Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 31 The L.A.S.E.R. Room
“Did you ever find out what in the world Harley’s building over at her Brownstone?” Roper asked Harry.
He was sitting behind his desk flipping through a catalog of fabric swatches the day after the party.
Harry nodded briskly. “Yes, Sir, I did. I went over there the other day as you asked, Sir. She took me into the basement addition she’s putting in to create enough space for her new bionic hippo, Sir. You met him yesterday at the adoption party, remember?”
“Oh yes,” Roper said. “I do remember. Unusual looking fellow, wasn’t he? But I thought she was getting a horse. I distinctly remember her telling me she was adopting a horse.”
“Well, Sir,” Harry began cautiously. “She referred to him as a water horse, but -”
Roper paled and reached convulsively for his ever-present glass of mole waters. “Water horse?” he whispered.
“Now, Sir,” Harry spoke quickly. “Sir, you remember we talked about this? A water horse is just a very snooty way of referring to a hippopotamus. Harley adopted a bionic hippopotamus, Sir. Not a water creature … completely,” Harry murmured the last bit so quietly that Roper couldn’t hear clearly.
“No water?” he asked.
“No, Sir, no water,” Harry answered blandly, not even a little bothered by the lie.
“Oh, well,” Roper said, considerably calmer. “That’s good. You had me scared there for a minute, Harry,” he chuckled. “I wouldn’t have put it past Harley to try and sneak in some sort of swimming hole or some other thing having to do with – well, you know …” he trailed off and took another sip of his drink.
“She thinks I overreact to danger, although I can’t imagine why,” he said confidentially. “I believe strongly, as you know, Harry, in being 110% prepared 110% of the time. And as I’ve said many, many times … danger is dangerous and it lurks in every corner.”
After another healthy sip of his drink, Roper continued, “Harley’s much too careless regarding matters of safety. Don’t you remember when she suggested pulling up the carpet in the streets at last month’s Council meeting? I mean, that would be terrible – cars speeding along over 4 miles per hour, careening around corners, screeching tires! And suppose there was an accident? Suppose you needed to get out of your car suddenly and had to step out on bare cement??” He shuddered dramatically. “Can you imagine anything more dangerous than cold paws on a hard surface, Harry?”
Harry shook his head solemnly. “No, Sir. Certainly not, Sir. Cold, hard surfaces are clearly listed in your Decree of Most Dangerous Things, Sir. I believe they fall in between venomous insects and hot beverages, Sir.”
“Exactly!” Roper cried. “Harley is known to be reckless and unconcerned with not only her own safety, but the safety of everyone else. You just cannot be too careful when it comes to safety. Am I right, Harry?”
“You’re certainly correct, Sir.”
“So. What is she building to “accommodate” her new bionic hippo horse thing?” Roper asked. “Some sort of cage with hay or one of those clear tube thingies people put around the ceiling?”
“You mean a hamster run, Sir?”
“Sure, sure, a hamster run,” Roper replied, absently flipping through fabric swatches again.
“Harry, do you think this color of red velvet would clash with my gleaming butterscotch pelt?” He pointed to a swatch.
“Uh, no Sir, definitely not, Sir. Red is a very good color for you, Sir. Powerful.” Harry glanced at the fabric sample then tried to steer the conversation back on track.
“Well, Sir, with regards to Harley’s addition …” Harry paused, thinking of the right way to word his response. “Well, Sir, it’s really more of a garden-like setting, Sir. No water, of course,” he lied quickly, “but very bright lights – she’s installed Solar Tubes that let sunlight come directly in while keeping air, weather, nature, and the like out, Sir.”
Roper looked up sharply from his swatches. “Bright lights?” he shrieked. “Solar Tubes?” He reached for the glass of mole waters. “What in the world is she thinking? We can’t have sunlight in the Under Dome! It might cause widespread panic and blindness! We could have some sort of skin dissolving epidemic on our paws!”
Harry tried to soothe Roper by saying, “Sir, I’ve been assured by both Harley and her engineers – one of your own Architectural Engineering Vole Squads, Sir – that no sunlight will ever leach out into Greater Under Dome, Sir. It will be completely contained within this …” Harry tried to recall the name Harley had used. “… this ‘Laser Facility’, as Harley calls it, Sir.”
That did not have the effect on Roper Harry had hoped. His eyes bugged out and he began to pant in fear. “Laser Facility???” He began to chant about deep shallow breaths and swoon in his chair.
Harry struggled to think. “Yes, Sir,” he said crisply. “A L.A.S.E.R. Facility – it stands for ‘Long Awaited Spot (for) Everyone (to) Relax’, Sir. It’s an acronym.”
“An acronym?” Roper asked tremulously. “What’s that, Harry? I thought she was getting a hippo!”
Harry fought the urge to roll his eyes and answered patiently, “An acronym is an abbreviation – a word that is formed from the initials or parts of other words. Like T.E.N., Sir. It stands for The Under Dome Emergency Network. Do you understand, Sir?”
“Oh.” Roper visibly relaxed. “I do understand. That was a very gentle and clear explanation, Harry. Thank you. So, if I’m hearing you correctly, Harry, Harley has built some sort of botanical jungle room for her hippo horse and it’s completely water-free?”
“Yes, Sir. You are completely correct, Sir. No water of any sort involved, Sir. Completely safe and waterless, Sir. Just plants and light and a juice bar,” Harry confirmed.
“Ooooh,” Roper clapped his paws together. “She’s added a juice bar? I just love juice! Maybe I should go and visit her – see what this thing is all like?”
“Uh, Sir, have you forgotten about the Solar Tubes, Sir? You wouldn’t want to accidentally get sunlight on your pelt, Sir.”
“Oh,” Roper said, “You’re quite right, Harry. That wouldn’t be good at all. And since sunlight is dangerous, well, you know how I feel about danger, Harry. Perhaps I’ll just send her a nice card and a fruit basket or something.”
“Yes, Sir,” Harry sounded relieved. “I think that would be most wise, Sir.”