ON THE 14TH
 
 
 
 
 
 

February 14th had been a day like no other for Gadget Hackwrench. She now

lay in her bed, unable to sleep. Chip and Dale had, as usual, attempted to

win her over. And, as usual, she had neither encouraged nor rejected either

of them. But it bothered her, somehow, because this year the competition

had seemed more serious. Chip's gift of a poem, a poem that expressed more

than passing interest, was quite unexpected. And what of Dale's utterly

romantic card and dinner, it had indeed been too much for her. She never

wanted that kind of attention before, yet today...today it had made her

feel like some lovesick girl out of a seedy romance novel. Perhaps a

southern belle torn between two lovers. It was all so exciting and

surprising. Gadget wasn't sure whether she was more surprised over the

extent of the affections presented towards her, or whether more surprised

over her actually enjoying them.
 
 

It wasn't that she didn't want to be involved with anyone, but rather that

she just didn't feel ready to add a relationship into her life. And who was

to say that she should get involved with Chip or Dale, or someone else

entirely. She thought on that for a moment, then decided that Dale probably

wasn't a true candidate. Dale was so wonderful and sweet, but they were

just too different. and Foxglove did so have her heart set upon him. But

what of Chip? Her exact feelings were difficult to pin down. I mean, in

many ways, Chip could be the perfect guy for just about everybody. He was

quite understanding. Aggressive in his pursuits, yet careful not to go too

far. He could be a tad overbearing, but no more than she herself was

obsessive. Chip was her friend, one of her best. He was also her leader,

the

leader of the group, albeit not officially. And she truly cared for him,

but love? She wasn't quite sure it was that. Maybe in time it would be. Or

maybe in time it would be someone else that would lay claim to her heart.

*Golly! Now I am starting to think about this stuff too much!* A knock at

the door interrupted her.
 
 

"Yes?" she called.
 
 

The door opened partway to reveal Chip. Gadget wasn't sure if she was

enthused or disappointed, it was difficult to tell. "Oh, hello Chip.

Something I can do for you?"
 
 

"Actually, yes, there is." he replied. " I want to set something right."
 
 

"Set something right?"
 
 

"Yes. Gadget...I feel that I was way out of line today. That I went a

little bit too far. And...and If I troubled you, I'm sorry. I guess I just

suffer from the writer's curse. Give me a pen an paper and I'll write

something completely ridiculous and inappropriate."
 
 

"Don't fuss over it, Chip. It's Ok. I promise I'll never even give it

another thought. Really." *Because I really don't want to.*
 
 

"You sure?"
 
 

"Uh-huh."
 
 

"I am sorry."
 
 

"Go to bed, Chip"
 
 

"I shouldn't have said all that."
 
 

"Go to BED, Chip."
 
 

"Sometimes I just get carried away."
 
 

"GO to BED, Chip."
 
 

"And I say things I shouldn't-"
 
 

Gadget looked up heavenward. "Why doesn't he hear me? I know I'm speaking,

I can hear my voice."
 
 

"Well, I should be going. Goodnight."
 
 

"Argh! GOODNIGHT!"
 
 

The door close behind the chipmunk, and he merrily went on his way.

*Was he trying to annoy me?* she thought to herself. *Goodness, that

chipmunk can be so annoying from time to time.* Gadget felt around under

her pillow and produced the poem that she and Chip had just spoke of. After

reading it through once more, she lay back, resting her head on the soft

pillow. Her arm reached up and felt one of the tinkertoy wheels that was

fastened to the top of her bedpost. She removed it, twisted it around in

her hand, then absent-mindedly tossed it across the room. It hit her mirror

and shot right back, nailing her in the chest. It then rolled all the way

down her body, dipped off between her legs, and came to a rest against her

foot. She sat up, almost dumbfounded at the lightning reaction. A quick

glance at the mirror revealed that it was unscathed. she picked up the

wheel and examined it, as though seeing it for the first time. It was

nothing out of the ordinary. Just a simple toy, a toy Gadget had found a

wonderful use for in many areas of the Ranger tree. She didn't really know

what it was like to not be able to see things in one's mind, not be able to

look at something and see it for something far greater. And as she fingered

the wheel, her mind was already forming altogether new and intriguing uses

for the thing. The poem lay next to her. She only became aware of it again

when she rolled over and heard it rumpling. Coming out of her trance, she

then picked up the love note and placed in one of her drawers, a drawer

where she kept some of her most private possessions and memories. Come the

morning, she would probably lock it inside the chest she kept in her

workshop. Nothing would ever disturb it there. A stray thought wandered

into her mind. "What if this is the only thing like this I ever receive?"

she said without thinking. She chased it out quickly. *What AM I thinking?*

I'm filling my head with all this mindless drivel! I mean, I'm keeping

myself awake, worrying and wondering about all this stuff that I wouldn't

ordinarily give a passing thought to! It's this stupid time of year,

that's all! For all the good it was meant to do, it seems to be bringing me

only inner turmoil! Ooooooh!*
 
 

Gadget panted for a moment, angry at herself for getting so worked up over

non-existant romances. "Control yourself Gadget." she said to herself.

"Calm down. Sleep. I need sleep. That's all I need." Settling down, she

collapsed back into a lying position and tried to let sleep overtake her.

She was, unfortunately, letdown. As though against her will, she threw open

her dresser drawer and grabbed the poem. Her first instinct would have been

to throw it across the room, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. "Chip

worked really hard on this." And she knew she could never destroy it,

regardless of whom may have written it. It could have been anybody, she

would not be able to bring herself to such a distasteful and uncaring deed.

Well, maybe if it had been Rat Capone. But since it wasn't. She couldn't.

She was truly furious with herself now. *Looks like I won't get much sleep

tonight.* She sighed inwardly. The worst part is that it was all her own

doing. It was her fault for never saying anything. She should have come out

before and said yes or no to Chip, yes or no to Dale, or no to both of

them. In pretending to be oblivious, she had only made the situation worse.

It might have been a good plan at one time, but now she realized it for a

harmful mistake. *It could be worse, she mused, *It can always be worse.*

She stood up, theorizing that the best way to deal with the situation now

was to have a drink. An honest to goodness alcoholic beverage. *Only a

drunk person would get into this to begin with, I guess I'll need to think

like a drunk person to get out of it.* She knew she was kidding herself,

that she would never get herself drunk. It went against all common sense,

and though one could argue that Gadget Hackwrench has not always made use

of this basic tool, one could also say that she is not completely lacking

it.
 
 

Sure enough, she entered the kitchen and helped herself to Monterey's

private stash of fine whiskey (used mainly in cooking, lest you be worried

I'm portraying him as a secret drunk) and poured herself a small amount.

She held it up, then allowed a small amount to pass through her lips and

down her throat. No, Gadget would certainly not find herself drunk. She

probably would have trouble finishing her thimbleful. Staring off into

space, Gadget knew there was only one thing she could do, only one thing

that might provide her with an answer.
 
 

"Dad?" she asked. "Daddy? I know more than anything else you've always

wanted me to be happy, to be myself. But right now I just don't know what

to do? I need some clarity, some direction in my life. I mean, I love the

work I'm doing here as a Rescue Ranger, but...but I need to be more in

touch with my personal feelings. I don't know if you can hear me, dad? But

I do know that you're out there, up there somewhere. I just want to know

what I should do, and I don't know who else to ask. Please, daddy, give me

the clarity I need. I love you." Poor Gadget was altogether engrossed in

her prayer that she

screamed aloud with fright when she felt a hand touch her shoulder.
 
 

"Aaaaah!" she yelled.
 
 

"Whoa! Whoa! Settle down Gadget. It's just me!"
 
 

Gadget turned to look at her intruder. Her facial expression turned from

one of shock to one of

annoyance. "I thought I told you to go to bed, Chip."
 
 

"I did go. But I couldn't sleep. I realize I still needed to make things

right."
 
 

"You've done enough already, thank you."
 
 

"Gadget...I'm only going to say this once. I just want to be your friend.

All that other stuff doesn't mean anything if you're not my friend when all

is said and done. He reached out his hand and took the poem from her own,

then crumpled it."
 
 

Gadget turned her head sharply. "You didn't have to do that."
 
 

"Yes, I did."
 
 

"You gave it to me, and it was mine. And it was the most beautiful,

poignant thing anyone has ever given me, don't you realize that? It was an

outcry of you feelings!"
 
 

"Now it's garbage."
 
 

"What do you want from me, Chip? What do you expect of me? You've put me in

a really bad position here!"
 
 

"And it was wrong of me to do that. So I'm getting you out of it. I want

you to just let it go, permanently. Forget it. Put it out of your mind. It

doesn't matter what I feel. It's what you feel."
 
 

You know what the unfair thing is? It's that you are someone that I can

bring myself to love very, very easily, Chip. But I'm really just not ready

to take on something like that right now.
 
 

"Then don't. Gadget, you might very well find someone else who will become

the world to you. And I won't begrudge it to you if you do. All that's

important is that you follow your own heart and climb the steps of your own

soul. Take the time you need. If you need a month, I'll wait. If you need a

year, I'll wait. If you need a decade, I'll still be waiting. Only tell me

either way. If you find someone else, don't hide it from me because you're

afraid I'll be hurt. Because it would hurt me much worse if you kept it

from me. What I'm trying to say is, I'll wait for you. Even though you're

not a sure thing. But I don't want to lose what we have right now. Because

love or no,. there is still a great connection between us. One that we

haven't completely explored yet. You're a very integral part of this team.

So take all the time you need to sort some of this stuff out. Just have the

heart to forgive me for pushing so hard."
 
 

Gadget merely soaked in all his words without speaking. She nearly cried

over them.
 
 

"Thank you." She whispered. "For understanding."
 
 

"I just want you to be happy, regardless of what happens to me. Now, I'm

afraid I must leave you. You've got a lot of soul searching to do, and that

is best done in privacy. And I promise never to speak of any of this again

unless you ask me to. Business as usual, Gadget."
 
 

"Goodnight, Chip."
 
 

"G'night! Sleep well, we go hunting for a new case tomorrow."
 
 

"You know I will!"

****************************************************************************

**

The Next Day.....................
 
 

Scene: Atop the ceiling fan of the local police precinct.
 
 
 
 

"Ahoy Chipper!" shouted Monterey Jack. "You spy anything worthy of our

interest yet? I'm gettin' a mite tired o' hangin' around here! There ain't

even a bloomin' piece of cheese t'be had!"
 
 

"So they're lousy caterers! No, nothing yet. Looks like we seem to have hit

a dry spell. Perhaps we should use the opportunity to take a quick, 3-day

vacation."
 
 

Everyone's head slowly turned to look at him, and each ranger had a

downright dumbfounded lokk on their face.
 
 

"Chip!" began Gadget "Are you suggesting we take a break? YOU? Quick!

Somebody get this on tape! We can use it against him later! He's getting

softer!"
 
 

"All right Allright! Very funny! Can't a guy do something slightly out of

the ordinary around here once in a while?
 
 

The four seemed to huddle for a moment, then simultaneously said "No!"
 
 

"Who cares?" shouted Dale. "Let's just take him up on it before he changes

his mind!"
 
 

"ZZzzzzz!" said Zipper, which translates loosely into "Yeah, really!"
 
 

"Too right!" exclaimed Monterey Jack. "Where to?"
 
 

"Well, I think I could get us down to Florida by 1 this morning. Any

objections?" asked Gadget.
 
 

A moment of silence, then Chip said "It's settled. Florida. C'mon, let;s

get packed and moving. Every minute wasted here is one less one spent at

ease."
 
 

It was as though they were stampeding for the Rangerplane, and indeed they

were. During their run, Gadget gave Chip a cryptic, inquiruing look.
 
 

"Well." he said, "Business almost as usual." was all he said.
 
 

And Gadget Hackwrench understood, and smiled to herself. *He may not be

perfect, but I wouldn't have him any other way. Maybe, just maybe, we

do.........nah!*
 
 
 
 

FINIS