“What in the world is a ‘water horse’?!” Roper ranted. “And why does Harley need a building permit to add that much space to her Brownstone? It’s like she’s building a whole additional structure! And why is she even considering bringing something that clearly requires water – I mean it’s right there in the name, for Pete’s sake! – into the Under Dome? She knows darn good and well there’s a city ordinance that prohibits water being inside or anywhere near the city limits! She’s always been inconsiderate of others, but this really takes the rice casserole – I can’t let her just ignore policy this way. It’ll set a bad precedent, Harry. If the public finds out Harley has brought a water horse into town, it’s just a short way to a watertrough. Pretty soon, we’ll have voles wanting to add water features and water fountains to their yards. And before you know it, the whole Under Dome and all its Territories are completely underwater and we’ve all got webbed toes!” He glared at Harry and punctuated his words by flapping his paws in a swimming motion.
“Right, Sir,” Harry agreed, “webbed toes, Sir. A real threat, Sir.”
“But what can we do to stop her?” Roper whined. “I tried to deny her permit and she threatened to sue the City.”
“On what grounds, Sir?”
“On the grounds that she said I had no legal cause to deny her permit and if I tried to do it again she’d put an armadillo in my office.”
“I see, Sir. Have you considered finding out exactly what a water horse is, Sir?”
“Well, of course I have,” Roper huffed indignantly. “I tried to Voogle it but the security features I had the Vole Technical Squad install on my computer made it butterscotch as soon as I typed the word ‘water’. I tried going to the Library but Fluffy had the Vole-vo that day and I didn’t feel like driving the Tram all the way across town. Plus, you know the Library makes me uncomfortable. All those books – it’s just a paper cut waiting to happen.” He shuddered. “I tried calling Harley and asking her, but she said she was much too busy with her construction project to talk and she hung up on me. I thought I might be able to lure her to a meeting at the Southside Cafe so I could talk to her in person but then Fluffy said I go with her to take the twins to the bus station and see them off to New Vole City. And she wouldn’t take no for an answer. I’m just at a loss, Harry.” He hopped down from his chair and walked to the mini fridge where he extracted a bottle of mole waters.
“Well, Sir, if you’d like, Sir, I could go over there and see what’s going on, Sir,” Harry offered.
“Yes, Harry, that would be wonderful. I know you’d never allow Harley to bring water into the Under Dome and put all our lives at risk.” Roper sipped from his bottle then smacked his lip. “I don’t know where you found the imported mole waters, Harry, but this is so much more,refreshing than the domestic stuff I’ve been drinking. Let’s make it the official mole waters of the Under Dome,” he said.
“And all its territories, Sir?” Harry asked.
“Absolutely,” Roper nodded. “And all its territories. Now why don’t you head on over to Harley’s and find out what she’s doing over there, then report back to me in the morning? I’ve got to get home and console poor Fluffy who must be missing the twins horribly. I bet she’s just laying around the house eating Grub Butter Cups and crying. She’s probably been working all day to prepare all my favorite foods in an attempt to make herself feel better.” He shook his head in sympathy.
“What about the quadruplets, Sir?” Harry reminded him.
“Oh, they practically take care of themselves,” Roper replied breezily. “I’m sure Fluffy just puts them out in the yard and lets them play all day … no trouble at all.”
“Right, Sir,” Harry said skeptically. “I’m sure, Sir.” Shaking his head, he left the room to run his errand.
The sound of the doorbell irritated Harley. She didn’t have time for visitors and as she hurried toward the front door, she went over her rehearsed statement to get rid of whomever it was. Opening the door, she began, “I’m sorry, no time to chat. I’m on a very tight deadline and you’ll have to make an appointment …” she broke off upon seeing Harry on the front porch. “Oh, Harry, it’s you. Hello. Let me guess – Roper sent you here to find out what I’m doing?” Harry nodded. Stepping back she allowed him entry. “Well, follow me,” she said, already moving back toward the source of loud construction sounds.
Harry took notice of her dust covered fur, the hard had perched on her head and the clipboard she held in one paw. “I’m technically here in an official capacity,” he said to her back. When she nodded, acknowledging that she could hear him, he continued. “Though I must admit to being rather curious as to your plans. I want you to know that I will not take any information back to Roper that might jeopardize his emotional or physical well-being.”
“Well, that’s a good thing,” Harley snorted. “Because what I’m about to show you would most definitely put him into a butterscotch of epic proportions!”