General Fiction posted September 16, 2021

This work has reached the exceptional level
Mugs; Something different

Mugs; Something Different

by Mabaker12

Once we knew the dog was in the best possible place, Frank and I sat in his truck, talking.

"Do you want to stay here or come out to my place? I've got meat and milk in the Esky with ice, but I would like to get going soon."

"I'll come with you, if you won't mind?"

"No trouble to me, Mugs. I actually would like to talk to you if you have no objection?"

"If you cook me some vegies, mostly broccoli, we can talk all you like."

We headed off and after nearly half an hour, Frank pulled into the driveway of a lovely white painted house. Windows glinted in the sunshine. And the perfume of golden yellow roses wafted heavily in the air. Frank opened the front door, and I stepped into a hallway lined with photographs. Dozens of framed shots of everything. People, animals, places, babies. There were dozens of cooing, smiling tots. Turning to Frank, I queried the artwork. "Mine he replied, standing beside me." In my idle moments."

I complemented him as they were truly inspiring. After that we made it to the kitchen and he put vegies in a pot and turned the flame up high, then a cup of coffee for himself and a bowl of water for me. And the twenty questions began.

"Do you know how unique you are, Mugs." That was one of the first observations, but not the last. And that's how we spent the afternoon. I got to know the place by doing what cats do best, poking my nose into everything and asking questions. And Frank did much the same, not poking his nose in, just asked questions. "How come you only eat vegetables?" and "I realise you are different, but so big. What was the meaning behind that, do you know?"

As I can't die, nor can I lie, and I answered truthfully. Later, after another cup of coffee, he rang the vet and asked after the dog; Told he was doing much better than a few hours passed. The senior vet then asked Frank where he had found the animal and Frank bluffed his way through, sufficiently that the vet simmered down and explained if he found the person responsible, he would report them for animal cruelty.

And so it appeared the dog, and I had found a new friend in Frank, and the dog when he was better a home as well.

"You know something, Mugs, Frank commented, sitting in an old whicker chair generously padded with cushions. "Stop calling the poor thing, dog. It sounds awful. He deserves a name."

"Yes, he does Frank. I sat washing a paw that I was sure I'd already washed until Frank interrupted my concentration. 'Have you any suggestions?'

'Well, he's a dog of an unknown breed and his manner completely cowed. Here he paused and stared away into the distance. "Come on, Mugs, he's your friend. Think of something that would suit him."

"Okay, he's not a puppy, so he can't have a baby's name. I sat thinking about names. 'What colour is he under all the grime? I thought on some more, but my brain had gone into lockdown, and nothing surfaced. Finally, I decided. "Lets visit him. That way we can see how he's doing and we might get some inspiration for a name."

Proving how good-natured he is, Frank drove us back to town, and we walked into the vet clinic. And shown into a room that had curtains drawn to keep things semi-dark, allowing the patient a quiet place to heal.

With tubes going into every available vein, carrying many medical concoctions into his poor skinny body. I also noted they had bathed him, and that really freaked me out. It also gave him his name. Beauty. Yeah, I know it was the feminine version. But I'm pretty sure, when he wakes up, he'll be so grateful his belly is full he'll not care what we call him. Of course, I had to wait until we were back on the road before I raised the question of names.

"Beauty. How does that sound, Frank?" I glanced over and saw his lips curved in a soft smile.

"Possibly Mugs, you don't find your gifts all that extraordinary. You being in touch with The Man and all, however. From a lowly human's view, you are quite wonderful. Here he stroked my head saying, 'yes Beauty suits him perfectly. Did you notice his coat?' And he doesn't appear brutalised, just starved. And, that is horrific, however food will fix that. If, on the other hand, they had kicked him around, he'd find it impossible to adjust."

With most problems solved, we got on with everyday living. But one morning everything changed, and it was my poking my nose into things that did just that.

Frank had what he called an office, where he took phone calls and other human tasks. I was in there once before, and not found anything interesting, so I not bothered with examining it closer. However, this afternoon, a storm was brewing, and the wind had picked up considerably when I noticed the curtains in the room whipping violently. Walking in, I used my paws to push the window down, and sat on the spare chair watching the savagery that was building when I noted idly the bottom drawer of his desk open. Walking across to close it, I looked closer. A binder of yellow cardboard sat there and on the cover in black cursive A Boy and His Dog. And inside a thick sheaf of writing. I sat and carefully and read the first page.

I was still reading when Frank walked in. Spotting me, he gave a grin, not the slightest bit putout.

"Ah, you found my winter assignment." And he hunkered down beside me and pulled the folder out so we could read together.

"Frank, have you sent any of this away? I asked. Myself, I think it needs someone to read it."

"Ah, it's only me rambling, Mugs. He gave me a sheepish grin." I started it when I was in the Army. He turned another page. Saying, "Yeah, there are parts not all that bad. You are the only person apart from yours truly who has ever seen it, let alone read it."

"Then, I, with your permission, shall read it." I replied. Thinking no more about it, I continued, and truly it was a light story about a human boy and his dog. A human drama, boy and puppy, then boy and dog, until the part where the dog dies. And it went strange. The lad had real hard plowing through the loss of his pet. By this time, he was around his mid-teens and, because of his grief, started hanging with a dangerous crowd and began stealing. Small stuff in the being, but it's obvious where this is going.

I read a few more pages, but the story had gone off on a side road because suddenlyit wasn't making sense. I went in search of Frank and found him weeding a bed of strawberries. Sitting beside him, I asked casually, "I'm up to where the dog dies. What exactly happened there. What distracted you, Frank?"

Sitting back on his heels, he stared off into the distance. "Yeah, that was when I got a dose of writer's block. And no matter how hard I tried, nothing would shift it. I wrote total drivel." Picking up his trowel, he attacked some more dandelions.

"Frank, I breathed. "It was a light story basically for teens and upwards, correct?"

Shaking the soil from a robust weed, he looked at me, a puzzled frown creasing his face.

"Yeah, where are you going with this Mugs."

"Why don't we finish it?"

"Because you saw yourself. I got bogged down, and I couldn't push through, so what's changed?"

"Me. Give me some pointers and let me have a go."

Standing up, he dusted dirt from his trousers. He murmured. "I've got to have a cuppa and a think. "

Once inside with his coffee, Frank picked up a fistful of pages and, sitting at the kitchen table, lay them down, saying. "Do you honestly reckon we could turn this mess into a saleable item?"

"Yes. I Do." I replied truthfully. "Run the rest of your idea past me, so I don't make it seem like another story entirely, show me how to turn the machine on and where to speak into, and each evening we will read it back, make any alterations you think necessary. What do you reckon, Frank, willing to give it a go?"

"You know something Mugs, you are the strangest cat or person I have ever met. Tell me, if you will, why He created you?"

"Hmm, the reason He explained I was an experiment to be a companion to a human and take care of that person until they die. Then I set out on my walk/search until I am directed to my new friend. Then the cycle repeats and I stay with my new person. Do you understand?"

"Have there been many Mugs? Can you give an estimate? One, two something along those lines?"

"Frank, if I tell you I played tag with one Pharaoh, will that give you some sign of what you are asking?"

I caught his expression, and I lost it completely and doubled over, laughing until I got a stitch.

To Be Cont.

The nameless dog is with the Vet and Mugs goes with Frank. Frank asks questions and Mug finds a manuscript and asks can he finish it.
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