• Published 9th Oct 2016
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A Basket, A Blanket, and a Bundle of Bills - kudzuhaiku



One morning, just before work, Copperquick finds a basket, a blanket, and a bundle of bills

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Chapter 2

Ramshackle. Derelict. Dilapidated. Condemned. All of these words could be used to describe the foal services building. The cornerstone of the building had a brass face over it and Copperquick wondered what the building used to be before it was repurposed. He didn’t have the luxury of time to think about it though, as the filly was now a shrieking siren of misery.

The basket, made of cheap materials, was already disintegrating. Parts of it flaked off in his mouth, leaving behind a bitter flavour that disgusted him. Moving with haste, he made his way to the large front door of the building. Much to his surprise, it was not stairs, but a switchback ramp that lead up to the door, which was elevated off of the sidewalk. The condition of the doors was not reassuring. One door, which had decayed off of its hinges, had been secured into place with support beams and lots of nails. The other door, the hinges and the wood were in such bad shape that it appeared as though it could fall off at any time.

If a foal was left at the fire department, did it come here? Is that why foals were left at the fire department or some other public service building? Because any pony coming to this place would see how bad it was. Summoning his courage, Copperquick made his way through the door, which creaked open at his touch.


The ceiling was a confusing, chaotic mess of steam pipes and brass conduits. The walls were coming down, the wainscotting was rotten in many places, water stained, and in some places, it was gone completely, revealing grey stone. The scent of mildew was heavy in the air. There was a long dark hallway with a somewhat brighter alcove some ways in.

The wailing sound of the foal echoed up and down the hallway, causing Copperquick to wonder how long it took before a foal starved to death. He began to wonder if anypony was even here, or if this place was abandoned. As he approached the alcove, a pony stepped into view. Squinting, he got himself a better look as he continued forward through the dim hallway.

The pony appeared to be an older filly or a young mare. She was wearing a cardigan sweater, which was smart, because it was chilly in here, she had big square glasses upon her face, and her dark brown or black mane was drawn up into a big messy bun that spilled out everywhere. She was the colour of buttermilk, a distinctive yellow-white.

“Oh, hello,” the pony said as she moved down the hall, “What a powerful set of lungs that little foal has!”

“I need help,” Copperquick replied in a frantic voice after he set the basket down upon the floor.

“My name is Miss Oddbody and I—ew!” The pegasus, and it was clear that she was a pegasus, came to a halt and her muzzle crinkled in disgust. “Somepony made a stinky!”

“I don’t know how to change a diaper. Or feed her. Or do anything. She just showed up in front of my apartment door this morning.” Feeling stupid, Copperquick just stood there. “I was told to speak to Twilight Velvet.”

“Okay!” Miss Oddbody smiled. “A few things real fast! Mrs. Velvet is not here at the moment, but she should be returning. I need your explicit permission to touch the foal before I can help you. Now, would you please, please, please give me the permission I need because it smells SOOOOOOOOO bad!”

“You have my permiss—” Copperquick never got a chance to finish. Miss Oddbody and the basket just vanished. She was quick. She was Wonderbolts quick. He wasn’t even sure where she went. Blinking, he craned his head and looked around.

He took a few more steps and walked into the alcove proper. A battered looking desk, some chairs, a ratty looking sofa, and a stained floor with rough stone in desperate need of polishing. There was a little sign on the desk telling visitors to ring the bell for service, but there was no bell. With nothing else to do, he sat down on the couch to wait.


Maybe fifteen minutes to perhaps a half an hour later, Miss Oddbody returned. The basket was gone and the foal was in a proper carrier which she had around her neck. The filly was a little damp, but clean and fresh looking. When Miss Oddbody came into the room, she brought the smell of foal powder and soap with her. She pulled the carrier from her neck and set it down upon the floor near the couch. She picked up the squeaky clean filly, hugged her, and then turned to face Copperquick on the couch.

Humming to herself, she pushed Copperquick back on the couch, then, without warning, she slipped the foal into Copperquick’s forelegs, leaving him both startled and surprised. Using a wing, she popped the pacifier out of the filly’s mouth and stuck it right into Copperquick’s. Before the filly could start to cry or protest, the nipple of a bottle was slipped between her lips and the bottle itself was placed in her forelegs. Content, the filly lay back in her father’s embrace, and fed.

“Whew, that was easy!” Miss Oddbody said in a voice that held far too much enthusiasm.

Unable to reply, Copperquick was stuck holding the pacifier in his mouth.

“Okay, she has a bit of diaper rash and she shows a few signs of neglect, but we can fix that! And no, I am not accusing you, so don’t get the wrong idea.” Miss Oddbody booped Copperquick on the nose and then gave him a reassuring smile. “These signs of neglect take a while to set in and you said she was placed in front of your door this morning. Now, don’t be angry either, we can make her well again. Well, you can make her well and I will do what I can to help you, if Mrs. Velvet assigns me to your case, which I am positive that she will.”

Copperquick was forced to wonder when Miss Oddbody took time to breathe.

“Thank you so much for coming to us for help!” With a swift movement of her wing, the pegasus uncorked Copperquick’s mouth, allowing him to talk again. “Now, tell me about yourself. Why are you here?”

“I need help,” Copperquick replied, realising that the pacifier had been strategically used to keep him silent for a time. “I don’t know what I’m doing, I’ve never cared for a foal before, I just lost my job because I couldn’t do my deliveries, I have college classes tonight, and without a job, I’m going to be evicted in a month.”

“Oh my!” Miss Oddbody’s smile wavered for a moment and for a second, it appeared as though her eyes glittered with rage. “Oh my goodness! We can’t have that at all! A young single father homeless…” the pegasus’ volume dropped a fair bit. “Oh dear… oh… oh bother, I don’t have a script to follow for this. In fact, I’ve never had even one single single father come into this place. Should I use the standard script for mares?” Using her hoof, she scratched her chin.

“Um, Miss, if you ain’t offended by me asking, but how many cups of coffee have you had today?” Copperquick asked.

“Seventeen cups of Celestial Glory tea so far! It’s very invigorating! At night, I drink Lunar Lullaby to help me sleep! And I need sleep to help me be an enthusiastic go getter! Because Twilight Velvet demands one hundred and eleven percent from me at all times!”

Terrified, Copperquick just nodded and held his daughter.

“Being a single mom—parent! Yes, parent! Being a single parent is tough—I can adapt the script, yes I can. We can help you obtain various services to help you through this difficult period of adjustment and then help you transition into parenthood.”

Miss Oddbody lept up onto the couch beside Copperquick and checked out the filly, seeing how much she had suckled from the bottle. “She’s pudgy, but not nearly pudgy enough for her age. She’s burned through too much of her foal fat. It’s distressing. Mrs. Velvet might become mildly unprofessional for a moment or even an hour when she sees that.”

Copperquick thought of the note and how it mentioned the constant crying. He also felt a spark of anger, but there wasn’t much he could do about it. Cielo del Este was a very busy mare. Maybe there just wasn’t enough time in her day. He tried to muster some sympathy and failed, as he had a pretty good idea of how she was.

“Look at her, I think she likes you.” Miss Oddbody fawned over the filly for a moment, then, lifting her head, she looked Copperquick in the eye. “It’s gonna be tough. It’s gonna be the toughest time you ever had in your life. When she becomes a yearling, it’ll be a little easier in some ways, but even harder in others. But it will be totes worth it, do you know why?”

“Why?” Copperquick was desperate for some kind of hope to cling to.

“Because, little fillies worship their daddies and that’s awesome!” Miss Oddbody’s impressive volume made Copperquick’s ears quiver and pivot. “I love my sweet Daddums… he’s working two jobs to put me through university and him and Moomy write to me every week.”

“Uh huh.”

“Oh wow, she’s a drinker.” The powerfully perky pegasus mare looked impressed as she checked out the bottle, which was almost empty. “She’s still going. I think she’s gonna finish it. That much formula… POO-BOMB!”

Copperquick almost lept right off of the couch because of the sudden outburst.

“KABLOOEY!”

“Miss Oddbody! Poo-bomb… really?” A middle aged mare walked into the alcove and shook her head while smiling. She was wearing a heavy brown coat, battered, wrinkled, and covered with pockets. An ancient fedora sat at a rakish angle on her head.

“He needs help!” Miss Oddbody sucked in a deep breath and then just blurted out, “Mrs. Velvet, he’s a single father that just had this foal show up in front of his door this morning, he lost his job, he has no idea how to care for a foal, he has no income, the foal shows signs of neglect, and he has college classes tonight.”

“Oh,” Twilight Velvet breathed in a calm sort of way. Her eyes glittered and then a pleased smile spread across her lips. “A single father in need of help. I was just wondering when this opportunity would present itself. Might I have your name, sir?”

“Copperquick.”

“Well, Mister Copperquick, do not be troubled. Oh, things will be rough, there will be a lot of messy diapers, some screaming, and some scary times, but everything will be okay.” Twilight Velvet focused upon Miss Oddbody. “Buttermilk Oddbody, you are assigned to—”

“YES! YES! YES!” Leaping from the couch, the pegasus pronked around the office.

“Oh dear… she’s approaching the twenty cup of tea threshold,” Twilight Velvet deadpanned. She tossed her hat upon the desk and then began removing her coat, slipping out of it in a well practiced shimmy. “Dearie, do calm down!”

“WEEEEEEEEEEE! I need a cup of tea!” Squealing like a teakettle, the pegasus pronked right through a doorway and vanished, but her squeal lingered on.

“If she’s not careful, she’ll pronk her glasses right off again.” Twilight Velvet stared at the door through which her assistant vanished for several seconds, then turned her head to look at Copperquick. “If I had an army of ponies just like her, I could fix the foal crisis that Equestria currently faces.”

“That bad, eh?” Copperquick squeezed the tiny bundle in his forelegs and realised that the bottle was empty.

So did Twilight Velvet. She walked over, lifted the bottle in her magic, floated it over to the desk, set it down, and then lifted up the filly from Copperquick’s forelegs. A clean towel was conjured, placed over the stallion’s shoulder, and then, before he realised what was going on, he was holding his daughter again.

“Pat her back until she burps. Then praise her.”

“Okay.” Copperquick nodded and then began patting the tiny filly on the back with his folded fetlock.

“Don’t be shy about it, she’s a little earth pony. Slap that gas right out of her. But not too hard, of course.” Twilight Velvet smiled and then began to examine the little filly held by her father. After a few seconds, the smile vanished and she looked very stern. The corner of her eye twitched in a most alarming way, and then the mare pulled herself away.

“Mister Copperquick, I need your help,” Twilight Velvet began in a low voice that sounded a little gritty, as though she needed a drink or perhaps a cup of soothing tea. “You came to me during a time of reform. There has been social upheaval in Equestria and we are doing things in new and exciting ways now.”

“What can I do?” Copperquick asked.

“Get help for your daughter. Keep her, and never let go. I need you to fight for her.”

“I don’t follow.” Copperquick frowned and tried to understand what was being said to him.

“We have some laws that protect and aid single mothers, but no such laws exist for single fathers. I aim to change that. But I need a single father willing to challenge the system. I won’t lie, it’s gonna be tough. It’s probably going to be degrading and all manner of unpleasantness will take place. But… if you help me…”

“You’ll help me?” Copperquick’s ears pivoted around and he focused on the mare speaking to him.

“Well, I will help you no matter what, but you have a chance to help others.” Twilight Velvet gave the earth pony stallion a hopeful look. “I will assign Miss Oddbody to help you. She will foalsit tonight while you go to school. She will stay with you, I assume that you have a reasonably comfortable couch. She is a light sleeper and if that foal so much as farts in her sleep, she will wake up and check on it. Starting right now, you will have a full time job, but it doesn’t pay anything. It’s going to be an awful job. You will be waiting in lines and trying to push through red tape. Miss Oddbody will help you. Reform has to begin somewhere. You help me, and I will do everything I can to help you.”

“A full time job that pays nothing?” Copperquick gave Twilight Velvet a good natured smile. “Do I get a job title?”

“Typically, we call this position ‘Daddy,’ but there are some options.” The middle aged mare’s smile returned.

“WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” Miss Oddbody went whizzing by, her wings buzzing like a hummingbird’s as she flew a few feet above the floor, a cup of steaming tea held between her front hooves, which she somehow did not spill. She vanished through another doorway saying, “I can fly, it’s amazing!”

Shaking her head, Twilight Velvet rubbed her neck with her hoof and said, “Tell me, Mister Copperquick, have you ever seen a squirrel trapped in a pegasus’ body before?”

Author's Note:

Ever been mildly annoyed by one of your own characters?