I got very busy with the actual (as opposed to the virtual) world last week and missed a post. So here are three stories to make up for it. Or maybe it’s only one story. You be the judge. Written with my Thursday night writing group. Very elaborate prompts including: He had known better, OR, She is the only one who knew me, Disaster, One of the king’s dogs, A woman’s advocate living in China, Became a resident of Mexico, His true name
In the king’s entourage, they called the dog “Harry the Hound.” It was based on a mnemonic device used to teach the phoneme for the letter H. They were all being tutored in English, and Harry the Hound—h, h, h–was like a dog panting, you get it, right? Harry the Hound. But the dog knew his true name was Dismas, after the apocryphal good thief crucified at Christ’s right hand on Calgary.
The woman’s advocate had given Dismas his name. She was the only one who truly knew him. She had seen him in the market place in Nanking, scurrying underfoot between the stalls, snatching bits of meat, bones, even carrots and potatoes to gnaw on. The woman’s advocate knew he was not a bad dog, just a hungry one. She had tamed him with bits of barbecued pork and spare rib bones. He had willingly followed her anywhere with hand-outs like that. She had trained him to be docile with her but she didn’t need to teach him to be a fierce defender. He would have sunk his teeth into the throat of any man who laid a hand on her. And so he did when disaster struck. When the women marched and the tanks rolled into the square. It all happened so fast. He took out three soldiers before they could lift their rifles to their shoulders. He was taken away and his injured mistress was afraid he would be put down. But a warrior-protector like Dismas was just what the King wanted at his side. Still Dismas knew where his loyalty lay. Call me what you will, he thought silently. I know my true name. I know my true home and it isn’t here. It isn’t with you.
Keep busy, he told himself as he befriended the Queen’s snakes. We will all escape together, he promised them.
One day Dismas and his true companion, the strong and tall woman’s advocate, and their friends the snakes boarded a plane to Oxaxaca. The woman’s advocate carried Dismas in a large handbag. She wore the snakes around her waist like a belt, and around her throat like an Egyptian necklace and woven in her hair like a garland of jewels. Dismas was a large dog, a Shepherd mix. He was gold and white and black and green. He liked to sing when he ran with his companion across the fields of China. But now he and his companion were escaping on a plane and a boat and a train and a car and he knew he must be quiet. He knew better than many other mammals. He had learned reptilian tricks from the snakes. He could sit for hours without blinking, without moving, without speaking. Soon they would all be residents of Mexico.
Dismas was afraid of snakes and spiders and cats and any other animal that moved fast. But he was a big, furry dog with a wild imagination. He kept his human companion warm at night and she was grateful. “Good dog, Dismas.”