Percy the Pig walks into a home improvement store. A novice salesman named Pat DeWack approaches and Percy says he needs to repair his house and needs to buy supplies. Then he pulls out a picture and explains that a grumpy neighbor, Mr. Wolf, huffed and puffed and did a lot of damage. The salesman takes him over to the lumber section. The salesman’s manager comes over to make sure that Percy gets the right advice. He takes one look at the picture and says, “What a stick stack, Pat DeWack, give the hog some stone.”
A spaniel named Daniel trots into a store that sells electronic equipment. He walks around and after a few minutes finds the quadcopter he wants to buy. A sales rep comes over, introduces himself as Paddy, and carries the boxed unit to the sales desk to ring up the sale. Daniel takes out his wallet and finds he’s $10.00 short. He removes a small gold bone-shaped tag and lays it on the table, and looks up at Paddy with hopeful eyes. Paddy says, “I’m not sure. I have to ask my manager, Mrs. Slocum. Then he calls over to a white-haired woman who is setting up a display of cell phones. “Are you free, Mrs. Slocum?” The woman looks up and says, “I’m free Mr. Whack.” Mrs. Slocum walks over and Paddy explains the situation. Mrs. Slocum picks up the tag, examines it and asks Daniel if the tag was made of gold. Daniel nods. Mrs. Slocum smiles with approval, then says “It’s a knick-knack, Paddy Whack, give the dog the drone.”
(GOT MILK? © 2017 Alyce Rita Campbell All Rights Reserved; GOT MILK? is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual incidents or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.)
It was sunrise and Kat tried to ignore the harsh sounds that had awakened her. The rooster that lived in the backyard of the house across the street was beginning its day. Desperately, she yanked her pillow over her head but still she could hear the alarm clock of a bird.
Kat had more than once declared to Ms. Thorne, the owner of both house and rooster, that the rooster belonged on a farm and would have to go. Each time, Ms. Thorne had thanked her for her visit but each time had said that the rooster was a family pet and was staying. Kat thought that the very idea of a rooster as a pet was absurd. After their last unsatisfactory encounter, Kat had called Animal Control to see which ordinances were being violated and had been extremely irked to learn that the rooster was legal.
Kat sat up and tossed the pillow aside. Ruminating on Ms. Thorne and her rooster was a waste of a shimmering Saturday morning. And this was a special Saturday—the day of the community dog show. Kat’s pure-bred beagle, Duke, was a beautiful tricolor and as smart as a whip. Ms. Thorpe’s rescue dog, if you could call such a white woolly scruff a dog, was named Patch. For the three years before Ms. Thorne had moved into the cul-de-sac, Duke had won the dog show. But last year, Duke and Patch had tied for first place.
The competition had two events: a mandatory agility test which a dog had to complete successfully and a “free-style” in which the handler and the dog had one minute to demonstrate a unique trick. Final score was the sum of the scores from both events. Kat was certain that this year, Duke’s trick would convince the judges that Duke was the superior dog.
Kat smiled to herself, remembering the day she had stealthily followed Ms. Thorne and Patch to the park. Using her binoculars to watch them practice had given her just the inside information she needed to devise a trick that would surely one-up Ms. Thorne. Maybe the woman would learn some humility.
By noon, Kat and Duke were waiting their turn in the competitors’ tent which had been erected on the community’s soccer field. Because Duke and Patch had jointly won last year’s show they would be competing last. Duke was his normal relaxed self but Kat was anxious throughout the long wait.
Finally, Duke and Patch were up. Duke rocketed through the obstacle course with ease and no faults, as did Patch. Their scores were even.
Then Duke and Kat moved to the designated spot in front of the judges’ table. Kat put down a bowl and a bottle of milk. She commanded Duke to fill the bowl from the bottle without spilling a drop. And Duke did.
Patch and Ms. Thorne came next. Kat’s jaw dropped when Ms. Thorne also put down a bowl and a bottle of milk. Ms. Thorne then ordered Patch to fill the bowl exactly two-thirds full. Patch complied without spilling a drop. Then Patch calmly trotted over to Duke’s bowl and carefully lapped up exactly one-third of the milk. Mission accomplished, Patch sat down between both bowls, facing the judges’ table, grinning a wide, satisfied, doggy grin.
(Flash fiction from SkyFireFox author Alyce Campbell. Copyright © 2017 by Alyce Rita Campbell All Rights Reserved. Candor Tasmanian Devil is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual incidents or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.)
I can’t say I didn’t have doubts, after letting my betrothed, Lou, strong-arm me into buying the empty warehouse balanced on the edge of Candor Canyon. And I mean that literally—he won the arm-wrestling match that decided what we would do with our severance pay from The Service. At least I won the coin toss and got to name the place. I chose to honor Nero, my first, my only, and now my sadly long-dead, foster pet.
Lou guffawed. “Emma, calling our speakeasy The Tasmanian Devil is just inviting trouble, but I admit it suits you. Those little critters are tetchy and can fly into a maniacal rage when facing a predator or fighting with a mate!” He laughed again, giving me a hug.
I almost spat out a snarky retort but bit my tongue so as not to prove his point. Instead I very gently replied, “Lou, that’s ‘when fighting FOR a mate’, and I have never been maniacal. Besides, it’s catchy.”
So after a few months of exhausting grunt-work, we launched, and two buddies still in The Service, Milo and Elway, drove up at noon and started guzzling my homemade whiskey. I set out dried blueberries mixed with some candied mint as a snack. At three, they enthusiastically clapped when Eva, our belly dancer, started swaying to Lou’s jazzy sax. For an hour, they sat blissfully ogling her strategically placed flower-petal tattoos, visible under her sheer veils.
But then I served the fish and chips (fish from the farm in our pond out back, potatoes and lemons from the greenhouse). Milo took one bite and glared at his plate through boozy bloodshot eyes. He growled, “Emma, this belongs in the compost.”
I should have booted him out, as he was conspicuously drunk, the thin air amplifying his buzz. But being ex-Service myself, I knew homesickness when I saw it.
“Milo, don’t give me flak. I don’t have a long menu…costs being what they are…so it’s that or beansprout salad.”
Milo snarled, “Tasmanian Devil…even that scavenger wouldn’t eat this grub!”
He stood and snatched up the plate as if to throw it to the floor.
Now I could not abide waste. Every edible ounce was a little victory in the unrelenting struggle to make our freehold profitable. Whether we would succeed or leave with our tails between our legs was still to be determined. I jumped up and grabbed his hand. Lou jumped up and grabbed my hand. We scuffled for a few seconds but, in the end, all that got spilled were the blueberries, which formed a purple mass by Milo’s glass of booze.
Milo’s pique had died, replaced by acute embarrassment.
Then he scooped up the berries, dumped them into his glass, and took a swallow.
I watched as surprised delight flooded his face.
“That’s damn good!”
He handed me the glass and I took a sip. The mingling of blueberry, mint and rye reminded me of lazy summers in my native Raleigh but I was still able to smell the distinct aromas of grain grown on local soil.
The drink needed a little bite so I squeezed lemon juice into the glass and swirled. I handed the glass to Lou.
“Damn good,” was all he said after he took his sip.
A knowing look passed between us.
I smiled: “So I think we do need to change the name of this speakeasy, but I still can honor Nero. I christen this drink the Candor Tasmanian Devil.
And that’s the story of the first cocktail invented on the planet Mars.