Ludwig and I bickered back and forth about his going to Russia to check out the warehouse. He finally agreed to do it.
“But I can’t leave right away,” he said. “I’ve to go back home and tell Gato what to do and how to take care of our mom. I hope my sister will be able to distract Mom enough so she won’t ask for me.”
“That’s fine, but listen carefully,” I said and rattled down letters and numbers. “This is the URL address for the warehouse in Russia. Memorize it and you can leave straight from your home instead of coming back here searching for it in the directory. There’s always the danger of mixing up the destination. I’ll go home, too, and let Olaf know right off that you’re on your way so he’ll be expecting you.”
Ludwig looked at me with his big brown eyes. “I don’t know about this. I wish we could go together. But, I’ll do it for you.”
I patted him on the head. “You’ll be OK. Just think before you do anything stupid.”
“Oh, that’s encouraging, but I’ll keep it in mind. If I hurry, I’ll be back soon, right?”
Ludwig didn’t wait for my answer, but his remark would haunt me in the hours to come. As he turned around and scurried over to Kojak, I followed him, and we all said our goodbyes.
While Ludwig got ready to upload himself from the computer to head home, Kojak whispered into my ear, “You know, Hobo, I don’t want to interfere with what you’re doing there in Russia, but let me give you a friendly piece of advice: Don’t trust those Russians, no matter who they are. Here, everyone is too gullible, they all believe everything they see and read. In Russia, it’s different. Everything is regulated or forbidden, and the punishments are severe. So, everyone over there is very sneaky to get around it. Be careful.”
“Yeah, my brother Wylie already warned me about them. But as I told him, I’ve taken extra precautions.” Noticing that Ludwig had taken off, I stepped in front of the computer and said, “Well, I’ll better be going, too.”
I logged on to the Internet, entered my URL in the address bar and less than a minute later exited the computer at home.
Nobody else was in the office. I jumped on the desk to make the call to Olaf but didn’t see the phone on the console or anywhere else. I rummage through all the papers and folders on the desk and found everything else but the phone. Where in the heck was it?
And why wasn’t Wylie here to do the work I’d delegated to him? I looked at the clock on the wall. It was 10 minutes past 9 a.m. So, I was only gone maybe an hour, and it should have taken Wylie longer to finish the assigned job.
In the midst of losing my temper, I couldn’t shake off Kojak’s warnings about Russia. I started to ask myself if I’d made a big mistake sending Ludwig to that country. His impulsiveness wasn’t a good match for the mind-set of Russian nationals.
Another thought hit me. It was seven hours later in Russia, and they closed up the warehouse for the day at 5 or 6 o’clock in the evening. I had to get in contact with Olaf as soon as possible. I had to find the darn phone.
I stomped out of the office and into the hallway. I heard Dad talking in the living room, but nobody commented or answered him. Oh no. With my tail and ears dropped, I rushed around the corner. Dad was leaning back in his easy chair holding the phone to his ear and chattering away.
I planted myself in front of him and waited, staring into his face. He ignored me even after I gave out a few barks and put my front paws on his legs. Apparently, he was tied up in a lengthy conversation, and there was nothing I could do to cut it short, but I needed the phone.
To be continued
Foreign business affairs
A fable by Bruny Hudson
The more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is.
The door to the relay station flew open, and a howl roared through the room. At the farthest corner, next to a computer stand, a huge black figure was doubling over.
Before I could take cover, the figure straightened up, and I saw who it was.
“There’s my dog.” Kojak, still rolling with laughter, came running toward me and gave me a bearhug. “How’s it going, Hobo?”
Completely thrown for a loss, I peeked around him looking for Ludwig. He was right behind Kojak.
“Look who I ran into,” Ludwig said with a big smile on his face.
“And look who I caught,” Kojak barked. “Our good friend Ludwig, fooling around in the Internet tunnels again, racing like a lunatic. But he can tell the most hilarious jokes.”
I wiggled out of Kojak’s legs. “So, you’re still patrolling the tunnels and giving travelers a hard time? I thought I heard you’d advanced to pursuing and harassing the bigger fish?”
Kojak laughed. “Nah, I was just kidding. Ludwig and I happened to be in here at the same time. But you’re right, I climbed the corporate ladder all the way to cyberspace security. I have nothing to do anymore with policing the Internet tunnels.”
“I remember the first time Ludwig and I bumped into you or better you into us,” I said. “Ludwig was pretty sure you were a fraud, and I could have kicked myself for believing you were a real Internet police dog.”
“Ha, ha.” Kojak nodded and then shook his head. “No, I was very real, too much, though. Luckily, Lorelei cured me from being a stickler for the law …”
“That’s exactly what she called you,” Ludwig said, snickering. “But she also said you were very ambitious and competitive.”
“Well, I’m still always trying to do my best, but Lorelei has shown me a more sensible path to success. By the way, I’d dragged that sweet little dog from being an Internet kiosk assistant with me on my way up the ladder, and we’re now both partners in the cyberspace security department.”
“I’m glad it worked out so well for both of you,” I said.
“Thanks.” Kojak turned to Ludwig. “See, someone is happy for me. But now that you told me you have a kitty sister you adore, I’m sure you forgive me for stealing Lorelei away from you.”
“Nah, you didn’t steal her at all. I don’t think Lorelei even knew that I had an instant crush on her when Hobo and I met her at the kiosk.”
“So, Hobo,” Kojak asked, “what are you up to? Ludwig tells me you asked him over here to discuss something important? Something on your adventure list?”
“Something on my business list,” I answered.
Ludwig furrowed his brow. “I don’t know if I can help you with it. I don’t have that business mentality of yours. But what is it about?”
“I need you to go to Russia to check up on my caviar deals over there. It’s really more an investigation gig than a business matter.”
“Then maybe, you should hire Kojak for the job. He’s the perfect fit.”
“Oh no.” Kojak shook his head vigorously. “You’re not getting me involved in something like that. In fact, I’ll turn around and close my ears while you two make the necessary arrangements.”
“You don’t need to,” I said. “I trust you, and you’re not a tattletale.”
“It’s not about trust or keeping secrets. But, I’m sure your dealings have to involve the Internet, and it might put me into a precarious situation if any of them lead to a security breach and I’m aware of it.”
While Kojak went back to the computer at the other side of the room, I filled Ludwig in about my caviar operation in Russia and the latest developments. Most of it was old news for him since I always bragged about it whenever we met. “First, you have to meet with Olaf,” I said, “and then you need to get to the bottom of why the cats had gone berserk. Have them confess or clear things up.”
Now, that Ludwig felt at ease with cats, I was certain they’d cooperate with him if he was able to win them over. He was good at it with humans, it came naturally to him. It might even be an additional advantage regarding the men in black Olaf had mentioned.
To be continued
Hobo: Living forever through his adventures
To read the story from the beginning, click here or go to Fable on the menu.
I stared at the phone in front of me, my body trembling. That had been a gunshot, no doubt about it. I’d heard enough shots on Ludwig’s and my last adventure to distinguish them from other kinds of bangs.
Pulling myself together to keep my paw steady on the phone, I punched in the warehouse number. The call went right through, but I waited and waited for an answer. I hung up and redialed, and hung up and redialed, on and on, losing track of the total.
While my tapping the phone came to nothing, my earlier bellowing into it came to a head, and I regretted the blunder I had made.
The office door squeaked, and Sabrina, meowing, came rushing into the office. “I heard you yelling. What’s the matter? Where are you?”
“I’m under the desk. Did Mom hear my barking?”
“I don’t think so, but I heard it all right, and Wylie, too. We both heard it, loud and clear. I should’ve known, you’re hiding. Are you making a phone call down there? Why don’t you …?”
“Can’t you shut up for a moment? Yes, I’m trying to place a call. You’re making me nervous, and I don’t want Mom to come in here to find out what all the meowing is about.”
“She won’t. She knows I like to talk.”
“Why are you always yapping so much anyway?”
“It’s in my genes. Siamese enjoy talking.”
“So, go and talk in the other room. I need to concentrate and some privacy here.”
“OK, if you insist.” Mumbling something under her whiskers, Sabrina stomped away but didn’t go far.
Before I could focus on the phone again, she hollered, in defiance to my admonition that she kept it quiet, “I’m leaving, but you won’t get any privacy. Here comes Wylie.”
I gritted my teeth and listened for the door to squeak again. When I heard Wylie push it open a tad more to squeeze through, I whispered to him to come under the desk. “Did anyone follow you, Mom or Dad?”
“Not that I know of,” Wylie said, whispering also. “Sabrina came out of here, moaning and groaning, but no one else was moving around. Mom took off with the car after she came back from the walk with me, and Dad is still engrossed in his phone call.”
“That’s why I didn’t see you anywhere when I came back from meeting Ludwig.”
“So, what’s going on? What’s all this secrecy?”
“Well, we have a big problem on our paws.”
“Yeah, I know. That’s why you met with Ludwig. He can’t go to Russia?”
“No, he agreed to do it right away. There might be a much more serious problem now. What we’re up against could be a disaster.”
Wylie furrowed his brow. “I don’t know if I want to hear this.”
“There was a shooting in the warehouse in Russia and …”
“Oh no, what happened? Did some of the humans kill one another? I hope they didn’t hit any of the dogs and cats.”
”I don’t know anything. I just heard a gunshot while I was on the phone with Olaf, and then, the line went dead.”
“So, you don’t know if someone fired a gun. Are you sure it was a shot you heard? Maybe it was an electrical mishap, something like a transformer blowing up.”
“Trust me, it was a gunshot. But the worst thing is that Ludwig should have already been at the warehouse when I talked to Olaf, but Olaf hadn’t seen him, so Ludwig could have arrived just as the gun went off.”
“OMD, you don’t think he ran into the line of fire?”
I slipped out from under the desk. “I have to go over there and make sure he’s OK and see …”
“Are you out of your mind? Do you want to get shot?” Wylie nipped my tail to hold me down.
“I’ve sent Ludwig into harm’s way, and I have to get him out of it. Now, let go of my tail.”
Obeying, Wylie asked, “Why do you think he already left home? He could still be there. He might still be getting everything in order before taking off. Call his home and find out.”
“Are you even listening? Tell me, how do I reach him by phone?”
Wylie coughed. “Try this …” He coughed again and then cleared his throat. “Make the call, and when his mom or dad answers, spew out some thunderous barks to catch Ludwig’s attention if he’s still home. Otherwise, with any luck, Gato will get the message and contact you.”
“But what about Dad, hearing me barking so loud?”
“I wouldn’t worry about it. In case he comes in here to check things out, we’ll start barking at each other as if we’re having a fight, and he’ll just tell us to give it a rest.”
To be continued
I paced back and forth in front of Dad’s chair. Instead of annoying Dad, it made me all hot and bothered. I stopped and took a deep breath, and my eyes hit Dad’s iPhone lying on top of the side table next to his chair. How could I grab it without Dad chasing me away? I let my eyes wander around the room, and they came to a rest on my kitty sister, Sabrina, snoozing on the couch.
Quickly, I hopped on top of her, sure she would wake up with a start, but she kept on snoring away. I had to shake her out of her dreams.
“Hey, Sabrina,” I barked into her ear,” get up, you have to help me.”
She blinked her eyes several times and gave out a big yawn. “Can’t it wait ‘til later, after my nap?”
“No, it can’t, and you’re already awake now. Jump on the table next to Dad’s chair and push the iPhone down to the floor. But make sure he doesn’t notice you.”
“You know, Hobo, I would do anything for you, but I do need my beauty sleep. Why don’t you jump up there yourself?”
“You’re much lighter on your paws. I would make such a racket that Dad would chase me off before I get to the phone.”
“I’ll do it later.” Sabrina closed her eyes and curled into a ball of fur.
Losing my patience, I nipped at her ear, the only part of her sticking out. Her head popped up, and she glared at me.
I glared back at her. “Are you going to help me? You have to get me that phone now. It’s a life and death situation.”
That hit a nerve. While Sabrina had been roaming the streets, she had reached the gate to the Rainbow Bridge, and Wylie and I had talked our parents into adopting her just in time for her to receive life-saving medical treatments.
Sabrina leaped to her paws. “I’m all yours. What do you want me to do?”
“Just push Dad’s iPhone from the little table, over there by his side, onto the floor. But as I said, make sure he doesn’t notice what you’re doing.”
Without further delay, Sabrina bounced down from the sofa, cased out the recliner Dad was sitting in, and in one bold move, jumped on his lap. My mouth fell open. Oh my cat, she wasn’t thinking of pushing down the phone he was holding in his hand, was she?
Dad briefly looked at her and absentmindedly patted her back a couple of times. Afraid to watch what would happen next, I closed my eyes. When I opened them a second later, Sabrina was standing on top of the recliner above Dad’s head.
Like a feather, she floated down onto the side table, instantly finding her balance. She nosed a wad of papers out of the way, and then, as if waving a magic wand over the tabletop, her paw brushed the iPhone, and it slid onto the carpet.
Not wasting another second, I dived from the sofa, grabbed the phone with my teeth and hotfooted into the office. With my rear legs, I kicked the door just enough for it to touch its frame and scurried under the desk to make my call. I thought this would also be a good place to ditch the phone, making Dad believe by the time he found it that he had dropped it there, thus preventing him from becoming suspicious.
With my right paw on the phone, I deeply inhaled to concentrate on the phone number of the warehouse where Olaf would most likely be. It took me three tries to enter the string of numbers correctly.
No one answered. Using the redial over and over again, I kept on calling. Where the heck was he? … Yeah, that was it. While I was trying to find a way to get to the phone, Ludwig must have tied up the loose ends at home and already taken off for Russia. Now, Olaf was showing him around, explaining everything, and didn’t want to be interrupted by a phone call, but once he was done, he would pick up.
I continued pushing the redial button. Finally, I heard a click.
“Olaf here, who’s there?”
“It’s me again, Hobo. You got Ludwig up-to-date on everything?”
“I sent my friend Ludwig, you know the one I told you about a while ago, over to assist you. I assumed he made it over there by now.”
“No, not here yet.”
Thrown for a loop, I stalled. Getting my thoughts in order, I said, “Anyway, he should be there any minute now. Fill him in about any new details. He’ll talk to the cats and see what he can do.”
Olaf agreed, and I was ready to hang up. I lifted my paw to press the exit button on the phone. The pop of a gunshot coming from the other end of the line made me stop in midair. I shouted into the phone, “Olaf, Olaf, are you there? Olaf? Say something. Hello, hello.”
As my barking echoed through the room, the line went dead.
To be continued