The dog at the other end of the phone was Olaf, my company’s general manager in Russia in charge of collecting the caviar orders and sending the cats out to pick up the delivery. He notified us about unfamiliar humans, clothed in black suits and wearing dark glasses, visiting the caviar processing area and inspecting the invoices.
“What about your place, any strange things happening there?” I asked Olaf.
“Early this morning, two courier dogs took off into the Internet, each with one order heading for your country. That was routine. But we still have one shipment sitting here. We’re waiting for one of the couriers to return from the Internet.”
“Hold on, you don’t have couriers as standbys? There should always be a dog available to leave right away as soon as a cat shows up with the merchandise. I thought I made that clear.”
“We worked it that way until this morning when we never received the latest shipment. Then, no other dog reported for duty. I thought it was just a coincidence, but I kept having this crawling feel in my fur. That’s why I called you.”
“OK, let’s not discuss it any further. All you need to know for now is that there’s another shipment coming. Process it as fast as you can, so there won’t be any inquiries from the buyer’s side. I’ll be in touch with you.”
I waited for Olaf to hang up and then disconnected my phone.
“Wylie, get up. I’ll show you what you’ve to do here.”
“Why? What are you up to?”
“I have to go to …”
“You’re not going to Russia, are you?”
“You heard Olaf, something is going on over there, and I don’t like it.”
”This manager of yours, he’s Russian, isn’t he?”
“Why in the world did you hire a Russian instead of sending one of our dogs to do the managing job over there?”
“A business friend of mine highly recommended this guy, and he looked smart and streetwise. I scrutinized his résumé, and I personally interviewed him when he came over here and checked out his past. He was clean. I even had Thomas vet him and consult with Tiger, and both of them agreed with my findings.”
“That was a good move, asking for both their help. Cats have kind of a seventh sense and can feel instantly if someone tries to double-cross them.”
“Yeah, and Thomas is also excellent in detecting the slightest flaws in whatever we deal with. I knew he was a gem the moment he moved in with us.”
“So, there was nothing fishy about that Russian guy?” Wylie grinned. “Except for having his paws in the caviar trade?”
“I liked what I saw and what we found out about him. But still, trusting 100 percent … trusting anybody from over there …"
“So why didn’t you hire a dog from here to work over there?”
“As you know, we needed someone who would be familiar with the Russian law. Nobody I could have found here would have known anything about it.”
“So, when are you leaving?”
“I’ll try to get Ludwig to meet me in the Internet as soon as possible. I’ve decided to send him to Russia after all.”
“Why do you have to meet him then? Why not just tell him over the phone?”
“It doesn’t work with Ludwig that way. He has trouble intercepting any phone calls at home, and it would take too long to explain our situation in Russia over the phone.”
Slowly, Wylie stretched and shook himself before stumbling over to me. As he put his nose on my shoulder, I emailed Ludwig asking if he could take off and see me for something important in the Internet tunnel. To make it easy for the both of us, I suggested we meet at the relay station located between both of our Internet doors.
To be continued
Hobo: Living forever through his adventures
Foreign business affairs
A fable by Bruny Hudson
“The more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is.”
My fur bristled and my ears sprang backward. I clutched the phone and squeezed it between my paws.
“What?” I barked to the dog at the other end of the line. “The cats ate the caviar?”
With my teeth bared, I glared at Wylie, my doggy brother and right paw, lounging on the easy chair across from the desk I was occupying while our dad was running an errand. Wylie shrugged his shoulders but didn’t stir a facial muscle.
“I want a written report, ASAP, and in detail,” I shouted into the phone. “This is outrageous. Whatever happened, somebody will pay for it. The caviar was supposed to be delivered early this morning. Go, get another order ready, but make sure a different cat delivers it to the courier.” I slammed the phone onto the console.
“Can you believe that,” I said to Wylie, my voice boiling with rage.
“I told you dealing with Russia and using Russian cats as go-betweens was asking for trouble,” Wylie said, leaning forward. “But you never believe me. You’re all gung ho about making as many kibbles as you can.”
“Well, the business is flourishing, and we’re faster delivering the food than any other company. It just so happens that Russia produces the best caviar.”
“You could have chosen any other fresh products, and we still would have beaten any competitors in speedy delivery. Maybe even something within the country, and we wouldn’t have to deal with foreign rules and regulations and strange behaviors.”
“It’s not only the speed that counts anymore, now that some companies are trying to get approval to use drones for fast delivery. It’s the uniqueness of the goods we deliver. Our customers crave the out-of-the-ordinary, the something they can impress their friends and business partners with.”
My fur started to flatten down and my ears pricked up. Wylie often had that effect on me, calming me down, if he didn’t first made me climb up the walls with his laid-back attitude.
“Every business deal has its ups and downs,” I said, “and so far everything has gone smoothly. It’s just so unbelievable, the cats devouring the very product that sustains the company they’re working for.”
“Yeah, it’s almost déjà vu, you know, the problems you told me about that you had with the cat employees before I moved in with you.”
Knitting my brow, I said, “That’s true, but it was a strike they were instigating for an imprudent comment my former attorney, Ms. Foley Monster, had made. What these Russian cats have done almost borders on cannibalism.”
“Maybe they had a good reason for going berserk all of a sudden.”
I leaned back in my chair and thought about Wylie’s remark. What if there was more to it than the cats foolishly destroying their own livelihood?
“You have to go to Russia, Wylie, and talk to them, the cats, and find out what happened.”
“You’re kidding me, aren’t you?”
“I’m dead serious. We can’t solve this over the phone. Someone has to go there and assess the situation.”
Wylie bared his teeth. “I’m not doing this Internet traveling, Hobo, we agreed on that. I do the stuff here at home, and you visit the places that need our attention. That was the deal.”
“I can’t afford to take off right now, and you’re so skilled in handling cats, no one can do it better than you, and all the cats fall for your charm, immediately. You’re the dog for this.”
“Why don’t you send one of our kitty siblings? It would be easy for Thomas or Tiger to talk to those cats and figure out the problem. Even Sabrina could do it. She has a knack for dealing with troublemakers, having been one herself not that long ago.”
“Sabrina is still wet behind the ears. She’s just an intern and can’t deal on her own with the business affairs. But anyway, it won’t work. Cats have just started as Internet travelers after the permission finally went through. As far as I know, there are only two who have set their paws into the Internet tunnels.”
Wylie yawned and leaned back in his chair. “Isn’t it about time then to break ours in? I think they know all about it already.”
“You talk as if there’s nothing to it, but you refuse to travel in the Internet. Sooner or later you have to do it, there’s no way around it.”
“Then let Thomas or Tiger be the guinea pig. I go next, after I hear from them how it is. I trust them more in telling me the truth about it than you.”
“This isn’t some kind of new endeavor anymore.” I sneered at Wylie. “And now isn’t the time to introduce the cats to it. And before I do it, I first have to clear it with the Internet management. That’s the last thing on my mind right now. It would be better anyway if a dog deals with the situation. There might be something wrong on the dog couriers’ end that has spilled over to the cats’ job.”
“What about letting your friend—what’s his name?—help out. You always give me an ear-full about how fast and enthusiastically he embraced that Internet traveling after you taught him about it.”
“You mean Ludwig?”
“Yeah, that’s him, the one you met at doggy camp, and who later brought back a cat from one of your adventures you got caught up in travelling through the Internet.”
“Yeah, good old Gato who rid Ludwig of his fear of cats. He’s now her devoted doggy brother. By the way, she was the first cat allowed inside the Internet. But back to the issue. No, Ludwig is not a business dog and wouldn’t know how to tackle the problem. Besides, I wouldn’t want to bother him right now anyway. He’s busy taking care of his mom. She fell and broke her leg, and he’s learning to assist her in every way he can, fetching stuff she needs or wants, snuggling up with her and keeping an eye on her well-being.”
Wylie cocked his head. “Now, that sounds more like a job I’d like to do, going into health care, not having to deal with any of your weird ideas that are bound to cause trouble. But why don’t you let one of the dog representatives in Russia look into it?”
“Oh, come on, you don’t believe we can trust …
The phone rang, and I jumped. As I answered the call, I put it on speaker. The message from Russia echoing through the room was not encouraging.
To be continued