Pen

The Best of Times Short Story Competition


Autumn 2008 Results




Fido's Feisty Finale

Copyright © Margaret Symonds 2008


“Jan, he's done one in the ensuite! Am I supposed to take a piddle in a puddle with a poodle?” yelled Raymond. “Really, that dog's a health hazard! I've been avoiding puppy puddles and doggy doodles ever since I moved in.”

Lying in comfort on top of the doona, the dog was fully alert and enjoying the moment.

“Fido's not a poodle, Raymond. He's a Jack Russell!”

“He's a flaming...” The expletive was drowned by the flushing of the toilet.

“Hurry up and come back to bed. Ah, that's better. I'll warm you up again, eh? Oooh, it's so good having you here!” purred Jan. “You're so kind. You've been here a whole fortnight and I've hardly had to do a thing, even in the house!”

“I spoil you so you'll be nice to me!”

“You mean like this? Does that feel good?”

“Oh, yeaaah! Mmmmm! Oh, I'd even clean up doggy do for that!”

“Sorry about the doggy do, honey.”

“How'd the estate agents react to it?”

“Borrowed some mats from Mum's. They've never seen the stains!”

“What about the smell?”

“Had the windows wide open!”

“Oh, boy! You were lucky!”

“Dunno when they'll come again. It might be next...”

“Stop talking and do that again. You know, like before... That's the way! Just a bit further down. Oh Christ! Hey! Don't stop! Oh, Jesus, Jan...”

All thoughts of animals illegally secreted in the house were forgotten. The young lovers only had time for each other.

But what of Fido? In order to ensure that he remained the sole object of Jan's attention, he had to keep the house free of men. This was a challenge, as Jan was young, healthy and sexually enthusiastic. She was not very intelligent, however, and Fido was glad that he had skills enough to compensate for her limitations.

Lying on the bed during this particular torrid session of lovemaking, Fido's jealousy grew to a dangerous level. He would have liked Raymond as a friend, if things had been different. As a human, the man was really quite pleasant, and loved dogs, but only in the back yard. Not even for Raymond was Fido going to surrender his dominance of the Bed. It was different for Ceefer and Coco, he mused. The cat and cockatoo lived outside the house and had no knowledge of the Bed. They had never experienced its softness and warmth or the sense of power and supremacy its height imparted to a small dog. It was obviously of major importance in the life of his mistress and therefore must be so, in his own life. If he was to be her significant other person, he must be the master of the Bed. Alas, from the day he and Jan had moved in, the men had also moved in, one succeeding another, in a stream. So he had to ensure that they moved out again, as quickly as possible.

He reflected that a dog had only limited resources with which to fight the Enemy – his teeth, his bark, and his bodily functions. He must use each to its fullest extent, but wisely and judiciously, to best effect. He had despatched Mick after only three days, with an attractive pattern of teeth marks on his right ankle. The bodily function episodes, he found, were the least effective, as they did not actually harm the targets, only annoyed them. However, constant dripping wears away the intruder in the Bed, he laughed. Better than nothing!

“I try to teach him to go outside to do his business,” Jan had remarked to the horrified Raymond the day he arrived. “It's just that he's done it before I realise he needs to go out.”

At this comment, Fido chuckled. It would appear that he could fool some of the people, some of the time!

Jan really liked Raymond. Although he gave his parents' house as his address, he still insisted on helping Jan with her rent; he had a great body and loved to cook. His possessions, contained in a sports bag, took up little space in the corner of the bedroom. The old Commodore he drove was looked after carefully. He read newspapers and did crosswords, was known to watch ABC and SBS and understood how to fill in the Centrelink forms. Jan was convinced that Raymond was a gem, worth hanging on to.

Raymond, on the other hand, while he enjoyed her adoration, was concerned about the unhygienic state of the house and sometimes even had to admit that he was bored with Jan's company. She was generous in bed, but there was more to life than sex, even good sex.

“Thanks for the scrambled eggs, honey. I was hungry!”

“No prob. I like to cook for my women. Gimme the plates and I'll put them on the floor. Wash 'em up later.”

“Now, where were we? Oh, yes, I was just going to show you...”

“My God, Jan! Who taught you to do that!”

Gales of laughter from the bed, followed by more primitive sounds.

Fido scowled, thoughtfully rubbed the right side of his muzzle with his right front paw, and made his move.

A yelp of pain came from Raymond who sprang from the bed and began to pull on his clothes.

“Sorry, Jan. You're a nice girl, but I can't compete with Fido. I'm out of here! That was a bit too close to the... er...! Can't risk being damaged!”

Jan gazed at Raymond through her tears, and followed him down the hall. She watched in dismay as he opened the front door, sports bag in hand; he gently kissed her on the forehead, said: “I'd talk to a vet about that dog if I were you!” and closed the flyscreen door behind him.

Fido smiled gleefully, rubbed his muzzle and went for a drink from his bowl, on which his name had been printed by Raymond in a moment of softness. The one-time French student had written “P-H-I-D-E-A-U”. Jan looked on with resentment and wept afresh; the French name looked so classy, so typical of Raymond, who was now lost to her because of that same 'Phideau'.

Curled up with Jan on the sofa to watch the soapies, Fido hadn't felt so good for weeks! He licked her face to express his delight, then jumped down, ran to the back door, and barked to be let out for a pee! Do the right thing now, by Jan and the estate agents, eh?

Fido had what he wanted; Jan did not. She was shocked at the thought of having to prepare her food and clean her house herself, and go without regular sex. She was not exactly lazy: she simply did her best work when horizontal. In order to satisfy both hungers she frequented the local Sports Club, which provided tasty, inexpensive meals and a variety of patrons with whom a girl could become friendly.

Such a one was David, who welcomed the opportunity to throw his gear into her bedroom and his body into her bed.

Seeing it was David's first afternoon at her house, Jan spent a few hours of quality time in bed with him, helping him settle into his new environment.

“David, you're so strong! Your muscles are awesome!”

“I work out a lot.”

“You're amazing! I've never met anyone like you before!”

“Come over here to me, honey bunny, and I'll amaze you some more! Damn it! I can't turn over! Flaming dog! Why's he on the bed?”

“He wants to be with me.”

“Fine, but I want to be with you, too. He can go out into the yard!” David contemplated kicking the dog off the bed. Out the back door. To the Dog Pound.

Fido, who had a remarkable gift for sensing the thoughts of humans, slowly rubbed his muzzle, deep in thought.

“I'll show him!” laughed Fido to himself. He jumped down, scampered into the kitchen, and at once began loud, relentless barking.

“S**t!” breathed David. What's that for!”

“Food!” sighed Jan. “May as well feed Ceefer and Coco too. Wanna help?” she asked, hopefully.

“Nah! Don't like pets!”

Yawning, and running his hands through his oily, spiked hair, David eventually followed her down the hall. He shuffled into the kitchen in his disreputable ugg boots and dirty track suit. Jan switched on the afternoon soapie; David removed a can of Fosters from the refrigerator, muttered something about wanting to see an AFL replay, and glared down at the dog which was happily eating his tea in the prime position, in front of the heater. David kicked the food dish out of the way so he could stand there himself and enjoy the warmth. Fido snarled in public acknowledgement that he was now engaged in battle with the man, then moved closer and slowly raised one leg. A yellow stream ran unnoticed down the side of one ugg boot.

“Another drink, now?” thought Fido. “I might need to do that again, soon! Doesn't appear to have had much effect the first time!”

David heard the slurping and his eyes fell on the dog's water dish.

“What's this, on the dish? P-H-I-D-E-A-U?”

“It's his name. Raymond's idea.”

“Clever. Fido's water.”

“Oh, David! That's awesome! You know so much! Why didn't you go on, at school? You could have got a really good job!”

“Why work when I can get the dole and live off...I mean with...dames like you!”

“Was that a compliment or an insult?” wondered Jan, going out to the back yard. David stuck his head out the door, had a quick look at the cat and the cockatoo, sneered at them both, and returned to the heater.

“Hungry?”

“Yeah! What we getting?”

“You like cooking?”

“Nah! Toast and take-aways! That's me!”

“I'll ring for pizzas.”

She wondered if David would offer to contribute to the cost of the pizzas, or to the overall household finances, and help with the housework, but maybe it was too soon to ask. She was glad he wasn't one of those health freaks who wanted fresh meat and vegetables once a day. Feeding her pets was tiring enough.

They ate in front of the TV, dropping the boxes onto the floor. After their meal, they relaxed into an embrace, whereupon Fido, from the Bed, commenced an imitation of the Hound of the Baskervilles. Reluctantly Jan disengaged herself and found Fido standing on the bed, smiling slyly, and pawing at the doona to indicate that he wanted to be covered up.

Eventually the lovers retired to bed. Fido, aware of David's malevolent intentions, took a deep breath, rubbed his muzzle and grinned maliciously. He quietly jumped to the floor on David's side, lingered there for a minute, then hid underneath the bed.

A few moments later, David swung his legs over the side to visit the toilet; one foot located a thong; the bare foot touched the vinyl floor covering.

“Bloody hell!”

“What's the matter?”

“Remember that TV ad for training guide dog puppies? The bloke puts his foot out of bed and onto the floor and says, 'Oh, Louie!'?”

“Yeah? Well?”

“Must've filmed it here!”

On his way back, David's attention was again captured by Fido's bizarre behaviour.

“Good Lord! What's he doing that for? On the mat! Must be hurting him, surely!”

“Something the vet calls an 'infected optus'.”

Jan was attracted to language for its own sake, and to men who could use it. She herself like the sound of big or unusual words, and the feel of them in her mouth, but rarely used them correctly.

“It's an 'impacted anus'. My sister's dog had the same thing. It means a blocked... Oh, never mind. What he's doing is awful! This house is crazy! An untrained dog, a cat that's afraid of its own shadow, and a parrot that has to wear a tea cosy!”

“Coco doesn't wear a tea cosy! It's an old coat Fido grew out of.”

The sound of little claws could be heard going up the uncarpeted hallway towards the kitchen, so David, never one to let a chance go by, jumped back into bed and grabbed for Jan, but, just as his amorous endeavours were nearing satisfaction, they heard the pitter patter of paws returning; then barking started on Jan's side of the bed.

Fido's timing was perfect.

Now what the bloody hell's that for!” David's teeth were clenched in anger and frustration.

“I have to get out of bed and stand away from it so that he can get back up without having to jump over my body. That would be too high for him to jump.”

With an unprintable oath, David leaped out of the bed, and began pulling on his clothes.

“Don't go, David! Not so soon! You can't leave the house yet! You've only been here one day! You've only just co...!"

“That's the whole trouble! I haven't! Your bloody dog won't let me!”

Confused and dismayed, not sure what he meant, Jan burst into tears; David picked up his bag and strode out, slamming the front door.

In the darkness of the bedroom, Fido smiled in triumph. This one hadn't even lasted twenty four hours!

David's successor, Bob, was short, overweight and pimply. Obsessed with cleanliness, his first act was to ask for the bathroom.

Fido made his battle plans! A naked, bathing man might never even reach the Bed!

Before going to bed that afternoon, Bob had a shower. Fido watched from the Bed. He permitted the newcomer to remove his clothes and glasses, run the hot water, and soap himself all over. He then jumped off the bed and trotted into the shower cubicle, his steps masked by the sound of the running water. Fido loathed water but a sacrifice was called for. The man had to be despatched.

He stood between Bob and the cubicle wall, surveyed the scene of battle, then gave one of his finest bloodcurdlers. Somehow Bob, still soap covered, managed to leave the shower without slipping, wipe his eyes and retrieve his glasses.

Following closely, Fido alternately snapped at the ankles and growled, propelling Bob forward, out of the ensuite and bedroom, down the hall, dripping all the way, to the front door. Here, the dog changed to furious snarls, refusing to allow the man to move in any other direction but out. So out he went.

Jan stood motionless, aghast.

Fido gleefully chased the puffing, panting youth down the length of the street, soap drying on his pale pink skin, his manhood on full display, the dog in vocal pursuit but maintaining his rear guard action on purpose. It was more fun!

People stared and laughed! One called: “Don't worry, mate! Dog catcher's on his way!”

Fido heard, but cared not. This was his finest hour!