'Hey, Bud, where
are you going with my work gloves?'
'Jumph tumph dem mmmph.'
Jim stood in front of his
Springer Spaniel as Buddy tried to inch by him to reach the back door.
'Spit those out and talk to me,
dropped Jim's heavy gloves on the family room carpet, where they landed
with a soft plop. 'I'm just taking them outside for
'Two things wrong with that. Those
are my gloves, not yours. And you don't go outside alone. You know
'Yeah, well, I thought you weren't
home,' Buddy muttered as he started to pick up the gloves again.
'What was that? I couldn't hear
'I'll put them back,' Buddy
said. 'I'll put them back. Okay? They're going back.'
'What did you intend to do with
'Just a little yard work.'
'Buddy, I wasn't born yesterday. My
Mama didn't raise no fools. What were you going to do with those
gloves? And while we're at it, a few other things are missing.'
'Missing? What do you mean missing?'
Buddy dropped the gloves again and sat on his haunches, the picture of
complacency. 'Nothing's missing that I know of.
Probably don't remember where you put whatever it is you're looking
for. A senior moment, hunh? Don't worry. We all get them as we age.'
'Buddy, don't try to dance your way
out of this ...'
At the word dance, Buddy
rose on his hind legs, twirled in place and then pantomimed dancing
with someone else. His arms enclosing an invisible partner, he hummed
as he dipped and spun.
Jim couldn't help
himself. His laugh only encouraged Buddy and the dog flew around the
room at a faster pace. As Buddy segued into a waltz, Jim gained control
of himself and stepped up to Buddy. Tapping him on the shoulder, Jim
spoke as the dog switched to a rumba, 'May I have
'I'll have to check my dance card,
but I think it'd be okay.'
Buddy opened his arms and
embraced Jim, expecting to go on dancing. Jim planted his feet firmly
on the floor and brought Buddy to a stop.
'I almost fell for that, Buddy. But
I still want to discuss what's missing with you.'
Buddy shook his head. 'Thought I could get to the door and just scoot right out.
Can't blame a guy for trying.'
'Sit, Buddy.' Buddy dropped
to the rug and laid down.
'Just a little tired after that
workout. It's tough dancing on a rug. Really slows you down.'
stretched out on the floor, his chin on his constant companion Bear, a
floppy stuffed toy. His eyes slowly closed.
'Buddy. Stop it! Don't give me that
exhausted routine again. You know I don't buy it.'
'Okay! Okay!' Buddy sat up
and focused his eyes on Jim's, intent on appearing alert to whatever
was to be said. 'Sheez. Nothing works anymore.'
'You'll have to come up with
something new, Bud. I'm on to you. Now. Down to business. I want to
know what happened to my Cross pen.'
'No! Don't tell me! The pen the
company gave you on your fifteenth anniversary with them? Oh, what a
shame. I'm sorry, Jimbo.' Buddy's head shook in commiseration
and a small sudden tear appeared in the corner of his right eye.
'Shut up! Just shut up and listen.
Crying cuts no ice with me. So don't bother to work up a good sob. Not
another word until I tell you to speak.'
'Yessir!' Buddy's right paw
shot up to his forehead and he snapped a salute.
Jim's eyes raised to the
ceiling and his fists curled in exasperation. 'Buddy,
not another move. Don't talk. Don't salute. Don't cry. Sit and listen
to me or you're grounded.'
'But Gwennie's yard sale starts in
a few minutes ... Uh, oh. Now I've blown it.'
'Yes, Buddy. Now you've blown it.
Now things are clear. My belongings have been going to Gwennie's for
you to sell in her yard sale. My pen. My gardening gloves. The drip pan
I use to change the oil in the Packard. The big pot I use for the clam
bake. How did you ever manage that one? No, don't tell me. I'd rather
'That's a big sucker. I had to roll
it, Dad. Got a few dents, but still shines like new.'
Buddy's paw crept slowly
to his mouth and he mimed pulling a zipper.
'Is that where my new shirt went?
And the new juice glasses Carol gave me? I want all these things back.
But first I want to know why you wanted the money from selling MY
'We'll discuss this later. I'd better get to
Gwennie's before she sells out.'
'Somehow I don't think a dog's yard
sale is going to sell out. WHY??'
'Why? What.' At the look of
fury in Jim's eye, Buddy relented. 'Okay. I wanted
to raise some money of my own so you wouldn't have to support me. I
think it's time I started to pull my weight around here.'
'And you were going to take the
burden off me by stealing my things and selling them. The logic of that
escapes me. What's the real reason, Buddy?'
'Wellllll, I heard you on the phone
with Carol and you said you were going to drive down to see her in
Virginia next weekend. I wanted to take another ride in her biplane at
the Flying Circus. And you said you would never let me go up again. And
Carol said she wouldn't give me another ride - ever. I thought if I
could pay for it, she'd let me go.'
Carol, a captain with
United Airlines, owned her own Stearman Biplane and flew it Sundays at
the Flying Circus in Bealton, Virginia. She lived in Leesburg and it
was a three hour drive for Jim, so he usually stayed overnight. Buddy
loved the ride there and her hundred-year-old house. He could sit on
the front porch and watch the traffic go by on Route 15.
When he was alone out
there, he could whistle at the girls and yell at the cars that sped too
fast going through town. No one ever suspected that it was a dog that
was making the noise. He loved it. The only thing he didn't like about
it was the leash that kept him tethered to the porch. Like he was a
piece of the wicker furniture or one of the potted plants Carol kept
most of all, he loved flying in that great little open cockpit airplane
- up above everyone, skimming the treetops, the wind blowing his ears,
pretending that he was flying the plane. Once Carol had let
him make it look as though he was actually handling the controls. The
crowd went wild.
'You're darn right you won't get
another ride. Not after the last time. What ever possessed you to take
water balloons up with you?'
'I wanted to see if I could have
been a World War I bomber. I wanted to drop the balloons on a target.
And I did it. It was great.'
'One landed on the target. The
other one landed on that poor old lady. Drenched her. She was one mad
'Ah, she had no sense of the skill
needed to do what I did.'
Jim shook his head,
remembering the white haired woman screaming at Buddy until she
realized he was a dog. Then she turned on Jim. But he wasn't in the
plane. And Carol was obviously flying, so no one ever did figure out
where the balloon came from.
'That was one cool day,'
Buddy said. 'Really cool.'
'Maybe so, from your point of view.
But, Buddy, did you have to put red ink in the balloons? I'll bet it
took weeks for that woman to turn back to her natural color.'
'She did look funny, with the red
coloring all over her. I just wanted to be able to be sure I hit the
target, so I added a touch of ink. Just a touch. And I couldn't use
that red vegetable dye. It's supposed to be unsafe for your health.'
Buddy's smile was broad
as he remembered that day. One of the best in his career as
'Well, you're not going with me
this time, Bud. You're going to your doggie hotel.'
'Noooo!' Buddy wailed and
held his head in his paws. 'Not there. Not again.
Please. Oh, please, please, please. Don't send me there. Not the doggie
hotel. It's not a hotel. It's a labor camp. I have to sweep out my own
Buddy's paws wrung
together. He sobbed and threw himself on the floor to cover his head
with his blanket, the fleece one with the big teddy bear on it.
'Please, Dad. No. I'll be so good
you won't even know I'm there. That place is evil. Evil. Do you hear
'That's not what you said the last
time you were there. That's where you met Monica, that white poodle.'
'Yeah, well, I thought she was
cool. But she was only using me to make that Jack Russell Terrier
jealous. Broke my heart. I won't go back there. Humiliating. That's
what it was.'
'You have no choice, Buddy. You're
going and that's that.'
with his head leaning on the window ledge of the 1956 Packard, Bear
close by his side. His ears blew in the breeze flowing in the open
window as the car sped along Route 15, heading South.
'Buddy, telling the toll collector
on the Turnpike that you thought it was outrageous to collect money
from such a fine antique car was way out of line.'
Jim smiled at the memory
but still bristled from the embarrassment. The man in the booth thought
he had said it, and he had to suffer a lecture on the whys and
wherefores of the Pennsylvania Turnpike system.
'And now that I've calmed down
enough, tell me why the kennel told me that you were no longer welcome
'I thought you were a little strung
out there, Daddy O.' Buddy shifted a little in his seat and
edged Bear closer to the window so he too could enjoy the breeze
blowing his ears. 'Those people at the 'doggie
hotel' are hard to read. I didn't think they'd get so shook up just
because all the dogs in the place started howling.'
'Buddy, what did you do to make
them all howl?'
'Me? Why Me? Why is it always me
that's doing the wrong thing? Why am I always being accused? Any little
thing goes wrong, and everyone turns to me. I just don't understand it.'
Buddy had turned his head toward Jim, his eyes full of question.
you think,' Jim asked, 'that maybe it's
because you are always the cause of any problems?'
Buddy waved a paw in the
air as though to brush away any lingering guilt that might be looking
'I didn't cause the 'problem' that
you're talking about. But I got the blame. That Jack Russell -
name's Barney, can you imagine. A little squirt like that being called
Barney. Should be something like Melvin or Ernest.'
'Buddy! Get on with it.' Jim
swerved in time to avoid a hunter green Jaguar that whooshed by. An
upraised thumb recognized the beauty of the old car Jim drove.
'Hey, Dad, why don't we get a car
like that? Sure is cool. Look at the way it hugs the road. Not that
there's anything wrong with this beauty.' Buddy patted the
padded dashboard with a gentle paw. 'But we could
have both. Boy, Monica would be sorry she threw me over for that little
jerk if she saw me riding in that fine car.'
'Buddy, tell me about the kennel.
'All right. All right. Okay.
Sheeze. You have no appreciation for the finer nuances of life. This
Barney was ignoring the poodle - her last name's Windsor! Can you
believe that? A regal name for a regal lady.'
'Get on with it,' Jim
growled with a threatening edge to his voice.
'I AM getting to it. Don't get your
pants in a twist.'
Jim's breath escaped in a
hiss. Buddy took a startled look and decided he had maybe pushed one
too many of Jim's buttons.
He continued in a hurry. 'Well, you see, here was Monica on one side of me,
flittering her gorgeous long eyelashes. So thick and curled on the
ends. And there's this idiot on my other side, just ignoring her.
Turning his back on her! Can you imagine?'
'So I started to flirt back, but
vocally, figuring dum-dum would hear us. See, at first I was trying to
help her. So, I said, 'Monica, where do you live? Maybe we could get
together sometime for a biscuit.''
'Then I lost it. I looked into her
lovely dark eyes and fell deeply in love. This was my soul mate. The
one I had been looking for all my life. I sighed deeply and with great
passion and that's when the Jack Russell woke up to what was happening
and turned on me.'
'Told me to leave his girl alone.
Who did I think I was to elbow myself between a man and his woman?'
'So I asked the rest of the kennel
to show me support. I asked for a yeah for me and a boo for the brain
dead. Everyone started answering and I guess it sounded like howling
and I was told to shut up or else. Imagine! I was a paying guest. Well,
anyway, you were paying for me. And that's what happened.'
During this recitation,
Jim hadn't said a word. Just listened and concentrated on his driving.
Bear's paw had reached for Buddy's and he clasped his dearest friend in
'Are you finished?'
'Yes,' Buddy said with a
'Okay. Now tell me what really
'I got bored and decided to liven
up the stuffy place with a few singing lessons. Believe me, there
wasn't a hound in there that could sing on key.'
Buddy stuck his head as
far out the window of the antique turquoise and white car as he could
without falling onto the road. He didn't care to hear what Jim might
have to say about the music lesson.
Buddy fancied himself
back in the fifties, cruising the town, looking for a hot date and
treating that date at the local ice cream parlor to a double fudge
Bear looked out the
window and wished his twin brother Grin had lived. He thought Grin
would enjoy knowing Buddy and they could all hang out together.
Jim just kept his eyes on
the road ahead, trying not to think of anything.
'Buddy, I'll take
you up again.' Carol stood in front of Buddy, hands on her slim
hips, golden red hair framing her face and a stern look she directed at
Buddy's averted eyes. 'Look at me, Bud. I said I'll
take you up again but you have to promise me you're not carrying any
Carol, Jim and Buddy were
together by Carol's '41 Stearman, it's yellow paint glistening in the
sun. Buddy had Bear clasped firmly but gently in his jaws. He lowered
Bear to the ground.
'Thank you, Carol. I do want to
have another ride. May I take Bear with me? He'll just sit with me. You
can strap us both in.'
looked at Buddy with suspicion. He was being too docile. Maybe the
three hour ride to Leesburg and the extra hour ride to the airport
tired him out and he was on good behavior only because of exhaustion.
'Okay. Okay,' Carol said. 'I'll give you one more chance.' She patted him on
the head and Buddy slid his nose in her hand for a fond touch. 'But I'll have to go through your backpack. What do you
need a backpack for, anyway?'
Buddy didn't answer.
Her long fingers unzipped
the pack that was strapped to Buddy's back. Jim had had it personalized
for him with his name in yellow on the bright red fabric. The colors
stood out against Bud's dark brown and white fur.
'What's this, Buddy?'
She pulled out a folded
white linen dinner napkin.
Bear's body jerked on the
grass. Buddy nuzzled Bear and said comforting words to him.
To Carol and Jim, he
said, 'That's Bear's security blanket.'
'That's no blanket,' Jim
said with narrowed eyes. 'That's a good napkin from
the linen drawer in the dining room at home. Buddy, what in blue blazes
are you doing with it?'
He reached for the napkin
and Bear again jerked spasmodically at Jim's feet.
'Bear borrowed it. He misses his
twin brother and his mother and he needed something of his own to
cuddle when he sucks his thumb.'
'Buddy! Bear has no thumbs. What
are you up to? What's going on? Carol, are you sure this is a good
'Yeah, it'll be okay, Dad. He
doesn't have anything here that could cause a problem. And he does love
to fly. Here, Buddy, put this on.'
She pulled a leather
aviator's helmet from her pocket. His ears fitted easily through holes
cut out for that purpose.
'Hey, this is neat. Where did you
get it? Thanks.'
Buddy grinned as Carol
fastened the helmet under his chin. 'I had it made
for you. It looks great, Buddy.'
'You're a good sister, Carol.'
Carol flinched at the
word sister, but kept her cool and placed goggles over Buddy's
eyes and wrapped a long white silk scarf around his neck.
Pops, how do I look?' Buddy asked Jim. 'Am I
cool or what?'
Jim ignored Buddy and
again asked Carol if she was sure she wanted to do this.
'Sheeze, can't you trust me, Dad? I
said I didn't have any balloons. And I don't. Even though you felt it
necessary to frisk me!'
Buddy managed to look
indignant. Even with his helmet and goggles. 'How do
I look, Bear? Are you ready to go up in the wild blue yonder with me?'
Even after Buddy and Bear
were strapped in, Jim still had misgivings. As Carol taxied down the
short grass runway, Jim tried to quell the feeling of unease that had
settled in his stomach.
'Carol, this is supreme. How do you
like it Bear?' The speed of the airborne biplane kept Buddy's
ears streaming straight backwards.
Buddy spoke over the
internal radio that allowed Carol to hear his reactions to the trees
and stream speeding by, the blue of the sky punctuated with fluffy
clouds, the crowd below that still lingered though the Flying Circus
had finished for the day. Many in the throng below had signed up for
rides in one of the eight planes that had performed earlier.
As Carol banked at nine
hundred feet to make her final approach to the airstrip, she realized
that fingers were pointing upwards from below. She could hear a low
murmur that rose to a crescendo of screams.
Something's falling from that plane.'
'It's small enough for a child.'
'What can it be?'
'Ohmigod, it's going to hit.'
As Carol saw the tiny
object free falling through the air, she tried to swoop under it to
catch it with one of her wings. Jim just stood in disbelief as he
watched Bear plummet to earth.
Just as it seemed that
there was no hope, 'HEW HAW' rang out, a
white dining room linen napkin opened like an umbrella, and Bear
drifted slowly to the ground.
He held a tiny American
flag in one front paw and a bouquet of lighted sparklers bristled from
the other. Somehow he had managed a broad smile around the banner that
hung from his mouth. The banner read 'Buddy's Flea Market'.
From the gasp of horror
that had permeated the field, now arose cheers and hurrahs for the
diminutive creature and his daring.
Carol landed the plane
and turned on Buddy.
'Boy, are you in for it now. Wait
'til Dad gets his hands on you.'
Buddy pulled his goggles
off as he said, 'Don't sweat it, Kid. I've got the
old man under my thumb.'
Jim sat on a folding
canvas chair on the sidelines. His head sunk low, his chin resting on
his chest, as it swung back and forth. Jim's usual position when Buddy
had jumped the bounds. Buddy watched in alarm as Jim's fingers curled
into his palms. A sure sign that he was trying to control his temper.
Buddy observed the wan figure in that chair and
said to Carol with anxiety in his voice, 'I think
you're right this time. If you don't want to contribute to my early
demise, let's get out of here, Lady Pilot.'
'Don't care. Just keep me out 'til
Daddy O calms down.'
The plane rose again in
the air. As Jim watched it go, his fingers uncurled and he walked onto
the field to retrieve Bear.