Mr. Pug and Mr. Other Pug sat on the curb looking up at the window of the local pharmacy. It was filled with spooky goblins, eerie ghosts, scary tombstones and creepy spider webs.
Mr. Other Pug smiled nervously.
“No!” commanded Mr. Pug.
“No what?” asked Mr. Other Pug.
“We are not going to dress up for Halloween. Not again,” stated Mr. Pug.
Mr. Pug and Mr. Other Pug were made to wear little pumpkin outfits every Halloween as far back as they could remember. Even longer, thought Mr. Other Pug. But last year, after being ridiculed by Tab Hunter, the smart-ass tomcat who lived in the alleyway, Mr. Pug ripped his pumpkin costume to shreds. It took days to get the threads of orange felt out from between his canines. He swore he’d never dress up again.
As they got up to leave, Mr. Other Pug turned around and took one last long glance at the store’s decorated window.
“Oh, what I wouldn’t do for a handful of candy corn right about now,” said Mr. Other Pug on the short walk home. Mr. Other Pug loved candy corn.
“No,” repeated Mr. Pug.
“But what a pleasure it would be,” added Mr. Other Pug.
“Uhhh – no,” repeated Mr. Pug.
“The creamy white cap, the orangey middle, the pee colored base. It’s a sensual triangle of sugary heaven,” Mr. Other Pug concluded dreamily.
“Look,” declared Mr. Pug, “we’ve subjected ourselves to this foolishness for far too long. No more pumpkin-on-command. Never again.”
They reached home and Mr. Other Pug paused at the back gate.
“But that’s the only way we can get candy corn,” Mr. Other Pug declared in a moment of uncharacteristic clarity. “If we don’t dress up and go begging door-to-door…if we don’t participate in the ritualistic pet parade in the dog run our neighbors will not bestow upon us the riches and tri-color goodness of piles of candy corn.”
“Neighbors like that tomcat?” asked Mr. Pug incredulously. He tucked himself into the doggie door, trotted upstairs and curled up in bed.
“Okay, Okay,” Mr. Other Pug called out as the doggie door swung behind him. He stopped at the foot of the stairs: “We won’t be pumpkins and we won’t get candy corn.”
Mr. Other Pug hung his puggy head, did a couple of circles and plopped down on the floor. Mr. Pug padded to the top of the stairs, gazed down and saw his friend looking very sad.
“Hey, wait,” Mr. Pug called down. “What if we go out on Halloween as pumpkin seeds?”
“For true?” asked Mr. Other Pug.
“For true,” said Mr. Pug. “Go. Get my sewing kit. I’m gonna make the scariest pumpkin seed ever seen and scare that skank Tab Hunter to kingdom come.”
“After we ask her for candy corn?” added Mr. Other Pug.
“After we ask her for candy corn,” confirmed Mr. Pug.
Mr. Pug and Mr. Other Pug were sitting by the fountain, spending a glorious early summer day in the park. Mr. Pug was quite relaxed but something caught Mr. Other Pug’s bulbous eye.
“What are you staring at?” asked Mr. Pug.
“Those damned birds,” replied Mr. Other Pug.
“Where?” asked Mr. Pug.
“Just past the park bench,” replied Mr. Other Pug, pointing to just past the park bench.
“Oh,” said Mr. Pug, looking just past the park bench.
Mr. Pug and Mr. Other Pug sat together and stared.
After a few minutes, Mr. Pug asked, “Why are we staring at birds?”
“They started it,” said Mr. Other Pug. “Somebody tossed some breadcrumbs and those birds are taunting me by hoarding them.”
“Uh, Ok,” said Mr. Pug.
The flock of pigeons were busy scattering the morsels every which way, here and there, and occasionally tossing them over their heads where they fell back into a maddening pile of grey and white and blue wings and tail feathers.
“Occasionally one of them looks over here mockingly,” said Mr. Other Pug, trailing off.
“Uh, Ok,” repeated Mr. Pug.
“I want those breadcrumbs,” said Mr. Other Pug, who was sorta in a puggy trance.
“Breadcrumbs,” said Mr. Pug. “Delicious. From here they look like bits of an Everything bagel.”
“Right?!!?” exclaimed Mr. Other Pug, shaking his head awake. “Dammit all! I must have them.”
“So why are we just staring at them,” asked Mr. Pug. “Why don’t we just go and take them?”
“Can’t you see how many there are,” said Mr. Other Pug, defending his position. “There’s got to be a million birds there.”
“A million,” said Mr. Pug. “I see.”
“They’re mean,” said Mr. Other Pug.
“Uh, Ok,” said Mr. Pug, again.
“They’ll peck our eyes out,” Mr. Other Pug added.
“No they won’t,” said Mr. Pug. “They’re just dirty old pigeons. They move around in circles and eat anything on the ground as they bob their heads with their bulbous eyes. They’re just stupid, ugly eating machines.”
“That sounds like us,” said Mr. Other Pug.
“My point exactly,” said Mr. Pug. “Be a man about this, I mean, be a pug!”
Mr. Other Pug stood up and then bulged his eyes out as far as they would go and circled around following his tail while bobbing his head and pretending to pick up anything on the sidewalk to put in his mouth. He was so excited that he actually ate some sidewalk gum.
“Yes, yes,” encouraged Mr. Pug. “That’s it! Now go infiltrate the masses and bring us back some breadcrumbs.”
“Dammit, I will.,” said Mr. Other Pug. He stealthily crawled through the overgrown grass to where the pigeons were creating their massive cacophony. They didn’t really notice his approach, so involved they were in their feeding frenzy. Once inside the pigeon danger zone, surrounded by the swarm, Mr. Other Pug circled and circled and circled and bobbed and bobbed and bobbed and bulged and bulged and bulged and pecked and pecked and pecked.
He looked up from the middle of the chaos, and with breadcrumbs falling from his lips yelled back to Mr. Pug, “Hey! Come over! It’s easy.”
Receiving the invitation, Mr. Pug bolted over the overgrown grass, catapulted over the park bench and jumped right into the fray. All the pigeons flurried away in a flock of crazed anxiety leaving just Mr. Pug and Mr. Other Pug surrounded by what was left of the crusty pile.
“One lone pigeon gingerly stepped closer to the puggy pair. It’s eyes met Mr. Other Pug’s eyes and the two stared at each other. Overcome with fear, Mr. Other Pug needed to break the tension.
“Excuse me, pigeon, sir,” he asked. “Can you tell me if these are gluten-free?”
Mr. Pug opened his eyes slowly, waking up from a deep deep sleep. He wiped the sleep from his eyes and as his vision adjusted he spotted Mr. Other Pug only inches from his face, staring intently at him. He felt Mr. Other Pug’s hot breath against his whiskers.
“Are you really awake?” asked Mr. Other Pug.
Mr. Pug slapped him away. “Of course, I’m awake,” he said. “Get away from me.”
Mr. Other Pug danced around the room, excited that his friend was finally awake. “You’re finally awake, you’re finally awake,” he sang.
“Why are you acting so crazy?” asked Mr. Pug.
“Because you’re finally awake,” said Mr. Other Pug. “You’ve been in a coma for months. We thought we lost you.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” asked Mr. Pug.
“Don’t you get it?” stated Mr. Other Pug. “We had a big problem, yeah that’s it, and you’ve been sleeping for months and months and months and we thought you’d never wake up.”
“Really?” asked Mr. Pug. “I was in a coma?”
“Why, yes. Yes, yes, yes,” confirmed Mr. Other Pug. “It’s been crazy without you. All of our fans have been asking for new stories, but what could I do? There’s only so many things I can think up on my own.”
“I’m sorry,” said Mr. Pug.
“I mean, I could think up a story about farting,” said Mr. Other Pug.
“Yes,” said Mr. Pug.
“Or I could think up a story about eating,” continued Mr. Other Pug.
“Yes,” said Mr. Pug.
“Or I could think up stories about peeing or pooping or sleeping…” added Mr. Other Pug.
“Okay, okay. I get it,” Mr. Pug said, putting a stop to the verbal spewing that was occurring. “You tried to hold down the fort while I was gone, but you’re limited. I know. I appreciate the effort.”
Mr. Pug got out of bed and was a little shaky on his feet but he managed to walk over to the mirror and take a good look.
“Wow,” said Mr. Pug. “I don’t look so bad for having been in a coma for several months. You’d think I’d lose a few pounds.”.
“I know,” said Mr. Other Pug hesitantly. “You look great.”
“And the last thing I remember is that we had some rain and planted a garden,” said Mr. Pug. He looked out the window and saw that the garden was still fairly fresh and that seedlings were just now starting to take root. Mr. Pug turned around to Mr. Other Pug.
“How long did you say I was out of it?” inquired Mr. Pug.
Mr. Other Pug looked even more nervous.
“Well, I can’t really say exactly,” stammered Mr. Other Pug. “I can’t tell time too well. I’m just a pug, dammit.”
“How long …” demanded Mr. Pug.
“Well… maybe, uh, maybe it was more like a couple of hours and not really months,” admitted Mr. Other Pug as he backed towards the kitchen door.
“Are you telling me I just took a nap?” asked Mr. Pug. “That I wasn’t in a coma?”
“You were deep asleep.” said Mr. Other Pug. “Oh, and you missed dinner…so I ate it for you.”
And with that Mr. Other Pug ran out of the room, bolting thru the kitchen and across the porch and jumping clear off the steps. Mr. Pug ran after him, also thru the kitchen and across the porch and jumping clear off the steps. And the two chased each other round and round the trees in the backyard like nothing had ever happened, barking and giggling and jumping the entire time.
It was good to have the boys back.
“You over packed,” said Mr. Pug.
Acknowledging that Mr. Other Pug was the victim of cabin fever and needed to get out of the house, Mr. Pug surprised him with a mystery, impromptu get-a-way.
“Why do you say that?” asked Mr. Other Pug.
“We’re only going away for the weekend,” said Mr. Pug. “How could you possibly need all this stuff? Sweaters and sneakers and galoshes and scuba gear and umbrellas and tank-tops and baseball gloves and beach towels and rock climbing gear and tanning oil and bathing suits and tennis racquets and golf clubs! Too much!”
“You never know,” said Mr. Other Pug.
“You never know what? ” asked Mr. Pug.
“You just, never know,” replied Mr. Other Pug.
Mr. Pug glared at his friend. “You’re kidding me,” he said.
“Look, if you want me to pack more thoughtfully, you need to tell me where we’re going,” said Mr. Other Pug as he closed the suitcase and then climbed on top of it to force the lid shut. Mr. Pug secured the clasps. It was a routine they had done a hundred times before so they performed it with ease and in complete silence, each knowing their role. They pushed the suitcase to the top of the landing and calmly shoved it down the stairs where it landed with a loud thud against the front door.
“If I tell you, it won’t be a surprise,” said Mr. Pug, who didn’t really like surprises anyway.
“Hence my over packing,” said Mr. Other Pug.
“Okay, okay. I’ll give you five guesses,” said Mr. Pug, who hated games but hated overpacking more.
“Five guesses. Okay,” said Mr. Other Pug, thinking. “Is where we’re going famous for….spaghetti?”
“No, we’re not going to Italy,” said Mr. Pug. “Four guesses left.”
“Is it famous for tacos and burritos and refried beans and Fritos?” asked Mr. Other Pug.
“Nope. Not Mexico, either,” said Mr. Pug.
Mr. Other Pug put his finger to his chin and thought about it a bit harder.
“Is it famous for crispy skin and a juicy combination of white and dark meat?” he asked.
“No, I’m not taking you to Turkey,” replied Mr. Pug.
“Is where we’re going famous for cheddar cheese?” asked Mr. Other Pug.
“No,” said Mr. Pug, getting increasingly annoyed. “It’s not Green Bay, either.”
“Thank God,” said Mr. Other Pug. “How many guesses do I have left?”
Mr. Pug victoriously held up a single finger. Mr. Other Pug was getting nervous. Being under pressure always made him nervous and having only one guess left made him even more so.
“Umm, umm,” stammered Mr. Other Pug. “I don’t know. Just tell me.”
Mr. Pug opened the door to reveal the entire front yard covered in a foot of pure, white snow. Icicles hung from the front porch and there was a snowman covered in sparkly lights guarding a little ski jump. Hot chocolate brewed on the roaring campfire which roared a safe distance from the igloo that Mr. Pug had built in the corner.
Mr. Other Pug hardly knew what to say. “You did all this? For me?” he asked.
Mr. Pug smiled. He hated surprises and he hated games but liked how much Mr. Other Pug loved them.
“A weekend away in a winter wonderland,” said Mr. Pug. “But I still say you over packed.”
“Well,” said Mr. Other Pug, grabbing his snowshoes and mittens and woolen scarf out of the suitcase, “you never know.”