The Lotus Diamond of Kolikata
Vignette 1: Yelps in the Alps
Ear-splitting blasts of hundreds of enormous explosions cracked the silence of the mountain pass as though thunder-bombs and lightning were striking the ground all around him. He shivered as a shrill noise awakened him.
Peter Paws stood on hind legs, as we all do. Just 21 dog years old now, he was average in dog height – almost 5’2” from bottom of feet to top of head. His warm brown cheeks were accentuated by an elongated ivory white spot between his thoughtful eyes. His long ears cascaded gracefully down to his shoulders.
“What bird makes that strange call?” Peter thought aloud. Thespian deRecio, looking away from the binoculars in his long skinny paws, said, “that is the mating call of a Ptarmigan, a wild grouse.”
A moment later they heard the sound of an airplane engine sputtering. It landed on the road to the west beyond the pass where Alexander had crossed the Alps with elephants.
“That’s” Peter said with Thespian chiming in, “interesting.”
The plane was at the side of the road when the trio arrived. The pilot was leaning back and appeared to be sleeping. Charlie pulled a small keg out from under his chin, turned the pet cock and released pear brandy into the pilot’s mouth.
Piper Saurian coughed, “Oh, my word, that’s good. There’s an urgent telegram for Peter. Your secretary,” he said, looking at Peter, “says you need to get back there right away.”
“Wait just a minute!” said Thespian. “You can only fit one passenger. That doesn’t seem quite fair.”
Piper answered, “well, I could drive the plane on the road for a ways, but no more than a half an hour.”
Charles sat beside Peter in the back seat. Piper cranked the engine once and it started with a loud backfire. Thespian had a hold of the wheel block and jumped when the engine popped, pulling the block out.
Piper was grabbing for the hold to jump on the wing and into the plane, but it lurched forward and his hand missed his mark. The plane began to gather momentum. Peter jumped into the forward cockpit. Charles decided to fashion an anchor to drag and slow the plane down. He grabbed one end of a rope fastened to a packing-gear sack. He tied the end of the rope around the rear cockpit grab-handle, tossing the pack-sack out.
Thespian now chased the pack-sack. Every now and then he’d spring towards it as it became air-bound. After the fifth or sixth try, he plucked it out of the air, climbed on, and sitting astride it as if it was a bucking bronco waved his favorite feathered hat.
“Wheee-hoo! Sheeee-heeep this is fun!” he screamed, careless of the approaching danger. “Stay up packie boy, stay up!” he blurted out as the pack began to rotate, rolling him upside down. “Unhh… Ouch!” he said as his shoulder hit the ground. “Oooff… OUCH!”
Peter noticed the plane turned left-ward when he turned the wheel to the left and pressed on the left pedal at the same time. The plane jumped up in the air, turned sideways and banked slightly to the left, the left wing catching on a small tree, whipping the plane around and stopping. The rider on its long rope-tail continued forward, shooting towards the canyon.
Charlie observed slack in the rope as it came to rest on the side of the plane. He pulled the tie-loop out, unfastening the rope from the grab-handle. Now facing back in the direction that they had just come from, Charlie looked up as Thespian, still riding the pack-sack and shouting “Yeee-haawww!” turned his head to see the plane stopped yet rushing by.
Thespian looked at Peter, who put his paws up in the air. ‘What are you doing?
’ his eyes said while his head turned, following his friend’s staring eyes.
Charlie stood up. Without taking his eyes off Thespian he untied the small keg from around his neck, held it above nose, opened the pet cock and gulped down the warm liquor.
Thespian turned his head forward saying, “this is why dogs shouldn’t fly.”
Charlie leapt out of the airplane, landing with one foot on the slackened rope. The rope became rigid, stretched like a rubber-band and shot out from beneath his foot. The split-moment-tug jerked just enough for Thespian to fall off with his paw still grasping the pack. The recoil of the rope snapping back and jumping forward caused a jumble and it slid along the ground.
Thespian, now at arms length from his pack-sack vehicle, looked down glumly as he bounded over the precipice. The snag of rope dropped over the edge and lodged into a rock outcropping. Thespian saw that he was no longer outward but now downward bound, and the canyon face that he had just sailed over was coming right back at him. He used the pack-sack as a buffer, positioning it between him and approaching canyon wall.
He slammed into the rocks, bounced off and came to rest looking up into the blinding afternoon sun. “Hey!” he shouted. There were unintelligible sounds coming from a hundred fifty feet above him. He sighed with relief, saying, “I want to do that again some time.”
© 2007 by Mick Roberts