Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 9

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 9

Harley grabbed her messenger bag and hastily slung it over her shoulder. She glanced around the study making sure she had all she would need for the morning’s activities before switching out the lights and hurrying from the room. Mentally, she ticked off her schedule. “Council meeting, snack, nap, post-nap snack, teach Dachshund Ethics class at TUDU, lunch, nap, post-nap snack …” She snatched her lunch bag from the counter – Prescott had prepared it and she bet there was nothing good in there – and bustled out the door. “There just aren’t enough hours in the day,” she grumbled. “I have to go to the bookstore, but it’s Thursday and that means Roper has everything shutting down at 1:26 for his weekly parade; must be why Prescott and Gordy were so cranky this morning.”

While Roper’s love of a parade was well-known in The Under Dome, it was equally well-known how much Harley’s Buffaloes disliked them. Every Thursday, second Tuesday morning of the month and every other Monday afternoon Roper lined the buffaloes up at the front his themed parade and marched the procession around the town square. He designed, with the help of his stylist Jose, costumes for the bison that coordinated with whatever theme he had dreamed up for the parade. More often than not, the costumes involved sparkles, glitter, rhinestones (Roper’s favorite) and occasionally tinsel. Gordy and Prescott hated the costumes, but did enjoy the noteriety and acclaim that came from being the (as Roper called them) “Noble Bison leading the way to a powerful future for all of The Greater Under Dome … and it’s territories.” They were famous, and their celebrity often brought them new clients and business contacts. Gordy’s exercise studio, Hot Buffalo Yoga, had grown so large that he was now condisering an additional location on the other side of town. As a financial planner, Prescott was very much in demand by the wealthier vole families who loved being able to say their fortunes were being managed by such an auspicious buffalo.

Nevertheless, the buffaloes always bristled on Parade Days, often spending the morning snuffling grouchily and snapping at Harley. She understood their pique, but still wished fervently they wouldn’t take it out on her lunches – she knew she would not be finding the meat and cheese she so loved in the neatly packed cooler bag and resigned herself to tofu bites and soy chips.

*****

“I now call to order this meeting of The Under Dome City Council,” Roper Lee sat at the head of the table in Town Hall Conference Room T and gazed over the assembled Council-Voles, Council-Moles, assistants, secretaries and interns. “Does anyone know where Harley is?” he asked, glancing at Harry, who shook his head and shrugged his shoulders. Roper huffed out a sigh. “We’ll just have to start without her.”

The door burst open and Harley rushed in, just then, apologies tumbling from her snout.

Roper yelped at the sudden noise. “Aiinh!” he squeaked.

“Sorry, sorry, excuse me,” she muttered, skirting the table to take her reserved seat. “Traffic was slow and I had to go to the bookstore before coming here because someone (she glared at Roper) is closing all the shops early today. But I’m here now, so, you know, proceed.” She waved her paw dismissively toward Roper’s seat and began to rummage in her bag, pulling out a pad of paper and writing tools.

Roper made a production of looking at his notes and collecting himself before continuing. “We have a lot of ground to cover today so let’s get started,” he began. “First, I’d like to make a small announcement of a personal nature. It seems that my lovely wife, Fluffy, has decided that we need more children. So, to this end, she got herself all – what’s the word, Harry?” he turned to Harry, who whispered lowly in his hear. “Yes,pregnant, that’s right.” He looked as though he had swallowed something unpleasant as he continued. “So, I guess we’ll be having more kids and I’m getting the feeling she won’t let me sell these, either. I’m not really sure what we’re going to do with them, but, well, there it is.” He looked around the table as though waiting for a response. Some of the voles and moles clapped weakly. Harley rolled her eyes.

Roper straightened in his chair and went on. “In old business, it looks like we are still working on bringing tourists to The Under Dome. This report says we’re going to be holding some sort of Festival of the Vole next month and that certainly sounds exciting. Keep me posted on that. And, Harry, your cousin Vance has that soft rock band – you were going to get him to play in the park on Wednesday evenings, right? How’s that coming along?”

Harry fiddled with his VDA. “Sir, yes, Sir. Vance and the Vole Tones will be playing every Wednesday at the bandstand in Ringworm Memorial Park, Sir.”

“Good,” Roper nodded. “Very nice. Okay, on to new business. I’m promoting my kids’ nanny, Cookie the Poodle, to Defense Minister. You aren’t going to get to vote on this because I already told her she could have the job and quite frankly, she scares me so, you know. If any of you want to try to fire her now, go ahead, but do so at your own risk. She’s pretty mean. That said, I think she’ll do a great job protecting our city – she was quite helpful during the Armadillo Crisis and she does seem to have a certain something about her that inspires one to keep their distance.” He flipped through his notes.

“Also,” he looked at Harley. “I trust you and your Buffaloes will be at the Parade this afternoon?”

Harley looked up from her note-taking. “Uh, yes, as far as I know,” she nodded. “I have an announcement of my own whenever you’re finished, though.” She went back to her notes.

“Riight,” Roper said warily. Harley’s announcements were never to be anticipated, he knew. “Okay,” he said. “Our last order of business today involves upgrades to our Under Dome Dire Emergency Reporting System. It has come to my attention that most of the citizens are finding this very confusing so I think we need to come up with a clearer way of explaining how it works and launch a new marketing plan. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far,” he looked expectantly around the table. “U.D.D.E.R.S. is designed to make reporting emergency situations simple and fun for everyone. Don’t know what to fix your family for dinner? Did you forget what day it is? Have you been injured in a smelting incident? Did you spot an Armadillo or agent of Okinawa? Our operators are standing by to handle any level of emergency you may be experiencing.” He bounced slightly in his seat and went on, “Dial 011 if you are lonely and just want to hear a friendly voice. 111 operators are on hand to remind you what street you live on or your kids’ names. Press 211 for restaurant guides or entertainment options including movie and documentary listings. Dial 311 if you can’t find your car keys or your tire is flat. 411-level emergencies are strictly relating to public works disasters such as tears in street carpeting or pee pee accidents in public places. If you find a hot spot or cold spot, puddles, or any other potential climate-related or weather-related emergency, call 511 immediately. If you witness a fashion crime such as someone wearing white after Labor Day, too few sparkles on a jumpsuit or a bad comb-over, dial 611. To hear a listing of Roper’s favorite songs, call 711. 811 calls are limited to reported sightings of Armadilloes, Agents of Okinawa, New Money spies, or to report access-hatches to the World Above Under Dome left open.” He glared pointedly at Harley, “So those of you who repeatedly go above ground to do whatever it is you do and leave the door open – remember to close it!”

He glanced at his notes. “911 is really only for my personal use. I use it to call Harry or one of my Super Vole Squads when I’m out of mole waters or if I need to contact Jose regarding a new jumpsuit or some other really dire emergency.”

He settled back in his chair and looked at the Council. “So, what do you think?” he asked. “Oh, yes,” he sat up straight. “There is one more dire emergency that we need to include. I’ve added a 10 key to all VT&T phone systems in the Under Dome. 1011 is to be called to report that things have just gone completely wrong and we need to evacuate the City to The Under Dome Deeper. Now,” he aimed a pointed look at some of the Council-Voles. “We need to explain this very carefully to the general population. It is imperitive that they dial 1011 – not 10-10-11, which actually changes their long-distance service to Sprint. Remember, 1011. That’s 1-0-1-1,” he enunciated slowly. The voles nodded gravely. “Okay, then. Well, that’s all I have for now. Spread the word. Meeting adjourned.”

Voles and moles began to disperse quickly. Harley looked around and then stood up, shouting, “Wait a minute! I have an announcement!” She shot an irritated look at Roper. “Dang it, Roper! I had something to announce! Why did you adjourn the meeting?”

“Oops! I forgot.” giggled Roper. “Guess you’ll have to wait until next meeting,” he shrugged. “No more time – got to get ready for the Parade. It’s going to be wonderful … the theme is ‘United by Glitter’ and everyone will be wearing costumes made of glitter-encrusted grub-silk. Don’t be late! Hee, hee!” he scampered out of the room, leaving Harley fuming silently, alone.

Georgie Speaks

Georgie Speaks

Last fall, I noticed these weird mounds of dirt with holes in the center showing up in my yard. I heard the Mama Dog tell the Daddy Dog that “those damn gophers” had come back. She was really mad. In my capacity as Yard Supervisor, I immediately launched an official investigation, but was reprimanded for digging. In my continuing quest for knowledge, I attempted to initiate contact with the “damn gophers.” But when I shouted, “HELLOOOO!” into their doorways, there was no response.  I monitored the situation for several weeks days hours, and considered initiating negotiations with these interlopers, but it got dark pretty early so I decided it would be better to wait until I could look them in the eye.  It’s important to look a potential adversary in the eye when determining whether or not they are trustworthy … a lesson Bachmann has taught me.

Georgie says, "Helloooo!"
Georgie initiates a negotiation with the gophers.

Now that spring is upon us, I notice the strange dirt hummocks are more plentiful than before.  Mama Dog and Daddy Dog have resumed their discussions on how to deal with the “damn gophers.”  I’ve conducted many several two hours of research on these “damn gophers,” and have only come up with a paw full of information.  They are elusive creatures, indeed.  Nevertheless, I’m quite anxious to determine whether or not the gophers are still in residence, and if so, how we can work together to achieve a more harmonious yard experience for everyone.

Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 8

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 8

“And so I ask each and every one of you to dig deep into your Drazi pouches – I mean, pockets – and give all you can.” Roper stood behind a podium, looking out over the large crowd of business-moles, business-voles and Under Dome citizenry. He took a sip from the cup at the edge of the dais and waited for the refreshing mole waters to take effect. He hated public speaking. Well, he loved speaking into a camera and having his image and voice broadcast throughout the Under Dome on the close-caption vole-vision system while he relaxed in an undisclosed location. But standing in front of a large live audience made him nervous.

“The Under Dome Vole Center for Enlightenment has done a lot of great work,” he continued. “We have been able to establish a University to further vole and mole higher education, as well as offering support to many new businesses which add so much to our economy. But there is much yet to be done. Every Euro-grub contributed tonight will go towards funding new, plusher street carpeting and will ensure that no citizen of the Under Dome or Under Dome tourist will have sore feet while doing business or shopping for pleasure in our beautiful downtown area.” Roper glanced to the side of the stage area and nodded slightly to Harry, who began clapping loudly, triggering wild applause from the audience.

“In conclusion, I would like to thank all of you for attending tonight’s event. I would also like to thank Southside Cafe Catering for the delicious and tender meal. And most especially, I’d like to thank someone without whom I would not be able to do the work of leading this fine city – Mr. Harry the Vole.”

He gestured with his paw toward Harry. “Take a bow, Harry.” Harry bowed awkwardly then quickly retreated into the backstage area. The audience clapped politely. Roper nodded, clapping enthusiastically. “Yes, wonderful vole, that Harry,” he said. “So again, thank you all for coming and remember to drive softly.”

The audience began to move away from their tables and towards the exit, stopping suddenly when Roper squeaked excitedly from the stage. “Oh, yes!” he called, flapping his paws back and forth. “My lovely wife, Fluffy! She’s here with me! I mean, not on the stage of course – you certainly didn’t come to hear her speak, right? But she came with me. In the car. We brought the Vole-vo. It’s actually a very smooth ride and of course, I’m an excellent driver. You know, it’s interesting that I used to be afraid of driving. But now I just love it. Love, love, love it! It’s relaxing and exciting at the same time. Not too exciting – that might be dangerous…” Roper trailed off, staring with glazed eyes at the crowd. Suddenly he started and glanced around anxiously. “What was I saying? Oh, yes, Fluffy. Thank you, Fluffy, for coming with me tonight.”

He shrugged. “I guess that’s everything then.” Then he giggled and scampered off the stage, calling over his shoulder, “Hee hee!”

Harry caught up with Roper backstage. “I think that went very well, Sir,” he said, giving Roper a fresh cup of mole waters. “There seemed to be quite a few contributers to the ‘Street Carpet Fund’, Sir.”

“Yes, yes,” Roper nodded, sipping thirstily. “I’ve got a real gift for fundraising, don’t I, Harry?” Without waiting for an answer, he walked to the stage entrance and peeked out front. “Did you see Harley or her buffaloes out there tonight?”

“No, Sir. No buffaloes were in attendance, Sir.” Harry checked a guest list on his VDA. “But Mr. Prescott Buffalo did send a sizeable check, Sir. And Harley sent her regrets. Apparently she had a prior engagement, Sir.” Harry followed as Roper began to pace back and forth.

“Prior engagement, my paw!” snorted Roper. “She probably wanted to stay at home and watch V.V.” He emptied his cup and raised a paw at Harry. “That’s just like her, Harry. Selfish, self-absorbed, inconsiderate … she never thinks of the community – only her own comfort and pleasure. You know, Harry,” Roper lowered his voice and spoke intensely, “I’d like to be able to have more leisure time, too. I’d like to be able to stay home and watch V.V. with my family. I’d like to order a grub pizza, watch a movie with my kids or maybe spend the evening shaking my wife and rolling her over a log. But I don’t.” He spun around and pointed his paw at Harry. “I have a responsibility to this city and the voles and moles who live here. I have to get dressed up and make these public appearances for the good of the Under Dome. I wish Harley would take her own responsibility to the City as seriously.” He shook his head and sighed. “But I guess we’ll just have to keep trying to get her to see the importance of it all.”

“Yes, Sir. Importance, Sir. Would you like me to send an email, Sir?” Harry asked.

“No, Harry,” Roper said sadly. “It would only make her defensive. Let me think about it for a while – I’m sure I can come up with some way to impress upon her how vital her support is to the Under Dome. She’s always been so stubborn,” he added confidentially. “You have to sneak the responsibility in disguised as something frivolous that she wants to do.”

“Yes, Sir.” Harry nodded.

“Well, Harry,” Roper said, suddenly cheerful. “I guess the evening’s about over. Maybe it’s not too late to go home and roll Fluffy over a log. Send a Vole Squad to my home, Harry – I’m going to need them to shake her, then hold her.” Roper pranced off to collect Fluffy and head home.

“Yes, Sir. Shaking and holding, Sir. I’m on it, Sir.” Harry called to his retreating form.

The View From the Family Bed

The View From the Family Bed

The Family Bed Community is home to many Companions. By far, the most demanding and loudest member is this porky-mouthed beaver Bachmann. He is my most-trusted confidante, although I honestly don’t know why — he’s completely self-possessed.  I’ve found that I need to have more (and more intense) training sessions with Bachmann than any of my other Companions.  He’s quite stubborn, as I suppose beavers are wont to be.

Georgie and Family Bed Companion Bachmann
Georgie & Bachmann

He fancies himself to be a real cosmopolitan beaver, even though he hails from the wilds of the Great North. His family runs a ‘mom & pop’ beaver vanilla bottling plant.  His more irritating qualities include his constant tail-slapping and shrill announcements of ALERT! ALERT! … all day long. This interrupts my nap time and it’s very rude. Lately, he’s taken to using his tail as a lever to move rocks and begun referring to himself as ‘Bachemedes’.  Now he expects the Family Bed Companion Group Health Plan to pay for his unnecessary and grossly expensive tail-waxing procedure to fix the damage.   I’ve told him repeatedly that he can lever rocks until the cows come home but he’s still not going to be a mathematical pioneer with a shiny tail.  Whatever will I do with this rodent raconteur?

Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 7

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 7

“ … So you see, children,” Roper was having Story Time with the twins in his office. “That’s why you should never, ever get close to an Armadillo.” He dusted the pop-grub crumbs from his sweater and wiped his paws on the grub-linen napkin draped across his lap.

His 3 month old pups, Griff and Taffy, sat on the other side of his desk on a sofa upholstered in the softest grubshmere. They clapped excitedly as Roper finished his cautionary tale about Armadillos. “Oh, please, tell us more, Pa Pa!” they cried.

Roper glanced at the clock mounted on the wall. “Well, we really don’t have time today, children, for another story. You’re Au Pair will be here in a few minutes to take you to your welding class. We’ll have another story tomorrow, I promise. Maybe you’d like to hear the story of how your Pa Pa came into the world?”

“Oh yes, Pa Pa!” the twins exclaimed.

“Very well,” said Roper, pleased the children were so interested in what he had to say. He really enjoyed all the times they spent listening intently while he told story after story about himself and his life and achievements. It was so wonderful to share this quality time with them. He really should remember to tell Fluffy how grateful he was that she didn’t allow him to sell the twins when they were born, he thought to himself.

Then there was a sharp rap on his office door. “Yes, enter,” Roper called out.

Granny Cookie, the graying toy poodle toddled into the office and approached the twins. She looked at Roper. “Uhhnn,” she said.

“Yes, I know we ran a bit long today, Cookie,” Roper said. “We just enjoy hearing these stories of my life so very much, don’t we children?” The twins nodded.

“Well, anyway, they’re all yours,” he motioned toward Cookie. To the twins he said, “Be good at welding and remember to take deep shallow breaths.”

“Cookie, Fluffy and I have dinner plans – an important political event – this evening. We’ll be late getting home so make sure the children have their bath and recite their Pledge of The Under Dome Allegiance before bed,” he said to the poodle.

“Uhhnn.” Cookie replied.

“Okay, then,” Roper said. “See you later, children. Thank you Cookie.”

“Uhhnn.” Cookie and the twins exited the office.

“Cookie certainly seems like she’s in a good mood today,” Roper said to himself after the door had closed behind them.

I don’t know how long this meeting with Harry will last, he thought. Maybe I should dress for tonight’s event before I leave. I’ll just have to be extra careful not to spill anything on myself before Fluffy and I have to be at the Center for Vole Enlightenment fundraising dinner.

He rose from his desk chair and walked to the large walk in closet near his executive washroom. Entering, he flipped the switch just inside the door and light flooded the cavernous room, revealing row after row of hats, shoes, vests, fur coats in varying lengths, styles and colors as well as jewel encrusted jumpsuits and accessories.

“Let’s see,” Roper mumbled. “What to wear, what to wear …” He perused the rows of clothing, touching an item occasionally and pulling out different outfits and holding them up in front of himself at the full length mirrors covering one end of the room. He finally settled on a scarlet silk vest with a peacock embroidered across the back, a matching wide-brimmed hat and a teal green cravat studded with glittering stones. He carefully selected trousers of the same green color, but made from soft vole-velvet – a synthetic fabric made from grubs, but imitating the velvet like texture of the vole’s fur. It was one of the most popular fabrics made from grubs, as many voles found themselves facing premature pattern baldness on their bodies as they aged and they were happy to wear ‘vole-suits’ over their own thinning fur. Slipping on the pants, he admired himself in the mirror. He loved the way the pant legs puffed out at the haunches and then narrowed to a snug, narrow cuff at the knee, making his backside appear even more splendid. He next located the scarlet shoe-boots with pointed, bejeweled toes, a minimal 1 inch heel and a shiny grub shaped buckle across the top. He quickly stepped into the shoes and twirled in front of the mirror again. Checking to see that his hat was perched just right, he switched off the light, closed the door to the closet and zipped out the door of his office, on his way to meet Harry at the Southside Café.

Beard to Beard:  A Little Known Fact

Beard to Beard: A Little Known Fact

 

Because today is St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it appropriate to provide for you, gentle readers, the real story of this great Irish hero.

In the early fourth century, the island of Ireland was overrun with venomous, slithering, rude snakes. They terrorized the countryside – villagers and travelers lived in fear of the horrid asps. Until the day St. Patrick walked across the land, using his Holy stick to drive the serpents toward the Channel and forever eradicating them from the Emerald Isle. The news of this miracle spread quickly – to England and then throughout the European continent. Plagued by snakes themselves, leaders from other countries pleaded with St. Patrick to perform the same miracle in their lands. But Patrick refused. They begged and then accused him of being selfish. But still Patrick would not use his powerful staff to help them. It was his most effective revenge against all those who had contributed to robbing Ireland of its rightful position as a glorious world-power. To this day, Ireland remains snake-free while all other bo-hunky lands are subject to their serpentine whims.

An Off Schedule PSA from Georgie

An Off Schedule PSA from Georgie

Today is that most sacred of days – St. Patrick’s Day. In honor of this auspicious occasion, I’d like to offer this very special Irish blessing.

May those who love us love us.
And those that don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we’ll know them by their limping.

May the luck of the Irish be with you always. And thank you for your support.

Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 6

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 6

Harley swept into the kitchen of her Brownstone and plopped the restaurant carryout bags on the shiny marble counter. “Gordy, Prescott?!” she called out. “I’m back!” She was hungry enough that she came close to simply sticking her snout into the bags and inhaling the food. But she remembered that the buffaloes were around somewhere and likely to walk in at any moment. They would surely give her grief about ‘bolting’ her food or some other garbage about her health. To avoid the aggravation, she got a plate from the cabinet and set it on the counter next to the bags. As she was removing food from the bags and placing it on the plate, she allowed herself a small sample, just to take away the sharpest hunger pangs. Once her plate was filled, she carried it to the other side of the counter and climbed onto the cushioned bar stool. Realizing she had not asked for a to-go cup for her gravy, she climbed down from the stool and went to the refrigerator to see what drink choices were available. “Wheat grass, barley juice, rice milk, soy milk,” she muttered, irritated. “Don’t they want me to be even a little bit happy?” Finally, she found a lone bottle of plain water way in the back and grabbed it. Resignedly, she skulked back to her seat, climbed up and began to munch her food.

When Gordy and Prescott entered the kitchen a few moments later, Harley was stretching her tongue out the side of her snout, trying in vain to lick the last bits of pot pie from her chin. Spotting the buffaloes, she quickly snatched up a paper napkin and wiped her snout clean. “Hello, Gordy, Prescott,” she greeted them, shifting in her chair so the Southside Café carryout bag was less visible. “I got your text message at the Café so I just asked for my food to go and thought I’d come home and eat with you. You weren’t here when I came home so I just went ahead. Didn’t want to be late for my spa appointment.”

Gordy and Prescott stared pointedly at the carryout containers on the counter.

Harley looked uncomfortable. “Did you want some takeout?” She smiled in what she hoped was a casual, ‘I’m not having anything that’s not on my diet’ way. “There’s plenty to share – I planned on saving some for my supper later and then maybe for a late night snack …?” she ventured. Gordy and Prescott remained silent.

After a few moments, Prescott shook his woolly head. He looked at Gordy, then at Harley and shook his head again.

Harley reluctantly began loading the containers of food back into the bag. “It was healthy food,” she grumbled. “Just vegetables and stuff,” she added petulantly.

Gordy aimed a hard look her way.

Harley squirmed in her chair. “Pot pie with mashed potatoes and an empty tart shell,” she admitted grudgingly.

Gordy raised his shaggy eyebrows.

Harley said, “The tart of the day was grub and I told them to hold the grubs. Hence the empty tart shell.” She smiled. “A healthy vegetable pot pie and no dessert,” she finished triumphantly.

Prescott opened the carryout bag with one hoof and peered inside. He looked over at Gordy and then they both looked at her.

Harley tried to look at them, but couldn’t. She looked over their humps, then to the left and then to the right. Finally, she sighed.

“Meat.” Harley hung her head. “There was meat in the pot pie.” She looked up suddenly, a bright expression on her face. “I’m sure it was some low calorie, healthy kind of meat,” she pleaded.

Gordy and Prescott continued to peer inside the carryout bag and then at her.

“Okay, I don’t know what kind of meat was in the pot pie,” Harley grinched. “Meat, meat. I didn’t ask for details. I was starving. I mean starving. I had to walk all the way to the Café and then the snooty waiter was being all Frenchy and my blood sugar was so low I was about to pass out and I couldn’t understand what the waiter was saying except that everything was grubs this and grubs that and I just said bring me food or I’m going to die and they did.” She added sulkily, “It’s not like I asked to be so hungry. I couldn’t help it. I’m just a baby!”

Gordy and Prescott moved to stand on either side of Harley’s chair. Gordy rested his bearded chin on top of her head.

Prescott nodded and nuzzled her with his great shaggy hump. He snuffled softly and then Gordy grunted in agreement.

“But I don’t want to be active!” Harley cried. “I want to lay around and roll. To sleep all day and eat cheese. The pressure is just too much! I’m not Mary Lou Rettin for crying out loud! I’m just one glossy little dog!”

Beard to Beard:  Georgie Speaks

Beard to Beard: Georgie Speaks

Yesterday was my birthday.  I got some organic peanut butter biscuits that Mama Dog says I can only have one at a time, and “occasionally.”  What a crock.  They were a gift and I should be able to help myself whenever I want.

 

I thought I would also be getting a new Companion for the Family Bed, but I didn’t.  In fact, I’ve been hearing whispers that Daddy and Mama Dog think the Family Bed is “getting pretty full.”  I think they’re planning a purge.  I haven’t shared my concerns with my Companions, as I don’t want to worry them, but I’m pretty concerned.  You like to think that in a country like America, this sort of thing would never happen.  But it does.  And society just turns a blind eye.  I’ve lost quite a few friends to this type of “Companion Cleansing.”  There was Ted – he was a hyper-active T-Rex with inner ear issues … he just never stopped spinning.  But he was a valued member of the Family Bed.   Then he was just gone.  I mean, sure, he’d lost his squeaker and had a gaping wound in his backside.  But he mattered.  And Randall the Mallard.  He was my only Companion capable of flight.  I was planning a trip across the country with him.  He disappeared about a year ago and I haven’t seen him since.  Mama Dog said he went to Storage.  Wherever that is.  He hasn’t even sent a post card.  I think the only reason Silent Claude has survived the Purge is because he’s so quiet.  But it’s probably just a matter of time before they dispose of him, too.  So many good friends just gone in the blink of an eye … or the time elapsed during my naps.

 

I saw Mama Dog looking on the Internet the other day.  She said she was ordering a silver polishing cloth and some Oxy-Clean.  But I suspect she was actually looking for potential Companions.  I don’t know what kind of screening process Amazon has, but so far, they’ve been pretty good in their recommendations.  I hope that the addition of a new Companion won’t mean the demise of an old Companion.  Maybe I should start stashing them somewhere besides the Family Bed.  Or maybe the best solution would just be to get a bigger Family Bed.  Then there would be room for all my Companions.  You know, that big bed in the Daddy and Mama Dog’s bedroom looks pretty plush … maybe they’ll trade.

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 5

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 5

Harley was absorbed in her work a while later, when she heard the clatter of buffalo hooves on the floor of the upstairs mudroom. Gordy and Prescott had obviously returned from their morning walk. Hoping to catch them before they removed all their outdoor gear, she rushed to the intercom and pressed the ‘mudroom’ button. “Gordy, Prescott? Is that you?” No response came.

Harley left her desk and ventured upstairs to the entry where she found Gordy and Prescott removing their buffalo mittens, hats and the plaid scarves Cookie had knitted for them last Christmas. They glanced up at her when she said, “Oh, darn, I hoped to catch you before you dis-robed.” They rolled their eyes at her choice of words.

“I have a little job for you, if you have time.” Harley said. “I’d really like it taken care of this morning, but it can wait if you’re busy.”

Gordy and Prescott looked at her expectantly.

Harley began to herd them into the hearth room. “Why don’t you have a snack and I’ll tell you what I need,” she said.

While Gordy and Prescott busied themselves with snack preparation, Harley perched on one of the padded stools at the raised counter and explained her project.

“The night vision attachment for the periscope came this morning. I’d like to get it hooked up before the snow stops.”

She added, “I’ll be out of the house for most of the day so I won’t be under-hoof while you’re working. And I think I’ll meet Roper and Harry for lunch down town. Maybe I can have Veryl hook me up with a meat pot pie instead of grub …”

Prescott set a plate of barley crackers and soy cheese slices in front of her, along with a glass of rice milk. “Oh, my, doesn’t this look delicious …” Harley began, trying to conceal her disappointment at the healthy snack. “You know, I’m just sure I saw some little meat pockets in the freezer,” she began, pushing the plate away and starting to get down from the stool. Gordy dropped a gentle hoof on her back, nudging her back onto the stool and Prescott pushed the plate back in front of her. “Meat pockets?” she asked hopefully, lifting her eyes to the buffaloes.

Gordy and Prescott fixed reproving stares on her and she ducked her snout into the plate of whole grain crackers and fat free cheese. “Well, this is much better for me, anyway,” she said, resignedly, and began to nibble at the snack.

“Now,” she began, with her mouth full of cracker. Prescott glanced at her sharply. Harley swallowed the bite before continuing. “I’ll need to combine my monkey romp with a buffalo walk – I just won’t have time to do them separately since I have a gravy spa appointment today. Also,” she started to say, after another bite of soy cheese. But the dry cheese got stuck in her throat and she grabbed the glass of rice milk, gulping it down quickly, trying to wince openly at the thin, watery flavor. “Also,” she began again, “I have a spirit guide consultation this afternoon. I guess I’ll have to take care of that while we’re walking and romping. Boy, I can’t wait to get out in that snow!” She rubbed her paws together and grinned in anticipation.

Gordy cleared away the snack-time dishes, putting them into the dishwasher and adding soap. He turned to Prescott and they exchanged a look. Prescott turned to Harley expectantly.

“Oh, yes,” Harley said, remembering, “Just text me at the Café when you are done with the periscope. I’ll drop by on my way to the spa. I won’t be needing a ride,” she said. “I think I had better walk,” she added. “I plan to take on a lot of gravy and I want to be prepared.”

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

Roper Lee gazed down at his boys. “They’re so big and beautiful,” he sang to himself. He shifted his position on the soft velvet and chinchilla covered sofa in his spacious office and looked at them from a slightly different angle. “Yes-siree, they sure are magnificent.”

An idea suddenly struck him that was so inspired it had him scrambling gracelessly off the sofa and prancing eagerly to his desk. He pressed the intercom button on the telephone before remembering that Harry had left his desk earlier to oversee some top secret project or some other such thing. “Trout,” Roper grumbled, then he remembered the new communicators Harry had issued to all The Under Dome personnel. Touching his paw to his chest, he winced at the slight pressure, then said excitedly, “Roper to Harry. Come in, Harry.”

“Harry here, Sir,” came the prompt response.

“Harry, I’ve just had a barnstorm!” Roper squealed.

“Yes, Sir,” Harry said. “Just to confirm, Sir, was this an actual storm involving your barn or did you have an idea – a brainstorm, perhaps?”

“Oh, yes – brainstorm!!” Roper bounced from one dainty foot to the other. “I always mix those two things up.”

“I had an idea,” he continued rapidly. “An idea so amazing, so unbelievable, so woooooo!” he sang. “I need you in my office right away to discuss it.”

“Yes, Sir. In your office right away, Sir. However, Sir, as a reminder, it’s time for us to meet at the Southside Café for lunch. Would it be possible to discuss this idea over grub pot pie, Sir?”

“Oh, well, yes, certainly, we must have lunch. Well, then, okay. I’ll meet you at the Café, Harry. I’ll bring the Yugo! After lunch we’ll take a drive and work out the details.” Roper was already working through things in his mind. “Harley will probably be joining us, Harry. I know she’ll make fun of my idea, she’s always so unsupportive. You know how to handle this, right, Harry? To make things safe for me?” Roper’s voice rose to a plaintive whine.

“Yes, Sir. Counteracting measures for your sister’s unsupportive attitude will be in place, Sir.” Harry’s calm confidence washed over Roper, enveloping him in a chinchilla-like cocoon of love.

“Thank you, Harry.” Roper said, gratefully. “You’re so good to me.” His voice was choked with emotion.

“Yes, Sir.” Harry responded. “I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

“Okay,” Roper squeaked. Tapping his chest again, gently, he ended the communication, “Roper, Out.”

Roper inhaled a deep, shallow breath and then another, and another. After his light-headedness cleared away, he trotted across the deep pile carpet of his office and out the door. He pressed the button for the elevator and boarded it only after several more deep, shallow breaths. He was so dizzy, he almost forgot to press the ‘garage’ button. As the elevator car descended to the garage where his one-wheeled sport utility Yugo was parked, he reflected on his life, or after-life as it were. He was indeed a lucky butterscotch dachshund. Ruler of The Under Dome, Harry by his side, a sister like Harley, who, even though she was thoroughly un-supportive and often a just a little hateful, was clever and industrious. Even Cookie, with her ramming and snot- wiping and going flat craziness was a comforting presence in his world.

The elevator bumped gently to a stop and the doors slid open. Roper let his gaze fall on the gleaming butterscotch automobile that was one of his most prized possessions. All buttery shiny metallic paint and chrome, armadillo-proof glass, air-cushioned shock absorbers – it was a thing of beauty, much like his boys. In fact, he thought, as he opened the door and slipped behind the fur covered wheel, if his boys were buffed with a metallic wax, they might look very similar to his car, only more awe-inspiring.

Settling on the soft, fleecy seat, he pressed the push button start and the engine purred to life. Since Harry and his special Mechanic Vole Squad installed voice activated controls, he found driving much more enjoyable. He could lie back and watch his boys while giving verbal commands to the car and not have to worry so much about all those pesky details like watching where he was going. He instructed the car what to do and where to go and snuggled further into his Mohair suit. It was certainly chilly in The Under Dome today, he thought. He might have to consider moving the city down a level. As he worked through the details of such a move, the car slid quietly to a stop at the Southside Café.

Roper pressed a grub into the claw of the Volet waiting to park his car and entered the restaurant. He saw Harry already waiting at his favorite table and trotted across the floor to greet him. “Hello, Harry. Have you been waiting long?”

“No, Sir. Only a few minutes, Sir. I took the liberty of ordering your drink, Sir – a root beer float.” Harry was always efficient.

“Thank you Harry,” Roper said as he sat on the bean bag cushion of the chair. “I take it Harley isn’t here, yet?”

“No, Sir.”

“Well, let’s hurry and discuss this before she gets here and avoid that grief.”

“Indeed, Sir.”

“As you know, Harry, I have implemented an education system in The Under Dome, including the Vole Tech and The Under Dome University. We are dedicating the new TDU library building at the end of January and we don’t have a sculpture or work of art in front of it, yet. Is that correct?” Roper was in full business mode.

“That is correct, Sir. We have not been able to agree on a suitable representation of what education means in The Under Dome.” Harry was busily making notes in his VDA (Vole Data Accessory).

“Well, Harry, I have the perfect subject for a sculpture that will be a symbol to all who enter of what we should all strive for – perfection! Are you ready Harry?” Roper quivered with excitement and anticipation of Harry’s reaction to his idea.

“Yes, Sir.” Harry continued making notes.

“A giant sculpture done in butterscotch marble of … MY BOYS!”

“Yes, Sir. Indeed, Sir. Perfection, Sir. Butterscotch marble boys, Sir. Inspired, Sir.” Harry’s note taking took on a frantic quality as he worked through the details of the project in his VDA. “I’ll get right on that, Sir. Brilliant, Sir. It will be an inspiration to every Vole and Mole in The Under Dome, Sir.”

“Yes,” Roper beamed, “it certainly will.”

“It certainly will, what?” asked Harley, approaching the table and taking the vacant seat.

“Oh, nothing.” Roper answered, nervously looking at Harry for support. “We were just discussing the new Under Dome University library dedication. We think it’s really going to be a great benefit to the Voles and Moles in The Under Dome. Isn’t that what we were saying, Harry?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Oh.” Harley said. “So, why did you want me to have lunch with you, Roper? You know I don’t really like grubs.”

“Well,” Roper began, but broke off when the waiter appeared at their table.

“Are you ready to order Monsieur Roper?” he asked. “Our special today is grub pot pie with a side of mashed sweet grubs and whole grub rolls with grub butter. We are pairing it with a delicate grub rose’ and sparkling mole waters spritzer and for dessert a warm grub turnover topped with frozen grub-gurt.”

“That sounds lovely,” Roper said. “I love a good grub pot pie! Harry, what will you have?”

“I think just a Grubb Salad, Sir. I’m watching my weight through the holidays. And a grub and tonic to drink, please.”

“Very good,” replied the waiter, turning to Harley. “And for you, Madamoiselle?”

“Okay, I’d like the grub pot pie, but I want to hold the grubs and substitute that for meat. Also, I’ll have the mashed sweet grubs, but instead of mashed grubs, I’ll take mashed potatoes. And I’ll take some bread, lightly toasted. I’ll skip the spritzer and just have some gravy to drink. And for dessert, I’ll have the grub tart minus the grubs and the grub-gurt.” Harley closed her menu and handed it to the astonished waiter.

“But, but, but the special today is grubs, Madamoiselle. You cannot substitute for the grubs!” he sputtered.

“Well, listen up Brenda, I’m grub-tose intolerant and if there are any grubs in or near my food I will bloat up like a puffer kite and then I will sue and my whale will make sure I OWN this café! Now trot off like a good vole and get my food!”

The waiter scampered off to the kitchen. Roper cleared his throat. “You know, Harley,” he began, “this is a grub restaurant. And The Under Dome does have a grub based economy. You could show a little more respect for our customs and traditions.” He looked toward Harry and was comforted by Harry’s head, nodding in agreement.

“Look,” Harley groused. “You know I don’t like grubs. They alter the texture of my poop. They make it grainy and give it a whang. Plus, I’m a carnivore and grubs aren’t real meat. Now I can get on board with a lot of the ideas and policies in The Under Dome. But eating grubs and grubs alone is not one of of them. I need meat, cheese, gravy. Come on, Roper – remember what it was like to eat something besides grubs? Remember that roast beef you wrestled Grandpa for? Wasn’t that tender, juicy, succulent piece of beef worth the burns and blisters on your tongue? Didn’t you feel stronger and more alive after you ate it? I’m sorry, but I’m not becoming a grub-i-vore just because it’s politically correct.  I’ve already given up buffalo and other foods that reference buffaloes out of respect for Gordy and Prescott. I am not a Vole!” She shook her paw in defiance. “Now, I’ll apologize to the waiter for being snarky. I’m very hungry and it makes me cranky. My mid morning snack was kind of disappointing. Prescott fed me a veggie pizza with fat free cheese. He said he was concerned about my cholesterol level or some nonsense. Anyway, I’m starving, and this is trout!” She tossed her snout in the air indicating she was closing the subject.

“Toochee.” Roper whistled to Harry. “She obviously needs a good shaking, right Harry?”

“Obviously, Sir.”

“Whatever,” Harley grumped. “Why don’t you just tell me what you wanted to talk to me about over lunch,” she snapped. “I have appointments and stuff this afternoon.”

“Oh, yes!” Roper said, “I did want to discuss something fairly important with you. Although your attitude has me of half a mind to not mention it at all …” he added.

The waiter chose that moment to deliver their drinks. Harley immediately snatched the mug of gravy from the table and chugged down a healthy mouthful. Roper attempted to sip his mole waters spritzer through a straw, only to find that his one lip did not allow him proper suction. A rivulet of liquid dribbled down his chin whiskers and splattered onto the linen tablecloth. He gave up the straw, stuck his snout into the glass and began to slurp noisily. Harry watched them both while sipping neatly from his glass.

Harley set her half empty gravy mug on the table with a thump. “Well,” she said sharply, “I’m waiting, Roper.”

“Hmm? What? Oh.” Roper looked up from his glass, now empty, mole waters dripping off his chin. “Sorry, I just suddenly felt absolutelyparched.” He wiped at his chin delicately with a soft cloth napkin. “Well, as I was saying, I have a position that I think you might be the right person for, Harley. It seems that The Under Dome University has a shortage of qualified instructors. Voles and moles keep showing up for classes, but there isn’t anyone to teach them. They just sit around looking at each other until it’s time to move on to the next class and at the end of the day, they aren’t any smarter than they were at the beginning.” Roper gestured wildly with his paws, his eyes glassy and huge, droplets of liquid flying from his lip. “It’s crazy! I mean there they are, just sitting around looking at each other and not saying anything and not learning anything and not doing anything. How are they supposed to learn how to do things the way I want them done if there’s no one there to show them and tell them?” The gesturing escalated until he was practically weaving out of his seat. “I don’t know what’s in this mole waters, but I love it! Love it, love it, love it!” Leaning forward across the table into Harley’s face, he ended suddenly, “I want you to be the Dean of The Under Dome University and hire some people to teach the classes.”

Harley leaned away from Roper’s face, now only inches from hers. “O-o-o-ka-y-y-y, Roper. Calm down a little and go easy on the mole juice.” She said, holding her paws out as if to ward off harm.

“Mole waters,” Roper said, “like waters from a mole.” He settled back into his seat and began to signal to the waiter for a refill.

Harley and Harry shared a look, then Harry said gently, “Sir, I think perhaps you might want to hold off on another mole waters, Sir. It might be perceived that you are showing a favoritism toward the moles by drinking their waters. It would be very harmful to maintaining the support of your vole constituency, Sir, and they are most valuable to your position in The Under Dome, Sir.”

Roper’s expression fell, “Really, Harry?” his voice held the pleading quality both Harry and Harley were quite familiar with. “But the mole waters is just so refreshing.” He looked hopefully at the approaching waiter.

“Yes, Sir. Indeed, Sir. Just a suggestion, Sir.”

Harley did not feel the need to coddle Roper or protect his incredibly tender feelings. She blew air through her snout and said matter-of-factly, “Roper, you are completely soused. That mole waters has gone straight to your head where it did not encounter any thing that might stop it from sloshing around there and making you seem even more wiggedy-wiggedy wack than usual. Have some coffee and get hold of yourself.”

Roper straightened in his chair and cleared his throat. “Of course, you’re right. I do have an image to maintain. Waiter,” he addressed the vole hovering at his side, “I’d like a cup of grubber-mint tea with cream, please.”

“Very good.” The waiter hurried off to fill the order.

“Now,” Roper said, making visible effort to hold himself steady in his chair, “where were we? Oh, yes. The Dean’s position at TDU. What do you think, Harley? Interested?”

Harley, the edge from her terrible hunger temporarily taken away by the mug of gravy, leaned back in her chair and looked thoughtful. In her mind, she could see herself molding and shaping the minds of the voles and moles in The Under Dome with her stimulating lectures, witty anecdotes and powerful charisma. She imagined herself in front of a great hall, wearing very intellectual-looking reading glasses while eager young voles absorbed every inspired word she uttered. Then she imagined piles of paperwork, meetings with disgruntled parents and students, miles of bureaucratic red tape to be waded through and saw herself thin and haggard, her once glossy fur dull and matted, chained to a desk inside a windowless, airless room. Photos and postcards on the desk showed Gordy and Prescott in a variety of exotic vacation locations always with the words ‘wish you were here,’ displayed somewhere. She saw the whale packing trunks and suitcases and heard him saying “you just spend all your time working, I need more …” Harley shuddered. “I don’t think that’s really the direction I want to take my future,” she said. “But I can help you put together a list of possible candidates for the job,” she offered, “and help out temporarily by teaching a few classes here and there.”

“Oh, well, okay,” Roper had though for sure Harley would jump at the opportunity. Disappointed but resilient, he sipped his tea and nodded, “I’m sure whatever help you can give us will be great, Harley.”

Just then, the sound of Harley’s cell phone startled them all. “It’s a text message from Prescott,” she said, reading the display. “I have to go.” She signaled the waiter, who approached the table quickly.

“Yes, Madamoiselle?”

“I’m going to need my food to go,” she said. “Right away.”

“Yes, of course, right away.” He scurried off toward the kitchen and returned a few minutes later with a container and a bag. “Here you are, Madamoiselle. Enjoy your meal and please come again soon.” His words belied the relieved expression on his face when Harley took her carryout containers and rose from the table to leave.

“Roper, I’ll see you later this afternoon for the council meeting. Harry, I’ll email you a list of candidates for that job and you can let me know what courses at the University you might want me to teach. Now, remember, I said temporarily. That means short term. The Whale will be back in May and I’ll be traveling extensively over the summer. I won’t be changing my plans just because you dawdle around and don’t find a replacement, Roper.” As she spoke, she pulled Euro Grubs from her pocket and tossed some on the table. “Later,” she said, and walked quickly out of the restaurant.

“Well, that was interesting, as usual, wouldn’t you agree, Harry?” Roper commented as he sipped his tea.

“Yes, Sir, interesting, Sir. Although she was more helpful than normal, Sir. She must be feeling the Christmas spirit, Sir.” Harry nodded and made more notes in his VDA.

“Yes, Christmas Spirit.” Roper murmured absently as he gently stroked his chin whiskers. “I wonder where she was off to in such a hurry?”

The waiter brought their food and Roper and Harry settled in to enjoy a quiet meal before returning to the office.

“Harry, I find this grub pot pie to be the most comforting food,” Roper said around a mouthful. “It’s warm and creamy and the grubs are so tender. Makes me feel so warm and safe.”

“Yes, Sir. Safe, Sir.” Harry agreed. He nibbled carefully at his Grubb Salad and continued to make notes in his VDA.