Newspaper headlines declared the wonders of Vlad, the only West Virginia entry in the newly-formed Southeast Dog Show. Vlad, a sleek bloodhound, looked out at the reader in a large photo and an order form for Vlad t-shirts. Proud residents wore the shirts in support of the new celebrity.
Brent Field, guardian for gentle vampire, Rutherford Zucks, now greeted his teeth backstage at the dog show. Vlad turned his head and clenched his mouth shut, rejecting the toothbrush topped with chicken-flavored toothpaste. "Come on, Vlad, this is good for you." Brent leaned to the left to swipe at the dog's teeth. In his side vision, Brent saw a man teasing and fluffing a poodle's sculpted fur.
"My 'leetle' man looks so handsome," the man said to his dog. Vlad and Brent stared at the apricot poodle, and then at each other. That's a feller? Vlad thought. Brent continued to stare.
The man spoke, "I see you admire Sir FooFoo de Fiji. He's a world champion."
"Nice looking dog. Does he do any tricks?" Brent asked.
"Tricks, Monsieur? He is a show dog." The man turned his attention back to the poodle, muttering in French.
Brent shook his head and tried once again to brush Vlad's teeth. He hoped the Master would get here soon to see Vlad compete.
Meanwhile, Rutherford lay in his improvised coffin, a six-foot tool box in the back of a red pickup, sleeping the rest of the undead. At dusk, he looked forward to seeing his beloved bloodhound strut his stuff at the dog show.
Brent waited nervously for the hound category to begin. Vlad, to his chagrin, was freshly shampooed with nails buffed; his teeth and tongue finally brushed to guarantee sweet doggie breath. Brent's hands sweated as they held Vlad's leash; vain were Brent's hopes of butterflies with escape from the backstage bedlam. The combination of excited voices, whirring blow dryers, smells of shampoo and hair spray, and barking dogs all created an atmosphere of chaos and tension.
At the judge's signal, the hounds took the stage. Brent scanned the audience to look for Rutherford and young lady friends. Good, he thought, the Master is here to see Vlad in his shining moment.
The announcer said, "Just look at these magnificent bloodhounds. They are best known for their tracking ability."
Brent took a deep breath as he lifted Vlad onto the judging stand. The judge checked the dog's coat and looked into his mouth. Vlad stood proud. Until the judge lifted his tail, slid his hand under his belly, and squeezed. Vlad yelped. What the hey? Is he supposed to get personal? Vlad seemed to ask as he turned to Brent with confused eyes.
The judge signaled for Brent and Vlad to take their run around the ring. Vlad took off with Brent running to keep hold of his leash. The dog ran towards the judge. Oh, no, Brent thought, is he going to bite him? Or lick him? Vlad brushed against the judge's trousers and ran ahead of him. The dog then lay down and rolled over on his back.
Someone yelled, "Do it again, Judge!"
The crowd burst out laughing. Amanda and Purple Lips sat in the audience, wearing Vlad t-shirts. They stood up and cheered, "Woo! Woo! Woo!" Rutherford smiled and laughed. His face was very pale under the bright lights of the arena. He wore sunglasses as his eyes were sensitive and unaccustomed to bright lights. He shivered even though he wore a thin jacket over his doggie t-shirt. Thin blood plagued his elderly body.
Backstage, Brent sat down in relief in an unoccupied corner. Only one thing to do; he popped open an ice cold beer from a cooler in Vlad's ready area. In moments, Rutherford, Amanda, and Purple Lips joined him.
Vlad wagged his tail and went from person to person to be loved on. Brent told the story of the FooFoo dog; he looked around the room to find him. Vlad had wandered off, knocking over Amanda's beer on the floor.
"More beer," Brent said. "My nerves are shot."
Rutherford said, "Better wait. They might call y'all back soon for another round, especially if there's a tie."
"We've got to get back to our seats," Amanda said. "Where's Vlad? I wanted to give him a good luck hug."
Brent saw Sir FooFoo walking in the corner near Vlad. The poodle's nose knocked over Purple Lips' beer can. Brent reached down for the last drink, but his beer can was gone. Then he saw Vlad and FooFoo licking the floor.
"Stop it, dogs. You're inhaling that beer."
The French man rushed over. "Monsieur, is your dog getting my dog drunk?"
"What?" Brent hesitated as his eyes detected Vlad lifting his leg near the poodle.
"Mon Dieu! How do you say? Your dog just -- the whizzo -- on Sir FooFoo! That ugly hound is a hoodlum, a bad boy." He rushed to grab paper towels to dry his dog.
Brent looked at Vlad. Burp. Vlad sat down beside his victim. Brent thought, What else can go wrong here?
Sir FooFoo's apricot coloring ran off his coat. Aha! He dyes his dog's fur. I wonder if that's legal.
"I demand," the French man said, "that this ruffian be disqualified. I will call the dog security now."
Belch! Sir FooFoo looked around in pride. Now, that was a man burp. Vlad looked impressed.
A crowd started to gather as the man yelled at Brent and Vlad. "This is no place for the likes of you two." Sir FooFoo stood up, walked over to his master, lifted his leg, and whizzed on his trouser leg.
Brent wondered. Will Vlad be disqualified and return home empty-pawed to his many fans? What about Sir FooFoo? Will he continue on the dog show circuit or assert his manhood?
To Be Continued...
To purchase a copy of Beverly's book, Gothic Bedtime Stories, contact her at P. O. Box 803, Alderson, WV, 24910 or by email: hbpoe(at)excite.com. The cost of the book is $15.00 -- mention the Piker Press for free shipping.
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