Part 64

I felt for my friend having had to run until he was exhausted, but something baffled me, and I asked him about it. “Why didn’t you catch a pick-up truck and jump into its bed? There should have been some room left for you, at least in the bigger ones.”

Ludwig cracked a half-smile. “No way, they were going too fast. And I’ve never been into chasing cars. Anyway, the donkey had gotten far ahead of me but had stopped at the side of the road. By the time I reached him, he pulled his head out of a small bucket of water his owner must have placed in front of him and motioned me to come to him and finish up the water.”

“You know,” I said, “it wouldn’t surprise me if the donkey decided to stop because he became aware of your distress.”

“You’re right, he mentioned it later. Now he told me they were in a hurry to get to the market where they would sell the blankets they had in their cart and asked if I wanted to jump on top of them for a comfortable ride.”

I pulled up my eyelids. “What about the owner? He didn’t make a fuss about getting the blankets dirty with dog hair?”

“Nah, they were covered up with plastic. The owner didn’t mind me at all. In fact, he liked the idea of having me as a guard for his merchandise, also something the donkey related to me later.”

“How come you moved here to the restaurant then instead of staying with the market vendor?”

Ludwig flattened his lips before answering. “He sold me to the restaurant owner as a guard dog.”

“You let him sell you?” My fur bristled.

“There was nothing I could do, and it really benefited the donkey. He had insisted on sharing his already rationed chow with me. His owner was barely able to support them both, and I had become an extra burden, especially for the donkey.”

Still aghast about people having treated my friend like a commodity, I said, “I hope the guy turned a good profit on you.”

“I would say so. I don’t know on how much they agreed, but I saw the donkey owner smile. The donkey, on the other hand, was sad to see me go.”

“I’m sure you two had already become friends. You’re good at forming friendships, no matter with whom. But let me tell you, I made a new friend, too,” and I told Ludwig about the cow I had run across.

To be continued

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Foreign business affairs

A fable by Bruny Hudson

The more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is.
Vladimir Nabokov

Part 65

Ludwig gave me a slap on the back. “That’s quite a coincidence we both find someone who’s willing to stick up for us without asking questions, almost at the same time.”

I raised my paw for a high five. “It’s happening, Ludwig, just how Henry encouraged me to keep pursuing only a few hours ago. You remember Henry, don’t you?”

“The kiosk attendant, right? I’ve never met him, but you told me a lot about him.”

“He egged me on not to lose sight of us making the world a better place. And we’re surely on the way to it. You encountered the donkey and I the cow. Both were complete strangers and had no incentive or reason to help us out—in fact, the donkey was worse off sharing with you—and they did it anyway. And not for our survival, but to make life easier for us.”

“Yeah, we dogs have always supported and helped each other, no matter what, and then, the cats came into play, and we all are really pulling together. And now, this is another big step forward.”

“If some more … who knows who else might share our cause, we’ll have a good base to work with and build up, and we’ll have a fighting chance to make a difference in the world.”

Ludwig frowned. “Do you think there’s also a chance some of the errant souls might shed their destructive human-like behavior and find their way back to our mission?”

“I’m afraid Olaf is a lost cause, but you never know. They might all come to their senses and swear off those human character flaws which they’d allowed to seep into their own brains.”

My answer made me think of atrocities done by humans. It brought back the image of the horses I saw behind the bazaar, and I asked Ludwig if his donkey friend had to stay there too, tied down in the heat and humidity, day in, day out.

Ludwig shook his head. “The vendor doesn’t have a stall at the bazaar. He’s moving from market to market to sell his merchandise and does it straight off his cart. The donkey always stays by his side.”

“Seems like the guy takes care of his partner,” I said, closing my eyes for a minute. “And if he hadn’t sold you, I might not have found you, even with the Searcher. So, maybe it was a good thing, but dog, it sounds awful, us pets amounting to nothing more than a piece of property.”

“That’s always our dilemma. We get pushed into a corner, and then our best intentions to stand up for ourselves are going down the drain. If I stayed with the vendor, I wouldn’t have had a chance to try my tag again because he didn’t have any electronic device. But the restaurant has a computer, and the owner has a smart phone and a laptop.”

“I know you couldn’t have done anything other than comply. And running away would have made things even worse for you. What happened when you tried to use your tag here to get home?”

To be continued

Part 66

Ludwig sucked in air and slowly let it out. “I first tried the computer and the laptop and then the smart phone after I finally got hold of it. And each time, the same flop that happened at the garment factory happened here too. I arrived at the exact place from where I left a minute ago. So, I gave up trying.”

I cocked my head. “I hope you hadn’t resigned yourself to staying here for good, had you?”

“For goodness sake, no. I’d planned on sending Gato a SOS email the next time I got my paws on the computer, and to you, too. I was sure you would move heaven and earth to get me out of here once you knew where I was.”

“You’re damn right, and that was exactly what Kojak and I did. But if we’d gotten word about your temporary refuge, it would have made it a lot easier.”

Scrutinizing me, Ludwig said, “You must be completely worn-out looking for me all this time. Let’s go into the kitchen to find you something to eat and drink.”

“What about your guarding the door?”

“We’ll keep our ears open inside. With the two of us, we’ll hear if someone tries to do something funny.”

“But what about the restaurant owner?”

“He’s already asleep. And the good thing is, he always leaves the light on in the kitchen when he closes down around midnight or so. He says it keeps the creepy crawlers and varmints away.”

Ludwig jumped up, and giving the back door a shove, he led the way through a dark hallway to a brightly lit room behind a swinging door. He pointed to the water bowl, and while I was taking a drink, he opened one of the kitchen cabinets and pulled out some flat bread and roasted peanuts.

“That’s the best I can come up with,” he said. “All the good chow is in the refrigerators, and you know what a pain it is trying to open those doors, pretty much impossible.”

“Don’t worry about it. Henry fed me more than well when I stopped at his kiosk, and I also had a light lunch with the family at home before I set off for India.”

“Lunch?” Ludwig frowned. “But when? How many hours ago?”

I quickly did the math. “About 24. I arrived here in the middle of the night, fell asleep and didn’t wake up until about noon when the ruckus at the bazaar started. And it took me the rest of the day to find you.”

Ludwig watched me eat. “Too bad I can’t offer you some of the owner’s specialties. He’s an excellent cook, and the restaurant is always packed, at least in the short time I’ve been here.”

I swallowed the last peanut. “He does the cooking all by himself?”

“He has one or two assistants, but he’s the chef. He gave me several bites of the food he serves, and it was delicious. Kind of spicy, but not fiery.”

“He must like you to let you taste it. I’d say you’ve won him over already. It shouldn’t be a problem for us then to get to the computer and out of here, right?” I meant it as a rhetoric question and was surprised when Ludwig shook his head.

To be continued