Friday, November 8, 2013

The Housekeeper - Chapter 20 (Part 3 of 3)

The Housekeeper
By Karen Singer

Chapter 20 (Part 3 of 3)

Carol laughed as Roger stared up at him… so much like a dog.  So much like a real dog.  She had gotten a kick out of watching him sniff the air… and then going over to his water bowl for a drink.  “Come on Boots, let’s go find your toy,” she said.  She ran off toward the living room, but when she looked back, Roger was still in the kitchen, staring after her.
“You may need to teach him some things now,” Janice told her.  “He doesn’t understand anything you’re saying anymore other than a few basic commands such as sit and stay.”
That was a little frustrating for Carol.  This wasn’t going to be quite as easy as she thought.  But after a moment’s reflection, she figured it shouldn’t be all that difficult… and it might even be a lot of fun.  Imagine, he really thought he was a dog… and he couldn’t even understand someone speaking to him anymore!  She ran off to her room to find the stuffed duck dog toy for him.
When she returned, she found Roger slowly sniffing around all the furniture in the living room.  She watched him for a moment.  “What’s he doing, Momma?”
“I think he’s exploring and trying to figure out his surroundings,” Janice replied.  “It looks like he no longer even remembers that information.”
Carol watched him for a few moments more, but with the dog toy in her hand, she wanted to play.  “Here doggie,” she called.  “Here boy!”  But Roger didn’t do anything more than to briefly turn his head toward her… before going back to his sniffing.
“Try calling him Boots,” Janice suggested.
Carol only looked at her for a moment before turning her attention back to Roger.  “Here Boots.  Here Boots!”
Boots, hearing his name being called the way that the tall thing had said it, turned immediately.  There was something urgent about the way the thing was calling him.  He headed for it to see what it wanted.  The thing was holding something out towards him.  He approached it cautiously and sniffed at it.  The tall thing kept making sounds at him… but there was something inviting about the sounds it was making, as if there was something the thing wanted him to do.  The tall thing was still holding whatever it was out towards him.  He sniffed it again… and taking a chance, he gingerly took it into his mouth and the tall thing let go of it.  The sounds the tall thing made then somehow made him feel good.  The thing in his mouth felt very soft there… but it didn’t taste like food at all.  He chewed on it a few times, then holding it firmly, he shook his head back and forth.  He heard more sounds coming from the tall thing that suggested it was pleased somehow. 
He chewed it a bit more before dropping it to the ground.  The tall thing was still making noises toward him, as if it wanted him to do something more with the soft thing.  He bent down and took it in his mouth again, deeper this time than before.  Then he chewed on it again.  And the thing in his mouth made the most surprising noise!  He dropped it immediately and backed away from it, watching the thing intently.  It didn’t look alive.  He cautiously moved his nose closer and sniffed at it again.  It still smelled the same.  Just to make sure, he barked at the thing… then he barked again!  No change.  Whatever the soft thing was, it was just staying there.  Had he killed it?
The tall thing was making more noises, but since he didn’t recognize any of them, he continued to ignore them and concentrate on the soft thing on the floor.  Then the tall thing suddenly picked the soft thing up … and threw it!  The tall thing was saying things again and he heard his name in the middle of what it said, but he had no idea what else the tall thing wanted.  His entire concentration was on that strange soft thing that had made the strange sound when he had chewed on it.  The tall thing had gotten rid of it.  Threw it away from him.  And now he saw the tall thing going after it again. 
Boots stayed where he was and watched as the tall thing picked the soft thing up.  Then she was holding it out toward him and calling his name again.  Should he go?  Did he dare go?  But curiosity got the better of him and he went… and cautiously approached the soft thing that was being held out toward him again.  It still smelled the same.  He barked at it.  No reaction, but the tall thing was making more noises now.  Cautiously, he sniffed it again, then taking a chance, he took it in his mouth again, and the tall thing immediately let go of it… and started making more strange noises that again made him feel somewhat good. 
He violently shook the soft thing in his mouth again, then chewed on it a few times again.  But suddenly as he chewed it, the thing made that same noise!  And he was sure it was dead!  He shook it again violently, then chewed it again, and again it made that noise.  Every time he chewed on it, the thing made the strange noise.  He dropped it to the floor and growled at it.  Then he barked at it.  But the thing didn’t move.  The tall thing was making strange noises at him again, but since he couldn’t understand the noises, he ignored them and concentrated on the strange soft dead thing that had made the noise when he chewed on it. 

Janice watched her daughter playing with Roger… now Boots… for a few minutes.  Seeing that the two of them were now getting on pretty well, she left them and went back to her bedroom.  She grabbed Roger’s dog collar and removed the shock box from it.  Then she found the file folder that Susan Wu had given her.  With Roger and Carol busy for a while, it was now time to start doing some serious studying and planning.  As she headed back to the kitchen, she paused only long enough to buckle the collar around Boots’ neck. 

Boots wasn’t sure at all about what was happening when the other tall thing grabbed him and held him still.  He was less sure as it wrapped something around his neck.  And when the tall thing let him go again, whatever it had put on him… stayed.  He shook his head, and the thing remained.  He shook again, and the thing was still there.  The tall thing had done something to him, put something on him that he couldn’t get off.  But now the other tall thing was calling him again.  He supposed that since the thing now around his neck wasn’t bothering him any, it would just have to stay till he could figure out how to get it off.  The tall thing was again holding the soft thing out for him to take… and he had every intention of grabbing it again and shaking it violently… and maybe even seeing if it would make that strange noise again when he chewed on it.

“God he’s slow, Momma!” Carol complained as she sat down to dinner.
“Well he’s not a real dog, dear.  He can’t move like a real dog can.”
“That’s not what I mean,” Carol replied.  “It took me forever just to get him to chase after his duck.  And I still can’t get him to bring it back to me all the time.”
Janice smiled.  “He doesn’t understand what you want him to do.  I suspect that it will simply take patience and a lot of repetition to teach him what you want him to know.”
Carol looked down at the floor where Roger was laying and chewing on different parts of the toy duck.  Every once in a while, he hit the spot that would make it quack.  He seemed startled every time the thing made a noise.  She did her best to ignore him and concentrate on her own dinner instead… and talk with her mother of course.  Roger wasn’t eating yet because her mother had said that dogs should wait until after dinner was over. 
When Carol had finished eating, she asked, “Momma, do you want me to cut up some food for Mr. Brinkley now?”
“You mean Boots,” Janice corrected her.  “He’s certainly not Mr. Brinkley at the moment.  And no, don’t cut anything up for him.  He’s a dog.  We’ve still got several cans of dog food in the cabinet.  Give him some of that.  We’ll get more dog food for him tomorrow.”
It was a moment as Carol took that in, then she couldn’t help giggling a little. 

Roger sniffed carefully at whatever it was that the tall thing had put into the bowl on the floor.  It smelled… interesting.  And then the tall thing grabbed the bowl of water that had been there and took it away, only to bring it back again.  He sniffed at the water, it smelled subtly different… more like new water.  He licked at it.  Good!  But his attention was turned back toward whatever was in the other bowl.  He was hungry.  The tall things had been eating something that smelled very good, but this didn’t smell anything like what they had been eating.  But since he was hungry, and since it did smell interesting, he reached out with his tongue and licked it a bit.  It tasted… interesting.  Throwing all other thoughts aside, he slowly began eating whatever it was in the bowl.  Food he decided.  He turned his head and saw the tall thing that had been playing with him earlier watching him.  But the tall thing wasn’t making any kind of noises just then at all.  So he continued to eat whatever it was that was in the bowl.

Janice was still cleaning up the kitchen when she heard Roger’s cell phone ringing.  She had retrieved it from the pocket of his pants after he had removed them in the process of changing into Boots.  She quickly wiped her hands on a dish towel before answering the phone.  “Hello?”
“Is Mr. Brinkley there?” a woman’s voice on the other end replied.
“I’m sorry,” Janice replied, “but Mr. Brinkley is a bit… ill tonight and can’t answer the phone.”
“Oh dear.  I’m sorry to hear that,” the voice replied.
“May I ask who’s calling?” Janice asked.
“Yes, this is Rebecca Adkins.  I’m a friend of Elaine Whittaker.  Elaine told me about… um… Mr. Brinkley’s strange little thing he’s trying to do with the women’s boots, and I… well…  We’ve got this window that’s been broken for I don’t know how long now.  But, well, after talking to Elaine, it kind of reminded me that we really do need it fixed.  So I was wondering if he did that kind of work?”
“I see, Mrs. Adkins,” Janice replied happily. “Yes, I’m sure that Mr. Brinkley can handle something like that for you.  I’m just afraid that it may be next week before he can call you back.  The doctor said he needs to just stay in bed for a few days to get over this… flu bug he seems to have picked up.”
“Oh dear,” Mrs. Adkins said.  “The flu can be terrible!  Especially with the kind of weather we’ve been having this year.”
“Why don’t I just make a note of what you need, and I’ll have Mr. Brinkley call you next week sometime.  Will that be alright?”
A few moments later, Janice hung up the phone and stared at the notepad in front of her where she had written down Mrs. Adkins’ information.  It looked like her idea of the boots for Roger was already starting to pay off already.  But just wait till everybody got a good look at all the other things she had in mind for him!
     Her happy spirits were suddenly interrupted by her daughter yelling vehemently, “Boots… no!”
     Janice hurried into the living room where they were.  She was just in time to see Carol hurrying over toward where Roger… Boots… was now cringing around the other side of the sofa.  “What happened?” she asked as her daughter caught up with the “dog” and grabbed his collar.
     “He was just about to pee against the sofa!” Carol exclaimed.
     “Oh dear!  Better get him outside quickly!” Janice ordered.
     Boots didn’t know what was happening.  He had been about to relieve himself, when the tall thing had suddenly shouted his name, and then came at him like it was angry… although he had no idea why it should be.  And now the tall thing had grabbed that thing that was around his neck, and it was choking him.  And he was frightened again!  He felt the tall thing starting to drag him by that thing on his neck… and if he didn’t try to keep moving the way it wanted, the choking got much worse. 
     He was forced to follow along all the way into a very small area where the tall thing stopped, but didn’t let go of whatever it was that was around his neck.  He felt the tall thing doing something with that thing on his neck, and finally, the tall thing let go of him.  Frightened and nervous, he turned and headed back the way they had come.  Only he didn’t get far as he felt whatever it was that was around his neck, choking him again and pulling him to a stop… and it was still pulling him back… and the tall thing wasn’t even near him!  He yelped at the pain and surprise of what was happening.  And now he had to pee even worse! 
     In order to keep from choking, he was forced to return to the tall thing, where he saw there was now some kind of long thin thing attached to the thing around his neck and the tall thing was holding and pulling on the other end.  And then the tall thing did something, and the whole end of the small area changed… revealing a new place to go that hadn’t been there before.  He felt cold air hit him… and he sniffed at it tentatively.  But before he knew it, the tall thing was dragging him now through to that other area where it was darker and he couldn’t see as well. 
     “Come on, Boots!  Don’t make me drag you all the way down the steps!” complained Carol as she pulled on the leash.  Geez what a dumb dog!
     Boots, having little choice because of the pulling was forced to approach the steps, where he had to figure out how to get down them because he was being pulled by the tall thing from below.  But as soon as he did get down them, he found himself in a totally new kind of area… where the ground below him was somewhat… damp.  But as he stood there once again tentatively sniffing the air all around him, he remembered that he had been in this big place many times when he had been one of those tall things himself.  But his memories of this new big place were few and very fuzzy.
     Carol finally eased up on pulling the leash.  Geez!  It was as if the dumb dog had never seen the outside before.  And then she realized, maybe he hadn’t!  Once Boots stopped sniffing around so much and seemed to calm down a bit, she slowly led him out toward the trees in the yard.  She stopped under the first tree she came to and tried to coax Boots to “do his thing.”  At first, nothing much happened except that Boots continued to sniff around… before truly discovering the tree and spending a lot of time sniffing it… before finally lifting his leg to pee against it… before going back to sniff at where he had just peed.  Yuck!  She dragged him away back toward the house, where the dumb dog seemed more than eager to go.
     As far as Carol was concerned, when her mother had “programmed” Roger, she could have done a few things to make everything a lot easier.  Turning him into a dumb dog was one thing, but to her, this was too dumb!

1 comment:

sarah penguin said...

Poor Boots! :)