Pickled

I used to go to Starbucks to write until they replaced the comfortable leather chairs and couch with little round tables and hard wood dining chairs. It’s an ingenious way to keep customers from hanging around too long. No one will nod off while their butt s getting sore from sitting. The chairs were the last straw in list of annoyances that led me to dropping Starbucks, though to be fair to them it doesn’t take much to annoy me before I’m properly caffeinated. But not going to Starbucks to write has led me back to what, or I should say, who, led me there in the first place.

Fleegle.

In the summer I sit outside to write while Fleegle entertains himself with chewing on sticks, and now with Franny chewing on him, but with fall temperatures dropping and the rain starting early this year, we’re all inside in my den. I keep the clutter out of my den because when I sit down to write I’m easily distracted by anything, loose books that need to be shelved, dog fur on the floor that needs to be swept, anything that gets me up out of my comfortable leather chair.

I’ve tried to make my den free of distractions, so there is no desktop computer or internet, only an old laptop used to store and play music on, but some distractions can’t be avoided, like the rubber pickle just dropped into my lap.

“Raud, I’d like a refill, please,” Fleegle says.

I pick up the pickle. “Well, since you said please.”

Franny walks into the den. “Oh, cool, Fleegle, you found my pickle.”

He shakes his head. “Nope, that’s my pickle. I still haven’t found yours but you’ll be the first to know when I do, that is, after me, of course.”

Next Bartering with Biscuits – Therapy

Previous Bartering with Biscuits – Inspector Fleegle

First Bartering with Biscuits – The Puppy

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Rage

After a trip to the park, Fleegle asks, “Raud, are your eyes blue?”

“Yes.”

“Does that make you the devil?”

“The devil?”

“The blue eyed devil the angry man at the park was talking about.”

“He was ranting politics.”

“Like you do when you get stuck in traffic.”

“Pretty much.”

“But he wasn’t stuck in traffic. He was in a beautiful park on a dry day surrounded by dogs happy to be out.”

“He was stuck in a political traffic jam inside his head.”

Next Bartering with Biscuits – Inspector Fleegle

Previous Bartering with Biscuits – Crunch

First Bartering with Biscuits – The Puppy

Mr. Pillow

I lie on my bed, reading before I take a nap after a late lunch on Sunday. Fleegle keeps shifting positions to goober this part or that part of his body, shaking the whole bed as he does.

I look at him over the top of my book. “Fleegle, go lie down on your pillow and give your goobering a rest, please.”

As he gets up and moves to his pillow, Franny jumps up on the bed and plops down on top of my stomach. I look at her, my eyebrows raised, and give her a look that asks her what she thinks she’s doing lying on top of my stomach just after I ate lunch.

She lifts her head at me. “What? You said go to our pillows. That’s what I’m doing, getting on my pillow.”

“I’m your pillow.”

“Well, I’ve tried Fleegle, but as you’ve noticed he doesn’t stay put long enough to get a good nap in. You’re much better at that than he is. You stay put plenty long to get a good nap in. Sometimes your body even forgets to breathe and needs a gentle nose bump to remind it to.”

Fifty pounds of Labrador puppy on top of my belly just after cold pizza for lunch is too much. I shift my hips and she slides off of me onto the bed, leaving just her head using me as a pillow. She seems fine with that and I return to reading my book.

Moments later, she nudges my hand with her wet nose. “Pet me,” she says.

And I say, “Take a nap.”

“No, pet me.”

I ignore her. She nose bumps me again. “Pet me.”

I move my hand away.

She gets up and moves closer to my hand. “Pet me.”

I give in without thinking and pet her as I read. Then the whole bed moves as Fleegle gets up and eases his eighty-five pound butt on top of my stomach.

My eyebrows go up at him in a questioning look. “Fleegle, what are you doing?”

He glances at Franny, then back at me and wags his tail. “Pet me.”

Next Bartering with Biscuits – Crunch

Previous Bartering with Biscuits – Nails

First Bartering with Biscuits – The Puppy

Nails

Fleegle and Franny lay in the grass in the backyard licking the sides of their front paws obsessively.

When they notice me watching, Fleegle raises his head and says forlornly, “Raud, someone stole our dewclaws.”

They were removed when he was a puppy. “Don’t look at me. You showed up with four toed paws.”

He looks at where his dewclaws should be. “The dogs at the park have five toes on their paws. Where are our fifth toes?”

Franny looks up from her paw-goobering. “Yeah, we want them back.”

“You’ll have to talk to your matchmaker breeder about that,” I say.

“You mean Suzie has our toes? What, like in a drawer someplace?” Fleegle asks.

Franny tilts her head to the side. “Yuck, what if my toes get mixed up with Fleegle’s? I don’t want brown toes.”

Fleegle stands up. “We need to go to Eugene and get our toes back, Raud.”

Franny stands up too. “Yeah we do. Let’s go.”

I clear my throat, preparing to make a stand. “That reminds me. You’ve both been making a lot of clickity clack sounds when you walk on the wood floors. It must be time to trim the nails you do have.”

Fleegle starts to slink across the lawn toward the bamboo. “My nails are just fine. No trimming needed here.”

“But what about going to Eugene and retrieving your dew claws?” I ask. “They’ll need to be trimmed too.”

“Another time. I’ve got things to do,” he says and disappears into the bamboo.

“How about you, Franny? Are you ready for your nails to be trimmed?”

“You’re not trimming mine. Long nails are all the rage right now at the park. Did you pick up the pink polish I asked for?”

“I’m not going to paint your nails.”

“But I’ll paint yours if you do.”

Next Bartering with Biscuits – Mr. Pillow

Previous Bartering with Biscuits – Princess

First Bartering with Biscuits – The Puppy

The Princess

I find a sunny spot in the backyard, line up my chair to make the most of the fall sun, and sit down to attempt some writing in my notepad. I open it to a fresh page, click the tab on my pen a few times, and wait for something to surface to inspire me.

It isn’t long before Fleegle emerges from the bamboo and is staring alongside me at the blank page too, and soon he is followed by his blond shadow, Franny.

“What are we doing?” she asks.

“Shush,” Fleegle says. “Raud might have writer’s block.”

“What’s writer’s block?”

“It’s when Raud can’t think of anything to write about.”

“Is that because his coconut brain is hollow?”

Fleegle pushes her away by shoving his butt in her direction. He nose bumps my notepad. “Maybe if you drew some meaty bones it might help get the ink flowing.”

I click the tab on my pen a few more times and look at Fleegle and Franny. “I didn’t think I had writer’s block until you two brought it up.”

“Ah, that’s the power of suggestion at work,” Fleegle says. “Now back to drawing those meaty bones.”

Franny pokes her head in. “Did you say he needed suggestions? Get your pen ready, Raud. I’m not too sure what writer’s block is but I’m pretty sure I don’t have it. I can tell you all sorts of things to write.”

“Back off, Franny, Raud’s going to draw me some bones.”

“No he’s not. He’s going to write down my story. Let me begin. Once upon a time there was a dog named Franny and she was the prettiest princess in the land. She had a super obedient servant named Fleegle who did everything she told him to do.”

“Hey, I’m not your servant.” Fleegle sees me writing and whines, “Raud, don’t write down what she says, we have bones to draw.”

Franny looks down her nose at me. “Read what you have so far, scribe.”

I look at the page. “Once upon a time there was a dog named Franny and she was the stinkiest dog on the block because her big friend Fleegle showed her where all the coyote poop was.”

Franny snorts her derision. “You left out ‘Princess’.”

Next Bartering with Biscuits – Nails

Previous Bartering with Biscuits – Dirt

First Bartering with Biscuits – The Puppy

Negotiating with Cookies – Chips & Salsa

While comfortably ensconced on the couch, I use the corn chip to shovel salsa into my mouth.

Fleegle supervises, sitting as near to me as he can without being me. “Raud, you’re going to get fat if you don’t share. Or should I say, fatter.”

I pause to look at him, the chip in my hand frozen between the tub of salsa and my mouth. “You have it all wrong, Fleegle. You’re going to get fatter if I do share. Think of me eating this chip as a favor to you. I’m saving you from yourself, from your Labrador food obsession.”

“I’ll drool to death and die of dehydration before I ever get fat. Between Buck’s calorie free biscuits and your selfishness, I’m wasting away to skin and bones.”

I pop the chip in my mouth. I few bits drop to the floor. “Look, Fleegle, chips,” I say, pointing at them.

He ignores them, his eyes on the bag. “Those are crumbs, and I’m not your floor-cleaner.”

“But I thought you liked crumbs.”

“I do, but if I leave them there maybe they’ll attract mice, and I can eat mice.”

“You wouldn’t?”

“Desperate measures for desperate times.”

I stand up and head for the kitchen utility closet.

“Where are you going?”

“To get the broom and dust pan.”

“But what about the mice?”

I pull a chip out of the bag and offer it to him. “Here, have one.”

He looks at it, not taking it until he gets it the way he wants. “With salsa too, please.”

And Fleegle’s sloppy sit-stays made me think he lacked impulse control.

 

Next: Negotiating with Cookies – Osmosis

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