoroughly soaked my jacket, shirt, pants and probably my shoes which I thankfully couldn't feel much of. What I could feel was the cold mud, soaking and coating my feet in a thick layer. At least there was so much walking and moving, that my prints were all but invisible. As I wrung out the bottom of my shirt and realized how much it clung to my chest now, I was thankful I did bring the jacket, just for its extra layer of coverage.
There were a lot of Furries in the crowd, at least compared to what I was used to. The crowd was too dense for me to find them, but I saw many glimpses of antlers, horns, tails, and similar furry traits. More than once I wished AT could be there, to watch my tail so to speak, but being a Casino worker during one of the busiest tourist weekends the city had ever seen meant she had to work.
At a big concert like this, drugs were a given. After a couple of deep breaths early on, I tried to avoid the deep scent-identifying breaths as much as possible. The early breaths had given me whiffs of mostly illegal (who knows, maybe some of them had prescriptions for it.) substances, and I wanted to avoid taking in any more than I had to.
Of course, it certainly didn't help that one source lit up right behind me. We were in the final intermission, before the Stones came on stage. I was shaking my ears, trying to listen to my uncle and cousin, and squeeze some of the water from my fur. I heard the click of a lighter and soon caught a strong whiff of the special smoke behind me. I tried to move through the crowd, closer to my family.
"Hey, nice tail there," one of them said slowly, the joint in his hands clearly not his first of the night. Before I could turn or move, I felt something grab the end of my tail and give it a yank.
Instincts took over for a moment. I gave one of the most animalistic snarls I've ever given and twisted around, pulling my tail free and swinging with my hand in a single move. Only the muddy ground saved me, and the stoner from a probably deadly situation. In mid twist, my feet slipped in the mud, throwing my aim off. My hand, claws extended, swished the air millimeters away from his neck. The Stone stared then twitched back slowly.
Before I could recover enough for a second swipe, I felt strong hands catch me and hold me steady. "Easy there Joe, no need to cause a scene," my uncle said, holding me firmly. Craig, his son, was already moving in between me and my tail puller.
"I'd suggest you move on elsewhere," Craig said, staring down the stoner coldly, channeling his years of security guard experience. The stoner stared a long moment, as if his mind couldn't figure out what he saw, before he finally moved on into the crowd with his friends without another word.
I panted hard, letting the rush fade slowly from me, and trying to get clearer air.. What I had almost done slowly began to sink in, and my panting turned into shaking. I barely held my tail still to keep my uncle from feeling too many phantom sensations.
"Just breath, Joe. Just breath. What happened there?" my uncle asked, holding me steady and squeezing my shoulders.
I took a few more deep breaths and my shaking slowed. "I'm not sure... I think they poked me or something and I just lashed out. I don't know why. Damn, I wish AT was here." I glanced around and saw I was surrounded by my family, staring at me. I self consciously tried to pull my jacket closed more.
"Do you want to go sit down somewhere? Who's AT?" he asked.
"His friend who lives down here, Alex. Works at the casino," mom supplied helpfully, hovering beside me.
I nodded to her and took a final deep breath, feeling centered enough for the moment. "No, I don't need to sit. I'll be fine. Just give me a moment. It was just so unexpected."
I pulled away from him and began to rub my face and head, trying to squeeze some of the water out of my fur and calm myself in general. Craig, watched and smiled a bit, trying to lighten the situation a bit. "That was quite the move you pulled off. Have you been taking martial arts classes or something? I've never heard a shout like that."
I lowered my hands and flexed my claws in and out, seeing them glisten in the rain. "No, no martial arts, just instinct. You have NO idea how good it was that I slipped."
I resumed smoothing my fur as best I could and felt calm again. I reassured them that I was fine, and we spread out again to face the stage. Soon enough familiar songs and pyrotechnics were pounding out from the rain soaked stage. What I had almost done never left my mind for long though. For the rest of the evening, I made sure to keep my tail tucked up under my jacket, and I tried to keep my family around me at all times.
By the end of the concert, I was three quarters deafened, soaked to the bone, a bit more paranoid, but I had a blast, even with the close call I had had. We joined the mob heading back to the buses and were soon on the road home.
We got back to my cousin's place in one piece without further incidents. We were all soaked to the bone, and I itched all over where my wet clothes clung to me in more uncomfortable ways than I thought possible. The biggest challenge I had though was my feet. They were soaked in mud, and there was no easy way I could clean them before going in. I solved the problem by backing down the short driveway and splashing in a puddle briefly before returning to the entrance. No one noticed me.
Inside, I joined the crowd in pulling off soaked shoes and socks. I wasn't the only one who needed a towel, so I was able to dry my feet off mostly and avoid bringing cat tracks into the house. I waited and wrung myself out as best I could, while the rest of the family cycled through the two bathrooms. I knew I would need a lot of time to get back to semi-normality, and I didn't want to hold anyone up. As my uncle returned with pizza's, I was finally able to get in with my overnight bag.
The scents of the food made me drool with hunger, but I forced myself to take my time. I literally peeled myself out of my clothes, having trouble getting my tail hole button opened, and began the process of towel drying my fur. It took more towels than I wanted to, and I was still uncomfortably damp by the end, but I was confident I wouldn't soak my clean clothes when I put them on.
I then started the process of grooming myself. With the long, thick fur I had as a goat, I had quickly learned that rushing the grooming was a fast route to matted fur and painful tangles, so brushing was something I made sure I always did right. Even with my stomach screaming to be filled, I methodically pulled the brushes through my thickening underfur.
"There'd better be some pizza left out there," I shouted out as I folded up the long handled brush I used for my back.
"There won't be if you don't hurry up. Did you fall asleep in there?" mom shouted back.
"Something like that," I called back and pulled on the clean panties and clean pants. I tugged a new shirt over my head and tucked it into my pants. I used to leave the shirts tucked out, but with the bulge on my chest now, it didn't feel right any more.
Finally, I began to clean up the bathroom. Wet cougar fur covered everything. I wiped the fur up with the damp towels I had used and buried the mess in the large pile of other wet towels and clothes. I brushed my head fur one last time and checked myself in the mirror. It wasn't a perfect cleanup, but I at least felt presentable.
Luckily for the rest of them, there were a few slices of pie left, so they didn't have to face the wrath of my hunger. We talked late into the night, slowly coming down from the concert high (and other unintentional additives I'm sure), and gradually we found spots to crash. I ended up curling up in a recliner in the living room, Craig already snoring on the couch..
The clunk of the washing machine turning on woke me the next morning. I yawned and began to stretch, hearing quiet conversations going on in the kitchen.
"Are you sure you aren't taking any classes?" a quiet voice from the couch partly interrupted me.
I turned slowly in mid stretch and continued my movements. I still prefer being a billy to a feline, but there's nothing like a good leisurely feline stretch to wake you up in the morning. "I'm sure I'm not. Just working the night time kinks out," I said, smiling to Craig.
He blinked the sleep from his own eyes and sat up slowly. "If you say so."
I finished up and padded around the divider into the kitchen, nodding to Tanya and her husband. "Mornin'" I yawned, perching myself back on the barstool.
"Mornin' Joe, want some eggs or bacon or anything?" she asked, setting the pans on the stove.
"That sounds great."
"Steve! What did you do to poor Russel?" mom's voice called from the laundry/bath room near the kitchen.
Steve, Tanya's husband, lowered his coffee cup. "Nothing, why?"
"Because the towels in here are full of cat hair," mom said, leaving the room in her nightie.
Craig called from the living room. "If you really want to see fur flying, send him my way," he grumbled. "All night long, all I could hear was him purring near my head. Damn cat."
I turned and stared out the French doors to the patio and hoped no one was looking my way, my tail swishing nervously.
"Do you have any more laundry, Joe? I found your pants and shirt in there but I couldn't find any underwear." Mom poured her own coffee and leaned against a corner of the counter.
"Erm yeah, I'll toss them in," I said, standing up quickly and grabbing my overnight bag, hoping she hadn't looked too closely at the pants. I slipped into the washroom and closed the door, taking care of some morning business and making sure yesterday's panties were in the washer.
The morning passed quickly as we had breakfast, and skimmed the papers for the concert reviews and just talked. I barely managed to beat mom to the dryer to get my clothes out before she could look closer at them.
Finally we said our good-byes and hit the highway.
"You don't have anything planned for today that you need to be home for, do you?" mom asked as we sped up to highway speeds.
I shook my head. "Nothing important. Why?"
She sighed a bit. "I can't come all this way and not visit Donna."
"Sure, we can swing back down to the city," I said, understanding her. Donna was one of her best friends. She'd been taken to the Halifax Hospital the week before for a possible brain aneurysm.
So for the second time in as many days, we were heading back to the big city. We found a spot to park near the hospital and got out.
"Are you coming up?" she asked, hitting the door locks.
"No, I'm going to see if ... Alex is around. Maybe go grab some lunch with her-im." I answered barely catching myself. "I've got my phone, just give me a shout when you're ready."
"Fine enough. See you in an hour or so."
We parted ways and I started walking towards the Casino. The rain had stopped and the ground was beginning to dry, but gray clouds still hid the sun. My route took me past the concert site, and already most of the large stage was down with a steady stream of transport trucks hauling it away. I watched from behind a fence for a bit, and tapped AT's speed dial number.
"Hello?" I tired voice answered. The noise of the casino terminals were clear in the background.
"No quip? You must be extra tired," I said, forcing some extra cheer into my voice.
I could almost hear the yawn through the phone. "Something like that," she finally said. "Whatcha want Jo-JF?"
"How about lunch? Mom's visiting a friend in the hospital, so she'll be at least an hour. I'm beside the Commons now, heading downtown. Say the Pita Pit in fifteen?"
There was a mumbled conversation on the other end of the line before she came back on. "Sounds good. I'm starved. See yah in fifteen."
Twenty minutes later found me seated at a table, a tray with two wrapped pitas cooling in front of me. I was about to give up waiting and start on my own, when I saw the black furred face walk past the window and into the restaurant.
"Sorry I'm late, JF. Someone hit the jackpot JUST as I was walking out the door," she explained turning the seat sideways and sitting down.
"No problem, I wasn't waiting long," I answered, pushing the tray towards her. I lifted my own sandwich and carefully tore the wax paper off one end of it.
We ate in silence for the first few bites, but I could feel AT's eyes looking me over.
"You seem to be handling it well," she finally said.
I swallowed my bite and wiped some cheese off my lips. I shrugged and looked up at her. "I'm pragmatic. There's nothing anyone can do about my condition, so I'm living with it. Though I did discover last night that a heavy cotton shirt on wet nipples is NOT very comfortable."
She chuckled and took another bite herself. "So have you thought about telling any norm's? Like Mike with Crystal?" she asked after swallowing.
"Thought about? All the time. Actually going to tell anyone? No way in hell. I'm a bachelor... well bachelorette I guess, so I'm not in constant close contact with anyone whom I need to hide it from all the time. There are days I'm sorely tempted to tell mom but I'm just going to wait till next year and see what happens first."
I adjusted the paper on my pita and shifted subjects. "So how's MD doing?"
"Much better. He's back to work and back in his own place, and getting the hang of his fur and quills and how to keep them down among her fur for the most part. He comes by every weekend or so and we yank the biggest quills. We're also trying to cut the barbs off as they grow out. It seems to be working well, though it's a bitch to clean up after. They fly EVERYWHERE when you cut them." She yawned and covered her muzzle. "Sorry about that."
"Busy weekend?" I asked.
"Like you wouldn't believe. I worked till midnight last night, and I've got the 10 to 5 shift today. The tables are packed and they're practically lined up three deep to get on the machines. How was the concert?"
"As you've probably heard ad nauseam, Fantastic! Even with the rain."
"Good to hear. Wish I could have made it, but it's been all hands on deck this weekend."
"I wish you were there too. You would've been able to watch my tail." I sipped from my drink and looked away.
"Your tail? What happened?"
"Some stoner, high as a kite and on who knows what, gave it a yank. And I damn near yanked his throat out." I shuddered at the memory.
She smiled sympathetically. "I never even thought to warn you of that. Figured since you'd been a goat you'd be used to it, but hunter instincts are different from the browser's. And they can catch you when you least expect them."
"I know that now. Fat lot of good it would've done for him though. Before I became this, I never even would have thought of retaliating like that. Hell, I don't even remember any goat instincts at all, maybe just being more aware of what was around me and such. But last night, it just caught me by surprise and overcame me so fast. I didn't even think about it, I just swung. I'm glad my uncle was there to restrain me."
The rest of the meal went by in silence. Soon enough we were strolling towards the Casino, talking about the New Years plans. We had a convention room booked for the night, close enough to get to the Commons if anyone wanted, but the plan was to just provide a place for Changed and Knowabouts to relax, have fun and let their guards down, at least about their new natures.
Mom picked me up, and we returned home, and I've been unwinding ever since. The incident at the concert still bugs me a bit, but it's mostly overshadowed by everything else that happened. Now that I know what to watch for I do intend to be a lot more careful.
|The Veil (A Paradise Series)
(First: Holes in the Veil)
Auld Lang Syne