Category: Animal Fiction


Chapter 15 Love in Bloom

It all started in Stratford at the Bread and Breakfast. When Mamoo began her new enterprise, she told everybody she was looking for a new set of friends. Really tactful isn’t she. Many people came and went -- some she loved, some I loved. Lots of new friends to call on the phone. Lots of new friends to play with.
One fine day, in the door walked Uncle Michael. (His name is really Sir Michael O’Brien.) He was wonderful to me; playing, walking and doing serious talking. It didn’t seem to me that Mamoo gave him any more attention than anyone else did but, as I have mentioned, she can be very, very sly. She never batted her eyelashes, patted him on the head, or even scratched his ears. How was I to know she was interested in him as more than a friend?
Uncle Michael has grey hair with bright blue eyes. He has a soft quiet way that seems to fly right in the face of Mamoo’s noisier exuberance. He laughs a lot around her, gasping for breath and choking with delight. His slim, precise body is a perfect foil for her round, uncontrolled presence.
They sit on the porch, rocking away, while she prattles on about something fascinating to him. He wears a gold bracelet that flashes when he talks. I like to lie quietly by their sides to pick up any innuendoes or inflections to help me understand the situation. They talk about the plays, God, “the old days,” and politics. I never hear them agree on anything.
“Michael Dear,” coos Mamoo, “you love classical and I get off on Elvis. You like religious books and I devour who-done-its. You have traveled to the ends of the earth, picking up languages as you go, while I do well to speak Southern English.”
Sounds like a learning experience to me: a Ph.D. in earth science for Uncle Michael and a course in behavioral science for Mamoo. For me, I get two human dependants. As Mamoo says, better for the IRS.
I hear him calling her Peggy in such a soft way it sounds like Celia calling me. I wonder if I should give them a big push. I have never seen Mamoo this girlish before -- or so happy. Now, she does lots of nice things for everybody, sings around the house and I haven’t heard her bawl out Ellen in quite a while. Mamoo has even started to take a bath twice a day and puts sweet smelling stuff behind her earsÖ until Uncle Michael goes back to Frogtown. Then it's, “Katie, bar the door.” Mean as a snapping turtle, cross as a bear, Mamoo becomes a menagerie of hyperactive animals. No zoo would take her. Brave me, I hide until it blows over. Mamoo in a bad mood is terrible to behold.
I think it is hard for her to act nonchalant around Uncle Michael. “Girls are not supposed to be too eager or act forward,” said Mamoo reverently one morning. “It is still a man’s world when it comes to things like that.”
“Like what?” I asked.
“Oh fiddle-dee-dee, Sam, mind your business,” she said. Mamoo is as timid as a cobra. She wrote the book on aggressiveness. So, what is she up to, I ask you? I hope it is not something that will give me the whoops.
Lo and behold, six months later, on Marathon Key, Mamoo is rushing around fixing beds and vacuuming, yelling at everyone to hurry up and get the place in order because Uncle Michael is coming.
To get here, Uncle Michael flies in a silver plane like Romy and Remy did. He must like Mamoo a lot to stay cooped up in a cage all that time, but he didn't even look rumpled when he jumped into Beula at the airport curb. Maybe humans ride in bigger cages.
This is Uncle Michael’s second time coming here; there must be something he likes at our little house in the Keys. The first time he came he only stayed for two days. By the look of his suitcases this time he might be staying all winter.
“Don’t you smell wonderful, Sam,” he said. HA, he doesn’t know about the bath, dip and clean underwear routine around here. I wonder if Mamoo will make him put on clean panties everytime they go shopping?
The first few days Uncle Michael lay on the chaise in the sun beside the pool, rising occasionally to pour an iced tea or coffee. Then, back to bed to sleep some more. (Well, I’d be tired too after all that trip.)
While he was there, Mamoo cooked and fussed and fussed and cooked. They laughed and shopped and played with Henry, the computer. (Mamoo has a fetish about naming things.) Some nights the moon was full and white, throwing the blackness behind it, while the pool shimmered silver in its spotlight. Uncle Michael and Mamoo sat outside almost every night, listened to music and watched the moon, easy in each other’s company.
Uncle Michael plays with me in the morning, takes me for a walk in the afternoon and hugs me before I go to bed. Sometimes he feeds me, but mainly that’s still Mamoo’s job.
I think Mamoo likes Uncle Michael a lot more than she lets on. She can be really secretive when she wants to be. She likes the fact that he changes light bulbs and takes out the trash. He makes her laugh and giggle like a schoolgirl, putting her in such a good mood when he is here. I wish he would stay a long, long time.
Uncle Michael is older than Mamoo and a lot smarter with books. He calls her Galatea now. I thought all humans called her Peggy. It’s funny how she will listen to everything he says. They have wonderful discussions with blue eyes flashing, and he wins the points most of the time. Mamoo doesn’t usually let that happen; she must be slipping.
The food is also better when he is here because Mamoo makes dinner every night instead of grazing through the fridge whenever she feels like it. I also get my dinner on time instead of whenever she decides to eat. What talent he has! He can gargle like a Frenchie, beats Mamoo at chess without making her mad and likes to lie in the sun for naps. Just my kind of guy.
During the day, they put umbrellas in the back of the pedal car and tootle off to the beach -- with me, like a donkey, following along tied to the rear with a string. Did we look funny! Mamoo and Uncle Michael would get settled with towels and lotion rubbing, and I would sniff down to the water’s edge to watch the assortment of odd creatures rolling in.
The dynamic duo sat in their identical beach chairs with identical umbrellas, read paperbacks and sip iced tea in unison. Talk about togetherness. Once in a while, Suzie joined us and there would be some conversation with the local, two-legged beach lizards -- Studley and Dudley -- who paraded by, flexing their oiled muscles (male versions of the sausage lady). Most of the time, though, it was Mamoo and Uncle Michael, reading and sipping. BORRRRING.
Uncle Michael is very good with the little gestures. He will pick a flower off a bush and hand it to Mamoo with a flourish. Then, she simpers and sticks it behind her ear. I loved it when a big hairy spider crawled out from a big, red hibiscus Uncle Michael had given her. That set her screaming when she felt all those little legs roaming down her neck. I never knew Mamoo could dance the Highland Fling.
“Sam, gitit, gitit, gitit,” she screamed. “Git it offa me, now.”
I thought Uncle Michael would bust a gut. Boy, was she scared. She got that spider, too. Splat, right on the patio tile. The look she gave us could have killed.
“So much for the he-men I live with,” she threw back at us as she flounced into the house, slamming the door. I looked at the remains of the spider and thought he really got the worst part of the deal.
They both take turns loving all over me. I think it’s because they are afraid to love all over each other. Something has to happen. Things can’t keep on like this.
“What do want to do today, dear.”
“Whatever you want, honey.”
“No seriously, what do you want to do?” On and on.
I have been walked to death, petted until my hair turned grey, and fed all kinds of stuff. I’m not complaining, mind you, only anxious for the two of them to get on with it. They never touch or hug, but they are very polite to each other and to me. For God’s sake.
“Now Sammy, Sweetie, would you like a very nice walkums?” (Mamoo doesn’t use baby talk when we are alone. ) “Goodums Doggums” is something Uncle Michael should expunge from his vocabulary. Do they think I can only understand little, mispronounced “baby talk” words? I am older than both of them and have become extremely sophisticated.
I finally got away from all the sweetness and niceness one afternoon and trotted down to talk to Fred. His troubles have eased a little since the father died and his boy is out from under the hammer. The boy seems to have straightened up and become a real help. Sometimes even sad things work out for the best. I figured the old philosopher Fred would know how to handle my problem. And he did.
“Shove them together. Make them touch. Make them let down their hair. It’s the only way,” he explained. “They are afraid they will lose what they have if they go forward. Humans make relationships very complicated. Life is short and they don’t realize it until it is too late. They must learn to take a chance with their emotions.” See why I like Fred? He has it all together.
"What can I do? After all I’m only a dog.” I can't believe I said that.
“What was that game you told me about, the one you and Smiley played in Canada? Tangle something?” he asked. “Tangle Up,” I replied, getting a glimmer of the idea. “Lets go walking together,” I said. “I’ll get my two, you get Elise and, by God, we’ll do it.”
The next day it was push, push, and push to get my part of the plan done. I howled and whined until Mamoo and Uncle Michael were crazy. It worked though, for out came the leash and my collar. On went the shoes and sunglasses until the three of us were strolling down the street, casually, to meet Fred and Elise coming the other way.
Fred gave me a pretend growl and a wink as I wound my leash around and around my humans’ ankles. My leash is the kind that stretches way,way out with a cord that curls up inside the handle real fast when Mamoo pushes the button. Uncle Michael, however, doesn’t know how to work it. Can you picture it? Soon those two were prisoners, tied face-to- face with stout rope. I saw the look in their eyes and knew I had done good.
Fred pulled Elise along, leaving my two with nothing to hang onto but each other. I sat there panting and listening to shouts of: “Stop it, Sam” and “Hold still, you” and “Ouch, dammit.” Then, “Try it this way” or “Something’s crawling up my leg.”
At least they were touching each other. Their faces were turning red, perhaps the exertion or the nearness. Whatever it was, the barriers were down and it was clear sailing from now on. That evening, at the pool I saw candlelight, heard sweet music, and watched as they drank wine and held hands. How sweet. I’m exhausted.
Usually in the evening they would TV and go to bed early. Not that night. They walked to the beach at midnight to watch the moon over the water -- without me, thank God, I’ve done my bit.
The next day, my breakfast wasn’t in my bowl at 5 a.m. as it usually is. Mamoo’s door was open and Uncle Michael’s was shut. Not a sound. I wanted to go out and I was hungry but no one came to feed me. I howled. I barked. I yelled obscenities. To no avail.
I finally had to CLIMB UP the stairs and bark at his door. Can you believe? Two sleepy people wandered out with no apology what so ever, dumped some dry junk into my bowl and went right back to bed. That’s the last time I do favors for anyone.
When, at last, I did get outside (nobody can sleep forever), I went to see Fred.
“It worked out fine, almost too fine,” I said. “Now they only have eyes for each other. They are forgetting about my needs, like food, water and exercise.”
“You can't have everything, Sam,” he laughed. “It will pass, and you might wind up with two to love instead of one.”
“What do you mean?”
“They could get married, did you ever think of that?” Fred is good. He can figure everything out way in advance.
“Uncle Michael lives in Montreal; he is too far away from us. Mamoo said she will never move again and I don’t want to go in those big silver planes and ride in a cage. It will never happen,” I said matter of factly.
“Don’t be too sure, people are funny. They are not consistent and they also lie. (He’s right.) Pay attention. If he sticks a ring on her finger, they’re married.”
I started watching them verrry closely. Uncle Michael wears a gold bracelet on one wrist and a copper bracelet on the other wrist. He has a gold ring with a strange device on one of his pinky fingers. That’s all. (Mamoo, of course, would wear gold through her nose if she could.) I never saw him take his jewelry off, even to wash his hands.
“My, Sam, you certainly are hanging around a lot these days. What’s wrong wid it, Doggums? Mommy’s little precious, dat’s what he is.” Can you believe? I may barf!
“He senses an insecurity here, Peggy. Perhaps we should take him with us at all times -- maybe then he won’t feel left out.”
Not you too, Uncle Michael. Now I have really done it. I will have to endure all this goo-goo morning, noon, and night.
Still, the plan was working. I have never seen Mamoo this happy. As for Uncle Michael, he looked 10 years younger. They hugged every chance they had and they constantly put their faces together. There was a feeling of love in the air.
Mamoo began to do exercises on the floor. She swam in the pool every day, sometimes twice a day. She even gave me her helping of pizza and the fridge only had fruit and skim milk in it. Mamoo was MELTING-like the witch in the Wizard of Oz. Every week she got smaller- a teeny bit at a time- but smaller all the same. She stopped screaming when she saw a scorpion. She still killed it, but in a calm way.
Uncle Michael lay on the blow-up plastic raft in the pool all day with an idiotic smile on his face. At night they went out to dinner or to the movies. Sometimes they went dancing. Mamoo tried to get Uncle Michael to try line dancing but he gave up, complaining of a trick knee. In the morning they would have breakfast together under the blue and white striped umbrella by the pool.
“You know, Peggy, I could get to like this,” I heard Uncle Michael say one morning. “What do you think?”
Silence from my darling.
“Well?” he said.
“I don’t know Michael, there are many things to consider. I have the bed and breakfast, which is about to break even, and this house -- both of them full of furniture. I don’t speak French and know nothing about Montreal. (This was sounding like dangerous conversation.) Neither one of us has been married for many, many years. I live among a lot of people, but they leave before they can really get on my nerves. Why don’t we try it out for awhile and see?”
“Peggy, we are not children and there aren’t a lot of years left for us. I would love to spend them with you. Your children are grown and on their own. I’m retired and love to travel.’
“I will think about it when you go back to Montreal,” were her final words.
Boy, did I have a lot to think about. This was serious, darned serious. I had to talk to Fred again. This was becoming a soap opera.
“Let it happen, Sam,” moaned Fred, thoroughly sick of the whole thing. “Leave them on their own to decide. Enjoy it, the fringe benefits must be great.” He’s right about that; all that love is spilling over onto me.
After the initial few days, the treats were back in full force as well as the trips in Beula to the beach, the store and church. By this time, Fred and I had worn out the road between our houses. We were becoming the talk of the neighborhood.
“What do you and Fred talk about all the time, Sammy Whammy Doo?” asked Mamoo. “All about the turtles and raccoons?”
“No, Darling,” says Uncle Michael, “they talk about us.”
How did he know?
“Tell your Mommy to marry me, go on, right now, Sam,” he said. “Maybe she'll listen to you.”
“Where would we live? Do you want to be part-time here and-part time there? What would I do with all my stuff? What about Sam?” Mamoo was weakening.
YEAH, What about me!
“We'll work it out anyway you want.” He took off his pinky ring and tied it to my collar. “Go on, Sam, do your stuff.”
“Tell Michael, Sammy, I’ve always wanted to be Margaret O’Brien.”
As I said to Fred the next day, “If you want a job done, send a dog.”

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