A crook pulls what he believes to be the heist of the century… But now he has to live his life on the lam. Then he runs into the foxyote Kickaha, who is sure to be helpful and not at all make things more difficult for him.
On the Lamb
Scott ran out through the bank doors his heart going a mile a minute. His clutched a small brown paper bag in his hands that contained the spoils of his endeavors. Several people on the sidewalk jumped back as he came out, giving him odd stares and unsure of what to make of the manic man. He spared a look back over his shoulder into the bank. The security guards hadn’t reacted yet. His act had been so brazen, so unexpected that no one had even processed what had happened yet! He just might get away with this!
Ignoring the stares, he broke into a full sprint running down the sidewalk. He had to get as far away from here as possible before the cops showed up. As he ran he began to strip off pieces of his outfit. He had been dressed in a long overcoat unfit for the current warm weather, a hat with a wide brim that could obscure his face, and solid black parachute pants. The goal had been to keep as much as his body covered as possible so the security footage couldn’t be used to identify him. Now he needed to change his appearance fast. The hat and coat came off easily as he ran, revealing a black t-shirt beneath them. The pants gave him a bit more trouble. He had a pair of skin tight jeans on under them, but that wasn’t the problem. It turned out it was somewhat difficult to remove one’s pants and run at full speed at the same time. The end result was that he wound up tripping over his own legs, tumbling down a hill next to the road and landing in a grassy ditch that was invisible from the road.
Luckily, there was a small animal roughly half his size in the ditch that broke its fall. It let out a frightened yelp as Scott landed on it and then collapsed beneath the large man’s weight.
“Whoa… That was lucky…” Scott slowly got back up, surprised that he was mostly unharmed. He must have rolled downhill at least ten feet before landing in the ditch. Now that he wasn’t moving he quickly tried to remove his pants again, but this time they were getting stuck on his shoes.
“I for one beg to differ.” The animal Scott had landed on whined. He slowly picked himself up onto all fours, shook himself off… And then picked himself up further standing upright on two legs. The creature had rusty brownish orange fur over most of its body, but a white belly and chest with a diamond shaped patch of brown fur on his chest. He had a thick fluffy tail, that was separate into the normal rust orange color and a dark brown, the two halves separated by a jagged line of yellowish orange fur. As if walking on two legs and the odd coloration of the fur wasn’t odd enough… The animal was wearing a green cloak over its shoulders that settled down about halfway down his back. “Look, this isn’t the first time I’ve been tackled in the middle of a nap… But the culprit is usually a bit smaller than me.” Considering that the creature on its hind legs was only half Scott’s size, Scott had a hard time imagining anyone smaller doing said tackling.
“Uh huh…” Meeting a talking animal like this probably should have warranted more of a reaction. But Scott was a hardened criminal. It was expected he would see the strange and unusual, but if he was half the mastermind he knew himself to be he couldn’t be overreacting to every little thing. For now he ignored the animal and ripped off his shoes so he could finally remove the parachute pants.
“Not quite the reaction I would have preferred.” The animal gave a weary sigh. “How about… Sorry Kickaha, I didn’t meant to nearly flatten you like a pancake. It was an accident! I mean… It’s just good manners to apologize after running into someone.”
“Who’s Kickaha?” Scott slowly stood up in the grass, now in just his jeans, shirt and socks.
“Me! The foxyote standing right in front of you!” Kickaha slammed a paw into his face.
“Oh.” Again Scott’s reaction was subdued. But apparently he knew what a foxyote was now. Honestly, he had thought maybe the thing was some kind of giant oddly colored raccoon. Then again, he didn’t know foxyote wasn’t some kind of raccoon breed… “Look, foxyote raccoon thing, I’d love to chat, but I gotta run. I’m on the lam.”
“Oh?” Kickaha gave a slightly noticeable twitch at being called a raccoon thing. That was a new one… But then he took on a subtle change in his posture. It involved suddenly standing up mostly straight, with just the right amount of a slouch, ears perked up and a slight wag to his tail suddenly giving him a more friendly demeanor and appearance. The biggest change, was his face stretching into a smile. It was a certain type of smile. It was the smile a used car salesman wore before talking someone into buying a chunk of metal with only three wheels and a crank powered engine. “That sounds serious. You must be a very serious person.” Kickaha looked at the discarded parachute pants on the ground, and then at the fact that the man had a second layer of clothes still on. “I get it… Changing your outfit so no one recognizes you. Clever, clever.”
“Right!” Scott smiled smugly at being praised. “Since no one saw these clothes I’ll be able to walk right past the police!” Scott had slipped his shoes back on and were tying those together.
“Very smart.” Kickaha nodded. “I’m guessing no one saw those shoes either so they’re safe to wear too!” It was hard for Kickaha to avoid letting his smile widen as he saw Scott freeze up at this. He could literally see the gears turning in his head before he suddenly ripped the shoes back off and tossed them next to the parachute pants.
“I nearly made a horrible mistake…” He muttered. “My perfect plan… How had I not seen something so obvious.” For the first time Scott seemed to actually pay serious attention to Kickaha. “Thank you.”
“Think nothing of it.” Kickaha did widen his grin at this. “I’m not exactly known for following the rules myself. I was more than happy to help. I’d consider it a stain on my honor if I had just let you go off without saying something.”
“Heh, I much appreciate it partner! They’ll be calling this the heist of the century in the papers tomorrow! You helped make history today! Take some pride in that! Well, adios!” Scott turned to climb back up the hill.
“Hey, hang on…” Kickaha called after him. “Now… I’m no criminal mastermind, I could never pull off the heist of the century like you did… But I feel like you’re forgetting one detail.” He pointed at the discarded clothes.
“My pants?” Scott asked. “I can’t take those with me! Those items are hot!”
“I know that… But it wasn’t the pants… Just…” Kickaha gave a weary sigh. “I apologize… I just… Clearly I’m out of my league before your genius. I’m sure you already considered it and had a plan in mind about them. I’m sorry to have bothered you, best of luck in your endeavors.” Kickaha himself turned and began to walk in the opposite direction. Inside his head he began to count. ‘One. Two. Three.’
“Hang on! Hang on!” Scott came tumbling down the hill. “Just… Out of curiosity, what were you worried about? And… I’ll be happy to share how I’ll deal with it! You know… Just… To put your mind at ease!”
“Oh well… You probably already figured it out.” Kickaha turned back with a look of feigned embarrassment. “It’s so silly really… I was just wondering why you were leaving the shoes behind since they’re such valuable evidence.”
“They are?” Scott seemed confused.
“Oh yes, they made an entire story about it!” Kickaha nodded. “Surely you’ve heard of Cinderella. She lost one glass slipper, and that was enough to confirm her identity even after it had been hidden by magic.”
“But that’s just a fairy tale…” Scott protested.
“Right, right obviously it didn’t happen like that.” Kickaha nodded. “The important thing about these stories was they taught society important lessons. The moral of Cinderella was to take care of your shoes because people can use them to identify you.”
“But…” Scott seemed deep in thought. “I can’t just… I mean… I can’t wear them out, people saw them! But you’re saying if I leave them here they can be used to identify me and… So I.. um…”
“I get it! You really are a clever thief!” Kickaha clapped his hands. “I was worried over nothing.”
“Of course! I thought of everything!” Scott nodded. “But… Before I say what it is… How about you tell me what you think I was planning and I’ll say if it’s right!”
“You really want to hear what someone as humble as me thinks?” Kickaha swished his tail in a predatory manner, as if he had cornered a mouse. It was a shame for Scott that like most humans he didn’t understand the intricacies of tail communication. “I assumed you’d destroy the evidence by tossing them into the river that’s not far from here. I had thought that was the entire reason you came down into the ditch!”
“Wow…” Scott was not about to admit he had tripped and fell down here. “That is… Exactly right. I am impressed. I was going to dispose of them in the river! Which… Do you know which direction that is?”
“Oh of course I do!” Kickaha had to try not to wag his tail too much or he’d give himself away. “I was heading there now just to get a drink.”
“I guess we’re heading there together then.” Scott had a terrible poker face. “Just cause… You know I was going that way anyway, and not that I was following you to it.”
“Oh, no, I get it I get it. I understand. You’re like… Miles ahead of me in this game right?” Kickaha began to walk through the grass away the ditch and road.
“Right!” Scott affirmed as he strode after Kickaha. “Miles ahead. There’s never been a mastermind like me before!”
“Indeed there has not.” Kickaha said completely truthfully. “But… I have to ask… My curiosity is killing me. What is the heist of the century? That bag isn’t very big… I imagine it can’t just be stuffed with money or jewels. It’s gotta be something more valuable right?”
“Well…” Scott considered for a moment. This foxyote thing had proven to be quite helpful so far and seemed to have just the right amount of reverence for him. And… He was dying to tell someone his brilliant scheme. “I realized they keep something more valuable than money in the bank. I mean… They let the tellers handle money, but I realized… Some things are so valuable that not even the tellers are trusted with them.”
“Oh please, do go on.” Kickaha had led Scott far away from civilization now. Now they were making their way into a small forest trail that had been formed from constant use by small animals.
“Well… Take a look… At this!” Scott reached into his bag and pulled out an ink pen that was attached to a broken chain. “So I figured it out… Some pens, are really expensive and given out to like big bosses at big businesses as rewards! And then I noticed… The bank always has these pens chained to the desks so no one can take them. I realized… If they have to keep them chained down so not even the tellers can take them these had to be even more expensive than big business pens. But no one has ever been brave enough to steal them before! So I… I went in! And yanked on the chain with all my might to break it! I was only able to grab the one pen before escaping… But I’m sure it’s more valuable than anything else there! I mean… Why would they chain it up! And it’s gotta be some kind of special money pen! I imagine you can’t fill out bank forms with just any pens.”
Kickaha froze mid-walk as he heard the explanation. He very slowly turned around and simply stared at the man and the pen he held with pure utter disbelief.
“I know, it’s outrageous that someone would even attempt this!” Scott smiled as if he were on top of the world.
“Yes… Outrageous is certainly a word that would describe it.” Kickaha felt as if something inside him had broken at this explanation. He was used to certain foolish and idiocentric behaviors from humans but this… This required a full reboot of his brain before he could think again. Scott didn’t seem to notice as they had reached the river.
“Oh good!” Scott quickly ran straight up to the river and tossed his shoes into them. He gave a sigh of relief knowing that his crime was now perfect. But then as he looked around he began to realize that he didn’t know how to get back to where he had come from. “Hey um… Raccoon thing…”
This snapped Kickaha back to attention and action.
“You have to get out of here.” Kickaha spoke with urgency.
“Well that was always the plan, I uh just need to figure out-“ Scott began to point around him.
“No, you don’t understand. You went too far.” Kickaha waved his arms. “Did you ever stop to think why no one steals the pens? Don’t you get it? You’ll never be able to sell it or make your fortune. It’s too hot. You’ve taken something too valuable. They’ll never stop hunting or looking for you. You’re going to spend the rest of your life on the lam or behind bars! There are no other options!”
“What but…” Scott looked at his pen flabbergasted. “There’s gotta be someway I can fence this…”
“Some things are simply too dangerous for any buyer.” Kickaha shook his head with mock sadness. “Look, you only have on option. You need to find a place to lay low and hide. Someplace nearby but that they’ll overlook. Eventually they’ll stop searching here and think you moved on and start the global hunt. Then you can come out… Maybe you can find someone else who knows how valuable that pen is but not how hard it is to sell… But you can’t do any of that if they catch you! And they will… For something like that… They’ll bring in the police hounds! The national guard! Search helicopters! Tanks! Boats! Boat tanks!” Kickaha threw up his arms. “It’ll be the biggest manhunt we’ve ever seen!”
“But… But…” Scott looked terrified. “There’s got to be something…”
“There’s no way, impossible…” Kickaha covered himself with his cloak. “I mean… I guess there is one but… No, you’d have to be some kind of mad genius to pull it off.”
“I am a mad genius!” Scott insisted.
“Look… If you really want to try it, I won’t stop you… I know of one place you might be able to hide… Follow me!” Kickaha burst into a spring without waiting to see if Scott was following him. After all… If he had time to think he might not go through with it!
Kickaha led Scott through the forest wordlessly, eventually coming out on the other side where there was a more rural town than the one Scott had come from. A large farmhouse came into view that Kickaha headed towards. He leaped the fence to jump into a pasture next to it before walking past the farm house to a large pen that was next to it.
“This is the place.” Kickaha gestured towards the pen. It was full of goats, sheep, deer and even a couple pigs.
“I… I don’t get it.” Scott seemed confused as he caught up.
“It’s a petting zoo.” Kickaha explained. “It’s the perfect place to hide out! They’re doing a manhunt, they’d never look here! It’s perfect!”
“But won’t the owners see me and call the cops?” Scott was clearly not clear on how this worked.
“They would… Unless you were some kind of mad genius.” Kickaha gave his salesman smile again. “People will believe and see what they want to believe. If you can play the part of an animal convincingly enough no one will see you as anything different! You’ll even be able to fool yourself!”
“I… Don’t know…” Scott clearly was unsure.
“Just try it! You’ll see what I mean!” Kickaha insisted. “And look… Their sheep had babies yesterday! So they won’t notice one extra lamb among the bunch! So… Just try to pretend you’re just a little baby lamb, try to do it so hard that you can trick yourself.”
“But I-“ Scott protested.
“No butts, we don’t have time! The cops could be on us any minute! Just close your eyes and try!” If Scott had not obeyed this command he might have been able to see Kickaha’s paw when it began to glow with a warm green light.
“This is… There’s no way this could work…” Scott tried to picture what he would look like as a lamb. He’d be smaller obviously… With soft white fur and those big ears… And hooves! He tried to imagine… And then… He could swear that he suddenly felt like he was getting smaller! He could almost really feel his clothes loosening on him, sliding off. Not only could he picture the soft warm fur, he could really feel it all over! And feel how warm it made his body! And… He could even make himself hear better as if he really did have large animal ears! He lifted up his feet, all four of them, one by one before setting them down. He swore he heard a clopping sound as each one touched the ground, as if he really had hooves.
Scott opened his eyes, and he found that he was now level with Kickaha’s stomach instead of towering over him. The now taller foxyote was pulling Scott’s various articles of clothes off him. They looked so big… How was he doing this?
“Baaaaaaaaah?” Scott was confused. Everything looked much bigger now and he was down on all fours. Had this really worked?
“Is that you?” Kickaha asked. “I… I know you were just around here a moment ago but all I see is a lamb and…” Kickaha shook his head. “If… If you did this you’re doing a really good job! Stomp your foot one time if you’re that man I met.”
“Baaaaah!” Scott stomped his hoof down. Was his act so great he had even fooled the creature who suggested it?
“Amazing, I’ve never seen an intellect like yours… You mastered this technique so quickly! Simply incredible.” Kickaha’s tail was wagging excitedly. Scott could only assume this meant he was impressed by him. “I’ll get rid of your clothes. They’re evidence after all. If they catch me with them, don’t worry, I’ll take the heat. But… I guess you should hang on to what you stole.” Kickaha held up the pen.
“Baaaaahhhh!” Scott grabbed the pen in his mouth greedily. This was really going to work.
“Absolutely amazing.” Kickaha grinned. “Alright, I’m going to get out of here with the other stuff before people get suspicious! You just stay there until it’s safe!” Kickaha quickly opened the gate to the pen to let Scott get inside with the other animals.
Scott couldn’t believe he was good enough to pull them off. There was no way anyone would recognize him now! Not with him acting this hard! No one would see through his baby lamb act! As the bars of the pen gate shut behind him his only thoughts were of how someone as smart as him would never wind up behind bars.
Yes, everything was working perfectly. All there was here was a little lamb. And as the foxyote disappeared the lamb laid down on the ground and began to absentmindedly chew on his pen as he ruminated on his success.