Wolf stopped gnawing on his third plate of Lapin Bleu d'Auvergne and pointed at Deer with his fork. "The problem," he said, "is that you've got a bum deal going on with your agent. You're paying him far too much if all he was able to get you was public affection. I mean, there's what-- thirteen million white-tailed deer in the United States alone, right?"
Deer looked down at his glass, which was half-full of some white wine. He was a little unsure whether or not he liked it, as he didn't really know what made wine good or bad or even what type of wine it happened to be. He'd looked at the menu, become flummoxed by the French, and had simply asked the waiter (in English) for something vegetarian with a suitable wine. This was his second glass or maybe his third; he'd already forgotten. He swished it around a little.
"Thirty million, actually," said Deer. "Not thirteen."
"Damn," Wolf said. "That many?" He shoveled another bite of undercooked rabbit into his mouth and slouched back in his chair so that one paw hung over the backrest. "Still, you've got numerical superiority. Your agent should be using that for way more than you've got. I mean, look at Meg. Before I found her, Wolf wasn't a household word. She took us and made wolves really important. This whole predation thing-- I mean, no offense, I know that caused some problems between us way back when."
Deer shrugged. "It's not a big deal anymore."
"Good. Anyway, Meg's the one who landed us the predator spot. She also helped get public sympathy on our side over recent years and pulled the wildlife federations onboard. Your agent, meanwhile, has been sitting on his ass and eating through your budget."
"That's not true," Deer said. His ears fell slightly back. "He got us that whole Bambi PR campaign, and that's been helpful in--"
"Bambi is becoming obsolete. That was in the forties, right? We're talking one stroke of genius seventy years ago. That's an awful long time to rely on Bambi's mother to make kids not shoot deer when they grow up. You have to sell your product every day, not just one movie at a time."
"Well, we've been negotiating with Disney for more movies."
"What, Bambi sequels? I'm going to let you know right now that those do pretty much zilch for the public at large. You've already seen that." Deer nodded and swished his wine again. "You have to do more than make the occasional movie about your species. You have to sell little chunks, little pieces of real estate. Sure, I have Dances With Wolves, but Meg and I have also slipped wolves into all sorts of other movies. Wolf is Hollywood's go-to name for natural-world villains and chase sequences. It takes work to develop that kind of reputation."
"And you want to help me with that sort of thing?"
"I want to help you because you're my friend."
Deer sighed and looked up from his glass. "All right," he said. "Tell me what you think I should do, and I'll let you know what I'm thinking."
"First, get rid of your agent. He's holding you back. You should get rid of him tomorrow, if possible."
"That's harsh. We've been buddies for a while."
"Natural selection is a harsh business. Tell him you're through and that you're tired of just surviving. You want to hog the spotlight before there's no more spotlight to go around. Tell him that life's about to get busy because you've got to pull together a proposal for advertising campaigns. Speaking of campaigns-- If you want, I can get Meg to send you a copy of the one we put together, because it's got the works. We hired a designer to make a real nice, simple logo and a bunch of posters and stuff."
Deer took a sip from his glass. "That'd be nice, I guess. I'd like to take a look at that."
"Sure thing." Wolf pulled out his phone. "Consider it done. I'll message Meg to send you the whole package, and I'll even make her throw in the rough we've put together for our newest TV spot."
"Oh, you don't have to leak me your unfinished stuff. I don't want to cause you any trouble."
"Of course I have to," Wolf said. "I like you, and we've done a lot of work together in the past. You deserve at least something from me."
"Well," Deer said, making a face, "You can call the waiter back over here and tell him to bring me a red wine; I'm not sure I like this one at all."
"That's your third glass!"
"I've decided that I don't like it."
Wolf grinned. "Sure thing." He whistled at a waiter, who promptly ran over to their table. Wolf told him to bring over a bottle of the house's finest red Bordeaux, and to bring it quickly. The waiter nodded and sprinted towards the kitchen.
"I don't think I've ever seen waiters that fast before," Deer said.
"It's because they know me. I tip big."
"So I can have service as fast as yours if I get a new agent and work on my ads?"
"Absolutely," said Wolf. "You can have what I have and then some. The president would shake your hoof. The pope would kiss your ring."
Deer laughed. He was quiet for a moment, looking around at the restaurant's lavish decor, before he spoke again. "So, what about the numbers?"
Wolf held out his paws. "Already told you," he said. "The public loves wolves, we've got unprecedented product awareness, and our domestic line has some of the highest ratings anywhere."
"What, dogs?" Wolf beamed. Deer frowned. "I'm not sure dogs can really be considered wolves anymore."
"Well, maybe not-- but people attribute dogs to wolves. We're so closely associated that seeing a dog is free and immediate advertising for the Wolf brand."
"But that's an eventuality I don't want," said Deer. "Domestication is not an option."
"It has its ups and downs. Look, you talk to my agent, and she can talk you through some ideas that don't involve sacrificing your wildness. She's good at working with her clients."
Deer began swishing his glass again. "Sure," he said. "I guess I could call." The waiter ran up to their table, breathing heavily and proudly holding up a bottle, but Deer said that he could only handle so much and that he didn't want to drink any more.