Alphonso Morales started his day beside himself with excitement. It was his eighteenth birthday and his father had presented him with vouchers for lessons with a driving school in the town. Predictably, his father had rushed out of the house before he could adequately thank him.
“Make sure you’re ready,” Alphonso’s mother said to him at breakfast, “señorita Villanueva at the school called yesterday and told us that they have made you the first pupil of the day for señor Guiterrez, their most experienced and respected instructor. He will be here by ten o’clock.”
“Ish. You should know that it is an honour to be taught by their best man. They usually save him for their most important client families. Youngsters are normally taught by more junior staff.”
“¿Why do I have this honour, Momia?”
“Your father has helped many people in this town Al, and some important men owe him favours, including the owner of the school.”
“¿Has this to do with what Malena calls her special evenings when she works hard and comes home looking extra tired?”
“You may very well think that, Fonsi. I couldn’t possibly comment.”
Alphonso smiled at his mother, rose from the table, planted a kiss on her forehead and said, “I’ll get ready, Momia. Thank you so much for my birthday gift.”
“De nada bebé,” she replied.
Scowling a little at what he saw as his mother’s continuing infantilising of him, he went to his room and changed into his going-out-in-public clothes, returning moments later and presenting himself for his mother’s inspection.
“¿Will I do, Momia?”
“You’ll have to. Señor Guiterrez is outside. Go!”
Alphonso barely heard his mother shout good luck to him as he ran to the car. The instructor scooted across to the front passenger seat and signalled to his pupil to get in the driver’s side.
“Jump in, Alphonso and listen carefully whilst I explain to you what we need to do.”
“Thank you, señor Guiterrez,” the teenager said, taking his place behind the steering wheel.
“If we are going to spend a lot of time together, my young friend, and I think we are, we can be more familiar. My given name is Bartolomeo, but you can call me Buddy.”
“Thank you, Buddy. You can call me Al.”
“¿Not Fonsi or Pancho?”
“My parents call me Fonsi, my teachers in school call me Pancho, but my friends call me Al. I prefer that.”
“Because it sounds like an American name, and everybody knows anything American is cool.”
“I may have to disagree with you on that, though I know young people think it. I have to admit, I did too when I was your age.”
“¿But you don’t now?”
“Indeed not. If you look below the surface you’ll find that no country is as good as it is claimed to be. They all have their strengths and their weaknesses. Now, let’s find yours. It’s time for you to start the engine.”
Sr Guiterrez… sorry, Buddy talked Alphonso through the rudiments of starting the engine, getting into gear and moving off. Under his direction, Alphonso set the car in motion and started driving along the residential road where he lived with his family. By the time he had mastered the clutch and gearbox, the pair were barreling along in second gear at a speed approaching fifteen kilometres per hour.
Alphonso was quick to pick things up and it wasn’t too long before they were travelling at a speed that wasn’t a massive inconvenience to other road users. Rounding a bend in the road, they came across a serious hold-up.
“Slow down, Al, and bring the car to a stop behind the grey car in front.” Al did as he was told and, remembering what his instructor had said earlier, applied the handbrake and placed the gearbox into neutral.
“Stay there, Al,” he said opening his door and stepping out of the car, “I’ll see if I can find out what’s causing the hold-up. In fact, switch the engine off. It looks like we’ll be here for a while.”
“¿But what if we start to move again? I can’t drive without you in the car beside me.”
Buddy ignored him and went to speak to other drivers, returning a couple of minutes later.
“It seems,” he said, “that there’s been an escape from the circus. The councillors and all the staff of the council chamber have had to evacuate and are blocking the road. They’re saying something about an elephant in the room.”
This was written in response to Kreative Kue 247 published on this site.
My humans think I’m a bit stupid. They think we all are. They must do.
Okay – how often do they pretend to throw a ball or a stick or something they want us to chase after and bring back, then laugh as we jump around looking for it? That’s what they think, anyway. They haven’t worked out that we’re onto their tricks but know that if we play along and act as though we’re searching for whatever it is, we get a fuss – and that’s what it’s all about in the end, isn’t it? That or some food.
They even believe that when they do throw it, we chase after it and bring it back because we enjoy doing that. Pah! We do it for the cuddles, don’t we? That or the food treats. Either will do.
You see – they reckon that our greatest wish is to please the human who they fancy to be our pack leader; that we will do anything, whatever it takes, to stay in favour. I say again, pah!
They’ve never cottoned on that life is about two things: cuddles and food, food and cuddles. Nothing else matters. Nothing. Literally, nothing. Okay, perhaps sleep, too.
So we develop new tricks, new ways of endearing ourselves to them, new ways of giving them what they want in order to get what we want. And what do we want? That’s right, cuddles and food.
Mercenary? What do you mean, mercenary? Is it any more mercenary than the humans going to work every day, doing a job they mostly hate, just to get enough money to feed themselves? I think not.
My human was talking recently about something he called environmental enrichment. Apparently, he was reading a book (written, no doubt, by a human who thought that people would buy it and so give him money to feed his pack) that was saying we dogs get bored easily and that leads to what he called bad behaviour. Hah! Yes, we do get bored sometimes, but how do we deal with it? That’s right, we sleep!
Anyway, this book was telling things like it’s good to hide our food so we have to look for it (as if) so it keeps us interested. Let me ask you? What would humans do if you hid their food instead of laying it out in supermarkets or stacking it in fridges? Would that enrich their lives? I think not – so why would they think that sort of malarkey adds anything to ours?
My human hasn’t gone that far yet, but he has taken to hiding what he thinks is my favourite ball – it’s actually his, but I play along with it for the food and fuss. I’ve found that the more I look for it, the longer it takes me to ‘find’ it (even though I always know exactly where he’s put it), the bigger treat I get or the more fuss. So I play along with him.
Just now, I heard him tell someone that he’d hidden it at the back of the table. “Watch this”, he said to his friend, “Let’s see what he’ll do now – you know dogs don’t know about ladders, don’t you?”
Heh heh heh…
This was written in response to Kreative Kue 245 published on this site.
D’you like my training jacket?
No, it isn’t like a training bra or training pants that babies use. I’ve been clean and dry since I was a pup – and that was a while ago, I don’t mind telling you. And before you ask, I ain’t about to grow man-boobs or whatever the equivalent is for fat dogs. I may be a bit of a porker, but I’m not that bad.
No, the idea of this is to make me stronger. There’s about a kilo and a half of weights sewn into the jacket. That’d be ten to fifteen kilos on the average human. There’s a sausage dangling from a string up there. I can see it. I can smell it. If I close my eyes I can practically taste it. Fair makes me drool, it does.
They want me to jump up to try and grab it, but I’m wise to them. They’ll judge how high I can jump and lift the sausage just a little bit higher. That way, they reckon, I’ll jump more and more and get stronger each time.
But I won’t give them that satisfaction. I can sit here looking at it longer than they can sit there looking at me. You know what they’re like with their kids, don’t you? They play a silly game, like hiding behind their hands then opening them and shouting ‘boo’. Cracks the kids up, it does, so they do it again… and again. Eventually, they get tired of it and stop. And the kid screams. Why? Cos the kit ain’t bored of it. It wants more, but they can’t keep it up.
You wait. In a minute, one of them will say that they can’t sit here all day watching me, that I can’t get the sausage without jumping for it and that when they come back, they’ll know if I’ve jumped high enough. So they’ll go away.
Ever heard of telekinesis?
Heh heh heh…
This was written in response to Kreative Kue 245 published on this site.