Going to the Dogs
Disclaimer: The Lancers don’t belong to me and I made no money off of this because 20th Century Fox does not acknowledge my literary genius.
Author’s note: This is for Fen because we GRITS gave her a hard time about fake bacon and Lori (Dos), who contends with a ‘toddler’ Johnny every day.
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Murdoch Lancer sighed heavily as Jelly drew the wagon up next to the house. Dropping stiffly to the ground he groaned as his back protested the abuse. The pressure exerted on his spine caused by his legs supporting his weight was just as uncomfortable as the strain of sitting too long on hard wooden benches while traveling. Pausing a moment to stretch the kinks out of his back, he cast his eyes around the ranch and was pleased to see everything seemed to be in order. Seeing that all was well helped him to relax which in turn helped the muscle spasms in his lower back ease up.
“Where are the …”
A stick abruptly flying by his head halted the question. Murdoch’s eyes narrowed, and then his lips flattened into a stern horizontal line as he watched his youngest son’s border collie, Lady SF fly by in pursuit of the stick. Not that he was bothered by the dog playing fetch, what bothered him was the appearance of two more dogs, intent on retrieving the same stick.
“Where did those dogs come from?” Murdoch bellowed.
Johnny’s dark head popped up over the low patio wall, “Oops, sorry I didn’t know anyone was on the other side of the wall when I threw the stick.” Sinuously lifting himself up and over the wall, Johnny gracefully dropped to the ground kicking up dust which settled on his already grimy pant legs. He sauntered with cat like poise towards his father his movement causing a slight jingling sound from his spurs.
It was hard to be grouchy when presented with one of Johnny’s full blown smiles so the stray dogs were forgotten for the moment. Murdoch’s eyes drank in the sight of his son as he watched him approach and a grin was born on his own lips as he enjoyed the tingle of happiness that homecomings always brought since the return of his boys.
“Johnny, it’s good to see you my boy. Did everything go all right while I was away?”
“Everything went fine, Murdoch. What’s in the big crates?” Johnny inquired as he stared at two large wooden boxes nestled in the wagon with his father’s luggage.
“Something for all of us, go call your brother to help unload them.”
“SCOTT!” Johnny hollered as he leaped into the bed of the wagon and began inspecting the crates.
“Johnny…I could have done that,” admonished Murdoch over Johnny’s screech for his brother.
“Huh... well, why didn’t you? Your bellow is lots louder than mine,” Johnny unthinkingly muttered as he continued to examine the packages.
The heavy oak door creaked open and Scott appeared on the front porch. Seeing his father, Scott marched into the yard, gracing his father with a bright smile, “Welcome home, Sir.” Turning his attention to his wayward little brother, he scowled as he grumbled, “Just what have you been doing? You were supposed to help me balance the ledger.”
“I stayed and helped some,” Johnny protested with an indignant glare for his brother.
“You stayed long enough to eat your snack of coffee and cake, and then you were gone. I was beginning to think you were off with Floyd and Dylan again.”
“Who are Floyd and Dylan?” Murdoch questioned, beginning to feel like he had been away for too long if they had hired new ranch hands in his absence.
Crossing his arms over his chest, his fingers lightly drumming on his forearms and his golden eyebrows rising to his hairline, Scott nailed his brother with a knowing smirk. “Would you like to tell him, little brother, or shall I?”
Standing up straight in the wagon bed, Johnny’s hands dropped to his sides. The fingers of his left hand tapped out a slow deliberate rhythm on his thigh. The right one just brushed, and then caressed the butt of his gun, as if warning his brother. “I’ll tell him. Those two dogs you saw chasing Lady are Floyd and Dylan. They sort of followed me home the day after you went on your trip.”
Snorting, Scott couldn’t resist informing his father, “Of course they followed him home; he smelled like the bacon he fed them.”
Exasperation colored Murdoch’s face and an agitated hand crept up under the brim of his hat and scratched at his head. “I thought we agreed no more strays, this is a ranch, young man, not a zoo.”
Scott chuckled as he watched his former gunfighter brother squirm under their father’s barely suppressed ire. He really couldn’t believe that Johnny had yet to figure out their father’s anger was just a show, that secretly the old man was thrilled that Johnny felt at home enough to invite others, man or beast, into his domain.
The awkward stare off between father and son ended when the three dogs reappeared walking side by side, each with a portion of the stick in their mouth. Lady immediately abandon the game to greet Murdoch, as she had missed him and the bacon he slipped her each morning, while he was away for the past week and a half.
Floyd and Dylan warily watched the big man as he petted and scratched Lady. They didn’t try to come any closer and seemed relieved when Johnny jumped from the wagon and came to stand by them.
Giving Lady one last vigorous scratch behind her ears, he turned his attention to his youngest son and the dogs. “Well introduce me, if they’re going to be underfoot I need to know what names to holler at them.”
Johnny smirked at his brother who was shaking his head in knowing resignation. It was getting easier and easier to get his father to surrender to his wants. Crouching down he ran a tanned hand smoothly over the head of a black and white dog, “This pretty boy is Floyd,” turning and laying a hand on the other dog, whose coat was actually an extremely mingled blends of browns and black, with a white patch on his chest, “And this sleek feller is Dylan.”
“Why, in the world, would you name them Floyd and Dylan?”
“I didn’t name them. That’s just what I call them because it’s what they answer to, so I figured it must be their names,” replied Johnny with a nonchalant shrug, as if it should make perfect sense to everyone.
Scott snickered when his father’s mouth dropped open and his eyes bugged out at the insolence of the youngest Lancer. Sliding closer to his father Scott whispered, “Don’t even try to understand his logic, just accept it and move on, in the end it will preserve your sanity.”
“Humph…” Murdoch huffed, and then decided to take his older son’s advice and get on with the task at hand. “Jelly, grab a crowbar from the wagon’s toolbox. Boys unload these boxes and bring them over to the porch so we can open them out here where it will cause less mess.”
Johnny leaped into the wagon and maneuvered one of the crates closer to the edge. He and Scott hefted it up, struggling under the weight of the burden as they sidestepped their way to the porch.
“Careful now…careful, take it easy…set it down gently,” Murdoch instructed.
Jelly went to work on the top of the crate with the crowbar as Scott and Johnny went to retrieve the second one. They were just putting it down when with a final creak of the wood and squeak of a nail pulling loose found the top coming off the first crate.
“Wait until you see this,” Murdoch enthused, as he grabbed the blankets wrapped around the item and pulled them off with a flourish, proud of his purchase.
Underneath the protective wool covering was a large man sized chair. The fabric covering looked shiny and embossed in shades of gold and cream coloring. The exposed wood of the arms was dark and had ornate ram’s heads carved in them. The legs looked like a ram’s as well. The side panels were a type of open weave caning. The cushions were plump and comfortable looking.
“I bought a pair of them to sit in front of my desk. What do you think boys?”
“Very nice sir,” Scott stated as he moved to try the chair out.
“It looks like it has plenty of padding,” added Johnny as he elbowed his brother aside and plopped down in the chair.
Murdoch grimaced as the dust coated leather pants of his youngest son landed in his brand new chair and the fine particles of dirt dislodged and briefly formed an airborne sand cloud. Before Murdoch could voice his displeasure, his new furniture was further abused when Lady SF jumped into the chair with Johnny, as Floyd and Dylan, on either side of the chair, placed their dirty paws on the arms of the chair.
“JOHNNY!” Murdoch bellowed as he reached for his son, only to quickly snatch his hand back when all three dogs growled out a warning to him. “Get up right now! Your clothes are filthy. These chairs will be placed in front of my desk for comfortable seating for guests when I am conducting business. I do not want them soiled before we even get them in the house!”
I thought you said these chairs were for us,” Johnny grumbled as he stood, and then turned and brushed off the upholstery before turning to his father, a pout puckering his lips.
“They are, but I would appreciate it if you would refrain from sitting in them when you are so dusty or dirty and smelly from work,” Murdoch replied as he turned and pointed to the chair, gritting his teeth when he saw the three dogs had made themselves comfortable in the chair. “Get out of there,” he ordered, taking Lady by the collar and pulling her out, Floyd and Dylan jumped over the arms to avoid the big man they didn’t trust yet. The trio of dogs took off after one of the barn cats that had the gall to strut by in front of them.
“Looks like you won’t be getting many chances to sit in them, little brother,” teased Scott.
“Oh hush up, Scott. I ain’t always trail dusty. At least dust can be brushed off but if you go sitting in the chairs wearing that stinky cologne you put on after your many baths, they’ll be reeking like a whore house…and smell is harder to get rid of.”
Scott lunged for his brother, capturing the dark head in a headlock. He ruffled his hair until his father put an end to the foolishness. “Calm down boys, let’s get the other chair unpacked and in the house. Jelly watched the interaction between the Lancers. He was pleased to see the familiarity with which they now treated each other.
The second chair was uncrated and the two older men left it to the two younger ones to struggle into the house with them. The old chairs were moved out of the way and the new ones pushed into place. Scott and Johnny were given the unenviable task of carting the old chairs up the staircase to the attic. When they returned from the second trip to the storage area they were greeted by the sight of Murdoch and Jelly lounging in the new chairs sipping some of Murdoch’s Taliskers.
Scott strolled over to the liquor cart and poured a drink of the scotch for himself and a bit of Tequila for Johnny.
“How do you like that Boston?” Johnny exclaimed with a sneer as he flopped down onto the sofa, “We did all the work and the old coots are sitting back in the lap of luxury while we do. Now if you ask me that hardly seems fair.”
“Well, that’s the crux of it little brother, no one asked you. You should know by now the youngest is never to be taken seriously,” Scott explained as he approached his brother, handed him his glass, and then playfully smacked his midsection with the back of his hand as he dropped down beside him on the couch. “And here’s more good news, you’ll always be the youngest Lancer of this generation.”
Johnny snorted and grumbled, “There’s plenty of people out there that take me seriously, it’s just my family that seems to think I’m still in diapers.”
“We don’t think you’re still in diapers, a trip to the outhouse after you have consumed a meal of Maria’s refried beans proves that. However, if you’ll be truthful, you’ll have to confess you’re not as fastidious about your appearance as the more mature members of the family.”
“What the hell do you mean I have fast titties,” Johnny snapped as he sat forward so fast he sloshed his Tequila all over himself, Scott and the sofa.
Murdoch and Jelly chuckled loudly as Scott pulled a bandana from his pocket and began to blot up the wet spots as he calmly replied, “Now you see, you have just proven my point, little brother, perhaps if your ears weren’t as dirty as your mind, you would have heard me say fastidious, meaning to be particular about one’s appearance, instead of hearing fast titties.” Scott smirked as he used the liquor soaked fabric to wipe a smudge from Johnny’s forehead.
Johnny jerked away, frowning at his brother. “I don’t need your help, Boston. I’m just as clean as you when I’ve had a bath,” he claimed, and then sputtered as Lady jumped up beside him and began to lick his face as though grooming him.
“You just be sure that’s how clean you are, young man, before you sit in these chairs. I don’t want these as stained and rumpled looking as your favorite spot there on the sofa that Teresa has to hide with an afghan…and I absolutely do not want to see Lady in either of these chairs.”
“Looks like the only time you’ll be enjoying these chairs, brother, is when you’ve come straight from the bath,” Scott taunted.
Johnny glared at his family as he swallowed what was left of his Tequila; he didn’t say it out loud, but the voice in his head proclaimed, ‘Sooner or later, my turn will come…y’all can’t be here all the time.’ A wicked smirk grew on his face as the thought crossed his mind.
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Opening the door to the kitchen, Johnny was greeted by Sunday morning silence, apparently the house was empty. Shuffling lethargically across the floor, barely picking his tired feet up, Johnny’s spurs scratched at the tile and made a dull clinking sound instead of the melodious ringing his bouncing steps normally made. Stopping at the stove he retrieved a plate filled with bacon, beans, eggs and biscuits, that had been left to warm for him before the rest of the house left for church. Moving to the table, he removed his hat and gun belt and placed them on the chair next to the one he dropped down on. His stomach rumbled loudly in the quiet room as he began to fork up some eggs. He hadn’t realized how hungry he was until just that moment. He had been so late restringing his last section of fence yesterday he had opted to stay at one of the line shacks instead of traveling home in the dark and had therefore had to make do with a less substantial supper than he was used too.
Halfway through his breakfast, Johnny was joined by Lady. She laid her head in his lap and panted happily as he scratched behind her ears. “Hey, girl, did you miss me last night? Hummmm? Did Boston let you slip in his room and share his bed?”
Lady yipped and nuzzled Johnny’s hand, and then raised her nose sniffing the air. “Oh, I know what you want…couldn’t you talk the old man out of more than a piece or two of bacon this morning? Here you go.” Johnny said as he handed three crispy slices to his collie.
Realizing he didn’t have anything to drink, Johnny stood and went to the stove to pour a cup of coffee. When he turned around Lady had disappeared. As he approached his chair he spied dirt in the seat, he sat down to finish his breakfast, deciding his next task was to get a bath before he settled in for a nap on the couch to wait on his family to return or maybe he would try out one of the new chairs, he thought with a wicked grin lifting the corners of his mouth.
While Johnny was eating the rest of his food, Lady slipped into the Great room with her treat. Between the bacon Murdoch had given her, the sausage Scott had palmed to her and the hambone Maria presented to her, the collie wasn’t hungry at all. Her instincts were telling her to save the bacon to enjoy later. Trotting over to the hearth, she pawed at the basket of pine cones until she managed to move it, and then pushed her bacon behind it. She quickly decided she didn’t like that spot at all, retrieving the crispy meat she set about finding another place.
Jumping on the couch, Lady SF clawed a pillow aside and pressed the bacon in between the cushions of the sofa, and then she remembered that wasn’t a good spot because it was where her boy liked to sit most of the time. Picking the fried treat up she headed for the edge of the rug, digging at the floor she managed to flip the corner of the carpet back, but to her surprise she already had a flat slice of cured ham there. She pushed the rug back in place with her nose.
Lady decided she really needed some new hidey holes. Her intelligent brown eyes studied the chairs that always made the big man bellow at her if she tried to sit in them. Cautiously approaching the fancy seats, in case Murdoch should be lurking about, Lady nuzzled one of the plump bottom cushions, raising it up with her nose. She pushed the bacon under it, and then jumped in the chair and turned around a few times to settle it back in place.
Once she was satisfied her treat was well hidden, Lady hopped to the floor and headed for the French doors. Standing on her hind legs she pawed the latch with her front paws and was able to push the lever down so that the door swung open. She ran off to find her friends Floyd and Dylan.
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In the kitchen, Johnny finished up his breakfast, and then took his dishes and put them in the sink. He grabbed a glass from the counter and moved to the icebox where he poured himself a serving of milk, smacking his lips appreciatively after the last drop coated his tongue. He set the glass on the cabinet top and started towards the stairs to retrieve cleans clothes. He stopped before stepping on the first tread, abruptly deciding since he was the only one home he could simply wrap his towel around himself to leave the bath house, saving him a trip upstairs. Whirling around, he strode for the door, a bit of a bounce returning to his step from the eager anticipation of soaking in a hot tub, enjoying the heat and silence.
The bath house was steamy when Johnny entered it, as someone had banked the fire under the large copper tank that stored the hot water. He moved to the foot of the large metal tub and released the valve to allow the heated water to flow into the tub, taking the opportunity while it filled to sprinkle some of the sandalwood scented salts the Lancer men used into the water. He swirled his hand in the water to mix it in and winced at the blistering temperature. He shut the hot water off and pumped some of the cold into it, this time when he tested it, it felt just right.
Sighing with pleasure, Johnny began to strip. First his jacket was tossed to the bench, he squirmed around as he pulled the tail of his favorite red shirt from his waistband, pushed the toggles free of their closures, and then lifted the apparel over his head, the muscles in his back rippling as the shirt was slung away. Not wanting to bother with all the buttons running down the leg of his leather pants, Johnny toed his boots off and began an undulating shimmy around the room as he slowly forced the tight leather britches off his hips, taking his cut off long johns down at the same time. When the leather was bunched around his ankles he bent over to free his feet, accidentally backing into the hot water tank. The hot kiss from the copper tank on his bare buttocks caused him to jerk upright and stumble forward, finally pulling his feet free of the leather. He rubbed at the red spot on his bottom and backed up to the full length mirror to inspect the damage. He was relieved to see it was fading already. He snickered as he viewed himself in the mirror when he realized, twisted as he was to inspect his backside he was striking a pose similar to the marble statues Scott had shown him in a book about Greece. Glancing about to make sure he was truly by himself, he struck a few more poses, flexing his arms and legs so that his muscles quivered and trembled beneath his tanned skin. He chortled out loud when he realized he hadn’t been totally nude like the statues, he still had on his white socks. He shucked them quickly and sauntered to the tub, scratching his belly as he went.
Grabbing a couple of thick towels, Johnny dropped them on the little table by the tub. Lifting his right leg he stepped into the tub, and then pulled in his left leg. He sighed in pleasure, wiggling his toes as the warm water caressed his feet and lapped around his calves. Slowly he sank down into the liquid, stretching out his legs as he scooted into place. The hot temperature quickly sent him into a warm lethargic state. He decided it might be best to go ahead and wash up, and then soak to let the water loosen his tight muscles. Dunking completely under to get his hair wet, he resurfaced, swiftly soaped up his body and head, and then dipped back down to rinse. The second time he resurfaced, he reached for one of his towels and dried his face, and then rolling his towel up he placed it under his neck against the rim of the tub. He relaxed completely, letting his arms float up, and soon he drifted off to pleasant dreams of soft silky hands and was totally oblivious to any cares or troubles in the world, his faithful collie Lady guarding the door to the bath house, protecting her master from any would be interlopers.
With Lady on duty next to the bath house, the hacienda was vulnerable to intruders, especially as the French doors were open. A dark blur soon flew by the door in pursuit of a barn cat. The cat screeched and hissed as it was cornered at the low patio wall. Arching its back and growling lowly the feline swiped at the large black head that encroached on her space, her claws drawing dots of blood on the tender nose. The dog yipped and shook its head, pawing at its stinging nose, giving the cat the chance to dash into the safety of the house. The feline climbed the drapes and balanced precariously on the curtain rod. Presently the large black dog tentatively poked his head in the door and raised his snout to sniff the air. He timidly entered the room and soon spied his prey peering down from above him, hissing and spitting in displeasure. With the cat out of reach the black lab soon became intrigued by the items in the room. Sniffing his way around the room to investigate he found a half cup of coffee sitting on the desk, standing on his hind legs he managed to get his snout in the cup and lapped at the brew. The cup turned over, spilling the remaining drink on the ranch ledger book. Growling, the canine dragged the book from the desk and tore pages from it with his teeth, chewing the paper up and eating it until he no longer detected the scent of coffee. While he destroyed the ledger, the cat quietly descended from her perch and slipped back out the door.
Finished with the book the curious canine began to nose about the room. At the hearth he noticed a meat smell. The scent was strongest around the basket of pine cones so he turned it over and rolled them around. The he chewed several up, spitting slobbery bits of the cones all around before deciding they weren’t edible. Lifting his nose he followed a smell trail that led to the sofa. He became excited and let out a muffled woof as he pressed his head into the cushions and licked a greasy stain. His body trembled with excitement and his tail beat out a happy rhythm at the hint of bacon flavor. In his endeavor to satiate his desire for the meat he was soon ripping the cushion apart, sending feathers flying as he shook the pillow viciously trying to find the bacon. He was momentarily distracted from his quest for food when one particular large feather floated upward on a breeze flowing in the open French doors. He followed the fringed fluff to the drink sideboard where it sailed downward into a glass. Pawing at the bottles and glasses in his attempts to retrieve the feather, his large paws sent bottles and crystal ware tumbling to the floor where it shattered in a melodious combination of tinkling and splashing. The inquisitive dog made the mistake of using his nose to probe the puddle of liquid the shattered bottles spilled. He yelped and whimpered when the alcoholic beverage stung the cat scratches on his nose. He swiped at the injury with his front paws, and then laying his snout on the rug he scrubbed it across the course fibers successfully wiping the liquor off.
The Labrador’s pain was soon forgotten as he reached the edge of the carpet and identified the aroma of meat. Chewing the edge of the rug he pulled back and found the slice of ham. He quickly devoured it licking his chops and burping loudly. Finally content at having found a treat, he stood and sauntered towards the open doors, however, as he passed the new chairs his sensitive nose discovered a strong scent of bacon. He nuzzled the cushion of the chair up with his nose and woofed excitedly when he encountered crispy strips of meat. His head was still pressed under the cushion when the muddy duo of Floyd and Dylan entered the room, back from their romp at the pond.
A wild tussle ensued between the three dogs. In their efforts to be the victor who won the spoils of the bacon strips, the padded seat was pulled from the chair and shredded. Bits of fabric and feathers were slung about as they fought for supremacy. Muddy paw prints were left on the other new chair and anywhere else the dogs stepped as they chased each other. Their growling and snarling grew extremely loud and threatening as they crashed about the room. The ruckus alerted Lady, who stood up by the bathhouse door and began to bark frantically for her master.
Johnny jerked awake, his sudden movement disturbing the water causing it to lap and go up his nose. Realizing he must have been a sleep for awhile as the water had cooled to an uncomfortable lower temperature. He wondered briefly what had drawn him from his sleep. He received his answer when Lady scratched at the door and barked sharply. Alarmed at the behavior he stood quickly, ignoring the sluice of cold water running down his sleek frame, even though it caused his skin to pebble in goose bumps. Wrapping a towel around his slender waist, his wet feet slapped against the cold tiles leaving damp footprints as he hurried to the door. As soon as he opened the door he heard the fracas occurring in the house, he rushed after Lady, who had shot off for the house.
Busting through the kitchen door Johnny grabbed his rig from the chair he had left it in and strapped it on without breaking his stride. By the time he appeared in the Great room Lady had joined the canine ruckus and was trying to herd the other dogs towards the French doors. The three dogs rolled and tumbled about the room, teeth flashing as they growled and snapped. Trying to separate the mutts proved painful as Johnny’s fingers were nipped for his efforts. Stunned at the amount of damaged already visible in the room, Johnny decided it would be best to swiftly end the altercation. When a set of sharp teeth pierced the skin of his right calf, he jerked his gun out and shot into the ceiling three times.
The Lancer surrey was pulling up in front of the house as the gun blasts split the air. Alarmed by the discharge of a weapon coming from in the house Murdoch and Scott jumped from the surrey and rushed for the entrance. In their haste the heavy oak door was slammed back against the wall, the knob punching a hole in the plaster. The two older Lancers skidded to a shocked stop as their disbelieving eyes took in the spectacle before them.
The room looked like a case of dynamite had gone off in it. Feathers were floating about, plaster dust trickled from the ceiling, the rug was pulled back and the end folded over, the drink cart had a debris field of broken glass and spilled liquor around it, the sofa cushion was chewed up, pine cones, whole and chewed up, littered the room, the ledger book was shredded and fragments of paper tumbled across the floor in the breeze, one new chair was covered in muddy paw prints and the other one was not only muddy but the seat cushion was missing, and appeared to be ripped to bits and scattered about. Johnny was standing in the middle of the destroyed room clothed in only a towel and his gun belt, his wet hair dusted white with crumbling ceiling plaster. Floyd and Dylan were slinking out of the French doors and Lady had some large black dog cornered under Murdoch’s desk.
Scott cringed as his father’s face turned a deep violent, purplish red. All the oxygen seemed to be sucked from the room as the big man inhaled deeply to get enough air to fuel his bellow.
“WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED HERE!”
Shaking his head in denial of any responsibility for the destruction before him Johnny tried to explain. “I went to get a bath but I fell asleep, the next thing I knew Lady was scratching at the door and barking. I got out the tub and when I opened the door to see what was wrong I could hear beating, banging and crashing sounds coming from the house.” As Johnny spoke a large black dog crawled out from under the desk and came and sat at his feet, accidentally swiping the towel with his side, fanning it open for a second and displaying Johnny’s assets causing him to pause long enough to snatch the ends of the towel back together. “When I got in here I found this dog, along with Floyd and Dylan chasing each other around, knocking stuff over.”
“OH NO! JOHNNY…YOU BAD BAD BOY!” exclaimed a feminine voice.
The Lancer men turned to the front door and saw Teresa standing there with another woman, a petite and pretty brunette, sitting at her feet was a golden dog of the same size as the black one sitting at Johnny’s.
“Do I know you?” questioned Johnny of the stranger as his eyes narrowed in displeasure over her calling him a bad boy.
Teresa giggled, and then introduced the woman and pointed out the Lancers as she called their names, “Murdoch, Scott, Johnny…this is our neighbor Lori Dos, and her golden lab, Boston. They have been looking all morning for her black lab, Johnny. It seems he likes to slip off and get into mischief.”
“I am so sorry,” Lori apologized as she glanced about the room taking in the destruction she was so used to seeing in her own home. “Johnny has always been kind of wild and untamable. Boston here usually helps me keep up with him.”
“How eerily familiar,” quipped Scott with a strong Boston clip.
“Woof,” barked the golden dog as he marched across the room and began to tug at the other dog’s collar with his teeth. The black dog rose to his feet, wagging his tail in joy at seeing a familiar face. The wildly gyrating tail slipped under the towel and flipped it open exposing Johnny once again.
Snickers, snorts and delighted gasps were drowned out by a loud knocking on the frame of the open door. All eyes turned to the entrance as Johnny struggled to resituate his towel. Standing there was a woman, who appeared to be a gypsy. Her long multi-colored hair whipped about her face in the wind that had appeared with her. She was attired in a billowy white blouse trimmed in lace and a full and flowing ruffled skirt, a patchwork of colors in every shade of the rainbow. She had rings on every finger and so many necklaces around her neck she jingled when she moved.
“Excuse me. The name’s Fen Zealander, I’m just passing through trying to find my two dogs that went missing several weeks back. I wonder if you might have seen them?” she queried in a most unusual accent.
“Would their names happen to be Floyd and Dylan?” inquired Murdoch as he salvaged an unbroken glass and poured it full of Taliskers.
Blinking in surprise, the woman stepped forward and looked about quizzically. “How did you know their names?”
Swallowing a large gulp of liquid fortification, Murdoch hissed against the burn as it went down. “Simple, that’s what they answered to, so Johnny, my Johnny, not yours,” stated Murdoch, as he inclined his head towards Lori, “Decided, that must be their names. And as my Boston, not yours,” he once again indicated with his head, “Said; it’s much easier to accept Johnny’s logic and move on. Now if you will all excuse me, I’m feeling rather old I think I’ll lie down, perhaps when I awaken I will find this has all been a dream,” Murdoch mumbled as he laboriously began to climb the stairs. The dull thud of his boots plodding upwards drifted down the staircase along with his muffled voice, “Johnny, don’t you think you should get dressed? And feel free to sit in one of the new chairs since you’re straight from the bath.”
Backing out of the room as he nervously watched the two strange women with wanton looks on their face; Johnny glanced at the destroyed chairs and decided they had lost their appeal. He quickly followed his father up the stairs away from prying eyes.
January 29, 2009