Written by: Marc
Disclaimer: Kit Cloudkicker, Baloo,WildCat, Molly Cunningham, Rebecca Cunningham, Don Karnage and other characters are copyright 1990/1991 Walt Disney Company and are being used without premission. The writer has made sure that no money was made in the production of this fanfic and all material is used with the upmost affection and respect to the Walt Disney Company and the Tale Spin Team.
". . .living in dreams of yesterday, we find ourselves still dreaming of impossible future conquests. . ." -C.A.L.
Roosevelt Field was a place for the desolate and lonely. When a solitary barnstormer would step onto the golden, dirt runways, he would smell a scent of gasoline mixed with dusty gravel that emanated from a small, weary hangar spreading to the outskirts of the field toward the pale, solemn plains. This scent and the sweet caress of the light breeze against their wind-burned faces were comforts for the pilots who knew that these were omens of a job, and another excuse to tighten their goggles, wrap their warm scarves around their necks, and taketo the silver-clouded skies.
Including nothing more than the petit hangar and but a few thousand feet runways of which only one was made of blacktop, Roosevelt Field was accustomed to only a few visitors at a time. There was only the occasional pilot of which there seemed to be only two types: a young and steady hot shot whose eyes would light with a radiating fire at the sound of a motor or at the sight of a clear sky and the seasoned veteran pilot who looked to the skies with stalwart admiration and also a secret contempt for promises never kept. It would take a rare occurrence for a third party to frequent Roosevelt Field, and it usually was an angry red-faced businessman having come to scold Roosevelt's children. Yet when they were in the field ,no matter what could possibly, they felt safe as if the field itself were keeping them in a protective, motherly embrace.
Yet that day as a column of black smoke gently spiraled toward a graying sky, Roosevelt was entertaining over a hundred visitors of all sorts: reporters, aviators, businessman, and even a couple of mobsters carefully disguised as the aviation enthusiasts they truly were. All these people were jumping to and fro around a large, slightly damaged plane who had lost one of its landing gears in an attempt to land. Old familiars of the Field shifted nervously as an ambulance pulled up close to them, its eerie sirens filling the plains with a sound not related to flying and thus an unnatural one. As the men shouted in confusion and excitement, the old flyboys felt as if the field itself were in a quandary and for the first time they felt uneasy on these familiar grounds.
Screeching to a halt and adeptly swooping up the injured pilot inside, the starch white ambulance was surrounded by the distracting dissonance of aggressive reporters. The young driver had left his window open, and he smiled nervously to himself as the reporters began their interrogation.
"Who you got in there, sonny?"
"Do you know what caused the crash?!"
'What's your name?"
The young badger was taken back by the world's previous latent interest in him. "Well, they call me Boomer, sir. And I ain't allow to say anything."
"Aw, come on, son. You give me a good quote and you might help a feller get a promotion."
"Hey, I know you, Will Rogers, Mr. star columnist," the driver exclaimed, "And I know you're living the American dream."
"And what's that son?"
"Why you're making much more money than you're worth." the badger quipped as everyone laughed, "If you really wanted to get a quote, you'd get me a promotion. Anyway, you fellas get outta the way so I can get to the hospital."
As the circle of journalist broke, no one watched the ambulance speed away as they all scribbled on their small, dirty notepads. Someone tapped Will Rogers, a tall, scruffy fox on the shoulder.
"Not like Mr. Pundit, to let himself be bested by a little punk." he teased..
Rogers was quite a character. The fox's pants were too long and needed suspenders to hold them up, and his tie was crooked. Yet above his wrinkled collar were a pair of dark rimmed glasses which seemed to allow his eyes to penetrate anything they beheld with an intense power of magnification.
"Can't argue with a kid when he's right." Rogers laughed, "I'm more overpaid than Kitten Kaboodle."
"And even more beautiful." the other joked.
Rogers nudged him slightly, "You keep on laughing, but this here ain't no laughing matter. I smell something here at Roosevelt. Either I forgot my diaper again or it's a story."
Far behind the two reporters, in the dimly lit hangar stood three men silently observing the whole chaotic scene. Perching on the wing of an old airplane was a tall, stolid bear whose curly hair flapped in front of his face in rhythm with the wind. To the right of him was a short but stout hare who sported dark sunglasses and watched biliously out at the commotion on the field.
"That's it then, Slim." the hare said, sighing to himself, "Dream's over. No way we'll be able to attract any investors."
"How's Folk. He's all right?" the bear asked.
The hare shook his head and kicked at the dirt in the hangar floor. "He was talkin' I know, but Folk's always talkin. A dang werewolf could be gnawing on his foot, and Folk would be askin' about the weather and how his foot tastes compared to other feet and such."
Allowing a slight grin cross his face, the bear got off the plane, "Folk got in trouble cause the plane's so heavy you gotta be watchin' it every second you're up there, or it'll do something screwy you don't want it to. Sometimes I think planes got a mind of their own."
"Slim, I know you don't like the idea but you're gonna need a co-pilot. Somebody flashy too to bring back the investors." the hare was cautious and took a few paces away from the pilot before he had finished.
The bear's voice lingered on every syllable odiously, "Now, Nicodemus Hill, we've been over this. The whole adventure is that I do it on my own; that's what the challenge is. It ain't the technology or the winds, it's not man against machine or man against nature. It's gotta be me against myself."
The hare looked at him sadly, "Slim, what's that you got around your neck."
Silm took out a silver-coated medallion slung around a silver chain that dangled from his neck. Inscribed was his full name and the face of a familiar patron saint, "It's my Saint Christopher medallion, Nicodemus, you know that."
"Don't you see, Slim? All the stunts you pulled, you may have thought you were on your own, but you really weren't." the hare's voice crescendoed pugnaciously.
Slim sighed as he fingered the medallion, "I don't need no co-pilot," he said indignantly his eyes beginning to tear. He paused for a moment and began to think of his mother who made him promise to do everything he could to come home in one piece, "Well, even if I do agree to this, where are we going find this guy. . ."
Radiating across Cape Suzette, the sunlight of the mid afternoon spring made the waters sparkle like soft crystals as Kit gently rode his bicycle through the dewy scented streets. As the yellow sun seemed to drench every corner of the city, Kit felt a strange calm and clarity overcome him. A strong gust of wind pushed against him and Kit lethargically took his hands off the handles allowing the wind to sway him and his bicycle from side to side. For a moment he felt as if he were in the skies, gliding against the clouds vivaciusly vulnerable to the caprices of the sometimes cruel upper skies.
The young cub dropped off his bike and jogged into Higher for Hire where he found Rebecca sitting a her desk. She had dimmed the room by closing the shades, only a small amount of light was able to escape inside and it reflected off the dusty air as almost a misty light. Kit smiled as he flipped open the shades.
"You're going destroy your eyes, Miss Cunningham," he chided as she had often to him.
Rebecca had not noticed him, "Oh, it's you Kit. How was school?"
Kit eyed as she returned to her paperwork, "It was awful!"
"What!" she plopped her pencil down on her desk, "I thought you liked school."
"Yeah, I like it once it's over." Kit grinned.
Rebecca shook her head, "When I was your age, I loved school so much. The chance to learn new things, to talk about. . .hey, why are you laughing?"
Kit was barely able to speak between his giggling, "Miss Cunningham you really shouldn't leave out your old report cards when I come over to baby-sit."
"Oh, no." Rebecca groaned, "You see Kit, there was a circumstance. . ."
Kit laughed even harder and collapsed limply against her desk, slapping the desk with his hand, "A D+ in Spelling! Ha. Who gets a D+ in spelling."
"Oh, Kit, you're horrible," she scolded putting her reading glasses back on, "Just because I didn't get the best grades in school doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it."
Kit nodded and patted her hand, "I'm sorry, Miss Cunningham, but it's just too funny."
The two heard a knock and they looked behind them to see Baloo and Wildcat enter. "Good evenin' Beckers and Kit. Boy, I'm sure starvin' after that run to Thembria."
"Yeah, me too." Wildcat agreed.
"Hey, Baloo were you still thinkin' of going to IHOP for an early dinner?" Rebecca asked as she quickly placed her glasses and folders into her mahogany briefcase.
"I hop so!" Baloo quipped and he slapped his knee laughing uproariously at his own joke.
Rebecca and Kit rolled their eyes. "Punderful, Baloo." Rebecca replied,
"Anyway, I think since Molly's daycare is on the way, I might just pick her up and come with you. I don't feel like cooking tonight anyway,"
"Good cause I want a big plate of pistachio and pickle pancakes with just an itty-bitty bit of syrup on top so I'm not hurting that many trees and then just a bit. . ." Wildcat was interrupted by Kit.
"Yeah, we get the picture, Wildcat," Kit patted him on the back
Having picked up Molly on the way, the five friends sat in a large circular booth to a meal of golden, feathery flapjacks smothered in sticky syrup.
Wildcat gnawed pensively on his helping, "Man, I just don't understand why they don't have any tabasco sauce. Can't eat pickled pancakes without tabasco sauce; it's like a law, man."
"Yeah, Wildcat. There should be laws for lots of things there aren't."
Kit agreed stuffing a forkful of pancake into his mouth.
"Lemme guess, there, L'il Britches," Baloo smiled, "You think they oughta lower the flying age requirement."
"They should make ice cream one of the food groups." Molly added seriously.
"Hear. Hear, Mols." Kit nodded holding up his glass of water to her in appreciation, "I ain't talking about changing any of the laws we have now. You know just adding a few. You know like outlawing your cooking, Baloo."
"Hey!' Baloo complained.
Rebecca slapped his forearm lightly, seeing a chance to take a stab at the old bear, "Or how about fining lazy pilots who don't deliver their shipments on time."
"Wha. ..Hey! Watch it boss lady." Baloo ripped his arm away from her in offense and tilted his hat, ready to join the fray, "Well how bout they make a law against stuffy workaholics."
"Most important though," Kit unconsciously interrupted the little argument, "There'd have to be a law that banned all homework especially essays."
Rebecca clicked her tongue against the back of her mouth, "Why didn't I see that coming? You should feel lucky that those CSAT scores were wrong or you could have homework up the wazoo right now."
Kit shrugged, and leaned forward, resting his chin on his hands and staring up a stained glass lamp above their table. "I don't know, Miss Cunningham. At least with those scores I was something special, not I'm just back to being regular ol' Kit."
Watching the boy closely, Baloo could see an emptiness in Kit that had come with the disappointment. Although the tests scores had been a mistake, they had all believed them, and so had Kit. And through their belief, Kit had come to believe he truly did have that ability within him,. When it was taken away, it was still like taking any of his other gifts.
"You know, Kit, I didn't look at you any different after those tests, and I sure ain't gonna look at you different now." Baloo tried to comfort.
Wildcat didn't agree. "I looked at you different though. Cause before when I looked at you I'd just you know let me eyes do their thing, right ma?. But when I though you were smart, I'd like squint my eyes really, really hard cause I was trying to see like the little thoughts coming outta your head cause I read somewhere that ideas are really like spit or something."
Kit nodded sardonically at Wildcat, "Of course, Wildcat. I just always hoped that there'd be something special out there for me, and those test scores I thought were proof of it. Now I just wonder if I was foolin' myself."
The day was swift in ending, and as Kit slipped into his cottony bed, he noted to himself how the days seemed to be passing a little faster. Baloo turned off the light, enshrouding the two friends in almost complete darkness except for the silver light from a smiling crescent moon. The young cub fell asleep within a few moments.
Later that night something inside stirred Kit to wake up. He lazily sat up on his bed and surveyed the room for what may have woken him, yet everything was still and peaceful. Yet there was something wrong, a strange rhthymic humming barely audible above the singing crickets. Kit heard it though, and it was not like anything he had ever heard before. It was simultaneously everywhere and yet nowhere.
"Baloo." Kit whispered, but the big bear didn't move.
Slowly Kit moved toward the window, and opened it. The sound grew louder so much that Kit covered his ears. Yet the sound was beginning to make sense, and the boy could decipher it. It was not so much, he decided, that the sound was a voice speaking to him in his hear or any nonsense like that. It was if it were a cacophony of natural sound, like the whispers of wind that rustle the trees or the soft crash of water against sand, all combined together to bring him this message.
"Kiiiiiiiiiiiiiit," it murmured.
"What?" Kit replied softly back as he stared out the window still believing he may find a source.
"Lead her, Kiiiiiiit."
"I don't understand." Kit yelled back, "Lead who? To where?"
"Lead her. . .to where the river meets the sea."
Kit rubbed his head. He didn't know of any river near Cape Suzette. It's just a dream, he said to himself, it has to be a dream.
"All right then. When I wake up, I'll look for that river." he tried to pretend like he understood the sound, and, as suddenly as it had appeared, it then disappeared dissolving into the midnight fog. Kit sat on his bed and closed his eyes. He felt a quick vibration slither across his body, and quickly opened his eyes.
"Quiet, Kitboy, we gotta be cunnin-like to sneak outa here without waking big boy Baloo." it was Ollie who was shaking him, and it was apparently the next morning.
Kit wiped his eyes drowsily and looked at the window. It was closed, "Did you hear it, Ollie? Did it talk it you?"
"Yeah, sure, Kitboy, and it said get your dormant heiny to the airshow so you can get good ol' Cheese's autograph, sell it, and live the rest o' yore life in opulenty." Ollie replied as he dragged Kit out the door
Kit had to squint to shield his eyes from a lucent sky as Ollie and he arrived at the airshow. They were in luck as due to the early time of the performance there was sparse crowd that barely speckled the tin bleachers surrounding the field. This only added to Kit's sleepiness as his eyelids felt like lead against his eyes. THe lazy atmosphere of the crowd seemed to transfer to the planes themselves as they chugged clumsily along like laboring locomotives treading on tracks made of clouds. His precocious otter friend's cheers were all that kept him awake.
"Kitboy, this is it. Ol' Cheese hisself." Ollie informed excitedly nearly prancing around the bleachers his feet clanking against the metal.
Kit shrugged, "Don't get too worked up, Ollie. I've seen pictures of him, and his stunts ain't that great."
Ollie stopped in his tracks and tilted his head, "What! Kitboy, I've seen pictures of turkey and they don't describe at all the succulence of the delicacy. There's a whole border of sensualness between photos and actually watchin it, Kitboy, Mr. Ima super duper cloud-surfin-fool-and-nothing-can-scare-me."
"Shut up." Kit grinned.
"Hey, here he comes." Ollie pointed to the sky, and Kit watched the small rickety plane effortlessly glide through sinuous obstacles constructed on the ground. Kit's eyes gleamed at the sight, and he felt a restive shiver down his spine and resonate throughout his body. He watched his hero barnstormer, a pilot of irrepressible skill who had gained a legendary reputation among aviation circles.. To Kit he had always been a myth more than a real man, as Baloo had often entertained him during long flights with mysterious hyperbole of Cheese's salient tales. Kit knew the story of the double jump, the most dangerous stunt there was where the jumper's first parachute is designed to break only to be saved in a nick of time by a second chute. After Cheese had supposedly pulled the feat, an awed fan approached the pilot protesting sardonically that it is what not appropriate to toy with the audience with such deception. They say Cheese just smiled, took out a medallion he was wearing and then kissed it. "Lady," he said, "That wasn't a gimmick. My first shoot really was a lemon."
Kit had only seen pictures of him from a distance, Cheese flying his plane or standing on top of it usually with a hat and goggles. He was faceless and voiceless, as he was not a public figure and never on the radio. With his anonymous and a flamboyant vivacity coupled with an uncanny lack of fear of death, Cheese was more than a famous pilot. He was god-like, a man Kit felt he would never meet and should never meet. That was part of his legend..
"Man, Kitboy, that was a degradation to the institution of stunt flying," Ollie complained, "He dang skipped on the double jump and everything."
"They say the greatest performers leave the audience wanting more." Kit replied.
Ollie shook his head, "Naw, that's more like leaving them wantin' to shell out more oysters cause they leave unappetited. Hey, look there's ole Swiss Cheese! Give me that program, Kitboy!"
Only able to shake his head, Kit watched fondly as the otter grabbed the bill out of Kit's hands and dashed towards a small crowd surround a tall and lanky bear. He was golden-furred and had a tuft curly brown hair on his head. Kit stood from a distance, yet Kit could see that although he was accepting every request for his signature, the tall pilot had almost a grimace on his face and appeared to speak very little to them. Kit wanted to follow Ollie, yet something held him back; he didn't want to say he was scared of Cheese but that was the only word that popped into his head. Anyway, I can see why they call him Slim, Kit thought referring to the pilot's build. He was interrupted by someone grabbing his shoulder, and the young cub instinctively spun around. Standing in front of him was a sturdy hare dressed in a gray, pin striped business suit complemented by wide black sunglasses.
"What's the problem mister?" Kit asked suspiciously.
The hare looked at him pensively, scratching his chin, "I've seen you before, kid, haven't I in a stunt show or something?"
"I don't know." Kit replied defensively.
Taking off his glasses, he nibbled on the ends, "I've got a good eye for scumbags, and I noticed you right away. . .Lemme think here. . . .I got it! You were with that no good, two-timin fox Dan Dawson."
"He's a weasel sir." Kit corrected.
The hare sighed, "It was an expression, pint-size."
"I ain't pint-sized, long ears."
The hare rubbed his hears self-consciously, "Watch it you little delinquent, I could get you locked up for conspiring with that Dawson character.
Kit shook his head, "I wasn't partners with Dan. He tricked me that's all. He used me to get some money."
"Oh!" the hare said taken back, "I apologize kid. Usually I have a good sense about these things. . .My name's Nicodemus Hill."
"I'm Kit Cloudkicker," the young cub introduced himself extending his paw. However, the hare put his paws on his hips.
"Yeah right, kid." the hare giggled and started to walk away.
Ollie ran up holding the program high over his head, "Yeah, Kit, lookey at this! The Madison's are sayin see ya later to the almshouse and the repo-mans."
Freezing in his tracks, the hare slowly turned towards the young cub.
"He's really Kit Cloudkicker?"
Ollie twisted his eyebrows at the strange Nicodemus, "Far as I know, sah."
Nicodemus studied Kit carefully for a few moments, as if he were making calculations and notes, and then began chuckling to himself.
"You work at Higher for Hire, right?" Nicodemus asked.
Opening his jacket, the hare fished for awhile before pulling out a crumpled business card, "Here ya go, kid. You can expect to see me in a couple of days."
"Thanks." Kit mumbled as the hare trotted over to Cheese whose crowd of fans was now dwindling.
"Who in blazes was that?" Ollie inquired, "And can he get any weirder?"
"It just has his name and address on it," Kit answered reading the card, "How'd in heck did he know my name?"
Cheese was a nickname given to him on the playgrounds of his private elementary school. A cruel play on his last name, it had been long forgotten until a reporter or two orchestrated its regenesis. His other nickname Slim was an obvious one giving to him during his days serving in the army, the only place he had ever really made friends. To this day, he still laughed at the time he convinced his buddy Lovejoy an innocent-looking canteen was filled of water when it really contained kerosene. It took him two gulps to realize it. Yet for most of his life he had found society to be a chore. Barnstorming would have been the perfect life in his mind, if it weren't for the people for which he performed. They adored him and admired him, and he appreciated it. Yet fans would sneak into his tent or dressing room, searching for some sort of guidance or paternal advise which was a situation that was particular uncomfortable and almost degrading for him. The autograph-seekers that drained him, and he sped immediately for the escape of his cot in the hangar. He lay on his back, rocking gently from side to side, dreamily looking at the rafters.
The pilot groaned as he looked over to see Nicodemus approaching. He sat up and rubbed his eyes impatiently.
"What is it, Nic?"
The hare stopped abruptly a few feet away and hopped up and down ebulliently, "Oh, I've had an epiphany, Slim. It was divine intervention, I swear. It was destiny."
"Don't tell me that another worm came up to you and told that it was St.Francis." the bear complained.
"Nah, better than that." Nicodemus said excitedly, "Remember how every pilot in Cape Suzette said that the best navigator around was this guy named Kit Cloudkicker."
Nicodemus could hardly contain himself as he vibrated violently, "Well, it turns out he's a twelve year-old kid. And not just any kid. . .he's that kid we've heard about who does that cloud surfing thing."
Lindbergh sighed, and lay back down, turning away from the hare, "Guess that means we gotta find out who the second best navigator is then."
"Oh, you're missing the big picture, Lindy!" Nicodemus exclaimed in frustration, "Think of it, an experienced, daring pilot teams up with an inexperienced, wide-eyed kid who can cloud surf, I might add,. What a gimmick!! The entire country'll be hanging on every bit news concerning the flight of those poor two lonely souls over the angry oceans."
"You sound like a bad reporter, Nic," Lindberg laughed.
The hare stood up straight, "Charles, I'm serious. If the kid's as good as they say he is, this is the way we oughta go."
Lindbergh was done humoring his friend as he jumped out of the cot his brow contorted in a sear of wrinkles and his nostrils twitching, "If you think for one second that I'm going to put my life in the hands of some kid, then you're insane, Nic. Not only would I be likely to get lost, but if for some reason that I do make it, you know whose going to be the world's little darling? The dang kid. Not to mention the fact that I'll have to split the reward with him. You're crazy."
Grabbing the bear roughly by the shirt, Nicodemus pressed his nose against his. His voice was controlled yet anger seemed to be twitching in the background, "Splitting a reward is better than nothing, Slim.
With the kid, we'll get the publicity and the money we need to fix the plane. And this way you'll have a partner who won't be able to fly in a pinch. You won't be on your lonesome, but you'll be freer cause the kid'll do the navigation for you. It's like having an extra instrument or something. The challenge against yourself will still be there, Lindy."
Lindbergh rubbed his neck as the hare let go of him. "What's the kid's name?"
"Kit Cloudkicker." Nicodemus smiled.
"Go over to his place, and ask him to do the job." Lindbergh decided.
"But Slim don't you want to test him first?" the hare asked cautiously.
Lindbergh shook his head, "The word of pilots from Cape Suzette is good enough for me."
Part II: Only a child
Kit�s dreams of fantastic stunts and maneuvers were still dripping out of his mind as we awoke to the smell of Rebecca�s English coffee. A mist-like dust hovered about his room as Kit lazily tumbled out of bed. Rebecca couldn�t help but smirk at his drowsy demeanor.
��Morning sunshine!� she smiled.
�What�s so good about it?" Kit grumbled back as he grabbed an apple off the kitchen table.
Her amusement turned to concern as he hastily tried to leave, �Were you up all night staring at those Air Stunt magazines again?�
�No.� Kit replied sharply although he was lying, �I just didn�t sleep well.�
�Go to school, Kit.� She sighed, �And try to stay awake in class, and this time I mean both physically and mentally. No loopholes.�
�Fine, fine, fine,� Kit said, walking outside.
He was surprised to find his bike was gone. �Wildcat,� he muttered to himself.
The mechanic was found on the decks next to the Seaduck tinkering with the engine, his tools among other things lying strewn across the ground.
�Oh, Wildcat,� Kit moaned picking up a familiar piece of metal, �was this my bike.�
Wildcat looked at him strangely, �No, of course not Kit. Duh, this is an old bike I found in at the dump. Yours is over there.�
Kit looked back towards higher for Hire where Wildcat was pointing. Ripped to shreds, its wheels bent in various directions, the once proud vehicle hung limply at the top of an old oak entangled in its branches.
�How�d it get up there?!� Kit asked
�From here it looks like somebody runned it over, and then tried to decorate the tree with it.� Wildcat explained, �It isn�t Christmas yet is it?�
�No Wildcat,� Kit said, �I think they were probably trying to hide it or something. Great now I�m going to be late cause I have to walk. See ya later, Wildcat.�
Kit trudged towards school his head pointed towards the ground. After going to the Lindbergh�s air show, he had been expectedly excited yet at the same time a little saddened. Excited by the amazing beauty of Lindbergh and his stunts but saddened by the realization of how far away it all was. He was a million miles from being like Lindbergh, and Kit worried he couldn�t make it all the way there.
It was a typically warm, sun drenched day in Cape Suzette, but an early spring breeze was pleasant enough distraction for Kit to not notice the slender skunk following behind. Quietly, the skunk, dressed in a wrinkled suit and disguised in large black sunglasses and a bandanna tied around his head, tip-toed up to the young cub until he was barely a few inches away. The skunk started to reach a grubby, sharp-clawed paw towards the back of Kit, but suddenly whipped back beneath his coat. Taking a few anxious glances around the street, he didn�t hesitate a second time.
�Oww!� Kit screamed as he was sent flailing towards the ground.
He was able to lift his head in time to see the assailant dash around the corner. Kit�s instinct was to run after him, but a searing pain shot through his knee as he tried to run.
�Come back here with. . .� Kit checked himself, �. . .my homework?�
Anger dissolved to confusion, �Ms. Gibbons ain�t gonna believe this one. That�s for sure.�
Battered and bleeding, the pain in his knee still subsided as he walked it off gingerly. He looked around to try and gather himself. The street seemed deserted. Great, no witnesses, he thought to himself.
He decided to limp back home, when he heard a strange, continuous clicking sound followed by a softer one like the sound of throwing a pillow against the floor. He squinted at the alley where he thought the sound was emanating from. There was nothing but shadows, but after a pausing for a moment he saw a shimmer of light reflecting off something metallic.
�Hey who�s in there?� Kit yelled.
A crash of garbage cans followed, another skunk, this one holding a camera, jumped from the alley and started running. This time Kit was able to pursue him.
�Hey, wait! Did you see what happened?� Kit screamed.
The skunk was too fast and Kit had still not recovered from his fall. Breathing heavily, Kit shook his head.
�What�s going on here?� he whispered to himself.
He heard another click behind him and we twirled around to face another dimly lit alley. Slowly he walked down it, and two tall outlines formed in the shadows.
�Who is that?� he whispered.
A blinding light flashed in front of his eyes, and Kit fell to the ground. The two figures stepped out of the shadow to reveal two foxes also dressed in brown suits and holding cameras. Grinning widely, they helped Kit to his feet.
�Sorry to disturb you, I was just wondering if I could ask you a few questions on behalf of the Cape Gazette.� One said.
�But we�d also like some pictures in a better light than this.� The other added.
�What?� Kit replied slowly starting to back away.
�How long have you been navigating, Kit? What do you think of flying.�
�What about Higher for Hire? Do they treat you well? Abusive are they?�
�What about that orphanage? It must have been rough?�
Kit glared quizzically at then, �Who are you guys?:
�We�re with the gazette.� They both said .
Shaking his head, Kit turned around quickly only to find the two skunks standing in his way, also with giant smile on their faces.
�Didn�t mean to scare you there, Kit. Just doing my job. By the way, how do you feel about all this attention?�
�When are they going to start training? What do all the other kids at school think about it? Got a girl, son?�
�Get away from me!� Kit screamed as he pushed his way past the skunks and started to run towards Higher for Hire with all the reporters trailing him furiously, pads and pens held high and cameras at their sides. As Kit turned a corner, he grunted as someone grabbed him by the collar and pulled him through a hole in the solid wooden fence.
�Whew. Those guys are real animals, kid. You�re lucky to have me around.�
The stranger was a tall awkward looking fox. If not for his unfashionable dark-rimmed glasses and silly outfit, Kit may have been intimidated by him.
�Now who are you?� Kit demanded.
�Why, I�m Will Rogers.� The fox grinned, �You never read my column?�
�No.� Kit answered simply.
�Raising a generation of illiterate capitalists, I swear,� he cursed to himself.
�Great another reporter.� Kit grimaced, �Maybe you could tell me what this is all about.�
The fox laughed heartily, �Kid, you�ve gotta work on the pseudo-humility bit. Most of us have seen that a lot already.�
Rogers patted him on the shoulder, �It�s simple, kid. You know just always say stuff like how you�re not going forget where you came from and all the people whose help you couldn�t gotten through life without, yada, yada, yada, etc,etc, etc. Get my drift. Just don�t pretend like it doesn�t matter. It comes off as a little pretentious.�
�I still don�t know what you�re talking about.� Kit eyed him suspiciously.
Rogers clicked his tongue and paced back and forth a few steps before replying. �You don�t know what I�m talking about do you?�
�No!� kit nodded.
�I sensed that.� Rogers rubbed his hands together, �after being a reporter for such along time, you tend to get a sense about people. Well, not really like an innate sense but one that . . .�
�Would you get to the point, Rogers.� Kit interrupted, becoming impatient with the garrulous reporter.
�Sorry,� the fox laughed, �A columnist naturally talks more than he needs to. It�s kind of exciting I get to be the one to tell you.�
�Tell me what?�
�Why you�re the biggest story this side of the Great War,� fox said slyly,
�Lindbergh wants you to navigate that fuel tank with wings he plans to fly across the world.�
A lump knotted in Kit�s stomach, and his knees wobbled feebly. �The Round the World flight?� he sputtered.
�Is that their little slogan for it?� Rogers sniffed roughly, �If ol� swiss cheese survives the thing, he�s gonna be filthy rich.�
�Criminy.� Kit gasped, �When were they going tell me about this?�
�Don�t worry, kid. They�re definitely not going to take off without ya.�
Rogers replied, �Your penniless, parentless heiny�s probably rankin� in the dough, so they�ll string this thing out for as long as possible.�
�I don�t believe it.� Kit smiled, �I�m gonna be a hero!�
Rogers� friendly demeanor dissolved into a grimace accented by a furrowed brow. Kneeling down beside the boy, he placed his hand on his shoulder. �Its important you know: that really isn�t going to be up to you, son.�
Rebecca scratched her head bewilderedly. Always packed neatly at the top of her leather briefcase was a small, forest green notepad. Beaten and scratched like a rag doll a child never puts down, the book was labeled as �Things to do�. As one flipped through the pages, the entries began as neatly written and organized but progressed to increasingly scribbled and unruly. Turning the book upside down, Rebecca realized her precious reminders had amassed into one giant blotch of ink from which no meaning could be derived except. . .
�Argggh, this is it.� Rebecca plopped her head onto her desk, �I don�t have my customers numbers, I don�t know what customers wanted what. . .This is it.�
�This is what, Ree-becca?� Wildcat strolled with grease on his face.
Rebecca pounced to her feet, and walked over to Wildcat, gently brushing off the oil. Then her tenderness disappeared as she violently grabbed his shirt and pushed him against the wall.
�We�re going out of business, Wildcat!� she cried.
Rebecca dropped him, and Wildcat fell painfully to the floor. Too worried to notice Wildcat�s anguish, Rebecca continued talking to herself, �This is not just another one of those panic attacks where I say we �re going out of business but I�m really just exaggerating to justify my insanity.. .�
Her voice frantically found the words, jumping in pitch sporadically. �Oh, boy.� Wildcat muttered to himself.
�There�s nothing left to do, but admit defeat,� Rebecca decided, �I�ll call everybody today, even though I know, Wildcat, that you and Baloo are gonna say. . .�
�You�re crazy, lady!� Baloo said entering the door and allowing the last rays of the afternoon sun spatter onto the floor. �All the deliveries are done, Becky.�
�They are?!� Rebecca asked, pleading that he wasn�t joking. �See what I have told you, Wildcat, about facing adversity. . .�
As Rebecca started another of her rambles, Baloo nudged Wildcat a look of conern writhed across his face. �Kit back yet?�
Wildcat was about to shake his head, but as if on cue, Kit bounded through the door and jumped onto Baloo�s shoulders.
�Ha ha.� Baloo laughed, �Where have you been, Little Britches?�
�Wanna know.� Kit was breathing deeply.
�Sure.� Baloo helped Kit back to the floor.
Pausing a moment to create a bit of drama which he felt was necessary for this type of occasion, the young bear cub felt a rush of pride sprint through him His heart was singing for it was true; he was special and Lindbergh, the greatest pilot who ever lived, had seen it.
�You know about Lindbergh�s Round the World?� he asked Baloo who grunted.
�Well, they needed a navigator.�
�What?� the Higher for Hire trio replied.
�And they picked one,� he smiled, worried his implication had failed, �You know, me!!!�
There was a stunned silence, that hurt Kit. Baloo didn�t move, and Rebecca slowly sat down her hands over her mouth.
�Little Britches!!� Baloo finally screamed, �I don�t believe it.�
The big bear hugged Kit tightly and lifted him up high towards the ceiling in his arms laughing fondly, while Rebecca didn�t move a muscle, stricken by awe and an inability to think as fast as she wanted to. While Baloo and Kit hugged and spun themselves around the room only illuminated by the dying sunlight and completely immersed in their happiness, Rebecca�s eyes darted back and forth between her desk and the Seaduck outside. She wanted to congratulate Kit, yet her mind was continuously distracted by an evasive element within. When it came to her, she finally spoke.
�Kit, oh my gosh, do you know what this�ll do for business!� she yelled happily.
A solemn, overcast cloud accompanied by a silent drizzle presided over a large crowd in Cape Suzette. There were of all ages, species, and backgrounds, yet in eyeryone�s eyes was a special firec which burned voraciously, the tall thin pilot and his young navigator, its fuel. The young ones atared and watched with as a great a concentration they had ever had, hoping to catch a glimpse of themselves on the stage Then there were those who held their young ones on their shoulders playfully, laughing at their admiration while at the same time a little jealous. The fire in the older eyes harkened back to the days when they were children and they truly believed they could have been standing next to him.
Will Rogers was situated at the front of the stage with his fellow reporters. He looked into the adoring, painfully hopeful crowd and then back at the young bear cub who seemed to smile as courageous as they wanted him to.
�That�s the thing these people don�t get about this business, Charlie,� he said nudging his friend and talking under the monotonous drone of Nicodemus Hill�s speech.
�What?� asked Charlie, surprised he would be talking during the proceedings.
�They all buy their newspapers as quick as they get off the press cause can �t wait to see whose dirty and who did what and who didn�t do what. And they say the papers are a champion of the people,� he shook his head, � But they don�t realize the papers don�t care about them. If one thing slips up and some regular Joe�s life is gonna make a good story; the paper�ll rip outta him without a second thought.�
�Careful, Rogers,� Charlie grinned, �You�re talkin� about the papers that keep you off the street begging for carrot juice.�
�People should understand what we do, Charlie,� Rogers replied, �That�s all.�
�Better not develop one of those consciense thingies,� Charlie said,�Or you really will be on the street, and I�d probably be the first one you come to askin for money.�
As the boisterous hare spoke of the �unprecedented pairing� for this �unprecedented flight�, Kit stole some peaks at the giant, lean figure that stood next to him. Lindbergh had barely said more than hello and in a gruff voice. Kit could see as the tall bear looked narrowly out to the audience that these events must have pained him. It must just be about the flying for him, Kit though to himself, and he felt a pang of guilt echoing within him.He couldn�t help but enjoy the attention, and he was greedily soaking up every minute.
�And we thank you for your courage and your support,� the short hare bellowed, �And when Lindy lands here in Cape Suzette in a few weeks, we will dancing in the streets with you, celebrating Usland�s place atop of the aviation world. And no here�s the man of the hour.�
The hair dressed in green suit adorned with various emblems and pins stepped back, as Lindbergh walked stiffly to the podium, holding his shoulder nervously. Untangling a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket, his eyes bore a whole through it as he spoke, his voice cracking and a lump in his throat.
�I.. .uh. . .I�m not used to these things. But I wanted just to say thank you to all those of you out there who believe in us. Umm, especially to those who bought us a new plane which he have finally decided on , umm, naming Ol� Suzette�s Hope.� The crowd cheered wildyly, and nodding, Lindbergh quickly exited off the stage with Nicodemus and Kit. The tall bear slumped against a chair loosening his tie, and breathing deeply. The hare tore of his glasses and approached his friend.
�What was that!� he said angrily,�You could have at least spoken for a minute or two, Slim.�
�Aww,� Lindbergh face contorted in a sign of emotion Kit had not seen in his short time with the pilot, �What are we doing here, Nic? This stuff�s ridiculous.�
Kit suddenly felt a bit anxiety creep into him, �Hey, umm, Mr. Lindbergh, don�t worry. I�m good.�
�That�s now what I meant,� Lindbergh replied, �But I�m glad at least you think you�re good.�
Looking over to Kit sorrowfully, Nicodemus shook his head, �Don�t take it out on the kid, Slim.�
�This kid is the whole reason why this turned into a friggin� circus!�
Lindbergh exclaimed, as he stormed away from the pair heading towards his beat up ford.
Nicodemus and Kit stood silently for a moment before the hare put his hand on Kit�s shoulder, �Come on, Kit, I need you talk to reporters.�
Only a few reporters had stayed after the news was that Lindbergh had left. Still they huddled around the young bear cub, being sure to be as polite and sincere as possible. Unlike a lot of their counterparts Kit had met on the street, they knew Kit�s trust of them was handing on a precarious thread, which they needed to survive to get their story.
�So Kit how long have you been interested in airplanes?� one asked.
�As far as I can remember.� Kit smiled.
�How have you and Lindbergh been getting along?�
�Ummm,� Kit thought for a moment, �We haven�t much time to talk, and he seems a little shy, but he�s nice.�
Will Rogers tapped his foot incessantly. He had not patience for these creampuff stories, and he was desperately thinking of a way to spice it up a little.
�Hey, Kit,� Rogers popped his head into the reporters� circle, �Are you aware that oddsmakers at the betting halls have you both of you surviving set at twenty to one.�
Rogers shrugged, �Guess not. And, Kit, could you tell us where you were born?�
�What?� Kit replied again a little confused.
�You didn�t just pop up in Cape Suzette when you were twelve did you?� Rogers asked wryly, he was getting reckless but that got good stories.
�I was an orphan, Mr. Rogers,� Kit answered coldly, looking toward other reporters for question.
�You�re still an orphan,� Rogers grinned, �Aren�t you?�
�Lead her, Kit, . . .to where the river meets the sea.�
Kit shot out of bed suddenly. Glancing around the room, he again saw no source of the mysterious voice.
�Oh, geez.� He muttered as he saw the sunlight flooding his room. He was supposed to have an early flight that morning with Baloo, yet exhausted from his day at the rally he had overslept. Kit was starting to become anxious about the flight. Talking to Rogers made him realize that successfully navigating across two entire oceans with a stop would be one of the most dangerous thing he had ever done. He shook just at the thought of a crashdown in the relentless cold waters of the Atlantic. And then there was Lindbergh who resented him greatly; Kit was starting to fear the worst.
�I tell you Baloo,� Rebecca smiled, �This Round the World thing is the best thing that ever happened to us. Our deliveries have almost doubled!�
A weary Baloo sat next to her on the coach, laying his head on her shoulder as she read through her transaction sheets. Something excited her as she jumped to her feet. Without the rest of her shoulder, Baloo�s fell onto the floor and stayed there too lazy to get up.
�Market Meats, Baloo!� she exclaimed, �That�s a subsidiary of Khan Industries! We�ve really hit the big time.�
�Yeah, its wonderful, Beckers,� Baloo mumbled, �But doncha think Kit�s really struggling, Becky?�
�What do you mean?� Rebecca asked, still scanning her notes.
�Its obvious, Becky, that he�s having second thoughts.� Baloo said, �And he should cause it�s a dangerous thing out there.�
�Oh, no he better not.� Rebecca said shaking her head, �This our big break, if we work like dogs through this, we could end up with another plane and another pilot.�
�And end up losing a navigator to the ocean.� Baloo replied.
�Aww, come on Baloo?� Rebecca said, �How tough can flying around the world be? They just have to stay awake.�
Baloo laughed sadly, �Rebecca, I�ve never even crossed a quarter of the ocean without stoppin�. And I checked their flight plan, they�re going to be at some high altitudes with some loooow temperatures. It�s gonna be about fifty hours, they�re not gonna be able to eat anything, he�s flying a planes that�s filled to gills with fuel which makes it a flying explosive, they have to stay awake, they gotta be careful ice don�t form on the wings, there could be pirates shootin at em, and. . .they have a twelve year-old navigator!�
Rebecca eyed him carefully, �Don�t you think Kit can do it?�
Baloo grabbed her hand, �Hon, I don�t know if anyone can do it.�
�I. . .� Rebecca began to speak, but stopped., �Oh, no.�
A knock at the door released Rebecca from her burden of worry. She opened it to reveal a short brown haired adult bear a little older than she was. He stood dressed in a shabby suit, fingering a wool beret nervously in his hands. His features were kind but sullen.
�Can I help you?� she asked.
�This is Higher for Hire?�
�Yes, sir.� She replied, figuring he was either a reporter or another autography seeker.
�Kit Cloudkicker live here?�
Rebecca rolled her eyes, �Yes, but he�s asleep right now, so maybe. . .�
�Wait!� he said as he stopped her from closing the door, �I�m his father.�
To be Continued...