I was working furiously on deadline to edit a book manuscript and hoping that the biggest immediate threat to my sanity, Alexis, would stay otherwise occupied. Not likely - I heard the dog door swish and her royal sableness paraded into the living room, weaving her way around half a pack of sleeping dogs.
"You'd better go out and rescue Daphne," she said.
"Alexis, I have to have this manuscript to an express courier by five p.m. - what's the problem?"
"Well, she doesn't do reverse, so when she gets stuck in a corner of the yard she bounces back and forth between the two sides of the fence until she starts making that noise."
"Which noise?" I asked.
"You know - the one that sounds like Luciano Pavarotti got his pee-pee caught in his zipper."
"Fine, I'll take care of it and then you must leave me alone for the rest of the day."
"While you are out there, how about giving her a new mantra?" Alexis suggested.
"Mantra? Daphne is Buddhist?"
"Might as well be," Alexis said. "She walks around all day long mumbling 'lovedaddy, lovedaddy, lovedaddy.'"
I went out and pointed Daphne in the opposite direction and she waddled off happily, chanting as she went. Once again, I took up my red pen and cursed an author.
"This is not English. It's some alien language!" I groaned in frustration.
I heard Alexis shuffling along the hallway making a siren noise.
"Wooo-wooo-wooo - double cat calamity in the bedroom," she warned, looking pleased with herself.
"What happened now?" I asked curtly.
"First, Jasper coughed up a hairball the size of a hamster - we're not missing a hamster are we? Then, Fleck must have eaten something baaad. He did one of his projectile numbers. Colorful, I must say - looks like a Disney film back there."
"THANK YOU ALEXIS, I'll take care of it."
Ten minutes later, smelling of pine cleaner, I returned to the impossible task at hand.
"If I could track down this author's high school English teacher, I would slap her," I muttered to myself. "I'd like to dangle him and his participles over the edge of a cliff."
Alexis sat near me, pretending to focus her attention out the window, but occasionally glancing at me out of the corner of her eye. She cleared her throat.
"Were you partial to that soap-on-a-rope you had in the bathroom?" she asked innocently.
"Amadeus ate it," she announced, looking impressed.
"It doesn't matter, it was organic and Amadeus has been eating things larger than his head ever since he was a puppy without ill effects."
"I think you should come have a look out the window," she suggested. "It gave him gas and now it looks like the Lawrence Welk orchestra is out in the yard. Ooooo - look at the size of that bubble!"
"Please, Alexis, go away - go visit the dogs in the back yard and let me work on this book!"
Alexis flounced off, trying to look deeply offended. I continued forcing tenses to agree, sweeping up commas and scattering them elsewhere, and sweating bullets as I watched the wall clock.
Alexis returned a few minutes later and sat down to stare at the back of my head. I ignored her as long as possible. Then, my concentration broken, I swung around in my chair.
"What is it this time?!"
"Apollo and Frasier have dug a HUGE hole in the back yard and now they are filling it in again," she reported.
"It doesn't matter!" I croaked in exasperation. "The back yard already resembles an exploded minefield - now for the last time, will you please go away?!"
"Hmmph!" she sulked and sashayed through the front dog door.
I made a few more corrections before I heard the door flap creak open and saw her brown snout poking through the opening.
"...did I happen to mention that the Beagle Boys are at the bottom of the hole?" she asked demurely.
I ran out to the yard, extricated a livid Ernest and Julio, dusted them off and placated them with a handful of dog biscuits. I returned to my desk and glanced at the clock before giving Alexis a warning look. She stared at the ceiling unconcerned, backed up slowly and sat down on a sleeping cat.
"Rrrowww!" a startled Sergei sprang up and landed on what he thought was an ottoman, with ears. "Woof!" a furious Flash jumped to his feet, knocking over the end table. The table lamp hung in mid-air for a split second before crashing into an easy chair where Danny the Dachshund was snoring under an afghan (crocheted variety). I watched in horror as dogs and cats erupted into the Flying Walendas.
"QUIET!" Alexis shrieked. Involuntarily, my red pen snapped in half in my hand.
"Have you no decency?" she addressed the bewildered bunch. "DADDY IS TRYING TO WORK!"
She looked at me, my face buried in my arms on the desktop.
"And now look at what you've done," she continued. "You've made him cry!"
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