Chapter 9: The Road, Relationships, Resolution, Reality...Remorse
Dorothy stopped in the middle of the road. With her hands on her hips, she exclaimed, “I’ve had my fill of adventure… and the dusty…dust of this yellow brick road. You’d think that with all of this magic, someone would find a way to keep the bricks clean. Look at me…my shoes are more yellow than silver. And my neck hurts from nodding at all of the Munchkins we meet along the way.”
“All of you…come!” Dorothy said as she stomped over to sit by a small brook off to the north side of the road. “Now! Something has to change,” she said as she jerked a piece of bread from her basket and shoved it in my face. “Eat!”
I turned my nose.
“William, quit your lollygagging and get your hairy tail over here!” William ate her way toward us.
“I’m hot, tired, and…, I’m going to wash up, rest a bit, and then we’re going to have a meeting. You three can do, as you like. And, if you, William, can figure out a way to empty that gigantic milk sack without me doing it, that would even be better. Our issue is time, but I’m in no mood to speak to it now.”
I decided to take the offensive. “What about me, Dorothy?” I howled. “You have bread to eat, and William has wonderfully soft grass that grows beside the road. You both have fruit when you want it. William cracks nuts for you with her teeth….
“What about me,” I continued as I marveled inwardly at my ability to put into words the many things that once came out as a bark, howl or whimper. “I do not eat bread, nuts, or fruit.”
This gift of speech was glorious and my voice captivated me. I flipped in delight. “The last day and a half, I’ve had nothing to eat…and only milk to drink. Look at me! My glossy black coat, my shiny curls, and even my bangs are matted in yellow dust and....”
“Enough!” William bellowed. “Enough! I too have my problems. You’re only milking two of my four milkers. What about the other two? They’ll explode before long. Furthermore, I carry two heavy potato sacks of your stuff, stuff you two hardly use. And…, my problems don’t end there. Unlike you, Dorothy who can eat a fruit while you walk, and you Toto, who can munch on bread as you trot…, I have to walk off the side of the road because no one was considerate enough to plant grass between the cobbles of yellow brick.”
“You big cow-brain,” I growled. “Roads aren’t supposed to have grass. Grass grows in pastures, fields, and on roadsides.”
“You mince words and minimize my problems and feelings,” William’s mooloadious voice trembled. …And if she twisted her big cow face unnaturally to imitate a person’s pained facial expression, it was a pitiful ploy for sympathy. She only succeeded in looking ridiculous...which made me wish that I had a laugh that could deliver a bout of humiliation equal to that of William’s choked-chicken chuckle.
William hung her head and sadly said, “You make me feel unloved…, and small, very small, Toto. I hope you that makes you feel like a very big little dog.”
“I think…,” offered the scarecrow.
“Quiet! You can’t think, Scrobins and you, shame on you, Toto!” said Dorothy as she jumped to William’s defense. “We women are sensitive. Real gentlemen don’t minimize the problems and feelings of ladies. The sooner you figure that out, Toto, the sooner you will fall in love, and have a family of your own.”
As Dorothy frowned, waggled her finger, and scolded, William grazed…and sneered. Later than sooner, she came to my rescue.
“Dorothy, enough of Toto,” William said. “Observe his blank stare and glazed eyes. He licks his lips as if he has a plate of gizzards before him. Wash up and rest. Toto and I…and Scrobins will give this journey some thought and come up with a plan to speed up our travels.”
“Thank you, William, but Toto is coming with me. Toto, you’re a dirty little dog and you’re getting a bath.”
In her low mooloadious voice, William asked as Dorothy lifted me by my scruff, “Would you like Scrobins to wash the dirty little dog?”
Yellow brick dust collected in large droplets on the tips of my bangs before they splashed upon my nose and dribbled through my whiskers. To distract me from the annoyance and aggravation of the bath, I focused upon the ease in which William manipulated our conversation and the speed in which she stilled Dorothy’s tantrum. William was cool, calm, and collected. I decided to watch her closely. With proper training, she would make me a fine second in command.
Sometime later, Dorothy awoke refreshed and joined us.
“With your permission, Dorothy, I shall call this meeting to order,” I said as I readied myself for a verbal whipping.
“Will Roberts’s Rules apply?” asked Scrobins.
I scratched at my ear with my left hind paw and replied,“Scrobins, I know of no one named Robert.” .
William never quit chomping or chewing, but at least she glanced my way. I was tempted to reprimand her, but said nothing. What would I do if she ignored me or managed to get Dorothy riled up again? I decided on a conservative approach and said, “William, you may continue to eat, but I ask that you pay attention. Dorothy, you have the floor.”
“Toto, we agreed that our goal is to get to the Emerald City and seek help from the Wizard of Oz in returning to Kansas.”
I nodded; Dorothy has always had a thing about mispronouncing some words. I bit my tongue and stifled a laugh at the thought of the gizzards of Oz returning us to Kansas. “Right,” she asked.
William stopped eating and looked at Dorothy. “The grass here is better than any pasture on my farm in Omaha, but it seems we have an issue with the milking side of things. Perhaps the Wizard can teach me how to milk myself. If he can do that, I’ll be staying in this fine land the rest of my days.”
Now William said it…wizard. I was flustered greatly. Could I have misunderstood? I tried to recall the conversation. Their use of the word wizard made a good deal more sense than gizzard. But I had to know for sure. Feeling foolish, I posed the question anyway.
“What is this wizard thing you two mumble about? Sure we want to go to Kansas, but my understanding of things was that the Emerald City was known for the most wonderful gizzards of Oz.”
“Toto,” Dorothy said as she picked me up gently and cradled me in her arms. Lifting me before her, she pushed her nose to mine, and said, “You miss your gizzards so badly…, you poor little thing. If the Wizard or that City of Emeralds has gizzards anywhere at all, I’ll do all that I can to fetch you a pile of them. You’re just the cutest and silliest little dog. I love you to death.” And with that she put me down.
William didn’t bother to hide her amusement or the opportunity to poke me. When she finished with her annoying choked-chicken chuckle, she added fuel to the fire. “Dorothy, you’re so right. There were plenty of dogs on my farm, yet none were as cute and silly as Toto.”
Their nonsense really twisted my tail. I had nothing to say nor could I hide my anger, annoyance, and embarrassment.
“Toto, the droop of your little doggie ears tells me that I hurt your feelings. I’m so sorry,” Dorothy said in the baby-talk voice I always hated. “You’re just so cute and you so want to be a big bad, scary dog…well you’re a big scary dog to me.” Again, she picked me up and held me over her head as she lowered my nose to hers.
William lost it. Her amusement destroyed her composure; her back legs wobbled briefly before she collapsed heavily onto her bottom.
I seethed while I considered how stupid William looked: Dorothy got us back on track.
“Toto…William…,” Dorothy shouted. “Straighten up. And Scrobins, I’d like your silent attention.” Getting her way, Dorothy continued, her voice was solemn. “The way we’re going, it will take us forever to get to Oz. Toto, I love you dearly, but you have little legs and you wander around like all little dogs do and this slows us down. William, I love you too, and your milk is the finest I’ve ever had, but your twice-daily milking takes me a lot of time. You both have to eat, of course. We must stop frequently for you to do so. Toto, you drink milk every hour or so because you have no solid food. So what do we do to pick up our pace?”
Since I was part of the problem, I was pleased that I came up with part of the solution…but the plan required William’s cooperation. Grudgingly she agreed and said with a snort, “Once again…more work for the poor cow….”
My great idea called for me to ride in a sling-like contraption that hung beneath William. Since all I had to eat was milk, I could surely imbibe while we traveled. This would also mean less milking for Dorothy; thus saving us more time.
“Brilliant,” the scarecrow said. “I shall make it adjustable…in the event that Dorothy should wish to nap while we travel.”
“Thank you for your fine complement,” I replied.
Scrobins bent sharply toward me. With breath of freshly cut hay, straw hands on his hips, and his nose inches from mine, he said, “It’s my design that’s brilliant; anyone can come up with an idea.”
With rope, fabric, and some other hardware from the sacks on William’s back, Scrobins worked on his sling-swing. Now and again, he shot me a quick glance to make sure I was listening before he whispered loudly, “What to do…what to do? I can make it fit like a hammock or fit like a choke chain.”
“A bit later Scrobins forgot his ire, studied my anatomy, and made crude sketches in the dirt. “Turn around Toto…stand on your back two legs, Toto…”
After an eternity of fittings, I was frustrated. Dorothy interrupted my complaining. ” She held a small wooden container with a twist-on lid. I recognized it as Aunt Em’s butter shaker. It would change the cream from William’s milk to butter if one shook it long enough…and hard enough.
“I’m sick of bread without butter,” she said. “Aunt Em always used a churn, but for a small amount, this little butter shaker will work just as well…if…”
Dorothy had my attention, but I was not going to bite. Scrobins was focused on my sling and was not paying her any mind and I could see that William could care less.
“If…she said loudly, “if…”
“If,” mimicked Scrobins with intense irritation, “…you’ll quit saying if, then say what you must and let me finish up Toto’s sling.”
Sheepishly Dorothy finished, “…If William will let me tie this butter shaker to her leg.”
William stopped chewing. With bellowdious indignation, she bawled. “You want me to do what?”
Finally, I swayed comfortably and felt like royalty. Then after a final adjustment, I said, “now we are ready!”
William suggested she tie the butter shaker to the tip of her tail. “Perhaps it will help me reach some places on my back not easily itched.”
After an hour, Dorothy had butter…and again, we stopped
“Let me butter up one more slice of bread, then we are off,” Dorothy said.
“I am glad my butter pleases you, Dorothy,” William said.
“It is good and much better of course, than plain bread.”
“I hear a hesitation in your voice, Dorothy,” William said. “Is there something wrong with my butter?”
“Not at all, William, it is just…just different than Kansas butter.”
William lifted her head and with a slight cock of curiosity said, “Which do you prefer Dorothy?”
“Perhaps it just needs a bit of salt,” Dorothy replied. “Then it would be perfect or better to my liking. But that is a taste preference William and has nothing to do with your butter.”
“Can we go, please?” I said as I shook my head. “Anyone heard of talking and walking?” They ignored me.
“That is it,” William said excitedly. “Dorothy, you have given my journey purpose.”
“How so William,” Dorothy said?
“You and Toto have a purpose. You are driven by a great cause; travel to Oz and return to Kansas. Until now, I have followed without a purpose. Now, I too…have a purpose,” William said grandly.
“What might that purpose be,” I asked.
“Why better butter…, of course. Now I too, travel to seek help from the great wizard Oz…to make my butter better, better than butter!”
“Better butter…great idea William! Dorothy, lets walk…,” I said with a shake of my head. After another hour on the road, I was sick as a dog…a seasick dog. With a great sigh from Dorothy, she agreed we should make camp while I recovered. I slept like the dead.