Jul 3, 2005

The Harlequin Romances, Page 1

Chapter 1: in which our Hero arrives, dumpster dives and barely survives.

Harlequin was not an ordinary chipmunk. He was leaving the lonely forest to seek friends and adventure in the human city. He was determined to live as the humans do. He would wear human clothes, live in human dwellings, talk with human people and eat human food.

His clothes and living place were still up in the air. He was learning English, but the few humans he'd met wouldn't talk to him; most would ignore him, and those that paid him any mind would usually scream and run away. (He did have a gift for languages: he already spoke the common animal tongue, and had a general knowledge of several dialects, including the notoriously difficult Dog Russian).

As for human food, Harlequin loved Chinese cuisine, cultivated during past midnight raids on the trash cans of "Mushu Wu's," a tiny restaurant on the edge of the forest. In fact, it was this passion that brought him into our lives.

The journey from the forest to the city was a long one. Harlequin had stuffed the last six chestnuts from his storehouse into his ample cheeks, but he'd eaten all of them by the time he reached the freeway. It was a cold, frosty day, and scampering on the craggy asphalt of the roadside was harder work than scampering across the soft forest floor. After an hour his fore- and hindpaws were very sore and raw, his nose and ears were stinging and his stomach began to voice it's desire for more food.

When the first buildings of the human city came in view, the wonder and excitement of an adventure begun stood his fur on end, but could not warm his chilled extremities, nor sate his quaking stomach. As he scampered away from the freeway onto the busy city road, his mind was struck by a particular fantasy: he saw himself seated on an enormous bowl of soft, steaming rice biting into juicy stir-fried water chestnuts and rich cashews, all the while smelling kung-pao chicken.

He stumbled over a crumpled soda can and realized he'd closed his eyes. There was no food in sight. There was, however, a strong aroma of kung-pao chicken.

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