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Toby & The Elkish Mole
American Dog #12
© 2023 James LaFond
Observations on the development of canine metaphysics via feline discourse. Observed and intuited by Toby’s paranormal caregiver, February, 2023, Cedar Mountain, Cascadia
James Chosen was not coming home. Mamma Bear’s master window had summoned her to the voice of her mate, who informed her that he would be “In The Colon, trying to reinvent the wheel for the idiot architects of this billion dollar boondoggle.”
The beautiful flaxen-haired she-ape shivered, Benny Bear and Smookah Bear being off doing ape stunts upon a distant mountain. But James comforted her, “Mamma Bear, you have LaFond. That Nigerian won’t be able to get the power back on, but if any reprobates show up—he’s expendable!”
Toby whined to Mamma Bear, “No cheese and rice?”
“Toby,” said she, “go out and guard the property—make yourself useful for once!” and walked over to the door, opened it, and slid it shut behind him with a click, having locked it so he could not open it.
“Just like that?” whined Toby.
The voice of Annie sunk down to him like a shadow of pure sound, “Just, like, that, Dark One.”
Toby whined as he caught a glimpse of LaFond, his stray human, his own personal door opening device, one who could open the wash room door, and Annie critiqued his as yet unformed thought, “The Stray will avoid the ape den proper. He has great respect for his host and will shun association with the females while your precious savior is occupied elsewhere.”
Toby whined, and as if summoned, LaFond appeared at the door, emerging from the unlit side room, “Hey, Tobbes, no cheese and rice tonight,” and headed down to the woodshed, perilously close to where bear, elk and worse things prowled above the shadowed vale of the creek gully. Toby followed him, trying to talk some sense into the weird human, “Cracker, there is enough wood on the back porch. There could be coyotes down here.”
The man petted his head as they reached the arc of light between the barn and the woodshed, stopped, and then waited for it to go out, it being an anti-sneaking motion light of which master James Chosen was proud of.
The night then gathered about them in misty cloaks, the great cedars sawing in the breeze, the giant, metal slanty-eyed devils on the mountain above hungering for Toby’s well-marinated flesh. The stray human stood their idiot-like for some time, permitting their eyes to adjust to the deeper shades of night and revealing the dimly limned sights there:
The owl perched above upon the great cedar top, regarding the man with no more concern than he did it.
Coon eyes blinked over the gully rim and furtively slunk away.
“There, there they are buddy,” pointed the human with a low whisper towards the alder thicket beyond the barn. And so they were, a great herd of massive elk, like mules without masters, like deer without canine fear. Toby whined as the man regarded these hulking menaces. Then the human turned, activating the light, revealing that Annie had somehow slunk in their bigger shadows down with them, and was under those weird shod ape feet. The man walked to the wood shed as Annie laced her feline way between his feet.
“Annie, he could step on you, break your back?” whined Toby.
“Oh no, slave—this is too rich...owls be damned! I have rolling cover, extended scouting ape overwatch...look, it hunts!”
The man stopped and grabbed the wood-splitting ax in one sure paw and Toby whined, “Stray human, back to the house. It’s scary out here.”
The weak paw scratched his head as the stray ape walked at the very edge of gloom, away from every light, scouting the property edge like some junkyard dog behind its fence at the pick-and-pull.
Annie opined, “It is a weird one, a sending up out of the Underdark I think. We must consult mother after we have hopefully lapped up the gouting blood of a kill this night—the moon, the moon is about to rise, our witness, our huntress!”
Annie was purring frightfully, like the engine of Benny Bear’s overworked truck.
A coyote whined, and another answered, down over the steep gorge in the thicket below. The man stopped and flared his nostrils, as if trying to remember something. Annie hissed, “What an ape, what a find—force recon by night...this human might be retarded and lame but he is the best meat-shield the Night could name!”
“No fair,” Toby heard a coyote whine down by the creek, then the prance of eight drippy feat beat a hasty retreat and the spirit of the night, the great power that shunned the light and glistened under the moon in the gloss of his black hide, rose in his throat, his hackles expanded, his tail curled, his paws stabbed the ground like sod ripping claws and he growled deep and low so that all those coyotes would know, “Toby is on watch! Y’all ganger-uppers and night skulkers, lowly bush crawlers—y’all ain’t shit—Gots me dis crazy weird-ass human up in here and y’all ‘bout ta shed some tears!”
The howl was a deep, long, low mournful thing that pulled at the heartstrings...and it came from Toby, proudly, as he stood on all fours like the boss of all dogs and howled at the rising moon!
“You a right warden hound, Buddy,” complimented the stray human as the coyotes scampered off and Annie purred, “Impressive, Dark Wing Dog-we shall hunt together on the morrow in the hours above dawn.”
The three of them completed their circuit and came back to the house, entering by the woodpile door, the ape bringing fuel for the lady’s fire, the ax left outside.
Bisquick licked her lips and she absorbed all of Annie’s observations in the blink of four slit eyes, “Yes, Wicked Child of Mine. We have fallen into certain favor with dread Madam Night, for she has sent up this weird ape from the times before humans strangled her in her dusken bed. Observe, it does not listen to the songs that forget, or view the lighted masters of beget. It was sent for us.”
“Thank you, LaFond,” said Mamma Bear, “won’t you have some pie?”
The emaciated thing declined the favored human food and Annie purred as she marked its pants with her forehead, “I knew it—only eats is one of us!”
Toby observed sadly as the man passed through the house and went out to its dark abode, where no mesmerizing music or masterly TV or hand master would disturb its weird night.
Bisquick opined, “I thought so, it is pained by horrors in the quiet of night, is having a hard time passing for human. We shall kill more readily henceforth with its crooked aid.”
Toby pranced and boasted, “Oh yeah, like She said!” and snarled out at the uncaring gloom.
“Black Dog, wake, open the door, the moles dig at dawn!”
Toby. Sleep still crusting his eyes, sluggishly slid open the door and insensibly followed Annie out into the field in the misty morning, her reminding him, “Right over me, in case a hawk comes, he’ll mere clip your ear when he might whisk me off—overwatch!”
“Oookay,” yawned Toby as he pranced above her, missing his predawn bacon and eggs with distant James Chosen, tragically stuck in something called The Colon.
“Further from cover than I should like, Slave. But here, you see that mole hole, he tunnels down here, right towards the house. Gain credit for us with the Vet Wielder and dig, here,” she pointed with her paw.
Toby had some glassy nailed paws now and he went at the soft mossy sod and the coarse dirt below, digging and hurling dirt with his front paws between his rear haunches until this terrible stink came up in his snout and he saw this malformed little snout below blind eyes with big root chomping buck teeth and recoiled in horror, “Yuck, how can you eat that!”
Annie darted in with one wicked paw and stabbed that thing in the eyes and brain with needle claws, hauling it out, biting its neck, and then retreating with great speed, without a word, “What, but what…”
And Toby saw a great shadow engulf his little shadow and heard a snort above him, his tail curling between his legs, that appendage knowing he was in danger before he did.
Looking back over his front haunches Toby looked up into the face of a great pale elk, too light by half, and cringed slinking slightly towards the distant mud room, but afraid of being stomped for moving suddenly.
He shivered and whined, “Hey, I’m Toby—you know, your buddy—these humans hold me hostage, I don’t even eat at the table, especially not when they serve up el… Ah, well…”
The great elk snorted in his face and said, “We know of dogs and humans—we liked you less when you were wolves. These diggers of holes are no friends to us hoofed kind. Now back to your den—I’m bringing the little ones through.”
Toby stood and wagged his tail, “Sure thing, you can count on me—coyote patrol at night and mole patrol at dawn—we all… Later,” and he darted for the mud room as the door opened and the stray human stepped outside to gaze at the elk. That elk looked haughtily back, clearly disdaining any man who stood forth without The Vet in hand.
Toby darted past the stray, up onto the porch, and there shivered as the man chuckled, “Never saw a cat and dog hunt together, Buddy. Good on you. I tell yah, that horse with antlers puts some fear in me too.”
Toby then got an idea and playfully suggested, knowing the stray was headed into the main house for coffee, “Bro, can you melt cheese?”
The man grinned as as Toby watched the yard he had been tasked to guard fill with more elk than he had glossy nails upon his now dirty crusted paws. [1]
-1. The mole hunt and the stink encountered, combined with the elkish trauma have been suggested as the cause of the advent for Toby’s Paw Neurosis. Mule Neurosis and SlantyEyed Devil Dysphoria have more obvious and direct causality.
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