Nevertheless, I think it’s a relevant book to read, as some people, due to the world’s tragic events, are beginning to retreat into their black and white certainty doghouses. Where they feel free to bark out for all to hear, “We aren’t like those folks who follow that book. They are all bad if they aren’t like us. Every last one of them. Big or small.” Or something like that.
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The furious Bandersnatch!”
Lewis Carrol, Jabberwocky
For example, we’d be walking down the hallway. I’d be minding my own p’s and q’s while Buster would be sniffing out raucous-night-before-debauchery scents under the doors of room numbers this and that.
Then, I’d hear the familiar sound, “Buster! Oh, Buster!” Usually in a woman’s voice. Coming from a stranger we’d met before, but who is now, at least for Buster, a stranger no more. Sounding like she’d spotted a long lost lover. So, what could I do, but stop and let the middle- aged woman practically make love to Buster?
“Oh, Buster! How are you, Buster? How old is he? You out for a walk? Were you?”
“Yes for %^&* sake and now it’s breakfast time for this homely hunk of flesh that just happens to be hanging onto the other end of this blue-coloured leash which runs from your beloved’s neck to that thing just down the hall, which is me.”
Oh, not really. I rather enjoy it myself and for all you single men out there, find yourself a Buster. He’s to women like apples are to deer.
These encounters happened outside and inside, because, you see, there are more people in the city. There are more dogs in the city too. Out our way in Cape Breton, the folks that stop to talk to us are often men, wearing orange clothing and carrying big guns. When I often say, quietly, “Buster, behave.”
In Kingston, the walks were full of excitement for Buster. Our usual route was along the side of the inn, where we would come to a small exit in the fence. The same place, where one morning walk, Buster and I helped a man who was hurriedly trying to pull a bicycle and what looked like a souped-up walker on wheels through said exit. Which left me wondering, but didn’t work up Buster’s dander a tad.
This exit led to a high-brow subdivision, where we sometimes ran into a little white Scotty dog whose name was Lucy. She and Buster liked each other and when Lucy got dragged one way and Buster the other way, well their necks were stretched out to as close as they could get to a one hundred and eighty degree angle.
Just a little way down the street was a tiny park. It ran behind big expensive houses which could easily suck in our little trailer with lots of room left over.
At the other end of this narrow section of the park was a tiny stream with plenty of flat, slippery, moss-covered rocks. I would gingerly cross this brook. Buster would run and leap over the rocks as if they were covered in slip-proof matting.
On the other side of this tiny border stream was a big, grey brick house. With a solid, high, black, wrought iron fence. And behind the fence was a tall, light-coloured, wrought iron, bull-faced dog. Who would barrel out of whatever he was barrelled up in. He’d roar to the fence and bother Buster not a tittle. With Buster’s head so full of how great and wonderful he was, why would Buster worry about this monster? As for me, I would be frantically searching the fence line for any weaknesses apparent.
Meanwhile, Buster would snarl and growl on the other side. Oh thank god for the other side. Being on the other side was what Buster should have been thanking his doggie god for. But no, Buster would be snarling and growling and snapping at the fence. Totally into the occasion. It was an almost battle between David and Goliath and not a sling shot in sight.
I would then pull Buster away. Well, drag Buster away, and as Buster’s belly smoothed out the grass for other park visitors, Buster would be viciously growling and snarling. Then once he saw it was hopeless, he’d turn around and do his macho doggy thing.
Which is, lift his tail, turn his back on the big coward, (which is a form of doggie shunning), scratch the ground vigorously with his two back feet, take one final look back at the big wimp, and snarl, “The next time you won’t get off so easy.”
One morning Sue returned from walking Buster. She said it seemed to her that the big dog was getting friendlier towards Buster. She said that Buster was quieter too and it was almost like the two dogs wanted to be friends.
I asked her if she’d seen any thing different in the big dog’s backyard? Like bottles of mustard, ketchup and relish?
Oh yeah, and one afternoon two of our friends came to our room and it was all, “You two were so lucky to get a dog like Buster!” “What a well behaved dog!” “Oh, what a sweet dog!” “His fur is so soft!” On and on and on until I was beginning to feel just a small tad of jealousy.
And really, my hair is soft too and what the hell is the difference between fur and hair anyway?
But look at the pictures. See how Buster is reacting. In one photo, Buster is setting up for me to take a picture of the friends. In another one, they are talking to each other and Buster is so involved. And notice when they are looking relaxed. Why Buster is two levels above the usual accepted in-the-zone measure.
But I’ll admit I’m no better. Some folks could say that I’m like onto an enabler.
For example: Buster decided he wasn’t going to eat his regular dog food when he was at the inn. I can understand that.
But really, I was quite stumped when I was asked by the nice woman behind the A&W counter, what I wanted on my Buddy Burger. I had to think for a few seconds. I finally said, “Make it the works.” Because I knew, deep inside, that nothing less than the works would work.
“Sir, I’ve got to urinate.
I’ve got to pee.
I’m going to piss like an open hydrant-please!
Oh, bless you, sir. Oh bless you, bless you, bless you--
and please don’t let the screen door spank my bottom.”
Andrew Hudgins, Buddy
Oh, and I was on the same show last Tuesday afternoon. I’m a sucker for punishment, but this time it was only to read part of my story and I didn’t find that so difficult. Plus there was a microphone. This made it easier for my throat. And there is also the possibility that I was talking into a radio-disconnected mic, because I haven’t been able to verify that my reading was actually being broadcast.
Anyway, back to the first interview. One question I was asked was, “Do you read much speculative fiction?”
I answered, “NO.” This was not smart. This was not great. This answer was not in the spirit of the occasion.
Now, in retrospect, taking into account all the experiences I have been through in my life, most of which I have written nothing about, I should have answered, “My life is speculative.”