Sedge and Shakes
The Book and the Traveler arrived at our house with their Miami pack in tow. “Sedge” and “Shakes” surveyed us suspiciously, but the Book assured us that they’d be no problem at all. Judy and I smiled and nodded…We had no choice. The Book knew that she could count on us for favors, that we couldn’t say no.
Sedge, the nervous one with searching eyes and the shrill bark of a killer, stared us down as if willing us to make a sudden move. (We all knew how that would end.) Shakes studied us carefully to search out our weak points.
Book and Traveler told us a few weeks back that they had to make a trip to Las Vegas to “make presentations at a conference”. Who knew what they meant by presentations? I didn’t ask them to describe the attendees. It was better that I didn’t know.
I drove B and T to the airport and wondered what they had packed in a giant suitcase… Book’s modus operandi is to carry books wherever she goes. Perhaps she had packed a few extra. It’s part of her routine to build a fortified nest of texts before she “delivers a paper”.
T talked about distant countries during the drive, the habits of the native folk, the crowded conditions, poverty. Perhaps his trip to Vegas was yet another scouting mission, but this time to assess the state of American life. What did he plan to do with this information?
When I arrived home and turned the knob on my front door, a series of sonic disruptions tore through the air. My eardrums ached as if they had been ruptured. The intimidation had begun. Sedge and Shakes had been on the look out, and they met me on the carpet inside the door. Shakes pounced on my calves, and Sedge circled my ankles as if attempting to trip and take me down. I stepped back, and they dashed away.
I anticipated that they would attempt to establish their dominance inside my home. My fears were confirmed immediately: they leapt onto sofas in strategic positions and dared me to dislodge them. They had the high ground. I slunk to my recliner in defeat and tentatively sat down. They stared at me, and Sedge yipped once. Shakes yawned and casually bared his teeth.
I retreated to the kitchen a few minutes later to put on a roast, and when I returned I saw them lolling on their cushions fast asleep. They knew that their campaign of territorial conquest had been successful and that no further effort was necessary. I skulked away to my bedroom and met Judy in the hall. She seemed unusually cheerful and reported that our two “guests” had been good company. Stockholm syndrome: the first signs.
I avoided Sedge and Shakes for the next hour or two, but an odd sound pulled me out of my room. Shakes sat in his spot on the sofa and fixed me with a burning look of subdued aggression. He barked once in a commanding tone. Judy said, “They want to take you out for…a walk.
I gulped and reached for the leash. I thought of the scene in The Godfather where three mobsters drive to a remote spot, and two execute the third. “Leave the gun and take the cannoli,” I thought as I stuffed a plastic pooper bag in my pocket. Maybe I’d return with a dog deposit. Maybe I’d not return at all.
They pulled me to a drainage canal and nonchalantly urinated on bushes and random muddy spots. They tried to chase a squirrel, a lizard, two egrets. A gentle breeze blew, and I relaxed. Maybe this was a just a walk after all. But Sedge suddenly turned toward me and growled. Shakes took a position on my left flank and waited with a quivering left haunch. What did they want from me?
I knelt down and patted Sedge on the head, and he licked my hand. Shakes wagged his tail when I scratched his chest. I paid my tribute to them, and they accepted me into their pack. I was a made dog.
Shakes squatted and squeezed out a log. I picked it up with my plastic bag. I said, “Good dog,” and they pulled me home.