Ludwig listened to my sales pitch without saying a word. When I had wrapped it up, he kept sitting in silence, and his eyes drifted toward the spice rack.
“From where will you get the spices?” he finally asked. “You’re not thinking of robbing the restaurant here, are you?”
“Certainly not. But focus on the bazaar. We both know there’s a cache of it around there. You yourself stopped at one of the stalls and got the gist of …”
“Oh, no.” Ludwig bawled at me. “Stopping by and taking a good look is not stealing.” He took a deep breath. “And to say the very least, there’s no way to take that stuff from any of the stalls without getting into trouble. The sellers or patrolmen will catch you.”
I nodded. “And I don’t want to rip off anybody, it’s not my style. We have to engineer some kind of exchange, fair and square. Think!”
The moment I said it, I knew it had been a mistake. Ludwig started to run in circles and kept going and going, a sign that he was thinking long and hard, and like always, it was driving me nuts.
Usually, he generated a brainstorm—no matter how ludicrous—with his ritual, but it distracted me from putting on my own thinking cap, and I was tempted to resort to my old standby of tripping him. It usually pulled him out of his trance, but it might also cause a ruckus and probably rouse the owner. Instead, I joined Ludwig on his rounds, and gently pushing him sideways, I made his circle smaller and smaller until there was none.
That did the trick. He stopped and, without making a fuss about the interruption, said, “Nothing.”
I groaned. “Maybe I’ll come up with something. But what about it, are you game for a lucrative business venture?”
“You mean to stay here and do it from here? I don’t know.”
“Not staying here for good, just for the time being while we wait for an opportunity to get out of here. You yourself said it won’t be that easy. It would also give us a chance to test our tags.”
“Let me get a good night sleep. This is weighty, and I’m kind of tired. I need a clear mind to come up with an answer for you.” Ludwig staggered toward the back door and curled up on the rug in front of it.
I followed him. “What about me? The restaurant owner will have a fit if he sees me here in the morning.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll know when he wakes up, and you’ll have enough time to go into hiding.”
“Outside, behind the bushes. There are some nice high and thick ones that’ll give good cover. Just stay there until I come. Good night.”
Ludwig had barely said the last two words when he started to snore. I watched him and listened to him for a while before I reluctantly rolled into a ball behind him, trusting him to wake me in time.
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.
The kitchen was small and, for a restaurant, rather crammed. Stoves and cooking devices I’d never seen before, some appearing ultra modern, others almost prehistoric, were to my left against the wall. Above them was hanging a spice rack with countless covered glass jars.
Across a narrow aisle ending in another swinging door were cabinets and refrigerators, and wedged in between on a counter, I saw the computer screen. It was an old-fashioned boxy monitor with a separate computer probably shoved far back somewhere underneath.
“There’s hardly any countertop here,” I said to Ludwig. “Where does the owner have room to open his laptop? You mentioned he was using it in here.”
“The kitchen is kind of L-shaped, so it’s hard to see the rest of it. Look over there at the door leading to the dining room. There are worktables next to it on the right. It’s where they prepare each serving, collect the dirty dishes and have the take-out meals waiting. He does quite a bit of take-out business.”
Ludwig got up and took a few laps of water. Lifting his nose out of the bowl, he sniffed and sniffed.
I jumped to my paws. “You think someone’s coming?”
“No, but that smell.”
“What? You mean something’s burning?” My eyes darted toward the row of stoves, but no flames were licking their tops. “It doesn’t look as if someone left a burner on. What about the ovens?”
“No, nothing like that.”
With his head now high up in the air, Ludwig put his nostrils in overdrive. Suddenly, he leaned toward me and took a short, deep lungful of air. “It’s you. It’s you that I smell.”
“Uh-oh.” I sniffed my fur. “I was hiding under a garbage bin.”
“No, it’s not that, not what humans would call an offensive smell. It’s pungent all right, but different.”
“How come you didn’t notice it on me earlier when we were outside?”
“I was so over the moon seeing you here that it didn’t register, and it had probably deadened my nose—until now.”
“It’s that strong?”
“Well, you smell up the whole room.”
“But with what?”
“Let me try again.” Ludwig tickled me behind my ears with his nose and took another lungful. “It’s kind of exotic, like? … like the bazaar … wait, now I got it. You smell like a spice factory.”
To be continued
To read the story from the beginning, click here or go to Fable on the menu.
I stared at Ludwig. “Are you sure the smell is coming from me? What about all the spices up there on the rack? You said the chef is using a lot of them.”
“Yeah, he does, but he’s very fastidious about them, tightly closing each jar to make sure they don’t lose their aroma. When he was cooking, I only got a quick whiff of one spice at a time.”
“You think I picked it up at the bazaar? There was this weird smell I couldn’t make out. Now it makes sense. How did you figure out it comes from spices?”
“The first time I went there with the restaurant owner, he stopped at a stall to buy spices. So, it was a dead giveaway.”
I ran my nose through Ludwig’s fur and inhaled but only smelled dog. “Why aren’t you wearing that fragrance? We both were inside the bazaar.”
“I guess because I didn’t spend a whole night in there but moved around constantly and only for a short period at a time. And the sheets of fabric you said you were sleeping in were probably already smelly. Your fur soaked it all up. It’ll stay with you until you get a bath.”
“Oh no, no bath for me.”
Ludwig wrinkled his nose and stood clear of me. “Then, our own are going to shun you and boo you, and people will mistake you for a walking spice rack.”
I pricked up my ears. Ludwig’s tease had a ring of truth. Not what he’d said about us dogs which was a no-brainer. We don’t shame each other, but Ludwig had it down pat about the humans.
“What a clever advertisement that would be,” I said. “Walking around and promoting my own bouquet of spices, the goods we’ll be offering for sale.”
“Come again?” Ludwig’s eyes bored into mine. “What on earth are you talking about? Has all that smell you’re carrying around messed with your mind?”
“No.” I smiled at him. “It had a kind of hypnotic effect on me, though, earlier at the bazaar and made me nod off. But listen, I have a fantastic proposition for you.”
“Why do I get the feeling I won’t like this?”
“Because you’re becoming like my brother Wylie. He shies away from any deal that sounds avant-garde.”
“I think I’ll like your brother.”
I squinted. “That’s right, you haven’t met him yet. His clear-cut business ideas are dull and won’t turn any substantial profit. Now, here’s the perfect kibble maker, and I want you to think of yourself as a free spirit.”
I broached the idea about a spice trade with the American market to Ludwig. To make him buy into it, I played up Americans’ love for scarce delicacies and explained that we would acquire the expensive spices here and then send them via the Internet to the customers in America who would be only too eager and happy to part with their money for something they craved.
To be continued