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Toby & The Stray Human
American Dog #11
© 2023 James LaFond
“Something is afoot,” spake Bisquick.
“Amiss, I think, dread mother of mine,” critiqued Annie.
“Smells good to me,” opined Toby.
Both sets of slanted orbs of death-seeking sight fixed Toby with icy glares and Bisquick understood, letting Toby contribute to a thought, “Yes, improved food, to your mind a fair price to pay for the invasion of our palace by as yet unvetted—and to wit unasked for, servants. Humans are dangerous, and mark my whiskers, Black Dog of Men, life is nigh to a change.”
“But we gots more food roasting on the stove,” opined Toby.
Annie cut him to the quick, “That settles it then, the new human—Night forbid it is no infant—shall be your charge. Anything it does to impede our reign of fear will be charged to your snout account!”
“Ouch!” whined Toby as one sharp needle pricked his tender snout.
“Annie, be nice. Bad cat!” sang out Mamma Bear, “Toby is your friend.”
Annie swaggered on by Toby, “I need to kill, Dark One,” and Toby rushed to open the door for his miniature malefactor.
“There, Annie just like you like, just enough for you to make a right angle turn. Hey, do you think maybe you could scratch my butt some time? It is so dry and none of my paws can get to it.”
Annie glanced at him with a sphinx-like wink of utter disdain, and walked on out into the crystalline mist.
Granny in the Chair chuckled, “That dog open’s doors!”
Toby stood proudly recognized as special and useful. Then he heard the whine of James Chosen’s commute car, the one he drove into the Den of Slanty-Eye Devils, also called The Colon, the place less enlightened people called Seattle, for his daily work. Work was a terrible place for humans, where the masters of dogs and servants of cats, toiled for unseen humans that flickered across the soft lit screen called the TV and the smaller hand held TVs that told humans what to think, what to do, even what not to do.
‘Humans have it tough,’ thought Toby, they hear ‘No’ and ‘bad human’ broadcast across the human bending sky beams of luminous thought more often than do I, a mere dog they say.’
Annie slathered down from the roof above, “Dark Dog, your mind should have gone into a human—that is what makes you special, and I am afraid, what would make your brain taste so very bitter.”
Toby shouldered the door open wide enough for his now broad haunches and sauntered out onto the gray painted porch which was slick as can be, having no desire to be seen by a new human flying out across the icy yard as the crystal mist fell down here, in this green domain, below Cedar Mountain.
The small car zoomed up out of the gravel driveway where it looped around the house and onto the parking pad. There sat his wonderful savior, James Chosen, behind the wheel, where a master should be. But instead of having his loyal Black Dog, his Tobias, his Black Animal, next to him, sat a scrawny, ungroomed, face-haired in hoary white, bald-headed waif of a human.
Toby barked, “James, James Chosen!” wagging his curled tail for effect. “Master, don’t let it out, its lame, has mange besides, its wounded and useless and looks hungry!”
The thing was in such bad shape it was having difficulty getting out of the car and, to add insult to indignation, James Chosen, Master of all Toby marked with his pee, was hauling the wretched stray human’s belonging, a great big sack with straps that told of no brief stay, on his one strong side, holding the car door open for the limping cautionary biped…”
“No! No! My Master—James!” snarled Toby in high dungeon as he charged down the ramp heedless of the ice, like the big bad pack jack of his dreams, leading the charge against evil, right at that interloper, usurper and probable bacon eater!
James stepped aside with a mirthful grin, “Tobes, meet La—”
But Toby was not having it and unleashed a store of fury, prancing, coiling, leaping, mock throat ripping, snapping gnashing towards the human groin, lunging, spinning like he meant it, not just as a balance recover caper: “Human, sub standard, retarded, reprobated human! Back, back—I am Tobias! To-bias! To-bi-as—as in will lay the enamel on your scrawny pale ass if there is enough on the bone to make it worthwhile—back, back to the Den of Slanty-Eyed Devils!”
“Hey Toby,” spoke softly the stray man, “you’re a great guard dog.”
“Really?” barked Toby.
“Toby,” yawned the wretched thing, a poor excuse for a human, really, “I’ll feel much safer around here knowing that you are on duty.”
Toby would not be had so easily, “Chump, coward, suck-up, homo-not-errect-enough, unwanted human taking advantage of my Master,” snarled he through gnashing teeth as James chuckled and walked on inside towards the yummy smells, “what, whats that?”
The stray human had sly-like pulled a stick of yummy smelling dried meat out from the folds of its confusing smell of clothes, clothes that had been sniffed by many dogs, marked by many cats, had scents of human female tears and human male sweat, like this sucker had been bested in many a mating rite scrap over this human bitch or another.
The man extended the dried meat and answered, in such a way as to indicate that it knew that Toby understood human speech, “It is dried bison jerky, Bro.”
Toby was soon gobbling that stuff down, chomping, gnashing, tearing, slurping and chugging that most delectable peace offering.
“Fool,” scolded Annie, “you have given it your back—he is about to do the ape carry and humiliate you like Smookah Bear—bite it now!”
Toby felt it then, the cold, talon like hand of the stranger on his haunches and turned with a vicious warning snarl as he swallowed the last of the bait stick. But this was no ape-on-canine crime here, this was mercy. For the hands that had been shaped by their creator to do many human things, repurposed themselves just then and scratched Toby’s dry haunches.
“Bro,” snarled Toby, “what a relief—even James does not scratch my butt. It’s so dry and the Maker of Dogs did not give us a tail with claws so we could scratch back there.”
Fully understanding, the stray human hummed in its low soft voice, “Yeah, Buddy, I can see the flakes. When I had hair I used to get flakes…yeah, there you go.”
Then James came to the door, “Toby, leave LaFond alone. It’s time to eat—shepherd pie with melted cheese!”
The stray human called LaFond listened for Toby and stood and began limping up the ramp, Toby parading proudly next to his new human servant, a dog with the status of a cat, owning a human and commanding it at his canine will, this human scratching behind his ears lightly as it looked up onto the roof and met Annie’s glimmering eyes.
Toby looked up, and for the first time in his young life saw Annie, Lesser Princess of Night, flinch before the gaze of another creature. He felt all the more potent for it, this human, if small, damaged, aged and not near assertive enough for a male of its kind, being his very own servant, a servant that even made evil look away.
‘What’s the matter, Annie, jealous that I have a servant?’ mused he.
Annie answered, ‘It is wicked. Use it as you must. Keep it ready to serve this Sister of Night.’
“Sure,” Toby barked, knowing that switching from thought to voice shattered the evil cat’s repose, “soon as I get my haunches scratched, you bossy cat!”
And the stray human called LaFond even let Toby enter first and closed the door behind him, an auspicious addition to this already useful human family.
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