Supervising kidnapped fourlegs at Freddy’s Kennels is rewarding work, so sez ThreeLegs, the fearsome bully-boy terrier who runs the place with a firm bite. However, his world is quickly turned upside down with the sudden arrival of fleet-footed Βία, a gorgeous ex-racing greyhound. Soon finding himself caste out, broken-hearted, and on the wrong side of every fourlegs in Swallow, ThreeLegs is set to learn the tough-love truth of who his real friends are, the hard way. Unreasonably, it’s all thanks to his arch enemy, that tough-snouted Thames Valley K9 trooper, Duncan.
The day is already sniffing purple as the old hot ball in the sky tumbles towards the ground. For two squirts Βία has been waiting, in the here and nows for her hindlegs handler to come get her, curry comb her furs to a glossy steel, feed her high energy nosh, and lead her off to the track. To race. To win.
But no hindlegs comes.
She waits more, until darkness sniffs of all the sticky things that live and grow outside the barn during the black time, the time fourlegs enjoy the most. The time of following blood lusts, hunting and devouring. Overhead barn lights snap on, starkly revealing all the fourlegs sitting around in their cages, turning in restless circles or staring at the barn door into the night, into memories of a life they once had beforenows. Fourlegs enjoy a simple sense of time. Everything happens in the here and nows. Not past, present nor future. Simply beforenows, here and nows, and futurenows.
And nows the time to stop waiting and start acting she decides but how?
In unspoken answer to her thoughts, ThreeLegs marches through the barn door, snout held high, peering in all the cages.
Evening my little sitting ducks he bawls are we all sitting in a row, caged and captive, like?
Here we go again mutters Scroggy
What now? Βία stirs
One! announces ThreeLegs, inspecting Βία carefully, up and down and all overs before hobbling on.
Two! as he continues along the row of cages, carefully counting off three…four… until he reaches number five. He stops, checking the five toes of his only front paw, glances back at the cages to reconfirm the tally and hobbles on. By the time he’s done counting all three paws upon reaching the fifteenth toe, he stops again, scratching contemplatively at a tick somewhere underneath.
Right then. One! he starts all over, counting off his front paw. Etcetera.
Hobbling to the end of the barn, counting off as he continues back the other side, stopping again at fifteen toes and resetting. Slowly, surely, he arrives at the starting point. A grand total of one paw and a half.
Eight! ThreeLegs concludes all eight of yous lots accounted for
What a muttwit Βία scoffs.
ThreeLegs bangs his head against her bars that’s not nice
You’re not nice she snarls, hackles up and baring her fangs.
Before ThreeLegs can defend his important ledgerings an unmistakable sniff of darkness pervades the barn, a sniff of colour far darker than the night outside.
Just doin’ the ledgerings yer honours offers ThreeLegs before receiving a lusty kick to the head for his troubles. ThreeLegs’ three legs back him away just in time.
Freddylegs, the dark sniffing hindlegs, peers around the barn before resting his eyeballs on Scroggy.
“termorra,yergone!” he sez to Scroggy.
Freddylegs then turns his eyeballs towards Βία “notyous,gotbigplansforyous” and then eyeballs ThreeLegs, quivering in the doorway “stayaway,Checkers,oryoragona,too!”
Freddy storms out the barn, shaking a warning paw at ThreeLegs, stomping back to his hindlegs den.
That’s one nasty-assed hindlegs mutters Βία.
Freddylegs is not so bad quips Scroggy, wagging his short tail and specially cos he sez I’m ‘gone’
That’s right, mate shouts out a fourlegs called Thunder in the opposite cage gone to the Chinese take-away
Sweet’n’sour Scroggy! another howls
Dim some er that Scroggy! another.
And then the whole barn is at it.
Scroggy Chow Mein
Aromatic crispy Scroggy, pancakes’n’salad
Chop Suey Scroggy
Number sixty four, Scroggy’s fried balls-
Enough of it yous lots!! barks out ThreeLegs, terrified all the bruhaha is gonna bring back Freddylegs.
Shut it, half portion jeers a rough-assed bruiser that’s why yous ain’t gone there, yet
That’s right, yer three quarters cu –
Freddylegs stomps back. He bangs on the cages with his heavy stick.
Freddylegs hairless fur reeks of malevolence, black sniff making all the fourlegs cringe at the backs of their cages. ThreeLegs desperately trying to be invisible. It don’t work.
“rightthen,that’sit” Freddylegs grabs ThreeLegs by the scruff and drags him out of the barn, his three little legs scrabbling for purchase on the concrete floor. The barndoor slams shut.
I reckons that ThreeLegs is going to the Chinese after all Thunder notes, nodding his head.
Ifn’t a well loaded bowl of police brekkers don’t beat it all – urghhhhhh Ahhhhh – erh, right lads? Jax retches, talking eating at the same time.
Keeping the peace’s hungry work agrees Duncan, nosing his bowl away from the wall so he can get behind it and tongue up the last of the scraps.
Police feeds me – I works police states Shadow.
Brekkers of champions, boys Jax looks up at them, a string of lamb kibbles running down his chops.
Duncan and Shadow respond in dour munching silence, the results of the obstacle course still rankling both the older and more experienced K9s.
A winning start to the day Jax dollops on some extra irritancy.
A short while of bowl scraping and water slurping later, a familiar voice calls over the walls of the Thames Valley K9 compounds.
Friends and countrymen?
Shadow lets off an ear-flapping fart in response.
Lawmen of Swallow? the voice continues a denizen of this fair city requires assistance, urgent, like
Piss off replies Duncan.
That’s not nice replies the voice and, frankly barking, unacceptable behaviour towards one of yours very own
We’re police workers, not charity workers growls Shadow.
Same difference, kind sirs
Whaddya want ThreeLegs? Duncan shakes his ear flaps aggressively, stomping away from his bowl and lifting his snout to the skylight window that overlooks the road outside.
A moment of understanding only, compassion not necessarily requested
Nor offered replies Shadow now leave us alone to get on with important police business
Police brekkers business adds Jax.
Dismissive silence ends any further conversation.
HELP! ThreeLegs yelps help for a poor fourlegger, erh, threelegger in distress. ThreeLegs reaches up with his one front paw, scraping at the wall. A soupçon of assistance, that’s all I wants me bowl mates!
By now both Shadow and Jax are sitting by the doors to their cages awaiting the start of their morning tasks, ThreeLegs already forgotten.
Duncan exhales, his conscience unable to dismiss him so readily you are the last muttwit that deserves anything the right side of the grass, but… since you’re here, what’s up?
And ThreeLegs spills the beans.
Woe. It’s all very woey, matey. Cast out like I’m some homeless four…excommunicated from me flock…torn asunder from me tender bosom companion, Freddylegs
Sorry to hear it grunts Duncan, not particularly sorry at all.
Yessir. Sorrowful. Pitiful. And all cos of that feral bitch, that reeking vixen…that…that…my beautiful Bee-Yah!
Who? Duncan asks.
Who’d ’ya think? The moneylegs, of course. Bee-Yah the greyhound, of course. Appropriated-like by Freddylegs for cash, yes hard currency, and now I’m cast assunda cos of it! Set adrifts on me ownsome
Why? Duncan asks a bit more.
Dog-dammit, Duncan me bestie, I’m out of it. Out of it, on the street. Kicked from Freddylegs’ farm with nowheres to go but me own three legs for company
How? Duncan asks, tired of asking.
By that useless pizzle, Freddylegs hisself!!!
Duncan flaps his ear flaps, unsure if he’s actually hearing right. He looks to the other for an opinion on the matter. Being sent onwards from your very home by that black-sniffing scoundrel is not to be taken lightly. ThreeLegs or not, to help a four in distress is what a K9 is fed and watered for. Shadow, the all black GSD, eyeballs Duncan dispassionately. Jax, the black and tan GSD, eyeballs that suddenly very interesting top corner of his cage.
A very dirty business sez Duncan, lamely, to everyone.
ThreeLegs answers with some prolonged and pitiful spluttery coughing.
Alright then, Checkers Duncan makes a decision I’ll be out shortly on community walkabout, handling PC Andersen packleader-
And? ThreeLegs jumps in, fully loaded in expectation.
And…and I’ll bring yer some brekkers, mate
Lamb kibbles adds Jax, encouragingly brekkers of champions!
Duncan sighs again, knowing this little bout of unnecessary compassion is all gonna be far more ag than it’s worth.
Yor trouble is Shadow contemptuously points out you’re all heart and no bollocks
(ThreeLegs part.4 follows next week…)
Copyrighted work by Julian Boyce