Category: Animal Fiction


Chapter 14 Bread and Breakfast

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, things were improving. Trucks brought big trees and bushes. A brick walkway appeared and although not very comfy, I was at least dry. I even had a sand pile out back all to myself. One of the guys built me a little house with a garden view. Unfortunately the door was too small for me, but the thought was there. I laid beside it and watched the squirrel family who lived in the tree above.
I have noticed, Mamoo gets very nervous when men are doing things to her houses and this time I could see why. They were sticking paper to the wall, slapping evil smelling stuff on the ceiling and hanging light bulbs everywhere.
Finally all of them were gone. Too bad. Some of them I sort of got attached to -- like Wayne, who liked to play with the potties, and Jack, who fiddled with the light switches. Jack brought me an egg salad sandwich one day when Mamoo forgot to give me dinner. The rest of them I wouldn't trust around my food bowl.
When the work on the house started to die down, Mamoo decided to buy out all the markets in town. Some of them are in huge buildings and some are outdoors under little tents.
Old Mother Hubbard should have seen our cupboard. Mamoo had every kind of box there was. The pictures on them drove me crazy. Blueberry muffins and corn fritters; popovers and potato casserole. All along the counter in the kitchen room there were little machines that chop and grind and make toast. Out by the front steps, Mamoo hung a big flag with a leaf on it next to one with stripes. We were ready for business. Our name is Peggy's Place. Swans and butterflies decorate the door.
Mamoo says I am in charge of public relations. I am also called Mascot ñ that’s something like the Big Chicken on Sesame Street. I greet the guests and take them for walks around the lake to show them where everything is. I also take them to the question-mark place where the boats tie up.
The first guests we had were named Bob and Louise. They were nice and gave me many pats. Then they went off to see a play. That's what they all do. I don’t know what plays are, but I am told by one of the actor dogs it is like television except everybody is real. I guess like it was in La Baie.
Anyway, while they were gone, Mamoo caught the kitchen on fire. She forgot about the turkey soup. It boiled down to nothing and-whoops, there went the new paint job! Mike, the painter, who was having a cigarette on the front porch, saved the day. He put big fans at the windows and blew out all the smoke. Mamoo ran around, spraying smelly stuff in the air to cover up the burnt turkey fat smell. Didn’t work for me!
Bob has started a tradition. After the guests have as much breakfast as they can hold, they get the privilege of feeding me! Hot bread, butter and strawberry jam. Is there anything better? I bring the house down with my two-paw wave, which is usually good for a piece of bacon or sausage. I don’t beg -- ever -- but as Mamoo says, this is part of the entertainment. I’m just like the actor dogs on the stage, except they have to do it in front of hundreds of people and only get applause. I get hugs and goodies.
JohnDavidDavid is the name Mamoo gives to three men from Quebec. They don’t gargle when they talk. One of them is a dead-ringer for old Sandy you-know-who, but without the beard. I’m not sure which one is which, but I get treats and walks when they come.
“They are my special pets, Sam,” Mamoo said. Gee! I thought I was. Jealousy, it’s running all over me. At least they don’t stay long enough to get all the attention.
So many people only stay for a while and leave before you get bored with them. Some of them are fun and some are pains in the neck. Some are confused. I go upstairs to watch the action.
Mamoo is usually busy in the kitchen and misses some of the fun parts. Like the time Clarence, the electric guy, put in the big lights on the stairs that are supposed to go off when the house catches on fire.
Meanwhile, this guest lady was taking a bath and didn’t see him. She made a run to her bedroom and they crashed into each other. It surprised her and she dropped her towel, and that surprised Clarence. His ears turned red and he stood there with his mouth opening and closing like a fish. She screamed, I barked and it was wonderfully mad with doors slamming and water dripping and everybody yelling. I thought it was fun but Clarence must not have-because he never came back.
One day, on the road to the outdoor market, when we stopped at a rest place adjoining a farm for a stretch and some coffee, I heard the most pitiful sound. Nosing around in the cornfield, I turned up a starving young cat that had a friendly way about him. I shoved him over to Mamoo because she would know what to do. He needed groceries and a good home.
Mamoo left him, explaining we were on our way to the market and if he were there when we came back, she would bring him some ham.
“Mamoo means what she says, kid,” I said, sticking in my two cents worth. “Stay here and I will work on her. She is always in a good mood after the market.”
He was there when we came back and Mamoo gave him a package of ham. A WHOLE PACKAGE. He left me some. Right then I knew we were going to be as good friends as dogs and cats can be.
Mamoo took him back to the house, figuring on taking him to the pound. Me, I knew better. I had been that route myself. Actually, I was rather glad. I needed help taking care of Mamoo and all the people who visited us. It got tiring with all the tour directing and PR-ing. Its nerve racking to be on your best behavior all the time.
Mamoo’s guest-at-the-time, Carol, named our new cat Charlie Chaplin because he had a black mustache on a white face and he clowned for everyone. Would you believe, that cat cut a door in the screen for me, right at the corner? I could push it in and the flap would fall back into place. It kept out the mosquitos and allowed me to go in and out.
Charlie Chaplin showed guests who had lost their keys how to get in the side door. He also tasted the some of the food plates first to assure the guests it was good to eat; unfortunately, he got in trouble for that. Some people are really picky about their food.
Charlie had friends who loved to visit and party until all hours. Best of all, he could make some people’s eyes swell up and turn red. Now that’s talent. I remember Mrs. Bloom. She and her husband were eating breakfast in the newly planted courtyard. Mamoo put down a plate filled with a beautiful breakfast, all decorated with flowers and fruit slices. Charlie took a running leap, landed in the middle of her plate and began his job as taster. The ëyou know what’ hit the fan. If I hadn’t intervened, I think Charlie would’ve been Chinese food.
The best one happened late one night when we thought all the guests were sound asleep. I heard it first, then Mamoo woke up to all the thumping noises overhead in the living room. She threw on her robe to go tell off the guests she thought had gotten into the bar, but, instead, discovered Charlie was having a party. A big blue Persian and the two yellow toms were jumping from table to table, having a wonderful time, and Charlie was in the center of it all.
I stationed myself at the foot of the stairs, making sure they couldn’t go upstairs and wake up anybody, while Mamoo chased them out of the house. This was no easy task because the cats didn’t want to break up the party. It was bedlam: cats were diving under chairs and the fur was flying. I wasn’t allowed to yell at them and Mamoo was nervous about all the little doodads on the tables.
She finally got one by the tail and threw him out the garden door. Charlie got the picture and hightailed it right after with the two toms right behind. None of the guests said anything the next morning; I guess they slept through it. But we were mad at Charlie for a week. I am still finding cat hair in the sofa cushions and under the dining room table.
Charlie could really eat. Every morning when Mamoo put out a bowl of tuna fish and dry tidbits, he would come running from wherever he’d spent the night. Then he’d get another big helping of food in the afternoon just before he started his evening roam.
Charlie also liked to do his own grocery shopping. This caused a few bad moments because he liked his meat live and kicking and Mamoo did not appreciate the leftover mice on the doorstep in the morning. Charlie was trying to teach Mamoo how to hunt for her own meat, but Mamoo likes hers in plastic bags. To tell the truth, I’m not fond of mice myself. Too gamy.
In the end, Charlie went to live with Billy when we returned to Florida for the winter. When Charlie came back for a visit the following summer, he didn’t remember any of us. I was sort of hurt because Charlie really proved to me that there could be the exception to my dislike of the feline race. Charlie was one hell of a cat, an honorary dog and there is no greater compliment I can bestow.
Quite a few girls helped Mamoo do bread and breakfast, one after another, until she was tearing out her hair. Then came Ellen. Now, there is a woman I will always love, second only to Mamoo. Ellen always spends the first few minutes when she comes in the morning petting, hugging and calling me her handsome man. Unfortunately, she smells like a cat, but since I have changed my feelings toward those individuals, they might not be bad if she has them.
Ellen has a boyfriend named Steve, who has long blond hair and talks funny. I don’t understand a word he says. Mamoo says he is a Newfie and some Newfies talk like that. She doesn’t understand him either but she won’t admit it.
Steve has as hard a time getting up and down the stairs like I do. He shouldn’t have that trouble because he only has two legs, but he still can’t get them to go in rhythm. He and his two friends keep falling up the steps when they pick up stuff from the basement. They are like Larry, Moe and Curley on the TV (my favorite show). They must practice it a lot because they have it down pat. They try to come down the stairs together but they don’t fit. They keep trying, though. They push each other and squeeze together hard. You know the dog in the Larry, Moe and Curly show? No human I know understands what he is saying. “Jerk-butts, dumbbells, idiots”. I tried saying that to the Newfies and they didn’t get it either. HA!
Mamoo often talks about the ëguests from Hell’. Let's talk about this. She and I have different opinions on things like odors, cookie crumbs and strong-smelling socks. She doesn’t like dirty feet on the coffee table or towels with Hershey squirts. Mainly, Mamoo doesn’t like anyone who disagrees with her (I mean that in the nicest way). She gets an “I mean trouble” look. On the other hand, if she likes the guests, she cooks the biggest breakie you ever saw, puts candy on their pillows, and sprays sickenly-sweet stuff all over the room. It’s better for me if she likes them, because there is more food left over for me.
Mamoo says the worst one was the fat kid who sat in the living room with a bowl of cherries in his lap, chewing them one by one and spitting the pits all over the pale green rug. He was disgusting. He was the kind of kid who got his jollies by torturing kittens. He looked like the Pillsbury doughboy with black hair and cherry juice all over his mouth and hands. Mamoo was really glad when that family left.
Fer sure, I learned a lot doing bread and breakfast. Even Charlie taught me something-always sit next to the fat lady at the table, because she will give you lots of tidbits. It won’t look like she is eating so much.

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