Apr 1, 2021
Hi there, Max here!
Here’s the second installment of my first novel “Day of the Dogs.” It’s a long one, and there’s a cliff-hanger, well, the management and I hope it’s a cliff hanger.
Also, if you’re here for the first time or haven’t read the first installment, please **Click Here**.
I hope you like it! -Max
Twas the Eve before Christmas Eve- and at this late hour, Don’s more-than-ample bulk lay sprawled on the living room couch, glad the freak thunderstorm had abated and he could watch Rick and Morty. Soon, he would be snoring like a rototiller with water in the fuel line.
Liana lay dozing in the first-floor master bedroom.
When the house was finally quiet and everyone settled down, Maximus Gary scrapped Plan A and initiated Plan B. He would need to tell the troops quickly. He summoned Teddy and Auggie.
Plan A was conditional upon Don and Liana falling asleep together in the bedroom. Two dogs would create obstacles around and in the bed. Buddy- spread like a large sack of cement in front of the bedroom door to pop up suddenly as Don angrily strode over him on the way to see “What the hell was going on in the GD kitchen.” Augustus- spooning Liana on top of the covers in a super-tight little ball. He was to snuggle closer to Liana and obstruct her from throwing the covers back and quickly running into the kitchen. His orders were to throw himself over her as she struggled to get up. If necessary.*
Teddy was to scout and run real-time status reports between the bedroom, the upstairs, and Maximus Gary in the “Hot Zone.” His mission was to report and run silent whilst minimizing the frenetic, dog-like noises that come from running on a tile floor.
The added complexity of Plan B didn’t scare Maximus Gary. True- there were more moving parts. But they were easily contained with a good, well-trained team. Maximus Gary had worked towards that.
The wild card were the guests. Earlier in the evening, Bipeds crawled over all three floors of Chez Salty. Older Bipeds sipped drinks and told humorous stories. Younger Bipeds ran around and played dress-up games with costumes and shrieked with laughter. Dogs pretty much stayed in their packs.
The Biped count at Chez Salty was well over 15. This included the sleepless, little, wandering, screaming, Bipeds. It didn’t include several nervous, Imp-like little dogs upstairs that would go berserk if a moth farted six counties away.
Any one of those bipeds or Imp Dogs could come downstairs at anytime for any reason. And the yapping Imp Dogs upstairs could easily throw a wrench into the whole works simply by barking at something completely random. Maximus turned these problems over and over in his mind like a talisman. The most important part of going from Plan A to Plan B was giving the team enough time to adjust.
Buddy didn’t have to adjust to Plan B. It was simply because he couldn’t adjust. His job was the same in both Plans– plant himself in front of the bedroom doorway like a sack of cement and jump up if anyone tried to step over him to the stairs. He was an expert at this kind of obstruction long before Operation Forbidden Pig was around. He needed no coaching nor explanation. Buddy was Buddy. And he was using all his strengths.
The living room had two entrances that needed blocking. Instead of allocating a dog to block each exit, Maximus Gary decided Teddy Spaghetti could block both entrances by simply occupying the space between the table and the couch where Don lay comatose. Teddy could make a royal mess of it and delay Don for a long while if Don ever awoke. Teddy could predict EXACTLY where Don was going to be in three seconds and go there. Tripping Don up was Teddy’s savant skill. There was no need to allocate another dog to this task.
Besides, hearing him snore now, it was hard to believe Don was ever going to wake.
Auggie’s job was roaming the house, gathering intelligence, and reporting back to Maximus. The nervous little demon dogs and Bipeds contained on the upper floors must be quelled or contained by Augustus no matter what the cost. Augustus was the communication. He was the nerves. Auggie was slightly disappointed when he heard of the shift from Plan A to Plan B. It was hard to have your job changed from Snuggler to The Dog Who Everyone Is Depending On. He shook it off. He was a professional.
Plan B was in effect. Everydog was in their place. Rick and Morty still blared on the TV, providing a certain amount of acoustic camouflage.
Buddy rested his head on the floor. Teddy crouched in the prone position next to Don and the couch. Auggie began his rounds. Maximus got to work.
“The die is cast,” said Maximus Gary as he positioned himself in front of the Refrigerator.
The Refrigerator was definitely a Biped invention. Slippery, and made for hands that grip instead of paws that dig. Maximus practiced opening the fridge without scratching it for a long time. He was quite good at it. He couldn’t practice taking operational things out of the fridge. Sure, he could steal little things like eggs and the occasional apple. Maybe some cheese. There was no way he could take anything in a package or a container for practice. He couldn’t hope to hide the containers. Best not to arouse suspicion. An egg or apple every once and a while was nice, but it was no spiral ham.
Max opened both doors of the Fridge silently and surveyed. A large, plastic container with stuffing was easy game. Maximus grabbed the lip of it with his teeth and pulled….
It was heavier than he thought. He struggled. It ended up slamming against the lower Fridge shelf. Then the next. Maximus refused to drop it. He kept his grip on the lip of the tupperware and slid the container down the face of the fridge until it hit the floor with a “whump.”
Auggie rushed around the corner. Maximus saw the look of alarm in his eyes.
“I hope you like stuffing,” Maximus said.
Auggie looked at the size of the container and wagged his tail. He went back on patrol.
The next container was a large one with mashed potatoes. It was much heavier than the stuffing container of the same size. Instead of gripping the container by the lip, Maximus grabbed the whole container fully in his jaws and neatly removed it from the Fridge without a sound. He silently brought it out to “The Depot.” Then he brought the stuffing to The Depot.
Maximus smiled to himself. This was going to be a dawdle.
Teddy couldn’t believe he was relegated to babysitting a snoring drunk. A Buddy stand-in. He should be in the action. He should be the one who got the Spiral Ham. He should be the one snuggling Liana. In Plan A, Teddy was a Hero. In Plan B, he was a zero with Don snoring in his ear. He warranted more. He deserved more. And the more he thought about Auggie getting to spoon Liana in Plan A, the more unsettled got. He left his station to talk to Maximus who was in the middle of extracting a semi-warm container of gravy.
Maximus almost dropped the gravy and bit him. Yet he restrained himself until the gravy was silently on the ground and he hissed, “You deserted your post!!!!”
Then the Refrigerator motor came on and nearly scared them both to death.
“Look at him. Don won’t wake up any sooner than Buddy Holly. My job is useless. Give me Auggie’s job.”
Maximus regarded what Teddy was saying. He didn’t like it, but he understood it.
Auggie poked his head around the wall to give his report and was gobsmacked to see Teddy away from his station.
“What is this?” spat out Auggie.
“What is what?” retorted Teddy.
“You’ve abandoned your post! You’ve abandoned your post!”
Teddy growled and started to crouch with his teeth bared….
“Stop,” said Maximus Gary in a commanding tone. “Don’t lose sight of our goal. Auggie, continue your patrol. Teddy, come with me.”
Auggie dutifully swiveled and resumed his inspections. Teddy followed Max.
Maximus showed Teddy The Depot, and Teddy gazed, awestruck at the piles of mashed potatoes, stuffing and the like.
“You will still be responsible for blocking Don. That is your first imperative. If you want to be something more to this mission, you’ll need to figure out how to open this door to the deck– quietly and quickly….” Maximus saw Teddy Drool.
“You will bring everything I put in The Depot out behind The Lilac Bush on the front lawn…. BEHIND it so the Bipeds can’t see it from the deck. And Dog help you if you sample anything from The Depot. Should you pilfer ANYTHING, you will be court-martialed and I will pee on you every time you rest your head. Don’t let us down.”
Max stared at Teddy, who was transfixed with the pile of Depot Food.
“Go check on Don now,” Max said.
Teddy happily sprang away to go check on Don, and Maximus went back to the Refrigerator. The doors were still open, and the motor was still running full-tilt. Maximus hadn’t counted on how loud the motor was. He never had the fridge door open for that long before. Maximus decided he would retract the Spiral Ham last and transport it all the way to the Lilac Bush himself. That would keep Teddy honest. A dog who abandoned his post couldn’t be trusted with a Spiral Ham. Of that, Maximus was sure.
Just as Maximus turned back to the Fridge, Auggie poked his head around the corner.
“You are to help monitoring Don as Teddy brings the food out to the Lilac Tree,” said Maximus.
Auggie stared at him in disbelief and said, “Oh? Did Teddy just take over this operation? I always wondered what it would be like to work for an irrationally assertive hillbilly.”
Maximus stared at him levelly.
“I hope you know what you’re doing,” said Auggie as he went back to check on Liana and Buddy, “I would have court-martialed him and peed on him every time he went to sleep for the rest of his life.”
“Just do your job,” growled Max as he went back to the Refrigerator and a container of cold cuts, cheeses, and hors d’erves.
Maximus got back to work- hauling out containers of green beans with almonds and a thick cream sauce, squash with brown sugar and butter, and a small container of cooked scallops with bacon and maple syrup. There were only 2 scallops left- not enough to share. Maybe Maximus would reward himself with the scallops after Operation Forbidden Pig concluded. He stashed the scallops in the Forbidden Closet. It would be dangerous to give them to the other dogs because of the toothpicks. He would give the other dogs the beets.
Buddy stayed where he was. Auggie went back on patrol, and Teddy went to open the Great Room door to the front deck. It was actually pretty easy. The door was already partially open. Probably from some Biped getting wood for the still-smoldering fire and not closing it properly. Either that or a liquored-up Biped forgot to close it after smoking a cigarette or something else. No matter. Teddy’s job just became a million times easier. He would be a hero at last. He began running the booty out onto the front deck over the wet snow and to the far side of the Lilac Bush so it wasn’t visible to Bipeds on the deck without a high-powered searchlight.
Auggie was getting bored. He was also getting resentful. Why would Maximus allow Teddy to change his mission in mid-operation? It didn’t make sense. Max would never allow it of him. Especially when Auggie gave up the job of spooning Liana to run all over the house like this. It was hardly worth his time. And that punk Teddy was probably helping himself to all kinds of Biped food while he ran around like an idiot. He should just…. what was that? Aug was in the living room and heard a faint bark. He quietly ran to the top of the stairs. He strained his ears… yes. There it was again. It was Buddy. Auggie ran downstairs. Silently, of course.
When Auggie got to the bedroom Liana was out of bed. He knew that because the door to the bathroom was closed with light seeping out of its perimeter. Buddy was panicked.
“I’m sorry! I did bad. I shouldn’t have barked. I know I shouldn’t make any noise. But Liana went to the bathroom. It was not in the plan. I hope I didn’t mess stuff up. I’m sorry. Am I still in the Operation?”
“Excelsior to you, Sir Buddy! You are the beating heart of this Operation! You have done extremely well. I shall commend you for the coveted Silver Bone medal.”
“THANKS!” said Buddy.
“But you are still in this operation. You still need to do your duty. Can you do that?”
“YES!” said Buddy.
“Part of that duty is to pretend you are asleep so that Liana won’t let you out to pee or poop. Can you do that?”
“MAYBE!” said Buddy and put his head down.
“Good Dog!” Auggie said softly. The bedroom toilet flushed.
Auggie could hear one or more Imp Dogs stirring upstairs. Auggie ran up to Maximus and said in a hushed and rushed way, “Liana is up. In the Bathroom. Buddy holding his position. Imp Dogs stirring upstairs. I’m off.” Aug didn’t wait for a response from Max.
Max grabbed another heavy food container (lobster bisque). There was quite a lot of food piled up at The Depot. Where was Teddy?
Auggie ran to the top of the stairs. He almost bowled over the most beautiful dog he had ever seen. He quickly asked himself if a Labrador and a Mini Dachshund could make it in this crazy, mixed-up, Biped world. He didn’t know and he didn’t care. When he regained his faculties, he heard another yapping dog in the background.
“You….?’ Auggie managed.
“Ginger,” she said, waving her delicate, silky ears at him. They had met earlier in the day. She had no time for him then. “Don’t worry. I’m not yapping anymore.”
“Auggie.. err..Augustus…” said Auggie, “Quite pleased to make your acquaintance.” Zeus yapped in the background.
Auggie narrowed his eyes and said, “You need to shut your friend up…. Now.”
“Oh, silly boy! Your rudeness shocks me. Shan’t we get to know each other?”
Auggie bit his inner cheek. This dog was perfect for his needs– Intelligent, petite, svelte and compliant…
“Zeus will bark until I tell him to stop. What can I expect for performing that service?” Ginger gave him a sidelong glance and another toss of her silky ears. It was the sexiest thing Auggie had ever seen in his life.
“Shall I tell Zeus to quiet himself?” she persisted. “What’s in it for me?”
Auggie was in a fog. What could he possibly give to her? What was… that thing he… had?
“SHUT HIM UP, SHUT HIM UP, SHUT HIM UP….” Auggie seethed, “And I shall enthrall you with ham.”
“Ham?” said Ginger.
“Ham,” said Auggie, “All you can eat. It is NOT a jest. Now shut that dog UP.”
Ginger went back into the guest bedroom and shut Zeus up simply by staring at him. Then she went downstairs to join Auggie’s patrol. It was a brand new life for Ginger.
Auggie and Ginger ran into Teddy by the Front Hall.
“Check on Don! said Teddy, “I’ll check on Liana and Buddy in the bedroom!”
Auggie was stunned. His mouth dropped. Then Teddy stared at Ginger in a thoroughly lecherous way and Auggie snapped.
“Do you have a function?” hissed Auggie through bared fangs. “Where IS your station?” he spat. Ginger backed up. She stood behind Auggie. There was big trouble with big dogs brewing. She thought it best to get as small as possible.
Teddy just laughed. “You think you’re pretty hot stuff snuggling up to Liana every night. You’re a loser. And LIANA DOESN’T LOVE YOU.” He bent down to look at Ginger. He snickered.
“How very interesting. I’ve always wanted to hear what a daft, oafish, rancid, vagabond DESERTER in our pack has to say! Thank Dog I’m hearing it in the middle of a tactical operation we’ve planned for months!” Auggie yelled at Teddy. When Teddy didn’t respond, Auggie lit into him again. “You should be checking on Don! You should be moving product from The Depot to the Lilac Bush! Why are you even here?!?! A POX on you and your head!”
Teddy launched himself at Auggie and they fought. It was ugly. It was loud. It was unrestrained. They snarled and fought and bit and wrestled… Auggie yelped as Teddy got him a good bite on his leg. Neither gave ground.
Maximus was up on two hind legs at the fridge trying to lift the coveted Spiral Ham off the heavy serving plate from the way-back of the fridge when he heard the fighting. Then he heard a terrified wiener dog running and yapping in the Foyer. In a second he felt something bounce against his two planted legs.
“What the…?” thought Maximus just as he lost his balance and dragged the Spiral Ham along with its ceramic platter out of the fridge. The platter crashed with a huge sound, such that the dog fighting in the other room immediately stopped.
Downstairs, Liana came out of the bathroom. She heard the serving plate break and the dogs fighting. She tried to step over Buddy on her way to the steps out of the bedroom. Buddy performed his duty perfectly and stood up just as Liana was over him. She fell hard on the Foyer floor. Very Hard. She lay on the floor, holding her arm, wincing and calling out.
Upstairs, Zeus started barking with a vengeance. Max could hear the muffled bumps of Bipeds stirring and shouting upstairs.
All hell was about to break loose. And Zeus.
Don woke up on the couch confused. His head ached. It was not abnormal in the holiday season. Or ever, really.
He heard two dogs fighting loudly in the foyer or the front hall. His wife was crying out in pain somewhere. Upstairs, dogs were barking and people running around.
Don grabbed the chip bag and slid the last, hyper-salted remnants into his bottomless maw. Then he lazily reached for the remote.
From the corner of his eye, he saw a terrified wiener dog bolt towards the Great Room. He shook his head and tried to focus on the TV. He was chilly. He drew the comfy blanket over his near-nakedness and saw Maximus gallop towards the Great Room with something very large and wrapped in tin foil in his mouth.
That’s when Don got off the couch.
I know this was a long read, guys! As Buddy says- “Thanks for reading this far!”
Part 3 will be coming up in a couple of months! I can’t wait to write it!
Please let me know what you think in the comments. I won’t tell anyone you read a blog written by dog.
— Maximus Gary
Teddy voiced to Maximus Gary his displeasure regarding Augustus’s role in Plan A. Augustus’s background was in weapons and communications, and yet he was spooning Liana for hours and hours in bed. Maximus saw the flame of jealousy leap from Teddy’s heart, and he listened to everything Teddy breathlessly said.
When he was finished, Maximus Gary said, “It’s true that Augustus’s background is better suited to your job, but Augustus has been spooning Liana for years, whereas you hardly ever get up on the bed. If, all of a sudden, you were to get in the bed and begin to spoon her, she might suspect something was afoot. And even if she didn’t suspect anything, you might keep her awake with fidgeting or snoring. Auggie spoons her all the time and she sleeps soundly. It’s critical to Plan A that there is nothing out of the ordinary. I’m sorry.”
Teddy was initially angry, and Maximus Gary checked Teddy’s attitude frequently and let him vent. Teddy’s anger gradually drifted away like a warm soft vapor. Maximus Gary knew Teddy’s infatuation with Liana was always right below the surface, and could quickly ruin any Plan if it ever emerged.