Page 47

“But this is crazier than-” “Not much time,” she said warningly, opening the bag with her one good hand.

“All right, all right,” he said exasperatedly.

“Can't wait to hear it,” she said, scooping bundles of currency into the first open bag as he opened a second. “It should be highly entertaining.”

Good day, good day, good. Sun shining, breeze blowing through his fur, interesting bugs busy in the grass, interesting smells on people's shoes from faraway interesting places, and no cats.

Everyone there, all together. Ever since this morning early, Janet doing delicioussmelling things in the food room of the people place, the people and place, their place. Sammy in his garden, cutting tomatoes off vines, pulling carrots out of the ground interesting, must've buried them in the ground like bonesand then bringing them into the food room for Janet to do delicious things. Then Sammy washing off the stones that people put down over part of the grass behind their place. Washing stones with the hose, yes yes yes yes yes, the hose, splattering water, cool and tasty, everyone laughing, dodging, yes yes yes yes. And Danny there, helping to put the cloth on the table that stands on the stones, arrange the chairs, plates and things. Janet, Danny, Sammy. He knows their names now because they have been together long enough for him to know them, Janet and Danny and Sammy, all together at the JanetandDannyandSammyandWoofer place.

He remembers being Prince, sort of, and Max because of the cat who peed in his water, and he remembers Fella from everyone for so long, but now he answers only to Woofer.

The others come, too, driving up in their car, and he knows their names almost as well because they're around so much, visiting so much.

Harry, Connie, and Ellie, Ellie who is Danny's size, all of them coming over to visit from the HarryandConnieandEllieandToto place.

Toto. Good dog, good dog, good. Friend.

He takes Toto straight to the garden, where they aren't allowed to digbad dogs if they dig, bad dogs, hadto show him where the carrots were buried like bones. Sniff sniff sniff sniff More of them buried here. Interesting. But don't dig.

Playing with Toto and Danny and Ellie, running and chasing and jumping and rolling in the grass, rolling.

Good day. The best. The best.

Then food. Food! Bringing it out of the people food room and piling it up on the table that stands on the stones in the shade of the trees.

Sniff sniff sniff sniff ham, chicken, potato salad, mustard, cheese, cheese is good, sticks to the teeth but is good, and more, much more food, up there on the table.

Don't jump up. Be good. Be a good dog. Good dogs get more scraps, usually not just scraps, whole big pieces of things, yes yes yes yes yes.

Cricket jumps. Cricket! Chase, chase, get it, get it, get it, got to have it, Toto too, leaping, jumping, this way, that way, this way cricket. ...

Oh, wait, yes, the food. Back to the table. Sit. Chest puffed out.

Head cocked. Tail wagging. They love that. Lick your chops, give them the hint.

Here it comes. What what what what? Ham. A piece of ham to start.

Good, good, good, gone. A delicious start, a very good start.

Such a good day, a day like he always knew would come, one of lots of good days, one after another, for a long time now, because it happened, it really happened, he went around that one more corner, looked in that one more strange new place, and he found the wonderful thing, the wonderful thing that he always knew was out there waiting for him. The wonderful thing, the wonderful thing, which is this place and this time and these people. And here comes a slice of chicken, thick and juicy!

All of the outrages to which Connie and Harry refer as items in her collection of atrocities from the “premillennium cotillion” are true crimes that really happened. No one as powerful as Ticktock walks the real world, of course, but his capacity for evil is not unique to fiction.

the end.