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Book 1 – Chapter 4 – Still Receive Your Kiss – Part 1

I had given introductions to furry before Elory. I met a girl at the Bisexual Women’s Conference in Worcester who was a dolphin. She loved them; their wacky sexuality, exhibitionism and sleek lines. She wanted to know more.

Therein lay the problem. As far as I knew, furry fans never felt the need to form an educational resource. Furry emerged from the anthropomorphic fans who went to sci-fi/fantasy conventions and already knew each other. Their art and rants were spread to the four bulletin boards, along with the out-of-print comics and obscure websites that were so well known in the community, no one bothered to link to them.

When Simon set me up on a forum on-line, I shared what I thought to be a very cool sketch of a fox-centaur emerging from a cocoon. Imagine my shock when certain members piled on each other to decimate it for its derivative nature. Apparently, several artists known to everyone but me would take offense at its bone structure, and someone presented a long-forgotten thread that already had a link to the picture buried on page 16. Since then, I kept my trap shut around the Critic Fur crowd until I pored through Simon’s stack of Required Reading, including Tailchaser’s Song, Redwall, Omaha the Cat Dancer, and of course, Albedo. For some reason, Maus wasn’t on the syllabus, possibly because it’s so depressing.

The WatchFurs were fun to read for people into Discordianism, elegant dissections of conservative thought, and hot Japanese sites. The SpiritFurs tended to fawn over weird new stories as proof of supernatural acts, unless they were discussing Buddhist non-attachment; then it was a free for all. The BusyBeeFurs organized meet-and-munches, entire conventions, and their own businesses. They were the most sensible, but they could be a little dull.

I’d lost the list I had written up for the dolphin girl and had to recompile it for Elory. I didn’t include the artists’ blogs – there is the art, and then there is the artists themselves. I love their work, but they whine the more they assume everybody’s reading them.

Furry has unchronicled history. A newbie has to plunge in, make friends, hear gossip and get perspective before they’re on the same wavelength if they want to contribute anything. That is, if they care about such things. I’m just in it for the cuddling and the porn.

I used to think the whole community would collapse after a few nasty breakups between the most connected people. The biggest contributors to furry in popular culture, like Orson Scott Card and Don Bluth, as well as half the dealers at the conventions, won’t admit to being furry. I’d hoped I could change that, but now, I’m saddened and humbled by how much effort some people will go through to peer at the community through their freak-colored glasses, and the community’s own desire to stay closeted.

Needless to say, my email to Elory grew very long. She replied to thank me, and said that she would be at the game night.

I was in the mood for fun Thursday night, so I took off for the Diesel Café after work. I changed into the heaviest blue skirt I had, which I didn’t realize had ruffles around the base from when it was a remnant from Garment District bargain bins. It came up to my calves by the time I was done with it, but that was why God invented boots.

I met my friend Rachel by the Café’s pool table. She worked at a non-profit and gave me my monthly infusion of righteous indignation. She had come with a bunch of girls I vaguely knew from the activist groups in college, and they all were impressed by my tail. They wanted to see how it fit against my spine. Before that week, I would strip down at the wink of an eye, but that night I wanted to keep the mystery under my skirt. I said they would have to invite me over to their bedrooms sometime. They were all hooked up. I had no need to worry.

Rachel and I caught up on the past few months’ news, and had to be interrupted when it was our turn to shoot. They left serious clearance for my tail. It spread out far behind me when I leaned over the edge. They said it wagged when I hit two balls in at once, even though one was colored and the other was stripes.

In a booth wedged beside the counter, Elory was chatting with a gnomish man. I had seen him at the parties when I was with Angie. He was one of those highly-connected people who everyone knows everyone else through. I knew him as Peter, Chymer and Guildencranz, depending on the crowd. I had no idea when they’d arrived. They couldn’t have been dating. Elory seemed to have been completely housebound until recently, and I never saw Peter playing with girls her age.

She must have noticed me on her way in. I couldn’t concentrate on the pool, and Rachel kicked my ass. While I waited for the next round, I grabbed this girl from the Lesbian Avengers and asked how they were doing. I plugged her for every morsel of gossip and backstory. I gave the appropriate “Uh huh”s to keep her at it. Her pupils reflected the lampshades on the walls. Elory and Peter were laughing, and their heads never turned, but I knew they were talking about me.

I caught Rachel after her turn at the table. I asked her if she recognized the woman with Peter.

“She seems vaguely familiar,” she said. “You know her?”

“Yeah,” I said, and edged around Rachel before Elory caught us watching. “She’s a friend of a friend. Sorry, it’s nothing. I didn’t expect to see her here.”

“I know how that is,” Rachel said, and waved to a girl she didn’t know as she passed us.

I hunted for Elory’s name on-line at home. She was selling more of her old clothes on Craigslist. Her name was on the list of donators to a few GLBT legal funds and internet radio stations. I combed through the Edwards Chemicals site but she wasn’t important enough to be listed.

Two interesting pages referenced her writings, but the sources weren’t on-line. The first page was an essay on the nature of good and evil in modern Pagan faiths. The author was so opinionated that I doubted the essay ever made it to print. He wrote, “Even Elory Burke’s ‘Tract of Aam’ is warmed-over Eastern philosophy – a Yin/Yang symbol in a kilt. These concepts have power in their original names, not some tarted-up version rebranded for the Western world. We believe in ‘Aam’ as much as we believe that the children in ‘Gamera’ films are named ‘Johnny’ and ‘Annie.’”

After clicking for an hour on anything Aam-related, I found an email on a newsgroup which explained, “Aam is the Divine’s love for all creation.” I figured that Aam was a koan, a hidden teaching, or something entirely flaky.

A message on an Alexandrian ritual list mentioned her. “What happened to Elory? I never see her around anymore,” one person had written. Another responded, “After the Ritual of Ama fiasco, do you really think she’ll show her face at any gathering again? Even Catherine’s left her.”

Further searches on the Ritual turned up a few messages along the lines of, “What was she thinking, posting that?” The Ritual itself had been swallowed up by the internet.

Either Elory had been very careful to keep her pages from being archived, or someone had asked them to be removed. I had more information about myself on-line than she did.

Simon picked up Trisha and me for the game night. He hadn’t finished paying off his parents for the ‘ZkazzMobile,’ and he had done some heavy negotiating to get the night free from them. Trisha pushed the passenger seat as far back as it would go for her long legs, so I buckled myself in behind Simon. My tail must have settled in my lap since Trisha had twisted herself to spy on me. “How’s the new harness working?” she said.

“Really good,” I said. “I bought it from a woman who might be there tonight.”

“That’s neat,” Simon said. “What’s she like?”

“She’s interesting,” I said. “She’s forty and has a Playstation. Oh, and she was a furry in the eighties.”

“Did they have furry in the eighties?” Trisha said.

Simon switched to his smooth professor-voice. “Indeed. That is when Omaha came out.”


Simon adjusted the rear view mirror to watch me. “So, what games does she have?”

“For her Playstation? I don’t know. They weren’t out.”

Trisha stared out her window, embarrassed. Without Chet, he only had one thing on his mind.

Categories: Book 1 - How Cheryl Got Her Tail, Chapter 4 - Still Receive Your Kiss.

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