Fiction: Lassie Go Home

* Author of the Month *
Dan Morey

Dan Morey 

I had taken up residence at a beachside retirement community in Los Angeles because I was told it would be quiet. Yet, a mere week after my arrival, I awoke at dawn to find my flat besieged by a barking canine. I assumed it was an elderly beast, since the bouts of yapping began with five or six sonorous “arks!” and then diminished to a series of pathetic whines, as if its lungs were slowly deflating.

Now, I am by no means accustomed to what one might call a luxurious lifestyle, but there are a few daily necessities I cannot do without: an afternoon snifter or two; a vigorous Scotch massage from our housemaid Lorna, performed to the bagpipe strains of "Cock of the North”; an evening bubble bath, accompanied by my rubber battleships and a good book of military history; and, most importantly, an indolent awakening to the scent of kippers and tea, at some languid hour very distant from sunrise.

So, as this vociferous mongrel had so rudely roused me from a dream-filled slumber (through which a panoply of Arthurian damsels had been swooning), I promptly reciprocated by taking up a brown Oxford and hurling it in the general direction of the noise. Unhappily, in my lethargic condition, I had neglected to open the window prior to my attack, and back came the shoe, landing with redoubled force directly on my rather prominent chin.

Furious, I flung off my nightcap, threw a smoking jacket over my pajamas, took down my bayonet, and flew forth in search of my flatmate, Major Fussleton.

"We're surrounded, old boy!" I cried. "Arm yourself!"

He was in the den, shuffling around the computer in a daze. "Look here, Fussleton. This is no time to bumble about. Prepare for war!"

He muttered something about the stock market and a certain unsporting options play. I shook him thoroughly, but it was no use—the major's mind was rolling out of a ticker-tape machine somewhere in New York.

I would have to take the matter in hand myself—after a quick bracer of brandy. I went to the sideboard, and found my best decanter missing.

"Lorna!" I bellowed. "You shiftless sauce-box! Have you taken my brandy again?"

The door to her room burst open, and obscenity-laden punk rock spilled out. She stood before me, blouseless and bekilted, her barbarous red hair shooting out in gelled spikes.

"Take it!" she said, hurling the decanter at me. "Tastes like camel piss, anyway!"

She swung the door shut, nearly de-hinging it, and raised the volume of her obnoxious music. I took a shot of firewater, and issued forth to confront the enemy, whose barking had increased in regularity if not strength.

I met the fiend on the beach and stared him down. The old cur was one of those maned collie dogs. He gave me a disdainful look, then began to growl and strain at his chain. I let fly some lines from The Mikado and stormed him in Samurai fashion, the bayonet drawn high over my shoulder. Just as I was about to give him a good whap, I tripped over a surfboard and fell on top of him. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a svelte man, and the brute had little recourse but to squirm and snivel beneath my superior bulk.

Beckerman, my neighbor, bounded onto the scene in his jogging togs and shoved me off my opponent.

"Look here," I said.  "I refuse to be used in this manner by an antique film producer in formfitting shorts."

"You old fool," said Beckerman. "Do you know what you've done?"

"What I've done," I said, shaking sand from my hair, "is silence the infernal howling of that demonic Baskervilles."

"You've flattened an icon, you idiot."

By now I was ambulatory, and more than a bit perturbed. "Icon? Helicon, more like it. The beast has been blasting bass notes all morning!"

"I'll have you know,” said Beckerman, attending the felled hound, “that this dog is the oldest living Lassie."

"The what, now?"

"Lassie!" shouted Beckerman. "He’s a retired star!” He flapped the patient's forelegs around, trying to revive circulation. “His lineage goes all the way back to the very first Lassie. His ancestors have acted with the biggest names in the business: Elizabeth Taylor, Dame Mae Whitty, Donald Crisp, Roddy McDowall..."

"You don't say! Old Roddy!"

"This dog has personally done scenes with Peter O’ Toole."

"Good God, I think I do recollect those pictures. A lot of children splashing about in wells, wasn't it?"

The dog was on his feet again, and somewhat cognizant of his surroundings. I remarked that he'd rallied quite nicely. Beckerman agreed, though a bit coldly, if you ask me. I bent down and gave the pooch a few "There, there, old sports" and "No hard feelings" and all that; but when I went to pat him on the head, he bit my hand. I drew the bayonet, then thought better of it. As I retreated to my flat, the mangy matinee idol recommenced his barking.

"I think that someone should deposit that loathsome creature in a well,” I said. “A very deep one!"

No comments :

Post a Comment

We welcome your comments related to the article and the topic being discussed. We expect the comments to be courteous, and respectful of the author and other commenters. Setu reserves the right to moderate, remove or reject comments that contain foul language, insult, hatred, personal information or indicate bad intention. The views expressed in comments reflect those of the commenter, not the official views of the Setu editorial board. प्रकाशित रचना से सम्बंधित शालीन सम्वाद का स्वागत है।