17 – Invasion

“Someone is on the roof,” Franny says to Fleegle in the dark of the bedroom. “Should we wake him?”

I look at their black silhouettes on the bed and listen to the silence. “No one is on the roof,” I say.

“Oh, good, you’re awake,” Franny says. “You need to go up on the roof.”

The clock glows 3am. “I’m not going up on the roof in the middle of the night.”

“Do you want me to get your slippers?” Franny asks.

Fleegle shakes his head. “He’ll need his shoes for going up the ladder.”

I pull the pillow over my head. “I’m not getting out of bed.”

Fleegle cocks his head to the side. “No, she’s right, Raud. Someone is on the roof. It must be Santa. Have you bought that heavy German beer he requested last year? Remember he said he was lactose intolerant after drinking milk for so many years.”

“It’s far too early in the season for Santa,” I say.

“But he’s been all over the grocery store. So has his buddy, Frosty the Snowman,” Fleegle says.

Franny stands up, her stance a little anxious. “Who is this Santa guy and why is he on our roof? What’s so special about the roof anyway? Is there something up there to eat that no one has told me about? Is that where Fleegle hides the caviar?”

“Nothing is on the roof. Go back to sleep.”

“You’ll be lucky if it’s Santa,” Fleegle says. “He might be able to help you with your gnome problem.”

“I don’t have a gnome problem, I have a sleep deprivation problem.”

“That’s what they all say just before it’s too late.”

I know I shouldn’t give credence to his theories by asking but I can’t help myself. Any insight into Fleegle’s thinking is always worth it. “Who is they?”

“People with gnome problems. Maybe Santa can broker a truth before the gnome’s relatives arrive and the conflict escalates.”

I push my pillow aside. “Relatives?”

“It’s probably already too late. There are several new RVs in the neighborhood. I think the gnome is already massing his forces.”

“An invasion of gnomes in RVs? Are there magic mushrooms growing in your yard, Fleegle?”

“What’s an RV?” Franny asks. “Is that where the caviar is hidden?”

“Go back to sleep, you two.”

Franny lies back down and soon both of them are snoring quietly. I lie there and stare at the ceiling. The clock now glows 3:12. It’s then that I hear it, the rapid patter of feet, like a child running in the attic. And then I hear it again, but this time it’s several children racing one another the length of the attic from one end of the house to the other.

Crap, I hope it’s not raccoons, I think and roll over.

Next chapter – Fleegle’s Bed

Previous chapter – How To Become a Coyote

First chapter – The Puppy

Chapter 15 – The Boy Bits Of God

While in the backyard immersed in one of my books on advaita and nonduality, something tickles the back of my neck. I swat at it like I would a mosquito and feel a small wet nose, a nose too small to be Fleegle’s.

“What are you doing, Franny?” I ask.

“I’m sniffing your brain for peanuts to check if what Biscuit Breath says is true.”

“And what have you discovered?”

“I’ve concluded you have a coconut for a brain.”

Fleegle looks up from his spot across the lawn. “That’s only his shampoo. It’s scented with coconuts to fool you into thinking he has a bigger brain. Sniff deeply and you’ll smell the peanut deep inside his noggin. But still, it’s an apt metaphor since coconuts are full of water. Even a walnut with its solid insides can outsmart a hollow coconut.”

Franny nudges the book in my lap. “Is that one about dogs too?”

Fleegle gets up and comes over. He sniffs the book. “I bet it’s about coconuts, and I bet it’s titled How To Be a Coconut and Appear Smarter Than You Are.”

I clear my throat to speak. “It’s about how everyone is everyone and there is no other. Franny, me, and even you, Fleegle, are all one and God is experiencing his creation through us as his creations.”

Fleegle yawns. “What I say? Coconuts. You and the coconut are definitely one and the same. God is experiencing the coconut through you.”

“So God is a boy dog?” Franny asks. “Did they neuter him too like all the other boy dogs at the park?”

I know when I’m outnumbered. I set my book down on the grass next to my chair and get up to go inside for more coffee. As I do, I glance over my shoulder and catch Fleegle about to lift his leg on my book. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m going to review your book.”

Franny follows me toward the house. “If God is neutered, what did they do with his boy bits?”

Dogs can ask the most embarrassing questions.

Next chapter – How To Become a Coyote

Previous chapter – The Biggest Brain of Them All

First chapter – The Puppy

Chapter 14 – The Biggest Brain Of Them All

I sit in the backyard half reading a book on dog biology and half watching Fleegle and Franny wrestle in the fresh cut grass. After a while, they tire and start chewing on a long stick, one on either end. Franny is now seven months old and still substantially smaller than Fleegle, especially her head.

I put my book down. “You know, Fleegle, looking at you next to Franny makes me realize just how big your head is. I swear, it’s almost as big as mine.”

Fleegle lets go of the stick. “No, Raud, it’s bigger than yours, especially in the part that counts, my brain. The size of my brain makes yours look like a peanut.”

“Shelled or unshelled?” Franny asks.

I hold the book up in my lap. “This here book about dogs says your brain is the size of a walnut.”

Fleegle tilts his head to the side. “And who wrote this book? A dog?”

“Of course not.”

“Exactly. Just more lies to cover up the biggest lie of them all, that people have more than a peanut for a brain. You’ve heard the saying, ‘victoribus spolia’?”

“Um, no, I haven’t.”

“It’s a Latin quote from Julius Cesar’s dog, Maximus Canis, and it translates as ‘To the victors go the spoils.’”

“Actually, the phrase is attributed to a Jacksonian Democrat in the presidential election of 1828 after Andrew Jackson won the presidency.”

“Which is my point. The winner writes the history books,” he says.

I set my book down again. “So if dogs have such big brains, why are the peanut brains running the world?”

Fleegle shakes his head sadly at me. “Oh, Raud, the peanut brains only think they do. Your brains don’t have the capacity to understand the bigger picture of what’s really going on. You’re just a small part of a vast social experiment us dogs are conducting, but don’t worry, I’ll write up my report on you as favorably as I can.” He licks his lips. I sense a request for a bribe is coming. “Within limits, that is.”

Franny looks over at Fleegle. “So is peanut butter really brain butter from people? I don’t want anymore of that in my Kong if it is.”

Next chapter – The Boy Bits Of God

Previous chapter – Digging

First chapter – The Puppy

Chapter 11 – Truth

While I stand next to the kitchen counter listening to the coffeemaker percolate, Fleegle ambles in from the backyard, followed closely by his blond shadow, Franny.

“I recognize that smell,” he says. “I thought you quit drinking that stuff.”

“What smell?” Franny asks. “You mean that burning smell?”

“I used to drink coffee but I quit,” I say to Franny.

Fleegle sits and looks up at me. “Green tea just not doing it for you, eh? You should try chewing the bark off of a stick.”

Franny tilts her head to the side. “What’s coffee?”

Fleegle glances at her. “I don’t really know. He never shares it. But I bet it taste like chocolate.”

“What’s chocolate taste like?”

“I’ve never had it except in my dreams but I know it’s good.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because he hogs it all for himself and doesn’t even let me lick the bowl.”

“Not even the spoon?” she asks.

“Nope. Nothing.”

“Have you tried threatening to pee in his bed?”

Fleegle tilts his head at her. “Why would I do that? That’s where I sleep.”

“You don’t actually do it, you just make him think you’ll do it.”

I look down at Franny, trying to remember if Fleegle was ever this devious as a puppy. “Hey, Franny, do you hear that?” I say very excitedly. Her ears perk up. “Squirrels!” I half shout.

And off the two of them go, but Fleegle stops half way out the door and turns around. “I’m not falling for that. The bird feeder has been empty for weeks and the squirrels are taking their meals in someone else’s yard.”

“I’ll fill the feeder for you today after my coffee.”

“You said coffee was bad for you. I distinctly remember you pacing the house in the middle of the night saying, ‘never again will I drink coffee’.”

“I’ve written nothing but ‘to do’ lists since I quit drinking coffee, not a single short story, not even a poem or a joke.”

“You blame your writer’s block on green tea?”

I nod. “Yep. The coffee is the reward I get for writing and green tea just isn’t much of a biscuit for me.”

Franny wags her tail. “Writer’s block? Is that something I can chew on because I really need to chew on something right now.” She grabs Fleegle’s back leg in her mouth. “Wait, did he just say biscuit?” she says with his foot still in her mouth.

Fleegle ignores her, trying to shake his leg loose from the grip of her sharp little teeth. “But why is coffee not bad anymore?”

“The truth is I say a lot of things and sometimes I get it wrong.”

He finally gets his leg loose. “Ah, I get it, the truth is negotiable. So just how many biscuits did it take to bend the truth about coffee?”

The coffeemaker finishes percolating. I grab a mug and pour. “Well, in my case, it’s two sugars and a splash of cream,” I say with a smile.

*   *   *

Anyone else also have their writing habits linked to a specific drink or ritual?

Next chapter – The Sky Is Falling

Previous chapter – Tug Toy

Chapter 1 – The Puppy

Chapter 6 – Ham & Cheese To Go

I’m standing in front of the open fridge checking what there is to eat when I hear Fleegle behind me. He could be no where to be seen but at the sound of the fridge door opening, he magically materializes out of thin air. “Whatcha doing, Raud?”

“I’m thinking about fixing something to eat.”

“Oh boy, what am I having?”

“Not you, me.”

“Didn’t you learn to share as a kid?”

Franny drags a stick inside from the yard. “Do all people think have to about things so much before doing them? Or is it just you?”

“This is nothing,” Fleegle says. “At least he’s thinking about something and not just thinking about thinking.”

“Okay, I’ve decided,” I say.

Fleegle sits next to Franny and says, “Wait for it.”

“Yes, I’m going to make a sandwich.”

Fleegle’s tail sweeps the floor behind. “He’s a terrible sandwich maker. He does it all backwards. He puts the mayonnaise on the bread instead of the bread in the mayonnaise.”

Franny spits out a chunk of wood from her stick. “What’s a sandwich?” she asks.

“A sandwich is an awesome way to eat mayonnaise,” he says and thumps his tail against the floor.

Franny looks at Fleegle. “What’s mayonnaise?”

Fleegle shakes his head. “I’ve no idea.”

“But you eat it?”

“Of course.”

“So you eat things even when you don’t know what they are?”

“I’m a Labrador.”

“So am I but every time I start chewing on something that smells tasty, Raud pulls it out of my mouth and shoves that pink rubber thing in my face.”

“That’s the puppy Kong. Impossible to eat, but you can eat what Raud puts inside it.”

“What’s he put inside it?” she asks.

Fleegle watches me lay the cold cuts on the cutting board and get the jar of mayo from the fridge. “Well, if it were up to me, I’d put a few slices of ham in there, along with some provolone cheese, then slather it in mayonnaise.”

Next chapter – Sandwich Making Supervisors

Previous chapter – In Training

First chapter – The Puppy