(Have you ever known anyone who thought his or her dog could talk?)
My phone rang and awakened me from a really good dream. Unfortunately, it dissolved with the mists and was gone (the dream, not the phone). It was forever lost in the ether, like the really good ideas you get when you are going to sleep. You promise yourself you'll remember them in the morning, but you never do. Like that.
It was my brother John, my one and only brother, my boon companion, my fishing buddy, my lifelong friend.
"What the heck are you doing calling me at this hour?" I angrily demanded. "And on a Saturday to boot!"
"I have something amazing to show you," he said.
"It can't wait until the sun is up? It's not like it's fishing season, John. Unless it's fishing season there's no reason on earth to get up this early on a Saturday morning."
"Just get over here as quick as you can. This is an emergency," he said and hung up before I could get more information.
Twenty minutes later, I walked into his kitchen and was greeted by Georgia, his longsuffering wife. She stood in the kitchen in her bathrobe, with a look of long suffering on her face. She handed me a steaming cup of coffee and retreated toward the living room. "Just remember," she said over her shoulder, "I had nothing to do with this."
John was seated at the table, his dog Charlie sitting in a chair beside him. I guess at this point I should give a little more information about John. He loved dogs and they loved him. He seemed to be able to communicate with canines just using telepathy. He could get dogs to do incredible things and seemed to be on their wavelength. His dogs always seemed to be smarter than other dogs. Charlie was a good example. Charlie was a Husky, German Shepherd mix whom John had rescued from the shelter.
Charlie sat at the table and looked over my brother's shoulder while he read the paper. In fact, whenever we sat at the kitchen table, Charlie sat in a chair just like a human, with an intelligent look on his face, and seemed to follow the conversation. He always looked at the speaker and seemed engrossed in the conversation, hanging on every word. I suspected that he wasn't as smart as he appeared, but John said he was smarter than he looked and questioned my intelligence.
The first sip of coffee hit my brain and the steam seemed to revive me a little, too.
"Okay, what's wrong?" I asked.
"Nothing is wrong," John said.
"You said it was an emergency," I said.
"It is, in a way. I need a witness," he said.
"Who is suing you?"
"No one is suing me, Bill. Why do you assume that someone is suing me?" he asked, testily.
"You just said you need a witness," I said. "You said it was an emergency. Why else would you need a witness?"
He looked at Charlie and Charlie looked back at him in that knowing way. Charlie raised his eyebrows, well what passes for eyebrows on a dog. Charlie smiled. Did I mention Charlie could smile? He did.
"You know," I said. "It's bad enough that you dragged me out of bed at this hour by telling me there was an emergency, when there obviously isn't, but if you and that dog are going to sit there having your private little joke at my expense, I'm leaving."
"He's always been like this in the morning," John said to Charlie. They exchanged more knowing looks.
"You should feel honored that you're the first person we chose to share this with," John said to me.
"What is it you want to share?" I asked.
John's face lit up like the kid who just found the pony under the Christmas tree. "Are you ready for this!" he said and paused for dramatic effect.
"Charlie can talk!" He waited, watching my face for a reaction.
"I told you," Georgia called from the living room.
"Charlie can talk?" I asked incredulously.
"Yup." John grinned at Charlie and then me. Charlie grinned back.
I immediately thought of the classic cartoon about the guy who finds the frog that can sing and dance, only it won't sing and dance when anyone is around. It's one of my favorite cartoons.
"But he only does it when no one is around?" I asked suspiciously.
"No. He'll talk in front of almost anyone," John said.
I drained my coffee cup and studied Charlie. He was a nice looking dog and a friendly dog. I liked Charlie most of the time, except when he got that smug look on his face once in a while. In our family, dogs are considered family members, but this was stretching it. Charlie didn't have a coffee cup to drain. He just sat and studied me.
"Well, why didn't you have Charlie call me with the good news this morning?" I asked and didn't try to hide my sarcasm.
"He hasn't learned how to use the phone yet," John said.
"Okay, John, and Charlie," I said, "Let's hear it, speak boy."
First Charlie looked at me and then he looked at John.
John said, "He's a little shy and needs a little help to get going sometimes. It's better if I ask him questions."
"Okay, sure, why not?" I said. I got up and refilled my coffee cup. That gave me an idea. Uncle Stan sometimes came by in the morning and he and John had Irish coffee together. Sometimes they had lots of Irish coffee together. I didn't see a whiskey bottle in sight, but you never know.
"Has Uncle Stan been here?" I asked. "Have you guys been hitting the Irish coffee again?"
"Don't be ridiculous. Have a seat and watch this," John said.
When I was resettled in my seat, John said, "Okay Charlie, how old are you?"
Charlie said, "Er-roo-roo." Then he smiled and panted.
"See," John said and beamed at Charlie like a parent who just watched his seven year old play the Nutcracker Suite on the piano.
"What did he say?" I asked.
"He said five and a half, Bill," John said, disappointment creeping into his voice.
"Sorry, I missed it. It sounded like he said er-roo-roo, to me," I said.
John sighed. "Okay, Charlie, tell Bill who is president of the United States."
Charlie said, "Er-roo-roo." Then he looked at me and I swear he winked.
"See?" John said.
"Still sounds like er-roo-roo to me," I said.
"Gee, Bill, will you listen for heaven's sake!" John said. "I'm sorry," he said to Charlie and rolled his eyes. "Okay boy, what's five plus five?"
"He never was too good at math," John explained to me. "No," he said to Charlie, "It's ten, but that was close."
"John," I said. "Everything he says sounds like er-roo-roo."
"Well, Bill, he's part German Shepherd. What do you expect?"
"Eh?" I asked, failing to comprehend.
"He has a little accent," John explained.
"German," John said. "He has a little German accent."
"John, why would a dog born and raised in the United States have a German accent?" I asked.
"Maybe he picked it up from his parents," John said and shrugged.
"Well greyhounds usually say roo roo," I said. "He sounds more like a greyhound to me."
Once again, John grinned proudly. He said, "Well, I never thought of that. You know what? I think you're right, he's bi-lingual, too!"
"You really believe your dog can talk, don't you, John?" I asked.
"What do you mean, I believe it? Of course I believe it, you heard it yourself," he said.
"I heard your dog making dog sounds," I said.
"You should hear him do imitations," John said. "Show him, Charlie."
Charlie said, "Er-roo-roo-roo-er."
"Well that was certainly different," I said sarcastically. "Who was that, John Wayne?"
"Very funny," John said and chuckled. "It was the poodle next door. You can't understand him because you don't want to believe a dog can talk and might be as smart as you," he said in exasperation.
Charlie said, "Er-roo-roo."
"You're right, I'm sorry, Charlie," John said.
"What did he say?" I asked suspiciously.
"Never mind, Bill," John said.
"Did he just say he was smarter than me?" I demanded. "I didn't like the tone of his voice."
"It doesn't matter. I'm sure he didn't mean it, Bill, he's just getting frustrated, that's all. But this proves one thing doesn't it?" John said.
"What's that?" I asked.
"You understood him that time, didn't you?"
"Call me when fishing season starts," I said and headed for the door.
Charlie said, "Er-roo-roo."
"Same to you, Charlie," I said and left.
About the Author
You can read about the adventures of Lacey Blue Days, the greyhound and all Bill Hart's stories at http://lacey-blue.blogspot.com/