Footsteps tread on top of Fox’s den early in the morning and startle him. Timberwolf, he assumes, owl, maybe, likely lynx. He darts up, looks out. A few loose rocks are out of place. He steps out, looks left, right, behind the den. A light breeze caresses his red fur. Sunstreams streak across the forest through a squadron of pine trees flanking him from the rear and right. Dark grey clouds are on a direct approach in the distance behind the great oak standing forty feet from the den entrance.
The lite wind gains in strength and the clouds inhale daylight. Lightning splits the dark and pierces the valley floor. The crack of thunder consumes the silence and announces the blaze that flares up beyond Fox's view on the far side of Crown Lake. He senses someone watching. He's torn between a quick retreat back underground and a curiosity that could find him prey to a predator. He's well aware that second-guessing his instincts could get him killed.
But Fox is no novice. He steels himself, then pinpoints a familiar scent. “I thought you were lynx or owl,” states Fox peering halfway up the oak tree. You usually don’t visit until the latter part of the summer.”
“We need to talk,” replies Dusky Parrot as the sturdy limb he's perched on starts to sway. “I’m in trouble.”
“Sounds serious. Sure you shouldn’t be talking to pop McCaw?”
“I guess I should have said we are in trouble, me, mom and pop."
“I’m listening,” replies Fox ambling toward the oak as Dusky catches the breeze buffeting the leaves, and glides down to meet him.
“As you know, my parents were born in another country. And now we’ve been told they have to leave.”
“I see,” says Fox, his gaze glancing from Dusky Parrot to the expanding dark cloud, then back to Dusky.
“I don’t have any relatives here,” continues Dusky, “so I will have to go with them. I've visited there. I like it. And there's not necessarily a language barrier, because English is one of a handful of languages spoken. I'm just not sure if I'm ready to live there full time. I have good friends here. I want to graduate high school from here in five years...go to college in the States."
“And they were told this, when?” asked Fox, his gaze turning from Dusky now scanning the bushes of wild berries, honeysuckle, and maple trees left of the den. “Wait...Dusky, come inside, quick,” continues Fox trotting back to the den."
"You've picked up some unwanted company," says Vixen who stealthily emerged from the den and is concealed several feet from Fox and Dusky in the brush. "Lynx is hunting you as we speak.”
“Hello,” says Dusky.
“Hello, how are you?" she replies.
“I’ve seen better days.”
“Better? What seems to be the problem?” The question directed more at Fox than Dusky. His vibe of imminent peril washing over her.
“Hold on Vixen,” says Fox. Let our guest come inside, he’s flown quite a way to visit us. Where's the hospitality?”
“Right there,” says Vixen, “when you go in and bring us breakfast to the dining room.”
“Dusky needs some good advice, Vix."
“I was preoccupied with lynx's movements. I didn't get the full story. And I came to find you. So don't start with that eavesdropping.”
Fox continues through the den after dropping the accusatory look on his face. He explains: “Dusky’s parents have been informed they must leave the country since they weren’t born here, and since Dusky is a minor, he can’t stay.”
"You're a natural born citizen, an excellent student, and a better person, from a great family. We should not have a problem remedying this situation."
“True,” says Fox, entering the dining room with two plates filled with blackberries, along with two glasses of orange juice. He sets one in front of Dusky and the other in front of himself. Fox asks Vixen, “you decided to skip breakfast today?”
“No, but you did,” she replies as she relieves him of the plate and orange juice in front of him. “See, now you have manners, Dusky. You know how to get along with people. While others,” says Vixen cutting her brown eyes in Fox’s direction, ”need some more training.”
“I brought our guest berries and a cool glass of juice. If that doesn’t scream father, husband, Crown Lake citizen of the year, what more could?”
"If I'm deported..."
“Dusky, if you are deported,” says Vixen, "You'll do what your parents did when they came here and made the most of the opportunity. And on that note, sir, since you...”
“Since you, pop Macaw, and your mom, Lorikeet, commit no crimes and run a fine restaurant, ” adds Fox, “there shouldn’t be any reason your family should be forced out of the country. You have a home here with us until this gets straightened out. See Vix, after Crown Lake citizen of the year, that’s the second thing we’ve agreed on this morning; feels like a trend.”
“Now," replies Vixen shaking her head, "we will contact Macaw and Lorikeet to find out where they are with all this. Make yourself comfortable, that thunderstorm looks to spawn a few twisters."
“Dad,” says daughter Kit as she enters the room. “Tarantula was here a moment ago. He says Horned Owl has tracked Dusky to this area. Dusky’s parents are due to be deported today.“
“Dusky” replies Fox. "Let's go, out the back. We need to find the wolf pack, they were through here earlier and left through the Passage of the Pines. I need to call in that favor Timber owes me.”