Apparently Rudy is a far too sensitive a soul to acknowledge the normal, healthy relationship of his mother and stepfather. (To see his “mature” reaction on March 6, go here.) That leaves me to report on the situation.
Dad is a rabbit in every respect, and that fact is one of the charms that won the heart of Kell. That’s especially true during the month of March, when he thinks of little else. Interestingly, it’s the same with Danielle who only recently became a rabbit. That’s some powerful instinctual genetics.
That’s been fine in most years, as Fenton and I have seen to the daily upkeep of Hare Link while the others are…occupied. Kell, meanwhile, would save her vacation days at Herd Thinners for this month.
That all changed when she became CEO. When you’re the boss there really are no vacation days. That became doubly so when she was dismissed from Herd Thinners and started her own company. Any small business owner will tell you that when you create a start-up, free time immediately goes out the window.
Kell wasn’t coming home until very, very late in the evening, and then she just crashed into bed. Dad was understanding, yet still frustrated. Fortunately my mother-in-law Desdemona had just the solution…with a replica of Frank Mangle’s head and some lion pheromones. :)
Reading the previous posting, many of you wondered how I knew what was going on with Rudy when the full outcome hadn’t yet been resolved. The answer is that Dad spotted Rudy sneaking out of the house, and followed him to make sure he was safe. All these years of living with predators had obviously taught Dad something about tracking without being seen.
When Rudy approached the house of R.L. and Angelique, Dad texted us and gave us a blow-by-blow of the conversation as he knelt downwind in the bushes. (He’d have been seen if either Rudy or R.L. had noticed the glow of his iPhone screen, but canines tend to be over-reliant on scent detection.)
Among the family the first reaction was concern for Rudy’s safety and well-being. The second was to launch a betting pool on how long it would take for Rudy to realize he was in over his head and to engineer a retreat. Everyone put down a dollar. Congratulations, Gran.
Was there any chance of Rudy signing the internship contract and joining the Dark Side? I don’t see it. Despite his long-cultivated persona as a badass, he has nothing but love and respect for Kell. He gets annoyed with her at times for her assertive parenting, but nothing that would lead to outright betrayal.
So why did Rudy go over to the house? I think it has to do with R.L.’s stature. Even after everything that’s happened he did command respect, which Rudy responded to. That now, has been permanently shattered.
I’ve long recognized that my dear brother is in no way dumb; in fact, despite his average grades his intelligence comes out in surprising ways. However, he is undeniably impulsive, and until he learns to rein that in he’s going to find himself in dangerous situations.
Exhibit A: He received an E-mail from R.L. offering an internship at Herd Thinners…the firm that just fired our mother and is now her mortal enemy. Option 1: Ignore it. Option 2: Tell Kell so that she can deal with it at the corporate level. Option 3: Tell Dad, whose ISP would block further online contact. No, Rudy went with door number 4, putting himself in mortal peril by going over to R.L.’s mansion alone.
Angelique and the skunks were away, so it truly was one-on-one. It finally dawned on Rudy that this was An Offer He Couldn’t Refuse. Either he submitted and signed a binding contract that would tear him away from our family, or…Well, R.L. has killed for less.
It took quick thinking for Rudy to seize on an idea that would get him home safely, and that’s where his aforementioned brains came in. Time and again, Rudy gets himself into spots that somehow engage his brain at the last possible moment.
I’ve lost count of how many times that’s happened, but if it’s nine I’ll start believing he’s feline.
It was Valentines Day at the Happy Little Predator preschool, with the usual assignment of requiring the children to make valentines for every single other classmate so no one gets left out. (Some traditions never change.) Coney’s tigress friend Lin, however, created an extra card…for Coney’s cousin Wendell Luckyfoot.
If Lin’s mother the Tiger Mom discovered who her daughter had a crush on, she’d have kittens (and not siblings for Lin). To prevent a weapons-grade conniption, Lin asked Coney to deliver the valentine.
As it happens, Wendell makes a monthly appearance at the Rabbit Council, in custody of the poor farmer from whom he continually uses as an informal carrot source. The farmer invariably catches him and delivers him to the Council expecting stern punishment. He’s invariably disappointed.
After this month’s miscarriage of justice Coney gave Wendell the valentine which caused him more distress than any punishment the Council could mete out. Lin actually wasn’t upset by this development; in fact, it was exactly what she was expecting. It seems she’s playing the Long Game in this relationship.
That where things stand now. In other news, Rudy seems to have received an E-mail from an interesting source. It’s landed with the force of a meteorite in Moscow.
So far there’s been no immediate fallout from Kell’s dismissal of R.L.’s buyout offer. The two have been sniping at each other using the weapon of Linked In’s “recommendation” feature, but nothing’s occurred that would cause real damage.
That, of course, is only a temporary lull in the battle. If R.L. knows that the rabbits are not only funding Kell, but that Dewclaw’s Fine Meats is in fact a creation of the rabbits, the way forward has both opportunity and danger for him. If he simply exposes the arrangement Kell can retaliate with two revelations: that R.L. is Domesticated like her, and that his wife Angelique is a rabbit kicked out of the warren who employed cosmetic surgery to appear as a rat.
(BTW, the Domestication issue has led some wonder if R.L. is actually Kell’s father. I’ve done the DNA analysis and, no. They’re not related. Domestication is really more common than people think.)
Alternatively, R.L. can just allow Kell’s company to gain a small niche in the market. That’s the least likely scenario. R.L. lives and dies by the company’s current market share. He doesn’t allow any potential competitor to gain a foothold.
So, he’s going to try to crush Kell’s company, but not in a way that she feels she has nothing to lose and tells all.
In a single moment, the long, torturous relationship between Kell and R.L. came to a permanent end. Even after her dismissal as CEO and the founding of her rival company, there was always the possibility that she would find a way to return to the fold. R.L. knew that, and sought to hasten its arrival while at the same time eliminating a future competitor.
The offer he made to buy out Dewclaw’s Fine Meats was way more than generous, and offered guarantees of employment for her *and* the former Herd Thinners staffers who followed her. (Of course, they left the company for a reason!) Still, it was hard to turn down, especially since the alternative is a startup with an uncertain path forward.
In the end, Kell felt she couldn’t betray her employees who had risked and sacrificed so much in showing support for her. She turned down R.L. flat.
What happened next is worrisome. R.L. appeared to realize that if Kell had taken out a standard business loan she would have been beholden to have the offer approved or rejected by a board of directors. That she was able to make the decision on the spot hold him that her funding came from a non-tradition source, and one that wants to stay behind the scenes.
R.L. can be immensely cunning, and he’s probably realized by now that the source of the funding comes from the one prey species that Dewclaw’s Fine Meat isn’t hunting.
The recruiting fair was held at the local convention center, and Dewclaw’s Fine Meats exceeded expectations. Kell was able to successfully make the case for immediate advancement to the young carnivores, and came away with top talent coming out of college that R.L. assumed would be his.
Kell also took on employees that R.L. had no interest in to begin with, but it was the ones he targeted and lost that strung. At the end of the fair Kell got an idea how much it hurt when she received a text from him inviting her to a meeting…in the office that had been hers just months ago.
She gave a short speech to her new employees in the lobby of the Dewclaw’s building, and the head of personnel took over the orientation duties from there. Kell departed, and drove to the sprawling Herd Thinners complex.
Was she safe? R.L., with his power and wealth, can be a law unto himself. Let’s just say that the edict against preying on those you know doesn’t apply to him. Kell must feel, though, that she could survive anything he could possibly pull one-on-one. Remember that he regained control of Herd Thinners through boardroom machinations, and not through combat.
Still, I know Dad’s worried. Heck, I’m worried.
With the herds having migrated for the winter months, predator companies like Dewclaw’s Fine Meats and Herd Thinners Inc. are still finding ways to stay busy. One task for them is building up their staffs by enticing young carnivores to sign professional contracts. This is done at career fairs, which can get intensely competitive.
There’s one coming up this week in Domain, and both Kell and R.L. will be jockeying for position in an attempt to impress the young ones. Kell had always been one of Herd Thinners’ best recruiters, so this is yet another arena in which dismissing her was a shortsighted move. But then, I’m biased.
Kell is now R.L.’s competition, so he needs to step up his game. (Angelique can’t be the public face of the company, since someone might recognize that she’s not a rat but a rabbit with cosmetic surgery.) Still, he can’t be underestimated. His name alone inspires respect in other predators and fear in everyone else.
Everyone without quills, that is.
Aby Eyeshine is still involved with Mark Meadowvole, the mouse who just a year ago was participating in unsanctioned maze races late at night on the outskirts of town. With funding from Kell (then Herd Thinners CEO), he made the leap to the MOUSCAR Scamper Cup series. Although he was only in a few races he captured the attention of a lot of fans.
After Kell was dismissed from Herd Thinners Mark lost his sponsorship, but the backers of Kell’s new company agreed to put up the money for him to race in 2013. The MOUSCAR executives have taken notice as well, using Mark prominently in their ad campaigns.
With all that occurring it wasn’t a surprise that he’d receive endorsement offers. The first to knock on his door was a cheese manufacturer that initially seemed promising. Then they insisted that he sign the contract before reading it. (If Aby hadn’t been there with him, he just may have been tempted to do that.) Instead, they left with the unsigned agreement.
Aby called Kell, who in turned called her lawyer Mei Li. Mei Li’s judgment was swift and brutal: Mark would have been in thrall to the company for the rest of his life. Any future spouse of his would have even had to give up her milk for cheese production. Yeesh.
He shredded the offending document and used it for bedding. I’m sure he slept soundly.
Tammy and Ray, after years of living in the lighthouse off Cape Qualm, NC, finally took a vacation for just the two of them. Fenton and I volunteered to babysit their four-year-old son Angstrom for the weekend while they went skiing at Maggie Valley.
Previous babysitting experiences for us were…exhausting. Okay, that’s unfair. Coney and Francis haven’t been so bad when they’ve been under our care, and the other time involved a whole crowd of skunk children. Still, we were surprised at how smoothly the weekend went.
This mainly speaks well of Tammy and Ray’s parenting skills. We roll our eyes at what a helicopter mom Tammy is, but her son is happy and well-adjusted. Angstrom was polite, and was able to entertain himself most of the time. (I guess growing up in a lighthouse does that.)
After Tammy picked him up, Fenton and I had a surge of panic at the prospect of being good at child care, as that leads to…parenthood. While we have no problem being “Uncle Fenton” and “Aunt Pincushion,” (Thank you, Francis) we’re still not ready for our own.