Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 22

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 22

“This is stupid!” Harley snarled as she stood on the sidewalk in downtown Under Dome with B.H. and Harry. “I can’t believe Roper’s having a parade at the same time the Vole Sports Network is airing the Mary Lou Retton gymnastics special! I mean, I’m recording it to watch later, but it won’t be the same as seeing it live,” she groused.

B.H. nodded his head in agreement. The tiny t-shirt he wore sported a photo of Mary Lou Retton at the moment of her 1984 Olympic triumph, arms up, a victorious smile on her face as she received thunderous ovation after she stuck a perfect dismount from the vault. Even though Harley had ordered the XXX Super Small size from Volezon.com, B.H. swam in the shirt. The sleeves were rolled up so many times the resulting cuffs were puffy and kept the little vole from being able to put his arms against his sides. On a normal sized form, the image of Mary Lou Retton would have appeared as a small picture in the middle of the shirt front. On B.H., she appeared to be about the same size as he. With her upraised arms it looked like his head was floating on her outstretched fingers like some sort of bizarre trophy raised high in victory.

“I just don’t know why he keeps truckin’ those Beaver Tested Vole Squads around town,” she continued her tirade. “Everyone knows they’re there – it’s not like those bright yellow and green uniforms are hard to spot. And, really, what kind of message does it send about Under Dome Security when you see them marching behind the Buffaloes, looking like little fluorescent droppings skittering along the streets?!”

Harry cleared his throat. “They’re Beaver Trained, Harley – not tested,” he reminded her gently. “And Roper has been working very hard to keep the Under Dome and it’s territories safe for everyone. I really think you should be more supportive of his efforts,” he finished. He cast a pointed look in her direction.

“Fine. But it’s not like he’s supportive of the things that are important to me,” she replied ungraciously.

Harry shook his small head disapprovingly, but thought better of mentioning all the technology and other resources that Roper had (albeit unbeknownst to him most of the time) made available to Harley for her various hobbies and entertainment pursuits.

About that time, a soft trumpeting sound announced that the parade was about to begin. Voles lining both sides of the main thoroughfare began to stir excitedly, clapping their paws and cheering. A few even whistled shrilly.

Harley started to roll her eyes but caught sight of B.H. whose eyes glowed with excitement. His tiny paws were clapping together with such enthusiasm that Harley feared he might injure himself. She chortled as she watched him put two claws in his mouth and try to whistle. He ended up spluttering wetly, vole spit dribbling down his front. Still, he looked totally thrilled. Harley sighed and, shaking her head ruefully, prepared to watch the parade without comment. For B.H.

The crowd spotted the shaggy Buffaloes first and began to chant loudly. Shouts of, “Gordy!” “Prescott!” “Noble Bison!” “Sentry of the American Frontier!” could be heard as the two great beasts made their way in stately fashion down the street.

Harley couldn’t contain her laughter when she saw that each Buffalo was sporting a uniformed beaver on his hump. The beavers were dressed in military-style uniforms of olive green and brown. One wore a pair of highly polished brown boots over a pair of tan jodhpurs. His jacket was covered with ribbons and shiny medals and the epaulette on each shoulder boasted six small gold stars. His hat was reminiscent of a captain’s hat, except that rather than the traditional navy/white color combination, it was olive green and brown. The bill was embroidered in golden thread with what appeared to be mirror images of a beaver tail instead of the nautical version’s golden leaves.

The second beaver was similarly dressed. He had, however, only four stars on his shoulders and instead of jodhpurs, he was wearing tan trousers with an olive green stripe down the outside of each leg. He wore polished brown shoes, not boots.

Both beavers stood at attention, ramrod straight and unwavering. Or at least as unwavering as one could expect while riding down the street on the hump of a buffalo.

Harley laughed louder as the beaver commandos saluted the Very Important Roper Box as they passed by. Roper had built the structure so that he could watch any parade in which he wasn’t marching, in safety, above the crowds of street level. Now, Roper, Fluffy and the twins observed the spectacle from the plush accommodations. Roper offered a gentle wave in response to the beavers’ salute, flagging his paw back and forth like a beauty pageant contestant. Harley snorted.

Harry looked at her sharply. “You need to be more respectful, Harley,” he chided. “Those are very important Beavers – a six star and a four star general in the United Beaver Battle-ready Army. They were in charge of training our new Under Dome security personnel. It’s a real honor to have them in our parade. Brigadier General Huston is a combat veteran – he fought in the great Armadillo Invasion of 2006. And General Potts survived being a POW in a New Money prison camp. He was captured after his log jammed in enemy territory. They’re both real heroes,” he said reverently.

Harley looked at Harry to be sure he was serious. Clearly, he was in awe of the military beavers. “Sorry,” she muttered. “I’m not really up on Beaver history, I guess.”

She could tell by the looks on their faces that the Buffaloes were not enjoying themselves. She’d heard them mention countless times how embarrassing it was to be in these silly parades of Roper’s. Of course, she said to herself, I don’t see them turning Roper down. She understood that both Buffaloes (Prescott especially) secretly liked the attention they got from the crowds, even if they did feel momentary discomfort during the event itself.

Harley, B.H. and Harry continued to watch the parade as it wound its way down the street. Harley grudgingly admitted that the new security team uniforms were a vast improvement over the neon colors, although she maintained that making them march directly behind the Buffaloes was still a bad idea.

A group of vole children passed by, dressed in colorful leotards, doing a gymnastics and dance routine to the delight of the crowd. They were followed by a troupe of jugglers who tossed sponges into the air and caught them with a flourish. The onlookers ooh-ed and aah-d. A small band of mustached guitar players had just passed in front of the Very Important Roper Box when a loud shriek pierced the air.

The crowd fell silent and everyone looked around trying to pinpoint the source of the noise. Another loud, ear-splitting squeal sounded, followed by a crash. Parade goers gasped as the Very Important Roper Box began to shift and sway.

“Look out!” Harley shouted. “Roper’s Box is going to fall!” She turned to Harry, “Take B.H. and get him to safety.” Harry nodded, took a frightened B.H. by the paw and led him away from the restless mob.

Harley began to make her way toward Roper’s viewing box. I’m no hero, she thought. But I might be able to keep Roper from having a complete meltdown if that thing crashes.

Voles and moles began to scramble away from the shuddering structure. Suddenly, Roper himself appeared, clutching the edge of the box.

“Help! Help!” he screamed. “Something is wrong with Fluffy! I need an ambulance, a medic, a log!” He looked deranged. His ears were askew. The small boutonniere he had donned for the parade was hanging upside down by the stem. His electric blue caftan was wet and wrinkled, giving him a disheveled appearance.

A Medical Vole Squad rushed up the rickety stairs into the Box. They reappeared moments later bearing Fluffy on a litter. They whisked her into a waiting ambulance and raced away, sirens blaring softly. Roper stumbled down the stairs, weaving like a drunk. He looked around like a wild dog, his crazy eyes finally settling on Harley.

Behind him, a vole Harley assumed was the twin’s new nanny led Griff and Taffy down the steps and bustled them away from the parade scene. Not before she cast a dirty look in Roper’s direction, however.

“What the heck is going on, Roper?” Harley demanded, grabbing him by the arm and giving him a quick shake.

Roper stared at her without blinking for several moments before another shake finally spurred him into the moment. “Where’s Fluffy?” he asked in a trembling voice. “Where did they take my Treasure Pup?” He sniffled noisily.

“I think they took her to the hospital,” Harley replied. “What happened?”

“I’m not sure,” Roper whispered miserably. “I was watching the tumblers and thinking how scary they were. I don’t think we’ll have gymnastics in parades anymore – it was terrifying,” he began to ramble.

Harley shook him again. “Focus, Roper,” she snapped.

“Oh, well,” he glanced over her shoulder. “I remember thinking maybe I should grow a mustache like those musicians and then Fluffy started panting. I asked her if she was hot and I tried to find someone to get her a cold drink. She just gave me one of her looks – you know, like when I give her a new log for her birthday – and she kept panting and groaning. I got scared and looked around for Harry. I forgot he said he was watching the parade with you today so I was looking for him but he wasn’t in the Very Important Roper Box. Maybe if I’d called it the Very Important Roper and Slightly Less Important Harry Box he would have been here,” Roper began to sob quietly. Snot streamed from his nose.

Harley grabbed a napkin from the street, obviously left by someone in the crowd and handed it to Roper. He mopped at his wet eyes and nose then continued.

“I decided that I should probably get someone to help me with Fluffy. She wasn’t being very nice to me at that point. She said I was a scourge that needed to be eradicated or something and I thought she should have someone else taking care of her because I didn’t know what was wrong or what to do and I couldn’t find Harry …” he trailed off into more sobs.

Harley rolled her eyes, then took a deep breath. “Roper,” she said with exaggerated patience. “What. Happened?”

Roper blew his nose loudly. “I turned to send the nanny to find Harry because Harry always knows what to do and I think I bumped something in the Box. It started to shake and then Fluffy kicked me in the haunch and screamed. It was a horrible scream. It scared me so much that then I screamed. The she just started kicking me and pummeling me with her paws and yelling at me to get an ambulance.” He dabbed his moist eyes again. “It was horrible!”

Harley nodded. She realized what was going on and decided to take pity on Roper. He really was a complete mess.

“Roper,” she said as gently as she could manage. “Did Fluffy seem to be in a lot of pain?”

Roper nodded vigorously. “She sure seemed like it and I know she was causing me a lot of agony!” he said indignantly.

“Roper,” Harley announced. “I think Fluffy is having her babies.”

“Babies?” Roper seemed confused. “Fluffy is having babies? Oh, that’s right,” he said, suddenly understanding. “Fluffy is having babies.”

His expression brightened. “I’m going to call Jose and get started on a wardrobe for the babies!” he declared. “Rhinestones and ribbon and satin – the babies will look fantastic!”

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A Little Known Fact

A Little Known Fact

While working on his play, Henry V, Shakespeare took a few days to visit his older sister, Judith and her family.  He brought his work with him on this holiday and often worked late into the night, sometimes requesting refreshments from his sister’s maid, Irish-born Ailbe O’Roarke.  Miss O’Roarke, something of a story-teller herself, found herself acting as a sounding board for Mr. Shakespeare’s work.

Late one evening, Ailbe took tea and biscuits to the playwright, and found him wringing his hands in frustration – the pivotal moment in his play had arrived and the Bard had no words to adequately convey the scene.  Miss O’Roarke offered a memory from her childhood in Ireland – an afternoon of play with her siblings, re-enacting the famous Celtic Battle of Axona against Julius Caesar.  She recalled how her brother Brogan rallied his brothers and sisters against the children from the neighboring farm (who were portraying the Roman army)  with words of encouragement and pride.  “Those who are not here with us on this day will forever be ashamed!“ he had cried.  “My band of brothers and sisters that shed blood with me and will show our scars with pride, remembering our valiant deeds!”  “Oh, that Brogan,“ she said fondly, “he’s a silver tongue in his head.  Always quick with a story or a speech to fit the occasion.”    She laughingly recounted the lot of them running into imagined battle, shaking stick-swords and holding shields of tree bark in front of them, shrieking like banshees as they charged the ‘enemy’.  She then left Shakespeare to his work, telling him she had confidence he would find the right words to complete his story.

Some months later, she attended a performance of Henry V and was surprised and pleased to hear her brother’s words that she had shared with the author, uttered from the stage.  After the play ended she sought out Mr. Shakespeare and congratulated him on the piece, mentioning that she was glad to have provided him with the material for the pivotal scene.  Shakespeare pretended he had no idea to what she referred and quickly slunk away without so much as a by-your-leave.

Not one to be silent when slighted, Miss O’Roarke took every opportunity to share Shakespeare’s thievery and slight. However, because of her Irish heritage, she was most often disregarded and assumed to be an embittered ex-consort of the writer.  She never stopped telling the true story of the famous St. Crispin’s Day speech, though, sadly, history remains shamefully occluded about the true origin and once again, denies the Irish due credit for a great literary achievement.

Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 21

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 21

The days following what was being referred to (at least by Harley) as “The Thanksgiving Dinner That the Damned Poodle Ruined,” were frantically busy. Roper implemented a full security overhaul, with the specific purpose of “Isis proofing” the entire Kingdom. He had, unbeknownst to Harry, begun the process several weeks earlier when he first began to notice Cookie’s odd behavior.

Now, several weeks later, Roper and Harry were still overseeing the last few details of the new system. Most of the Security Vole Squads had been sent to an advanced training camp at the Beaver Village on the outer edge of The Under Dome. There, they had been instructed by members of the Beaver Special Forces Unit in paw to paw combat and the ancient and revered art of Tooth Kwan Do. Roper had insisted that the Beavers fulfill their contract and assist in matters of Under Dome defense, which was part of their Settlement Agreement.

The new ‘Beaver Trained’ Vole Squads patrolled the streets day and night in newly designed uniforms of Day-Glo green and yellow. Roper thought they looked capable and majestic in their tall boots and berets. He had taken to having them march directly behind the Buffaloes in the weekly parades – a lineup that Harley had declared looked ridiculous.

“You put those little tiny voles behind the great big Buffaloes, Roper?” she had barked. “It looks like Gordy and Prescott are leaving waves of neon buffalo doody in their wake!”

While Roper protested that the BTS (Beaver Trained Security) Vole Squads were a force to be reckoned with and that their stately presence instilled a sense of confidence and protection in the citizens; he was secretly concerned that Harley might have a small point. It was this concern that had him working late on a Wednesday evening, redesigning the uniforms with his trusted stylist Jose.

“I really thought that cats couldn’t see green or yellow because their eyes are the same color,” Roper remarked, idly flipping through the color swatches Jose had left on the table where he worked. “I figured it would be smart to dress the BTS Vole Squads in sort of ‘cat camouflage’ to keep them safe from Isis, or whatever she calls herself this week.”

He ear-marked a few color choices and handed the swatch book to Jose. “So you’re telling me that cats can see every color, regardless of what color their eyes are?”

Jose nodded absently.

“Hm. Interesting,” Roper muttered. “Maybe we should put them in some sort of night camo,” he suggested. “Silver sparkly fabric for the jackets and navy blue spandex for the pants, maybe? Or champagne-colored jumpsuits with fancy rhinestone-covered fringe on the shoulders?” He bounced a little in his chair and poked Jose with one dainty paw. “What do you think?”

Jose looked at him steadily and blinked.

“You’re right,” Roper nodded. “The rhinestones are a tad too much and jumpsuits take too much time to undo when you have to go to the bathroom. We should definitely stick with the pants and jackets.”

Jose nodded once and turned back to his sketch pad. A few moments later, he held the finished drawing up for Roper’s approval.

Roper took in the completed ensemble. The jacket was a shimmery silver fabric that would drape flatteringly over the voles’ rather chunky mid-section. The pants were a deep midnight blue shade and appeared to made of some sort of soft, brushed material with a slight nap. The legs were tucked neatly into tall, shiny black boots. The boots themselves were embroidered down one side – in glittering colored thread a ferocious-looking vole battled what appeared to be some sort of bird.

“Is that a hawk?” Roper asked incredulously.

Jose nodded in the affirmative.

“Well done, Jose. Well done. It’s perfect.” Roper clapped his paws together in delight. “Make up a sample and we’ll have Harry try it on before we start producing enough for all the BTS Vole Squads.”

He danced around the room for a few minutes in celebration before flopping into a chair. “This is going to look amazing,” he tittered. “I can’t wait for next week’s parade!”

Georgie Speaks

Georgie Speaks

Georgie is Exhausted

 

As you can clearly see, the past two weeks have taken a toll on me, both personally and professionally.  To hear the whole sordid mess, you’ll have to read Mama Dog’s blog.  But here’s what she left out …

While Daddy and Mama Dog were jetting off to exotic Midland, TX and the Little Miracles were living plush at Granny Carolyn’s house … I had to stay with Doot, The Grandpa and Cousin Tootsie.  It wasn’t exotic.  It wasn’t plush.  In fact, the only fun I had was scaring Tootsie by jumping on her when she came into a room.  It was doubly rewarding because, in addition to her squeals of terror, she always peed a little and got in trouble with Doot.

I did manage to gain a precious few winter pounds because Doot often “forgot” to feed Tootsie.  Now, it might be possible that she actually fed Tootsie, but Tootsie didn’t eat her food for hours, leaving it to become stale and inedible.  And it also might be possible that I, in trying to be an appreciative, thoughtful and frugal houseguest, may have occasionally eaten the abandoned food.  I didn’t want poor, hapless Cousin Tootsie to accidentally ingest such questionable fare.  It’s even possible that Tootsie thanked me for saving her from indigestion.  Of course, it’s also possible that Tootsie just isn’t very smart or quick and, well, you know the old adage … you snooze you don’t get to eat your food because I’m hungry and I’ll eat it first.  Or something to that effect.  In any case, Doot fed her later, while she was in her crate, while I slept out.  Ha ha ha.

So.  After 3 days away from home, my Companions and The Family Bed, you can imagine what a shambles everything was in when I finally returned.  All the Companions were in disarray, The Family Bed had entirely lost it’s comforting musky aroma and I have spent the past two weeks trying to put things back to normal.  I’ll be giving you a full and detailed report next week, but as for now, I’m deeply, deeply tired.  Good day.