From the author: Living in America is hard, especially if you're not human...
Doing Time In The U.S.A. By David Perlmutter I.
When the lightning and thunder hit, Jane woke with a start.
Just as well. She’d been having the terrible dream about being pursued by the wolves in the forest, and then…
No. Best not to think about that.
She turned on the bedside lamp with some difficulty, and examined herself in the light. She seemed whole and intact. Fur properly matted, ears still in place atop her head, tail at her ass, hoofs still at the end of her limbs. She was fine.
But for how long?
“I can’t go to pieces”, she told herself. “They’re counting on me to do this thing, and do it well. I can’t let them down.”
With that in mind, she turned the lamp off and lay back down. Although it was a long and torturous time before she actually allowed herself to sleep again.
All the time Jane had been in America, she had cursed herself repeatedly for making the decision that brought her there. Often, when it seemed things were at their worst, she wished that it was easy to go home. That she could just “wake” herself up and she’d be back. But it never worked when she tried to do it.
“Home”, for her, was as foreign and strange a place to the eyes of an American as this place was to her. The land of Anthropomorph had no boundaries set by geography or physics, and could be dropped nearby or into whenever, whatever, or whichever place it chose-or sometimes not. Here, everything impossible on Earth was possible. Animals mute and quadriplegic on Earth were able to speak fluent English, and walk on two legs, with fully developed brains, skeletal systems, and spinal cords. Numerous other impossibilities which would astonish residents of Earth were seen as commonplace to the realm’s residents. Yet free and fluid traffic, without question, existed between Anthropomorph and Earth. For what other means existed for Hollywood to create its marvels by borrowing those of Anthropomorph?
Indeed, the film and television production companies of Hollywood had invested heavily in Anthropomorph, and, though this was disliked by many in the latter place, was able to negotiate the most lucrative economic and political advantages possible. Yet this managed to allow for the residents of Anthropomorph- and the numerous kingdoms affiliated with it through a commonwealth arrangement- to have lucrative Hollywood careers if they so chose to have them. Some took the offer and prospered on Earth, but many others did not. Others still preferred anonymity to fame and remained there.
Jane Whitetail (she had adopted the surname to avoid been characterized as simply a mere “doe”) had hoped to be among the anonymous, for she shared the timidity and anxiety felt by her equivalent kind on Earth. But that was not the case.
She already knew that most of the universities in Anthropomorph were simply Hollywood training grounds, and she had no interest in that. But, upon graduating from high school, she discovered, to her horror, that none of the schools that managed to offer non-entertainment options offered a degree program in the discipline she wanted to study!
It might have been different had she wished to reconsider. However, she and her parents, instead, decided to investigate what options there might be for her chosen career training on Earth.
They found a place.
It was in America. Not Hollywood, though it was also located in that country. It was in a city called Chicago, at a university called Loyola. Jane decided to go once she saw her chosen program was available. So she left her home in Gennett, Anthropomorph’s capital, by walking up a long flight of steps always connected to Earth at the top, though the final destination might be different every time. Fortunately for her, she arrived in Chicago immediately after passing through customs and immigration.
Jane soon came to regret her impulsive decision, based on the complications involved.
There was, for example, the problem of trying to blend in with such a large population of beings that looked nothing like her. Presenting herself as she was led to other people screaming at her, backing off, and running away in terror. She’d known before leaving for Earth that the population was reluctant to accept anyone who did not look like them, but such a blatant response of fear to her presence seemed to Jane perfectly ridiculous.
No matter. She came prepared.
Her eyes, lacking color pigmentation, became hidden behind a special pair of Anthropomorph sunglasses that gave the wearer full human-like color vision. Her top and bottom hooves became hidden by gloves at the top and nylon stockings at the bottom. She made her shapely deer body invisible by wearing a grey trench coat at all times. And she disguised her attractive face with a combination false nose and moustache set. This was enough to give her the anonymity in appearance she desired.
The climate was another matter. Chicago was known as “The Windy City” for a reason. Being built on low ground, the city’s resulting flatness encouraged the wind to build up to high speeds and rapid movements, coming in stiletto cuts from the Chicago River and wider whip lashes from Lake Michigan. Jane had come to town in the summer, but she knew the city experienced even more paralyzing winds, known locally as “The Hawk”, in the winter. So she made certain to purchase cold weather gear to help her out in Anthropomorph.
And then there was the noise.
Not that there wasn’t any in Anthropomorph, but she’d long ago adapted to that. Chicago was different. Everywhere she went, people of all ages and sizes yacked it up like it was going out of style. People routinely honked the horns of their cars as if it was another form of communication. They walked past buskers and panhandlers without a second thought (whereas, in Anthropomorph, both professions were legal and respected, and drew big crowds). And they never apologized if they bumped into you in the street, something you could at least expect in Anthropomorph. Even when she tried to do research at the Loyola library or the central downtown library branch, or eat a meal in a restaurant, it was the same thing. People too loud, music too loud, and the wind rubbing it in your face if you were outside.
There were smaller indignities, too. To get from her rented apartment to Loyola, she had to walk down Michigan Avenue, with its fabled “Magnificent Mile” of shops. There, at one corner, stood a store that bore the brand of one of the entertainment companies that held Anthropomorph’s economy in a death grip. It became nearly impossible for her to pass it without wanting to expectorate, or vomit, or both.
Otherwise, though, things were fine. She had feared, being a vegetarian, that she’d be mocked for her lifestyle choice. However, she was pleasantly surprised to find that all the restaurants she found- even the fast food ones- had full veg meals available beyond the lame attempts at “salad” that she had been warned about by others who had made the trip before her. She was a productive student at school and became well known for stating good opinions in class, and that earned her occasional invites to indulge in her sweet tooth at one of the downtown Ghiardelli stores with others. But, even there, no one saw her outside of her “human” disguise.
Yet that was what was going to happen tonight, before she had a chance to re-enter dreamland.
With her sharp hearing, Jane could hear things impossible for human ears to detect at higher volumes. So it was no surprise that she heard, from her small apartment’s bedroom, the sound of the front door being knocked from its hinges as its wood splintered apart.
Shocked and appalled at such an intrusion on her privacy, she let it get the better of her. Throwing on her basic non-trench coat clothes, she entered the living room.
“Hey!” she said, with as much force as she could. “What are you….?”
She stopped, for two reasons. First, she had not, in a rush, donned any elements of her “disguise”. So whoever she was confronting was going to be seeing her as she was, unshielded. As a humanoid deer- a situation she had been desperately trying to avoid.
Second, because she knew, quickly, that she was no match for the other person physically.
He was an African American, in his mid-20s, over 6 feet tall and built entirely of muscle. In contrast, Anthropomorph deer in their humanoid form are, like their quadruped counterparts, built for speed rather than strength. Females of this species, are, like many mammals in general, shorter and less muscular than males. Consequently, Jane- not tall even by the standards of her species- literally did not measure up to this menacing stranger.
Third, and most importantly, she was female, and he male. The rest goes without saying.
“Wha’ the hell?” he drawled. “Who said that?”
“I did,” she answered, now timid again.
“Where you at?”
“Turn the light on.”
He did. And was shocked.
“Damn, girl,” he whispered softly, not wishing to attract undue attention. “Wha’ the hell are you?”
Not wanting to risk being made a fool of, she tried a basic explanation.
“I’m a deer.”
“You ain’t none of that,” he objected. “Where yo’ antlers at?”
“It’s…only the bucks that have them.”
“Bucks. The guys. I’m a doe.”
“One of their ladies?”
“Yes.” Then, as she tried to change the subject: “Do you live here? In Chicago, I mean?”
“Hell, yeah. Born and raised on the South Side, baby. You from here?”
She looked away. “No.”
“Didn’t think you was. You must-a be some sort of alien, or…”
“I’m….an exchange student. Look, you obviously have the wrong place, so maybe….”
“Naw. I thought I did at first. But now I see I’m in the right one.”
“You stupid or something? You comin’ out a’ here wit’ me right now!”
He removed a long, thin piece of metal from his pocket, and held it against her skin.
“Cause I SAID so!” he said.
“But why do you want me?”
“You a real dumbass, you know that?” he said. “Why you think any man want any woman?”
It dawned on her. Her jaw dropped.
“You can’t be serious!”
“Look- you built like a human woman, right?”
“I mean you got yo’self tits, an’ a vagina, an’ curved hips, and all that?”
“Then that’s all you need for me. Git’ goin.”
Not willing to be impaled on his metal rod, she obeyed.
“Man, they gon’ give me plenty for you,” he muttered.
“Who?” muttered Jane.
“Girl, you must be a ‘change student at some remedial school! Lincoln Park Zoo is what I mean. That’s where all the deer hang out in Chicago nowadays. After I’m done with ya, I’m makin’ sure you get back to livin’ wit’ yo’ kind.”
She did not have the courage to tell him that they were not her “kind” at all.
She was taken to his car, and made to sit next to him in the passenger seat, where she endured his lewd glances and suggestions for the length of the trip.
His intent was to take her to his home on the South Side, have his way with her, and then leave her with the other non-human deer as a freakish specimen to be mocked. Everything she had tried to avoid being all this time.
But it never happened.
The man was a wanted criminal, and, naturally, his movements attracted the attention of the police. They discovered his whereabouts when he got onto the highway that encircled the city. A chase ensued that had him drive north towards O’Hare Airport and back down south again to try them. This was possible because, that late at night, the normally car-clogged highway was almost completely free of traffic.
In desperation, he drove towards Grant Park, and parked near the park’s entrance. He forced Jane out, and made her run with him down the park’s deserted streets, the pair being tailed by the same uniformed police officers who had been pursuing them on the highway. These individuals pulled out their guns and shot at the man and Jane both. Her natural speed prevented her from being hit, but he was quickly taken down. Fearing that she would be shot, Jane took shelter on the grounds surrounding the Buckingham Fountain.
Because of the lateness of the hour, the fountain was not in operation, but the massive, ornate sculpture that served at its base was enough to attract and hold Jane’s attention. She was awed by it, standing completely still to drink in all of its majesty.
Or she did, until one of the police officers pursuing her tapped her on the shoulder.
What followed was a mutual display of shock and surprise from both of them. So intimidated was he by her that she feared the worst. Not the Zoo, which was bad enough. But prison- with others not of her kind.
Yet, again, she was spared.
All they wanted to know from her was to explain why she was with him at that time, and if she was, in any way, an accomplice to any of his crimes. She explained the former by explaining the apartment break-in and her capture, and insisted she had not been involved with him at all prior to that time. To her credit, they believed her, and let her go.
Jane had hoped that this would be the end of it. But it wasn’t.
Chicago being Chicago, crime occurred as regularly as it did in other cities, if not more often due to the size of the city and its population. However, it was extremely rare that a humanized deer (or, to Earth eyes, an “animated cartoon character”) was the actual or intended victim of any crime in the city. Inevitably, word of the incident and the victim got around town even before Jane had finished walking back to her apartment house.
When that happened, she was met at the entrance by a reporter and camera crew from a prominent local TV station, WGN, and had a microphone shoved so far towards her face that she could have bitten off its head.
If her teeth had been sharp enough for that, that is.
She remained calm through the interview, explaining patiently who she was and why she was in Chicago, and the circumstances of her capture and near-rape. However, she had grown confident enough in herself during the ordeal to also deliver, in closing, what she hoped was a rebuke to what she felt was an incorrigible city and country.
“I’m just doing time in the U.S.A.,” she said, “not unlike the rest of you.”
And that, she hoped, would finally be the end of it.
Again, she was wrong.
WGN aired the story on their morning newscast, and thus, when Jane, who had taken advantage of having no morning classes that day by sleeping in, emerged outside again, she was recognized and surrounded.
It wasn’t the lynch mob she was expecting, though.
Far from it.
She was the kind of exotic creature rarely seen even in that jaded, cosmopolitan place, and, to her surprise and delight, she was now being celebrated rather than feared for that. Why, some people had even picked up on her “Doing Time In The USA” phrase and were selling clothing with it embossed on it!
The circle completed when she arrived at Loyola, and found a large number of her classmates and other students now willing and able to accept her as she was, without any sort of disguise.
She realized that, now, she didn’t have to live in fear and isolation in Chicago anymore.
Which was all well and good.
For, if she was going to be the YouTube influencer she was going to Loyola to learn how to be, she needed plenty of practice and experience engaging and keeping the public’s attention!
Anybody who loves animated cartoons should be interested in knowing the truth about them. Which is that they have lives after the camera stops filming, and pretty interesting ones at that. This book will give you the truth about who they are and what they feel, direct from their lips. Particularly about how the leaders of the world want them out of the way, for good....
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