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Toby & Captain Coon
American Dog #8
© 2023 James LaFond
Toby wished that he could sleep in bed with James and Mamma Bear as he curled up on his ignominious pad by the sliding glass door to the porch. But that didn’t work out too well for the cats, who, one by one, would be brought out by husband and then by wife, to the sliding glass door, which was opened, as the cat was hurled into her mistress the Night. They did this attired in what they called bathrobes, but which Toby identified as definitive cat tossing attire.
After tossing Bisquick into the night, James stopped and checked the cords strapping down the lid on the large aluminum can on the porch that held Toby’s kibble. James pointed to some black letters on the can and read, “ ‘Toby Chosen,’ says so right there. Any other critter gets in here, Toby, you come get the vet!”
The man then petted his snout, kissed his nose, and was off to his lofty den, past Benny on this frosty night. For snow fell lightly this winter night on and below Cedar Mountain and Benny had come into the house to enjoy the warmth of the wood stove.
The cats slunk under the mud room and there skulked like ciphers, their ambient eyes flickering in the night, looking one at the other, as if to imply, each in their turn, that their recent joint misfortune was wholly the fault of the other. Toby noticed that they eyed him now with some jealousy. In drowsy fear he stuffed his nose between his paws, big paws that he hoped he would grow into, to become a great black beast to rival even Amos!
Toby drifted off to sleep as frost fell from the gloomy sky to dress the green grass in a light bright gown…
A tinny sound jolted Toby awake. His amber eyes blinked open to see a misshapen fiend, a hunch-backed, hackle-sack of a critter prowling about his kibble can. This fellow was nearly all black like Toby, but had some stripes on his face and some nosy whiskers, little claw-like hands too. With these latter pry-paws the critter, a raccoon he could see now, was undoing the straps that kept the lid on the can that contained Toby’s kibble ready for melted cheese!
“Hey,” whined Toby, “that is my feed, thief.”
“Take it up with the humans who thought only they had wits and wiggle claws. Starve behind your see-though prison wall, you pathetic pet!”
“Amos will get you. He’s out on patrol!” objected Toby.
The Raccoon snorted, “The Colonel, Colonel Coyote, has him up on the mountain chasing shadows. I’ve been detailed to pillage these stores in the War on Humans.”
“What? Humans are great, they cook bacon, they melt cheese?”
The raccoon, having undone the cords and cast them aside, and thence darting a vicious look of ‘I dare you,’ towards the skulking cats below, came close to the window and chittered, “Look, Black Dog, they make bacon by killing critters, they make cheese by stealing milk from mothers meant for baby critters. Humans pretty much suck, and they keep you, sleeping on the ground in there prisoner by feeding you. See, see this bucket of chow that I am about to boost and you eye with such adore—have you seen your precious humans eating out of this bucket? Have you, house dog?”
‘House Dog, that hurt,’ mused Toby.
Toby scratched his ear with his paw and sat up, “Well, no. But when Granny in the Chair doesn’t finish her chicken and green beans, I get to clean the plate!”
The raccoon shook his head in pity and motioned to the can, “Then, four-legged slave of ape kind, we may find a point of agreement in that me boosting this can of kibble to feed the Colonel’s Coyotes on their upcoming offensive, will benefit both of us, I in getting access to the eggs that will be unguarded while the hounds your friends brawl with those mangy mongrels up on the mountain, and you by getting to eat pure human fare, right from the table, I might add.”
“But,” objected Toby, with a whine, “its mine and My Master says you can’t have it.”
The raccoon balled up his little claws on his wide hips and wrinkled its nose in disgust, “Your Inner Pet is strong, I’ll give you that. So how about a trade.”
“Trade what—you got bacon?” perked up Toby.
“If I show you how to open the glass panel to your prison there, you won’t bark when I dump this thing?”
Toby looked around and Benny was still sleeping, James was snoring in the other room and the wood stove was crackling. Toby stood on trembling legs, and whined, “Deal, I already promised the cats I’d get door savvy.”
The raccoon then posed on the other side of the door, “Now get even with the door, facing the frame, being the part that is in the wall against which your wretched bed is shoved.”
Toby did so, “Got it.”
“Now, lower your shoulders and extend your right foreleg, while bracing with your left foreleg, like so.”
“Got it,” whined Toby.
“Now, Kid, extend your right paw so that your useless dew claw, which is an analogue to the wicked human thumb but facing the other way, and is an indication of your infernal origins as a human experiment, and hook that claw right there at the base of the door where it sinks into the lower door frame.”
Toby did so and his dew claw sank in. “Okay.”
“Okay, Kid,” capered the coon, “now pull with the right dew claw as you press down with your left paw and you pull with your hind quarters, like tug of war, which, I must say is a game that shows humans in a negative light. With all of their ape-supremacy pretensions and their diabolical inventions, its a comforting sign of their own innate primitive, the fact that their rise to rule over us was not predetermined but an accident—see, Kid, you’re getting it. It’s sliding open. A little bit more and I’ll be in and we can raid the cat food!”
‘I was doing this to help the cats. Something is not right here.’
That greedy coon paw was beginning to reach in through the narrow opening Toby had made and an innate sense that he had been duped and the knowledge that he was a true loyal dog, rose within him and he pushed the sliding door closed on that greedy paw and barked, “Enemy at the door!”
The coon was snarling in a savage rage, “You motherpupper!”
And the lights came on as the snow dusted down to the now white ground.
Toby & Amos
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song of the secret gardener
fiction anthology one
logic of force
son of a lesser god
the first boxers
dark, distant futures
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