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This is the eighth and final episode of 'Doggerel Tails', sequel to 'Doggerel Show'.
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I pushed through the crowded courtroom to get outside, dragging Dr. Jackal with me.
“We’ve got to get you to the old man’s trial to testify!” I exclaimed (see punctuation). “Where is it being held?”
“He said it was at the county courthouse in courtroom number two,” replied Dr. Jackal.
“This is the county courthouse!” I screamed (see punctuation). “They must still be in session!” We rushed back into the courthouse and burst into the other courtroom, Ken Starr hot on our heels in pursuit as he struggled to control a wriggling bundle of cloth.
“Hold it right there, Mr. Starr!” the judge in the other courtroom commanded. “I just finished speaking with my fellow judge. There will be no badgering of witnesses in my courtroom. Bailiff, please detain Mr. Starr and his stinking badger in lockup. Doctor… Jeckyl I believe-“
“That’s ‘Jackal’, your honor”, Dr. Jackal replied. “ My friends call me Hiede. Actually I’m an animal healer, not a doctor.”
“He’s a human being who treats sick and injured animals”, I added helpfully.
“Let’s leave the testimony to the witness”, the judge replied amiably. Tell us what you know about the old man and the sea… I mean the cat, Dr. Jackal- or should I say Mr. Hiede.”
“The moment I saw Socks I smelled something fishy”, explained Hiede Jackal. “ I could tell the old man was genuinely concerned about the cat but I just had a feeling that something was rotten in Georgetown. He told me that the cat’s name was ‘Poetic’ but that once upon a midnight dreary he had answered to ‘Poe’. ‘Just that one time?’ I asked the old man who replied ‘Just the once, then nevermore’. He claimed the cat just dropped in on him one day and the owner must have taken off. Suddenly I realized who this cat really was and how valuable he could prove to be. But the old man had made him the cutest little hat from his own damaged hat with a little elastic chin strap. I told the old man that even though the cat likes the hat that little strap ain’t gonna keep that hat on that cat. So I pierced Socks’ ears and showed the old man how he could secure the hat to Socks’ ears. The old man was delighted. So was Socks. That cat loved that hat because it covered the bald spots behind his ears. He was embarrassed terribly by that. The old man was helping Socks to mend a hole in his soul, to reclaim the missing half of himself from the laundry basket we call ‘life’. My heart grew three sizes that day. But now I take Crestor for that.”
“Enough!” the judge cried out between huge drippy sobs. “All charges are dismissed- except for the separate matters of inciting a riot and disorderly conduct. These are withdrawn conditioned upon the defendant’s continued good behavior. Let’s eat! Steamed crabs for everyone- my treat!” Then he banged his gavel wildly.
‘Wow!’ I thought to myself, not for the first time, ‘I guess that old man really is wild.’
I took Peeve back outside and we still didn’t see any playground but I took Peeve’s diaper off so he could pee again and run around. His diaper was still dry- what a good boy!
The old man was out there and he thanked me for saving him from jail and I told him Peeve saved him not me. I began asking him about Socks. I had so many questions.
“We must speak further”, said the old man. “But first, let’s eat.”
Tires squealed as a black limousine whipped around the corner. A rear door was flung open and a woman tumbled out rolling on the pavement to wind up sprawled at our feet.
“Fortunately I’m a professional stuntwoman, but I doubt they knew that”, the woman stated as she rose and dusted herself off. It turned out she was Longfellow’s owner and they (her and Longfellow) worked for Circ d’ Soliel. I knew she must have lied on her AARP application because she didn’t look old. I wondered if she was a contortionist too because she looked really nice in Spandex. Then I noticed that the old man was gone!
So we (Longfellow’s owner and Peeve and I) went back inside and the bailiff was handing out gavels and bibs for everyone. The judge had got Longfellow up on his bench and was feeding him bits of crabmeat. I don’t know why he called it a bench it was a big desk. The mule wore a bib but he didn’t use a gavel he just stomped on his crabs.
A piercing scream halted all conversation. A faint low moaning interrupted the ensuing silence. Then the bailiff explained that he had locked Starr and his badger in the same cell. Everyone laughed and resumed talking and gaveling and eating. Longfellow was reunited with his owner and I wanted to be Longfellow then the way she hugged him and he licked her face and I guess everybody (except Starr) lived happily for a while after…
As it turned out she (Longfellow’s owner) was an acrobat and stuntwoman but also a contortionist on the side but she wanted to learn how to do it on her back and on her head as well but she needed a spotter and she asked me if I could help. Her phone number was in my other coat pocket.
Peeve and I took a bus home. I drove. Peeve rode shotglass. I parked around the corner from my place in a row of handicapped spots and limped away, with Peeve in my coat pocket.
I had sweet dreams that night and I think Peeve did too because it turned out that Longfellow actually was not a fellow at all. His- I mean her owner said Longfellow was a bitch but she was one of the friendliest dogs I ever met. I think Peeve likes her.
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesman and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do."
- Ralph 'Where's Waldo' Emerson
"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like. And I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."
- Bilbo Baggins