Category: Animal Fiction


Chapter 4 Twin Sets

Generally, life at La Belle (the name of the farm I guarded) was not hard. Little to do, lots to eat, my own bed and good hunting. The time rolled by easily and the unexpected never happened. Bubba continued to break all the machines after they were fixed. Especially the one that made the grass short. It would stop way out in the field and Bubba would get off and kick it a few times. But there it would stand until someone from town came and towed it away. Boss Lady Brunell would be cross for a while, pack her suitcase and leave for Texas. When she left, Bubba would go down to a room under the big house and bring back bottles of dark, sour-smelling stuff which he drank continually.
He was always telling me about his ticket on the spaceship to Mars and the war in ëNam. Since I didn't know where either of those places were, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to his long, drawn-out stories. Although, since he put food in my bowl, I gave him as much attention as I could. Later on he seemed to forget about my bowl and needed to be reminded. He was so distracted one day, he even fell into the concrete pond while cleaning it.
Then a woman named Sally came to stay in his little house. She wore a white dress, left every night and came back every morning. She slept while the sun was up. The new rule was that I couldn't bark around his house until she came out in the evening.
Sally takes care of people when they are sick. She works in a huge building where they throw all the sick people together. She sticks needles in them and works on a shift. I want to see one of those shifts, ëcause they talk about it all the time. I guess Bubba is in worse shape than I thought if he needs a live-in caretaker.
Something else: Sally hates me. There are a whole lot of new rules, and they only apply to me. I wasn’t allowed in the house any more because I smelled. Like Bubba smelled like flowers-in-spring. She yelled at me to keep away and swung the broom at me. I am not stupid. I kept away.
She had a cat named Sheba who was there to take care of the mouse problem. I promise you, that cat didn't know beans about mice. All he wanted to do was mess around with my chipmunks. Believe me when I say he had claws. One swipe of his paw could shred your nose. He would sit there as sweet as you please, purring and rolling over on his back, pawing at the air. Just an act. The dirt coming out of his mouth was unbelievable. If Sally could have understood, he would have been history. I wish! Big, black and white, longhaired, feline devil with a mind like a steel trap. Never would forget a slight-even an accidental one-and believed revenge was a dish best eaten cold.
All of my troubles started with that cat. Simply because I bit off a little piece of his tail when he put his face into my bowl. He had his nerve. He had plenty of the fanciest little cans you ever saw. I had to protect what was mine. Actually I was trying for his neck but he turned around fast and all I could get a hold of was his tail. You never heard such a noise. Yowling and howling and running to Sally with all kinds of stories about what I had done. It was the end of any more doings with Bubba. He took away my collar and tied a rope around my neck. Made me feel like a stray. I was not allowed near his house and there were no more warm fires in the winter anymore. I lived for the heater in the garage when the cold and snow came and made my bones ache. I waited for Sally to get tired of Bubba and the light-green-velvet jackets on his teeth. (a little lack of personal hygiene, there) But would you believe? She married him.
Married means they live together forever. I am doomed. If you think Bubba is slovenly and disoriented, you should see Sally's son. Weird. He only comes by when Boss Lady is gone to Texas. He is as tall and skinny as Sally is short and chunky. He has pale, limp, greasy hair, and it’s full of little white flakes. She calls him Vernon. She treats him as if he is a baby. “He is in high-school,” Sheba told me, his yellow eyes glowing hotly, when he was in a talkative mood. He doesn’t like him much either. “He’s the kind of kid who likes to tie burning cigarettes to a cat’s tail and other nasty things.” Sounded like the voice of experience to me. Sheba was actually nervous around him and made himself scarce as much as possible. I tried my tortures on the snakelike Vernon and Sally hit the roof. “Outta here you filthy beast,” She screeched. She whacked at me with her broom again. ME! Whoever had it in for me wasn’t through yet. The worst was yet to come. Boss Lady Brunell came back from Texas with two cages. Not cute, little Maudie the Pom nor the fruity King Charles’ spaniel who spent his days in a chair by the fire. But two of the nastiest, sneakiest, meanest dogs I had ever met. Twin brothers, who were scrawny whippets. They could leap fences without effort and go fast enough to outrun any rabbit. My life became a horror after they arrived. No more leisurely squirrel chasing in the morning. They had already decimated the neighborhood by the time I opened my eyes. Romy and Remy were a blight on the canine race. They matched. Cute! They were not as tall as me and were thin and bony, the pink of their skins showed through their thin white coats. Romy and Remy had matching brown spots here and there, pointy faces and popped eyes. Disgusting. Arrogant and spoiled with no manners at all, they left their dirt wherever they pleased, ate whoever’s dinner they pleased, and tore their prey apart without burying it in the ground. They lied whenever they felt the need and played no fun games. The two of them would attack me from both sides, biting and drawing blood. They loved to stand in the way and dare you to cross in front of them. They were useless at guarding because they ran and hid at the first sign of a stranger. Romy, being the older, was larger and stronger than his brother Remy, who whined and complained continually.
“RomeeeÖmy skin is itchy, please scratch it. I’m cold, and I wanna go inside. Romee. Oh Romee!” all day long. It made me sick.
They didn't have much hair either. When it was really cold their skin turned bluish. Remy’s teeth would chatter and he would get ice between his toes. Boss Lady Brunell put these little red jackets on them to keep them from getting cold. What a scream. At least Romy was embarrassed to be seen by anyone. He didn’t let his friends come around when he had his ëLittle Lord Fauntleroy’ outfit on.
Romy and Remy were also terrible snobs. They lived in the big house while I lived in the garage and they never let me forget it. I was the hired help. They traveled everywhere with the Boss Lady. They called her Miss Brunell. They called me nigger dog. I didn't even know what it meant but it made me mad. They were always trying to get me in trouble.
Now, for the first time, Sheba and I were on the same side. He hated them. Romy tried to kill him a couple of times which, of course, contributed to the hearty dislike. The two of them got Sheba up a tree and wouldn’t let him down. They took turns. One would sleep, poop and eat while the other looked up hungrily. One day, Sally saved Sheba’s life, when she came home earlier than expected. Romy and Remy got the broom treatment.
Romy liked to stay out all night. He started running with a wild pack of dogs that went after sheep grazing on a farm down the road. With his speed and easy movement he could cover many miles in an hour. Sometimes the pack would come back with him. Those guys were wolves; some of the meanest dogs in the area. One was part pit bull. His name was Stetson. He’d bite a child to death with no regrets. He told me he had fought in the ring on many occasions.
“Is this ëring thing’ where you got all those scars?” I asked. “I never saw as many on one dog before.”
“The other guy died,” he said. Well, shut my mouth and call me Josie! Probably a lucky shot. I really wished one day he’d forget his way home or some farmer’s gun would get him. No such luck.
Remy wasn’t as bad when his brother wasn’t around. He was a little simple and thoroughly overwhelmed by Romy. He would brag about how much dirt he would leave on the rugs in the big house. As long as they couldn’t blame it on me, I didn’t care. What a jerk. Fast though, really fast. One time, when Romy was out by the lake tearing some bird apart, I asked him why he was the lesser aggressor. Remy seemed to think it had something to do with his being cut. Well, I had had that done to me when I was a puppy and it didn’t hamper my biting ability. Of course, whiners have to blame everything on something else.
And, Remy was sure a champ at whining! It was always too hot or too cold; too dry or too rainy. He complained about his itchy skin, scratching and biting at it even when he wasn’t bored. He told me he slept in Boss Lady Brunell’s bed at night. I’ll bet if she knew where he had been all day, it would never happen again. He would buddy-up to me when no one was around and then act like he didn't know me when they were.
“We were named after the Italian dogs, who founded the Seven Hills of Rome,” he said to me one day like he was giving me a history lesson. Give me a break, I couldn’t get a cat to swallow that one. Then there was the time they decided to be guard dogs. Boss Lady left for Washington, D.C. with her latest boyfriend, an Italian movie actor. Joe came to stay in the house. He was wonderful. He was a gardener at a place called Long Island, far away from La Belle. The first night was peaceful and quiet but from then on it was bedlam. He had lots of friends who came and went at the big house all day and until late into the night. He would give me pats and delicious things to eat made of crusts of bread with spicy sauce and cheese on them. Wonderful! The twins were in the house lording it over Sheba and me and telling us about all the swell parties they had. “They spend their time smoking fat cigarettes, really is all,” Remy said. “The music comes out of the two boxes and they whirl around and fall on the couches.”
Now, I’m for fun and all, but something was beginning to smell fishy. Cars would come up the driveway without their lights on. I’d have to be really careful because sometimes in the summer I would sleep there since it was cooler and not as wet as the dewy grass of the early morning.
“There are boxes all over the place,” said Sheba from his perch on the windowsill. “And they are filling them with bricks it looks like to me. Joe is shouting into the talking machine and waving his arms about. “I got a twingey feeling and started to give them a hard time as they drove up the driveway. Some of the men who came were nasty smelling. Not nice-nasty like Don, but really ugly and mean smelling.
“They are fine and you aren’t sophisticated, that’s all, and don’t understand humans having fun. Besides you’re only the farm dog and can’t be expected to appreciate the finer people in life,” Romy and Remy chorused. It’s true. My job is to get rid of the bad guys. I waited until Sally got home one morning and went into such an act that she followed me to the front window. The window was low enough for her to see through and I could watch her reaction. “What’s going on here, Sam?” she said. “I don’t think Brunell would like the mess in the house, or the boxes or, let me thinkÖ” She trailed off to the little house where she and Bubba lived.
That night it started again with the comings and goings of all the dark cars, only this time one of the cars had my Smoky friend from school in it. When the house was full of people the Smoky cars filled up the driveway. Then, all hell broke loose. Flashing lights and loud yelling and, would you believe, police dogs.
“Outta my way squirt, and let a real dog do the job,” some German yelled in my face. Never did like them, too high on themselves. There were rifles and pistols drawn and people running everywhere. I’ll say one thing, these German police dogs knew their job. It was a pleasure to watch them take a guy down. Paws on their chests and jaws aimed for the throat. WOW!
I learned something because of what happened. Discretion is the better part of valor. (Celia would be proud of me knowing that one.) While I was under the lilac bush watching this scene, I heard Romy screaming as they took him away, “I’ll get you guys for this, I’ve been framed.” “This was a drug raid,” one of the police dogs said, “Happens a lot these days. Pure marijuana it smells like to me. They mold it into bricks and transport it by horse vans. Around here nobody notices.”
“What is this marijuana?” stupid me asked.
“It's a weed that grows wild here in Kentucky. People dry it and smoke it until they get silly and even stupider than you,” my informed uniformed cop-dog replied. “They sell it for a lot of money to buy TV sets and fancy cars. It is also against the law, which I am sworn to uphold. This little exercise tonight should add to my collection of medals,” he bragged. “I have them framed behind a glass on the wall in my office.”
To think I could’ve been one of them. Boo Hoo Hoo!
He was a sniffer. He had been trained to find this stuff when it was in anything but coffee, which had too strong an odor. “Your friends, the whippets, were obviously in on it and they will be taken to the pound until someone can explain their presence here.”
I was liking this guy a whole lot better. His ears pricked at the sound of a police whistle. “I gotta go. My sergeant’s call. See ya ëround, good buddy.”
I watched as they herded all those jerks into a black van. Even Joe. I said good-bye because I knew he would be in the people pound for a long time. That’s where they put humans who break the law. He was very sad. He gave me some pats and waved as they took him away. The twins never made a sound. So much for those two. Boss Lady came back and got them out of the pound. They were cowed for a week. Sally and I had a new respect for each other and I got a medal from the Smokies. All in all, it wasn't a bad week.
The only time I ever got my jollies out of R and R was the day they both found the stink pussy. Any hunting dog in his right mind knows you don't mess around with one of those buggers. They are slow moving and short-legged and dogs new to farm life think those white striped, black furry cats are fair game. They learn quickly. One spray and it’s bath time for a month; all of it spent up at the truck barn with the rats. NO BODY will come near you and you can't hunt for a long, long time.
Romy found one waddling along the path to the lake and went in for the kill, with Remy not far behind trying to impress me. I waited behind a tree to protect myself against what I knew was coming. They jeered at me, calling me coward.
“Go get him,” I yelled, and watched as the skunk turned, lifted its tail, took good aim and let go. His spray was a cloud of mist rising into the air, eloquent with experience, saturated with the most gagging smell imaginable. It hovered timelessly in the air and, with a tic of an eye, landed on those two morons. I laughed, I roared, I rolled over in the grass until I could hardly breathe. My wildest imagination couldn't be as good. You should have seen them. At first they didn't know what had happened. They shook their heads and sneezed over and over, jumping up and down like they’d stepped on a bee. They tried wiping it off with their paws, rubbing their faces in the grass, doing somersaults and spins trying to get rid of the smell. Their eyes were burning like fire; even a flying leap into the lake wouldn’t put it out. I dashed back to my bed. I wanted to be seen strolling leisurely out of the garage when they arrived back to face the music. And what sweet music it was! Bubba came out of his trance when Boss Lady Brunell started screaming. Watching the two of them trying to tie the dogs up and hose them down (did I tell you it was cold outside) started me off again. I really do not remember when I have enjoyed anything more. It was going to be a long time before they would get back into the bed in the big house again, if ever.
I had many days of peace and quiet while those two devils were relegated to the truck barn. Even Sheba gave me new respect because, unlike the humans, he knew exactly what part I had played in this little drama. As for me, I learned a new lesson. If you wait long enough, the opportunity to get even will present itself.

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