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Toby & The Boo Cave
American Dog #14
© 2023 James LaFond
FEB/4/24
“Wake Black Dog, wake from your dream place.”
‘What is that clicking?’
“Slave of men, it is you gnawing at your own paws, which could result in the compromising of your foremost use, the opening of this door—desist.”
Toby opened his eyes from his shivering bed of curled anxiety next to the sliding glass door to the porch. Both cats, Annie and Bisquick, sat regarding him.
“You dreamed of terrible things yet to come,” counseled Bisquick. “You must wake and overcome less you grow woe befallen.”
Toby blinked and noted that his hind paw was in his mouth.
Annie purred, “The humans are useless this morning, still in bed. Open the door so we may summon the stray.”
“Okay,” yawned Toby as he rose.
He then slid the door open as the cats slunk out and followed them into the crystal fallen mist of the morning gloom, shaking his thickening coat, his red charm-shaped name tag jangling.
He heard the stray stir in the dark mud room even as Annie clawed at the door to that den for sub standard humans, “Wake, weird human,” she purred as her claws popped on the white door of the dark room.
As if conjured by the feline will, the door opened and the man stepped out down the two small stairs, Annie lacing her lithe form between its feet as it regarded Toby kindly, “Cats bossin’ you too, aye Tobes?”
“You now it, Cracker. Lets get some eat on.”
A humming bird flew its wing beating wave song past that hairless human head. Annie would have pounced, but was stopped by Bisquick, “Take the stray to the kibble locker and do not release it from compliance until it has opened the wet food. Then kill. I need my strength for the Siamese clan through the wood—I’m raiding today.”
The man was up on the porch and through the door, Toby dancing about him for kibble and canned food as Annie guided it in her mesmerizing way…
Soon, Toby’s muzzle was thrust into a carelessly overfilled kibble bowl, shredded cheese covering the crunchy fare. The cats sat patiently before their smaller bowls as the servant from nowhere gingerly scooped wet food into their dishes.
“Mother, it fears me, as big as it is,” blinked Annie.
“Yes, Daughter, it is not mesmerized, has no TV, has not forgotten that we stalked them when the world was young. We are yet giants of our kind in its ape mind.”
Toby had a flash of inspiration, “It is afraid to wake the Chosens—it is their slave and only serves us to please them. It is obviously afraid of disapproval.”
Annie blinked a vicious glance at Toby. Yet Bisquick opined, “And so a slave knows a slave, even as the ape knows its hunter from within its human home.”
The house was empty and bleak, James not having returned from serving his unseen masters on this day. Mamma Bear emerged from the back chamber in a bustle, raising Granny from her wing of the house and dressing her for an outing, both women in the hands of the younger one, coming to affect a parody of the morning sun, where in the sky beyond their home there rose none.
The stray drank its bitter hot coffee as his master’s mate spoke, “LaFond, could you please take Toby with you over the mountain before we go? I’d walk him around the property, but Mamma has an appointment today.”
“Yes, ma’am whispered the weird human—headed to The Flats to stretch my legs.”
“What?” whined Toby, “You mean OVER The Mountain, back where the cougars and coyotes roam?”
Her voice was like morning itself, “Awe, Toby, LaFond is taking you for a hike.”
Toby was horrified and pranced and whined, “This is a disaster! Human, its raining, coyotes are on patrol at this early hour. At least take The Vet!”
“Awe,” declared she, “Toby can’t wait to get some real exercise!”
“Bro, human, yo—take The Vet at least!” pranced and whined Toby.
But instead, the weird human stray grabbed the walking leash, clipped it onto Toby’s collar next to the jangling heart, and drawled, “Okay, Buddy, let’s get your friends. I told the Colonel’s Wife I’d exercise them.”
‘No, the dream is coming true, the coyotes will be waiting and this old lame ape is’— “Mamma, Mamma Bear,” Toby whined as he was led out the firewood porch door…
Bisquick blinked from her perch on the porch railing and advised, “It likes you, Black Dog, both of you the slave of men. Use its status with the hound dogs to take the lead. Dreams may mislead, but do not lie. This is your opportunity to affront Coyotes.”
They were soon at the bridge of his bad dream, and instead of mangy coyotes, there howled and danced deep-throated Izzy and bear-coated Amos, howling, “The Walker, the Weird Way Walker—Toby brings The Walker!”
Toby pranced, hackles up and growled, “Dragged it from bed, I did. I bring The Walker, My Walker! I’m leader of the pack!”
“Top Dog Toby,” they howled, idiots of enthusiasm any time this weird human entertained their mania for exploration and adventure.
The mules glared at them from under the steaming rain, accusing Toby with big said eyes, “Trespasser, we know you came in dreamtime.”
“Come on Tobes, the mules are behind the fence, eyes ahead,” encouraged his task master.
Halfway up the winding mountain face coyote droppings packed with rabbit hair defiled the way and Toby balked, “Really, bro, this is dangerous.”
Amos stopped and lifted his leg on the droppings, soaked it with urine, and The Walker urged Toby on, “You can do this, Buddy. The Big Dogs are on the hunt.”
The rain ceased for a moment at the top of the mountain face and the man turned to look at the distant teeth of some beast so great that it seemed to bite the sky in half.
Then they ran, all of them, this crazy human trotting like a dog itself, up and over the shoulder of the mountain into the green gloomy mists. Toby was lost in an ecstasy of motion and became a beast, something like a bird that ran, knowing that wherever he pointed his black snout that these two great hounds of his dream would bound, rip and tear, and the human would be there.
The rain increased and they dripped like stinking night things emerging at dawn to send raccoons, owls and cats skittering for hidden holes.
‘This is great! I’m fast, faster even then Amos!’ gloried Toby as he bolted out ahead, the leash left in the man’s hand.
Amos plunged down off the trail into a ravine. Toby heard, looking over his haunches, to see that the big dogs were lost somewhere in the lower thickets and rushing waters of the top creek, and that the human was hobbling along too distant to be of much help.
“Hea, nig-nig-nig-nig!” goaded a familiar voice from a coyote’s yipping throat.
‘Oh, no, my human is too slow!’ panicked Toby.
That voice came again from the left and below so Toby bounded downward to the right and below where water rushed into a long metal hole, gushing over his itchy feet, calming him. There on the other into of the hole he saw those two sallow, yellow coyote eyes from his dream. His mind wanted to whine. But after leading the big dogs up and almost over the mountain for all this time, Toby’s chest swelled and he growled, growled a growl that sounded like a dog with a tractor for a voice and charged through the water rushing hole at those two yellow eyes, “GRRRRRRR!” rumbled Toby, his savage growl magnified in the metal cave.
The yellow eyes blinked and gave way.
The mangy body darted for the lesser dim of the rain sodden morning, Toby hot on its hairy heels!
“Awes fawks,” yelped the big old coyote as it scrambled up over the creek bed and onto the human’s road.
Toby was lost in the chase, his heart beating deep and sure.
That mangy coyote looked over its shoulders with increased worry at Toby’s plunging fury.
Then two great hairy things barreled by Toby, Izzy and Amos pounding past him.
“Tobes,” gasped the human behind him, “hold up.”
The coyote was now small in the distance, Izzy and Amos dancing in the road to celebrate their route of the enemy, and Toby stood proud, like a model of canine purity, wagging his curled tail, too winded to howl in victory.
‘James Chosen,’ thought he, ‘my pack just saved your mangy old stray.’
“Okay, y’all mad dogs, time to get back,” offered the human stray, seconded by Toby with an airy bark, “Like he said!”
Some time later, as the 14-legged pack made its way back down the mountain, the scent of scrumptious bacon wafted up from the homestead and Toby broke for home, tearing the reapplied leash from those stray hands, “Later cracker—James Chosen is home! Your mangy butt might eat cold from a can. But this dog has a shiny coat to maintain.”
Note
Toby was notorious for breaking away off the mountain face at the smell of bacon, descending into a small distant black dot 600 feet in elevation and a quarter mile below, the only time his fear of mules was overcome, being when bacon sizzled beyond that dread mule field at the base of Cedar Mountain.
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