“We need to talk.”
That was a surprise. C.W. hadn’t said a word in 20 minutes. He just sat on the couch in what is becoming his favorite form: The Galilean. I knew to be careful. He’s wily in this form.
“Oh?” I played dumb.
“Mrs. Big Dope.”
“I don’t think that would be a good idea.”
“Have you ever noticed anything unusual about her?”
I wanted so badly to reach and see if he happened to be wearing a wire under his robe. “Unusual?” I was stalling for time. “She’s unusually intelligent.”
“I agree, until I look at you, that is.”
“She’s unusually beautiful.”
“Could probably have done better. Can you think of anything that kept her from it? Habits? Traits? Idiosyncrasies?”
“She has an inordinate fondness for dogs.”
“I agree. Someone once said that about Dad and beetles. It’s true. So far he’s made over a quarter-million different species of them, if you are to believe your vice-president. That makes the old man chuckle.”
The diversion pleased me. “Why so many?”
“Let’s get back on topic. Anything unusual about Mrs. Big Dope’s relationship with dogs? I mean other than the fact she has so many of them?”
I thought of my options. Even as The Galilean, I didn’t trust him completely. “Well,” I said, “she thinks they understand English, talks to them all the time in complete sentences.”
“I’ve noticed that. What’s odd about it?”
“Uh, other than the fact that they are dogs?”
“You don’t think they understand her when she talks to them?”
I waited, thought, then said. “Not really.”
“Be prepared,” he said, “for a shock. They do.”
I didn’t answer for a moment, thinking of my options. “They what?”
“They understand every word she says.”
“Get out of town.”
“They last time someone told me that was a day or so after they welcomed me in with hosings.”
“I think you mean hosannas.”
“Whatever. Anyway, sure the dogs understand her. It’s one of the greatest inside jokes in the galaxy that they don’t answer her back. Maybe they will someday.”
“They’re playing a joke on her?”
“Not playing a joke, testing her faith.”
“I don’t joke. They dogs do though. And, by the way, I know a lot more about the testing of faith than you do.”
“The dogs joke?”
“Of course. Haven’t you ever seen them play the ‘damage to the auditory nerve game’ when she states a demand they don’t approve of?”
“Do you mean the ‘deaf’ game.”
“My son, you’re never going to develop friends until you break the habit of repeating everything they say. And, yes, the deaf game. Sometimes they play it just after they’ve run a mile because she yelled the word ‘treat’ once.”
“They do that on purpose, play deaf I mean?”
“Haven’t you noticed the way they roll over on their backs and wiggle after they’ve done it?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I think I have seen that.”
“That’s their method of laughing about it. They call it a ‘group guffaw,’ and it’s one of their great joys. That and making up limericks.”
“They make up limericks?”
“Oh heck yes. Of course, you can’t hear them. They communicate with thought waves much above your range.”
“Want to hear one? One that the female boxer-mix made up?”
I bit. “Sure.”
He though, then recited:
There once was a Great Dane name Marge
Who dated a Dachshund named Sarge.
She’d stand in the river.
And how she would quiver,
As he approached from behind on a barge.
“Don’t let her hear you say that.”
“Remember the last time she licked you in the face?”
“Guess what she had been doing just before that?’
I thought. “No … surely not.”
"I'm afraid to think."
"Well it sure as hell ain't, 'Why don't you float up and drop anchor sometime, big boy?'"
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