Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Midnight Intruder

Rodney’s Story:

I was enjoying a quiet evening at home, relaxing on the living room floor and contemplating Pi – occasionally I like to recite it to the 100th decimal point to keep my mind sharp – when there was suddenly a loud and troublesome pounding at the door. It was well into the wee hours of the morning! Who could be calling at such an hour?

I marched to the door, stood proudly and demanded:

“You there! Identify yourself forthwith or suffer a formidable demonstration of my command of this fortress!”

The knocking ceased immediately and the sound of rapidly retreating human feet could be heard departing our property.

Nina, impressed with my ability to protect the homestead, treated me to lots of petting and suggested I rest in bed to recuperate from my vigorous display of bravery. I have a responsibility as a dog; it was simply all in a day’s work. However, I was a feeling a bit overworked so I accepted her offer of some well-earned R&R and turned in, leaving the household in the acceptably competent paws of my associate Zoe.

The End.

Zoe’s Story:

Wow. I accept that I am Watson to Rodney’s Holmes (or maybe Brain to his Inspector Gadget), so purely in the interest of accurate historical documentation, I submit my version of events. Readers can draw whatever conclusions they like.

How flattering to be referred to as “acceptably competent” though.

Rodney and I were enjoying a quiet evening at home, relaxing on the living room floor – that much is true. Rodney was asleep, dreaming about eating a pie and drooling all over the floor. I was formulating a plan to get into the front closet where the vacuum cleaner is kept. Perhaps when my humans go to sleep and I have the house to myself, I can get in there and…

Suddenly there was a loud knock on the door. Now this was odd. It was somewhat late (around 10:30 at night) and it was dark outside. We were not expecting any guests to shower me with affection this evening, so something was indeed not right.

I immediately ran to the front door, loudly demanding an explanation and launching myself into the window in an attempt to identify this potential danger.

Rodney lurched to his absurdly huge paws and since all I could see from the corner of my eye was a blurry brown streak heading the wrong way I assumed that his plan was to secure the back door.

Nina stood up from the couch and made to join me but then things got confusing. An incredible commotion from the back of the house drew her attention away from the craziness I was unleashing on the front door and she whirled and ran in the opposite direction. Apparently Rodney needed back-up and she felt that was a higher priority than imminent home invasion.

At the time I thought, “Wait a minute – this could be just the distraction I need. The vacuum cleaner is right there in the closet. If I switch my focus to that door instead…” But this was no time for heroics; I had a family to defend!

I listened intently for a moment and determined that there was no longer anyone at the door. Not content to assume we were safe, I prowled around from window to window growling impressively, hackles raised in what the humans call my “mohawk" and continued my vigilant perimeter-securing routine.

After several minutes of this, Nina had appeared again and was petting me.

“You’re a good girl. It looks like we’re okay,” she said.

Yes, yes, I know all of this. I have a responsibility as a dog; it was simply all in a day’s work.

Then she sighed heavily.

“I’m not sure what to do about your brother, though. He’s in the bedroom - why don’t you go talk to him? I’m not sure what more I can do given our language barrier and I have a mess to clean up.”

I walked into the bedroom to find Rodney lying on the floor in a catatonic state.

I can’t really tell you exactly what happened, but from what I pieced together from a combination of the bits of English I’ve picked up, Rodney’s shaky, incoherent sobs, and of course telepathy, it would appear that in his haste to distance himself from the commotion at the front door (it is unclear whether it was the unexpected knocking after dark or my own insane cacophony of barking that frightened him into such an extreme state of panic), he blindly ran the opposite way – I say blindly because the lights were off and it was dark and also because his eyes were probably closed tight – through the dining room into the unlit kitchen and this is where things went tragically awry.

Due to the loud commotion I remember, the fact that he was apparently missing for a short time, the presence later of a mop, and the giggling conversation between our humans, I present the following explanation of the shameful events which my hopelessly unfortunate little brother will never live down:

At the end of our galley kitchen stood a paper bag filled with empty cans waiting to be taken out to the recycling container. Due to his haste to either a) get to the back door just beyond the kitchen to ensure the homestead was safe from all angles –or b) get to the back door just beyond the kitchen to flee the homestead, forsaking his family and dignity, Rodney was moving a bit too fast and his ridiculous paws were unable to find adequate purchase on the slippery floor. At the point where he should have made a right turn, he instead slid with a deafening crash into the bag of cans.

Already insensibly frightened, Rodney further petrified himself by causing the unruly cans to explode from the bag with a terrifying clatter, then roll all around under him resulting in his flailing about and making even more loud scary noise. Trapped in a nightmare increasing exponentially in horror by the second (perhaps one could use Pi to calculate this?), Captain Braveheart urinated uncontrollably all over himself and everything around him. I imagine he had absolutely no idea what was happening and was just desperately trying to get away from all the scariness. And it just kept coming.

Hilarious! And sad. Very, very sad. But also hilarious and I wish I could’ve seen it!

The kitchen had become an obstacle course of puddles and urine-splattered cans which Nina had to traverse in order to search for Rodney. She then followed the potty trail - that guy can really hold a tankful—through the side entrance, onto the landing by the back door, and down the entire flight of stairs into the basement where it then led to a small pond in the middle of the floor. Personally, I have never seen the mighty Mississippi, but from what I gather, the stream he left and the reservoir at its eventual end rivaled the majestic river flowing from its humble beginning in Minnesota, south all the way to the Louisiana delta and emptying into the Gulf of Mexico.

Rodney was found quivering next to the shelving unit at the far end of the basement. It took Nina a very long time to persuade him to come up the stairs again. She had to clear away all traces of the menacing cans before he would consent to being led slowly and fearfully through the house and into the bedroom where he collapsed onto the welcoming surface of his bed, twitching with occasional aftershocks while I consoled him.

This incident has undoubtedly revisited him in taunting nightmares ever since and it is for that reason Rodney is allowed to get away with his abridged version of the story. Plus, as a writer I suppose he is allowed some creative license. “Rodney Vs. the Bag of Cans” (as we call it at home) will probably become something like “Inspector Forsythe’s Bold and Unflinching Stand Against the Diabolical Midnight Intruder of Berkley” once his book deal is finalized. That’s ok – he needs his victories, whether they’re real or imagined.

The End.

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