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Toby & Colonel Coyote
American Dog #18: Interlude
© 2023 James LaFond
The mole holes were all visible, the fresh dug ones that is, as they piled up just above the snow. James Chosen had gathered Butt Scratch the Wanderer and Toby to join forces at the yard truck, the one that Benny Bear had wrecked too bad for Burger King and Bacon getting and was used by James to move stuff around the property. He held a long metal snake of a tube out to Butt Scratch and said, “Put one end over the exhaust pipe and the other in that mole hole! This will be a mole holocaust!”
James then got into the truck and gunned the engine, door still open. Of course Toby obliged his savior by scampering over him and into the bacon getting seat and barking, “The Vet, the Vet!”
“Tobbes, Bobo Animal, quiet. I want to hear the death squeals of those nasty moles.”
The engine gunned and then smoke began to pump out of holes other than the one that the hose was fitted in.
“Now, Nige!” yelled James and Butt Scratch pulled out the pipe and plugged the hole with a rock under his booted heel.
James then closed the door and rolled off towards one of the smoking holes and Butt Scratch ran alongside the truck with the hose to one of the three other holes that was smoking. The stray then plunged the metal tube end into that hole and James gunned the engine as he drank a beer and yelled, “Die, fury fiends!”
Now smoke gushed from two holes and the stray jammed a rock with its heal into the mouth of this second hole and James shouted, “Small Arms, advance!” and cut off the engine, dismounted and walked over to one of the smoking holes, unzipped his overalls and started to pee on one of the remaining smoke holes, “No moles on the Chosen Plantation—drown, baby drown!”
Toby then barked at Butt Scratch, “Come on!” and led the way to the last smoking hole and lifted his leg on it, making sure the human got the idea. Sure enough, that old silver back ape ambled over to the last smoking hole, unzipped his dirty jeans and began filling that hole with ape piss.
Toby, proud to be a part of this elite mole-killing team, turned and looked up at Cedar Mountain and barked, “Be warned Coyote fools, I’m Dog Under the Mountain, with wicked humans and their worse machines. I’ve got Izzy and Amos, crazy humans, mole smoking trucks, and...bacon!”
At full bark Toby had been stunned by the opening of the door and the sound of Mamma Bear calling, “Breakfast is on!”
“Alright, enough death and destruction for this morning,” said James as he zipped up his pants. Drink plenty of beer for breakfast, Nige and we’ll be back at it…”
Soon, Toby was in Dog Valhalla, standing between James and Butt Scratch as they ate at the table. Toby’s lower jaw was resting on James’ canvas covered thigh, where the patriarch placed piece after piece of bacon for Toby to dine upon as he ate with his other ape hand from the curious thing called a plate.
At the very same time, The Stray, called LaFond, who did not eat breakfast, but sat drinking coffee and Irish Liquor and beer, scratched Toby’s dry haunches, to which James said, “Toby is sure going to miss you, Nige. I wish you could stay longer, but I understand that duty—or booty—calls.”
“James!” objected Mamma Bear as she sat down with a plate, “LaFond is an angel—don’t you think—going around helping people out...I think LaFond is an angel, seriously!”
“Nige LaFond grinned with a wan sadness as James snorted, “Whatever, Woman, this Nigel is from Baltimore—kind of the wrong direction for an angel to hale from.”
The two men grinned and laughed softly, and to quash their objections to the angelic nomination, Mamma Bear began to sing in her silver voice some song from the big open book that always reposed upon the organ top.
James then began shuffling a deck of cards, which thrilled Toby, for a game of cards typically lasted between these two humans until an entire case of beer was drunk, and a case of beer meant cheese, and peanuts, cashews, almonds, pretzels and hard salami, in decreasingly dexterous ape paws tragically spilling from the table into Toby’s waiting maw!”
Many beers later, as rum was poured into a glass besides the cans of beer, and Toby was having his ears scratched by his savior and his butt scratched by their mutual servant, the master of the Chosen Plantation said, to the stray human with many names, “Mistah Jimmy, you will be missed—especially by Toby!”
Toby was aghast, “Say what? Boss, I just got this cracker trained!”
Annie looked on from the couch and opined, “Dark One, this human is cursed to wander the earth. You cannot keep him. Yet, if you accompany him on his parting quest for a vision, you might attain the ability to summon him.”
Bisquick hissed from the slate stones of the wood stove—which was inexplicably not made of wood but of dark human stuff—“Dog of Darkness, my wicked spawn has graced you with a rare word of good advice. Put away your fear of mules, coyotes and giant wind-wielding devils—a wanderer at times requires a guide.”
A hand of cards was thrown on the table, causing Annie and Bisquick to start, “And a twenty-seven hand for the Captain of the Nigerian Cribbage Team! Bro, it’s on! Mama Bear, break out the Canadian whiskey, this cracker has gone too far!”
And so the night dissolved into a weird candle lit contest of chance and wits conducted by the increasingly drunken apes above as Toby fell off to sleep in his cozy place at their feet.
As Toby dozed, the Great White Hound of the Creator, nudged his muzzle and beckoned him into a dusky forest where men, not wolves, howled. There, between tree trunks grown of ancient ivory bone, the Great White Hound admonished him, “There is an ancient pact between our kind—uphold it, Tobias and a banishment of your many fears you shall find.”
Toby opened his eyes and the men were already done with their war of cards and pegs, James yawning and shuffling towards the bedroom and, without, under falling snow, on the other side of the locked door, The Wanderer stood, sunk-shouldered and alone looking up into the night as if he had lost something there.
Toby drifted off to sleep as the outer light went dark and into his fitful, paw-gnawing dreams loomed a big, mangy coyote wearing a gray suit with red cuffs and collar, “Here Nig-nig-nig!”
Toby whined and covered his ears with his paws as Annie came to him and purred, cuddling up to him, “Sleep well Dark One, we are one with the mighty Night.”
And for once, she was cuddly and nice, drowning out the distant calls of the coyotes with her sinuous purr.

For the conclusion of American Dog, check Time and Cosmos, a collection of 8 short novels:
Toby & Butt Scratch
american dog
masculine axis
the greatest lie ever sold
the lesser angels of our nature
america the brutal
let the world fend for itself
under the god of things
the greatest boxer
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