Sir Jake, Knight of The Realm

“Take that, varlet! And that! Mayhaps, thinketh twice thou wilst, ‘ere crossing blades with Sir Jake, Knight of the Realm, Defender of the Innocent, Cleaver of Cowards, Vanquisher of Villains!”

  “That’s got him on the run, Jake. I think a good tongue lashing was all it took! Looks like you had him pretty confused there at the end.” Ralph suppressed a chuckle as he stowed his ‘knightly gear’ and headed in to wash up before dinner.

  “Mock me not, Sir Ralph, lest thou feeleth the sting of mine sword. The day is long, I am weary, my patience is worn thin. Were it not for my strong right arm and this enchanted blade, the kingdom would surely fall. We are beset by vile villains, foul miscreants, and dastardly dragons on all sides, and none, save myself, may stem the tide that lapeth at our feet.”

  “Jake, first let me say that you don’t have a right arm. Or a left arm. You’re a snake, buddy. And I have my doubts about how much damage you can inflict with that stick. And lastly, we’re hundreds of miles from the nearest body of water. If anything is lapping at your feet, if you even had feet, it would most likely be that mud puddle over there. Now let’s go in and get something to eat. Do you have any of those lemon jellied spiders left? Or maybe some candied flies? I love those with just a sprinkle of sea salt…”

  With a sigh, Sir Jake, Defender of the Realm, Slayer of Dragons, and lots more stuff too numerous to list, slithered up onto the back of his trusty steed, McRuff. “Okay Ralph, Spoiler of Sport, Dasher of Dreams, climb on up here and let’s go see what Brother BudPie has for us to eat. Ho McRuff! On boy!”

  Jake loved make believe. One of his favorite games was Knight of the Realm, featuring Sir Jake in the starring role. And anytime Ralph was over, that’s what Jake wanted to play. Even if Ralph, at times, found it difficult to stay in character. “Methinks he doth lacketh the heart of a dreamer” thought Jake, as they clung to Ruff’s back. “Ware, Sir Ralph, lest thou be scrapethed off whilst passing through yon doggy door” said Jake, with a huge smile. “Is something wrong with your face, Jake?” “No” said Jake, “why?” “Never mind” said Ralph.

  This was going to be a fun weekend. Ralph was staying over for a couple of nights, and if Jake had his way, there was little doubt which game they would be playing. But dinner first, which was delicious, a toasted bug salad, buffalo spider-legs, and for dessert, a piece of fly pie, drizzled with a simple lemon reduction. “Ohhhh” groaned Jake, “I am so full! But not too full for a little K of the R. What say you, knave?” Jake couldn’t keep the wide smile off his little snake face. “I say you’d make a much more convincing hero without that spider-leg stuck between your teeth” quipped Ralph, pleased with his cleverness.

  With some help from Brother BudPie, Jake’s handsome, creative, strong yet compassionate sidekick, the young snakes had transformed the living room into a medieval realm that would make Camelot cry with envy. And with the war-steed McRuff stabled close at hand, they were well prepared, should any emergency arise.

  “Forsooth” said Sir Jake, “be there not fair maiden to rescue, nor dragon to slay? When might this enchanted blade quench its thirst?” “I fear not Sir Jake. No reports of dastardly deeds or distressed damsels have arrived by Royal Courier” replied Sir Ralph. “Drat! Double drat! What good a damsel not in need of rescue? What purpose hath a dragon, but to receive the kiss of Longtooth, mine mighty sword?”

  But at that moment, unbeknownst to the two knights gallant, a damsel was indeed in dire danger, and, as fate would have it, the source of that danger was, as you might have guessed, a fire breathing, damsel eating, trouble making dragon. As word arrived by private courier, the knights made ready. Armor was donned, swords were sheathed, shields were slung, and saddlebags filled with lemon jellied spiders. “Take heed Sir Ralph, yon spiders, if not properly stowed, can causeth one heck of a mess. Experience hath bestowed upon me this knowledge” warned Sir Jake. “Ho, McRuff, to me! Our destiny awaits!” And with that, in a cloud of carpet fibers, they were off!

  “No! Please! Eat me not, for though I am young and toothsome, the taste of fear would be a bitter pie. And right now, I’m scared as all get out!” The damsel, who was indeed pleasing to the eye, with fiery red hair, and a smattering of freckles across her perfectly shaped, if somewhat long nose, was currently backed up to a huge boulder. Before her towered a dragon, complete with horns, wings, smoking snout, and everything else that fits our perception of dragon-kind.

“Ha!” snorted the dragon, “You’d be surprised how a flambé can mitigate the bitterness of fear. And though you be but a morsel, a mere bite, hardly enough to whet my appetite, eat you I shall, and with obvious relish! I’ve tried all the others, but obvious is the best, hands down.” It occurred to the damsel, who, for the sake of anonymity, we shall call Lady Gloria, that this particular dragon liked to talk, and maybe even considered himself to be a bit of a comedian. “If I can keep yon lizard flapping his gums long enough, mayhaps a brave knight might arrive in the nick of time, saving the bacon, and my slender, attractive neck along with it.” And that’s exactly what happened!

  Just then, riding up in a cloud of dander, Sir Jake arrived on the scene. Unfortunately, Sir Ralph was unhorsed when McRuff made a hard right to avoid Brother BudPie, who was just coming out of the bathroom. “Boys!” chuckled Brother BudPie, in his warm, affectionate, hypnotic, downright foxy voice. A couple of quick sprays of Febreze, and he retired to the den, newspaper in hand.

  “Back foul beast! Let yon maiden go, that we may be joined in battle!” Puzzled, the dragon replied “You want to do battle with yon maiden, little man?” Nay, ‘tis thee I shall trounce, and forthwith. Let us engage, for this land hath not roometh for the both of us!” “I’m getting mixed signals” said the dragon. But before McRuff even had time to come to a complete stop, Sir Jake was leaping to the ground, and in one swift motion, with sword in hand, interposed himself twixt Gloria and the dragon. “Oh little man, so spic and span, you look like a snack, still in the can.” It’s possible that the dragon fancied himself somewhat of a poet as well. “Nay, mine armor this is, and I shall polish it with a piece of dragon hide, then send the rest of you back from whence you came.”

  Growing bored with the witty repartee between knight and dragon, the Lady Gloria, with her back to the rock, slid down to a more comfortable, seated position and began nibbling on a BLT from her bag. “Methinks ’twas the bacon what caught the attention of the vile wyrm” she mumbled, as a piece of tomato escaped her delicate mouth, sticking to the lace collar of her favorite gown. “Prithee, Sir Knight, spanketh him well, for ruineth my gown, he hath!”

  Squared off, circling one another, probing for weaknesses, knight and dragon exchanged insults, each hoping to gain a psychological advantage. “Step closer, puny human, that I might squash you like a beetle.” Not to be outdone, Sir Jake quickly replied “Say dragon, hast thou perchance a piece of gum? If so, “twould be well appreciated were you to chew it. When, pray tell, didst thou last engage in oral hygiene?” Feeling like he was definitely one up in the insult department, Sir Jake quickly attempted a bold move. “Your name, dragon, that I might know who I slay this fateful day.” It was common knowledge in that time, in that land, that to know a dragon’s true name was to have power over it. And with that power, a dragon may be defeated, and banished from the realm.

  “Oh, nice try pipsqueak. Like I would divulge my true name. Any dimw…” “HOMER! HOMER! You get back to this cave this instant! And leave those humans alone. If your father finds out you’ve been harassing the locals, he’ll tan your hide!”

  “Homer, huh?” said Sir Jake. And with that, the dragon, with a poof! vanished, leaving behind an amused knight, and just a hint of a not-too-great odor. And Sir Jake, smiling broadly at the Lady Gloria, offered her his hand. “Sir Knight, doth thy suffer from some form of facial affliction?” she queried. “Nay fair Lady, why asketh you?” “Heed me not” she replied. And with a shrug, Sir Jake called out to his trusty stallion, “McRuff, to me! Take a knee, brave steed, that the fair Lady might more easily gain perch upon thy lofty back.” And so he did. McRuff, that is. And as they rode away, into the setting sun, Sir Jake could be heard to say, “My Lady, wouldst thou perchance have another one of those sandwiches?”


Ruffing It

It isn’t always easy being a dog. Oh, I will admit, it has its good moments, which surely outnumber the bad. The obvious ones that come to mind are a warm bed, plenty of food, and people who love me. The occasional bone, brought home by Brother BudPie, from the butcher, just for me, and anything else I manage to scarf up from the floor, well, those also are perks worthy of mention. In regards to the floor, anything edible is fair game. No silly five-second rule applies. It’s first come first serve. If you’re fond of your fingers, you’d better be pretty quick on the draw, or get out of Dodge.

The flipside of that coin, just to name a couple, include a very limited ability to vocalize my thoughts, and non-opposable thumbs, indeed, no thumbs at all. These two limitations alone rule out about ninety-nine percent of all the things I would love to be able to do. Also, it would great to be able to read, although getting into the library might be a challenge. I could always fake it guess. If I could score one of those service-dog get-ups, I could walk up and down the aisles pretending to look for my owner, while perusing the book selection. But then, were I successful in getting one down from the shelf, and I could read, how would I turn the pages? Using my nose or my tongue, either one, would make a huge mess. And if I were going to do that, I might just as well chew the heck out of it from the get-go. As a side note, that has happened, once or twice, when Jake’s left one on the floor. As you may have guessed, he spends the majority of his time on the floor.

But I couldn’t read, and I didn’t have one of those fancy outfits. It would be fun, if Jake or Brother BudPie, in a moment of forgetfulness, would accidently leave the front door open every now and again. I’m sure the opportunity to meander through the neighborhood on my own would present many enlightening opportunities. For instance, just wandering around, I might pick up a few words here and there, of practical value. But Brother BudPie was in the Amazon, and Jake was pretty good about making sure the door was closed. Ah well, I don’t have a bad life. Maybe I’ll just take a nap right here in front of one of Brother BudPie’s surplus space heaters, until kibble is ready…..

Ruff jumped up from a deep sleep. Something didn’t feel right. The house was cold, and had an empty feeling. Rushing from room to room, he saw no one, heard no one, caught no one’s scent on the air. Trotting back into the living room, he saw the front door, wide open. “How did I miss that?” he thought, as he walked out onto the front porch. He caught a lingering whiff of Jake’s particular smell, there was no mistaking that, but there was another, more subtle scent mixed in, vaguely familiar, but nothing he could put his paw on. His keen dog mind, shifting into overdrive, could only imagine the worst. “Jake is gone, someone has abducted him, I must find him!”  Following his nose, his best asset in his opinion, he trotted down the steps, up the walkway, out to the sidewalk.

“Man, cars everywhere! I think I’ll stay on this side up of the street.” Trotting on down the sidewalk, he continued to follow his nose, which could only be expected. “If I were been trotting backwards, my nose would be following me” he thought, proud of his quick wit. Just ahead, he was brought up short, in front of a funny looking yellow post, of a type with which he had previous experience. But this was the first time he had noticed the lettering it bore. The letters were: H-Y-D-R-A-N-T. “Ah!” He thought to himself, making the obvious connection. “Restroom. This reading stuff isn’t so tough after all.”

Continuing on his way, doing his best to stay focused, he came to a large, round, green container, sending forth a very tantalizing aroma. “T-R-A-S-H. “Hmmmm! Deli! That must say Deli!” And with a self-satisfied doggy smile, and a wag of his cute little tail, knowing that he might just stop in at this deli on his way back, he headed on down the street. “I might need to stop at that restroom too” he thought. “When ya gotta go…..”

Ruff was beginning to enjoy himself a bit more than he probably should, given the circumstances. He was on a mission, one of great importance, but dang! there were distractions everywhere, beckoning, calling, promising adventure, offering up choice tidbits of food. And speaking of tidbits, what was this? Oh, he had a vague idea, but it was not of a variety he’d previously encountered. “Hmm” he thought, as he circled it, wanting to view it from all angles. A quick sniff and investigatory taste confirmed his suspicions. And congratulating himself for not stepping in it, he continued on his way.

Jake’s familiar scent, in the breeze, but not on the ground, only confirmed his original suspicion of abduction. Someone was carrying him. And mixed with that was what he now recognized as lemon, vague to be sure, but still identifiable to his well-tuned sense of smell. But that wasn’t all. Along with the lemon scent was another, even more subtle, almost recognizable one. He’d smelled it before, but he couldn’t pin down the where or the when. “When I find Jake” he thought, “I’ll find the answer to that little mystery too.”

Just as he thought the trail might be cooling off, the vague odor made a sharp left, through a doorway with lettering above it, too high for him to see clearly. “I guess I can’t complain too much, considering how the world must look from Jake’s viewpoint.” And chuckling to himself at his clever joke, he passed through the doorway. Amid the hustle and bustle, the smells that assaulted his senses, of lemon, of rising dough, of baked goods and sweet frosting, standing at the counter with her back to him, was the source of that vaguely familiar smell. Bracing himself for the coming confrontation, knowing that he was looking at his little buddy’s abductor, he lowered to a crouch, and creeping forward, he couldn’t stifle the growl that escaped his throat.

Spinning, turning to face the threat, the woman, for it was a woman, was so startled that she nearly dropped the little snake perched on her arm. “Ruff!” exclaimed Jake, “What are you doing here? You followed us all this way?” Confused, Ruff could do nothing but sit, smile as only dogs can smile, and wag his tail. “I was sure I closed the door” said Jake, even though there was a hint of doubt in his voice. “I was going to leave you a note, saying I would be out with a friend for a while, but you can’t read. Ruff, I’d like you to meet Lemon Lady, a dear friend, down from Apple Land, where goodness grows on trees, and the Mexican food is superb. She’s here for a very special occasion. Today’s your birthday, Ruff! You’re one year old! We came down to the bakery to get you a cake.” Sotto voce, so as not to offend the shop owner, Jake added “It can’t possibly be anywhere near as good as Lemon Lady could make herself, but we were under time constraints. Oh! Besides Lemon Lady and myself, is there anyone else you’d like to invite over to have cake with us?” “Rowf” said Ruff.

And so it was, that Ruff, the lucky little dog, had the second-best day of his young life, the very best one being the day he was rescued from the animal shelter. And sitting in the living room, surrounded by friends, Jake, Lemon Lady, and Ralph, having finished the best piece of cake he’d ever had, he looked at Jake, with loving, if somewhat speculative eyes, and could only think, “Drop the cake, Jake. Drop the cake.”