“Woooow! Look at all the different colors, daddy!” I could hear my daughter marvel from the back seat of the truck as we made our way up Route 39.
“Yeah- it’s something else, isn’t it?” I ask her.
Truth be told, the annual changing of the leaves during fall was one of those random things I missed about living in New England- not really appreciating it until I had been living out west for a few years. And the fact was, I couldn’t have asked for more beautiful weekend to fly back with my wife and daughter to visit my parents. The fall foliage was nearing its peak- stunning oranges, yellows and reds nearly everywhere you looked- and the weather was still gorgeous. The forecast for my hometown was sunny and low to mid 70s for the next several days.
“It really is quite something- isn’t it, love?” the voice next to me spoke up. I turned to see Sakaali gazing out the window, taking in the rolling hills and blazing colors along with the occasional white church, red wooden barn or covered bridge as the New England countryside rolled past.
“Would you like me to pull over somewhere so you can get some pictures?” I offer.
“I would like that very much, but I think Anippe is eager to see Grammy and Gramp Gramp.” she says before turning to our daughter. “Am I right?”
Looking in the rear-view, I can see my little girl nod enthusiastically.
Most drivers might’ve been worried about the loud thumping that I’m hearing by now, but I’ve taken enough road trips with my Anubis wife and daughter to know the sound of a wagging tail thumping against the door.
Sakaali had put alot of effort into juggling our schedules in order to take this trip, and so far it was paying off beautifully. Instead of driving cross-country, we flew into Manchester airport and rented a truck for the drive up to my hometown. The rental agency clearly did business with monstergirls on a regular basis, since the seats in our truck had a gap between the backrest and the seat that was enough to accommodate most beastmen’s tails.
“Besides- we’ll have a few days to do a little exploring, right?” Sakaali continued.
“Oh sure. I mean- there’s a farm not too far from here. Every fall, they got hayrides, a corn maze, a pumpkin patch and even a little petting zoo. That sound like something you want to see, kiddo?” I asked Anippe.
She nodded eagerly- I probably won her over with ‘Petting Zoo’.
“You’ve been out here before, right mommy?”
Sakaali nodded with a wistful smile on her face.
“Indeed. The last time we were out here was just before you were even born, my precious Anippe.” Sakaali said as she gently clasped my right hand. “I didn’t even want to go at first, but your father was so adamant I join him. I was glad he persuaded me…”
“Was it like this?” Anippe asked, wide-eyed.
“Nope- we were there in winter.” I chime in. “Everything was covered in snow. It was right around Christmastime, and your mom gave me the best present ever.”
“Really? Was it a Neboo-chan detective hat?” my little girl asks.
“Nope! Even better….it was an announcement.”
“What kind of announcement?”
“That in a few months, I could expect a beautiful little bundle of joy and wags, my little wag-a-muffin….”
“D-aaaaaaaad.” Anippe fussed. Clearly my girl was never too young to be embarrassed by her dad’s nickname for her.
Sakaali was still smiling as she went back to taking in the passing scenery. Always one to adhere to strict timetables, we were actually a little ahead of schedule and making good time- that’s probably why she seemed so relaxed and carefree.
Even before we pulled into the driveway, the three of us spotted a familiar figure toiling away in the front yard.
Anippe was so ecstatic that she barely waited for our truck to stop before undoing the seatbelt, throwing open the door and hopping out.
“Gramp Gramp!” my daughter shouted out as she ran towards him.
“Well as I live and breathe, if it isn’t little Missy Paw Paw!” My father bellowed happily in his gravelly voice.
Without any additional fanfare, Pops dropped the rake he was using and scooped her up before spinning her around.
“How are you, sweetie?” he said after giving Anippe a little peck on the cheek.
“Hello Edgar.” my wife said, smiling at the sight of our daughter throwing her arms around Pops’ neck and giving him a big hug with her tail wagging away.
“Sakaali- my favorite daughter-in-law!” Pops said. Technically his only daughter in law, but let’s not get hung up on the details. “You guys are early- did you have a good flight?”
“Our connections were on time, the rental agency had our vehicle ready and waiting and we made excellent time up here from Manchester. I must say, I’ve never seen anything quite like this.” she said as she swept her arm around to indicate all the trees in the neighborhood that were displaying hues vibrant of gold, orange and red. While her tail wasn’t as enthusiastically wagging like Anippe’s was, her lustrous black tail was swishing back and forth.
“It’s great to look at, but kind of a pain to clean up after.” Pops chuckled.
“Don’t worry- I’m certain that Graham would be more than happy to help out.” she said, giving Pops a kiss on the cheek. Tail still wagging, Anippe managed to wiggle her way out of Pop’s arms and into her mother’s as my wife greeted Pops
“Ayuh- flew halfway ‘cross the country to rake leaves on my vacation.” I grumble.
“C’mon Graham, don’t be such a big baby.” Sakaali chastised me.
“Y’know, Graham- you oughta listen to your wife.” Pops followed up.
Damn it- they’re tag teaming me now.
“How you holdin’ up, kiddo?” I ask Anippe, ignoring my wife and Pops for a moment as I tousle her hair.
“I’m OK. I-“
Before my daughter could continue, the four of us heard the front door open up.
“Well, hello you guys.” I heard mom call out. “So glad to see you made it!”
Anippe’s eyes widened upon hearing the voice.
“Grandma!!” she said as she took off for the front door in a blur.
Mom quickly got down to one knee and wrapped up the eager pup in a hug.
“So good to finally see my sweet grand-Anubis face-to-face!” Mom gushed.
My parents had in fact seen Anippe before, but only through Skype or pictures that Sakaali sent out. Dad’s ‘Missy Paw Paws’ moniker for her came from when she was still a toddler and would try grabbing at mom and Pops’ image on the screen with her little fuzzy grabbers while they were on Skype with Sakaali and me.
After giving Anippe a kiss on the cheek, mom turned to the rest of us.
“Dinner’s still going to be a while- you guys can unpack and make yourself comfortable if you want.”
“Husband- My tail seems to be a bit unkempt from our long trip. I believe it requires further attention from you.” Sakaali said as we were unpacking in the guest room.
“All right, my Empress of the Desert. Let me go unpack your brush.”
After a few minutes of searching for my wife’s favorite brush, I still can’t find it.
“Uh-oh…..looks like we forgot to pack your brush.” I inform her.
“Graham- that’s not funny. Don’t even joke about that.”
“Good news, babe. I’m not joking…..can’t find it anywhere.”
Her scowl deepened as the realization set in.
“This oversight of yours has made me quite cross, my Desert Night.” she harrumphed.
“Uh-oh….I’m guessing there is going to be consequences.”
“Damn right there’s going to be consequences. Your Empress of the Desert is very cross with you right now.” Sakaali growled as she crawled across the bed.
Oooh….she’s in one of those predatory moods, which would be great if the walls of this old place weren’t so paper thin.
“Clearly your Desert Knight has let you down and seeks to make amends, my Empress.”
“You know what to do- assume the position.” she ordered.
Uh-oh. I can see that Sakaali has a clipboard that she’s ready to use as an improvised paddle.
Aware that Anippe and pops are still outside and mom is downstairs, I might as well do as my wife orders, putting both hands on the top of a bureau as I lean forward.
“What am I to do with you? You’ve been so careless…” my wife scolds after firmly smacking my backside with the clipboard.
“I apologize for being so careless and seek to get back in my Empress’ good graces.”
Clearly my wife was unmoved by my appeal.
“In her unending benevolence, your Empress will consider your request, errant knight-“
“But in the meantime, I want you to think about- AH!”
Instead of another blow from the clipboard, I heard my wife let out a surprised yelp. Turning around, I could see why as my mother was standing in the doorway to our bedroom.
“MOM!” I yelp as I’m now standing bolt upright.
Her face has gone from shock to mild amusement by now.
“This explains soooo much…..” she mused.
“Damn it, ma-can’t you knock?”
“In my own house?”
“I’m so sorry!” A flustered Sakaali said to my mother.
“No need to fret- since Grahamy-poo is a big boy now, I can see he clearly doesn’t mind getting spanked by you.” Mom smirked. “Besides- this is the sort of thing that will lead to that little cutie-pie getting a kid sister of her own.”
“Wh-what do you need, mom?”
“I was upstairs when I overheard my daughter in law mention she didn’t have a hairbrush, so I thought I’d give her this.” she said as she handed my Anubis wife an old but elegant-looking hairbrush.
“Th-thank you.” A mortified Sakaali said meekly, taking the brush.
“You have much more in common with your father than you realize.” Mom said, turning to me.
“Holy shit, ma! I did not need to hear that….”
“Well, I didn’t need to SEE that.” Mom says before excusing herself.
Oh shit- sick burn, mom.
“Might as well go check on Pops and Anippe….” I sigh after a long, awkward silence.
“Yes- please do.” my still-mortified wife harrumphed.
Gingerly heading back into the yard (those expertly-wielded clipboards can hurt!) I saw Pops right away, but it didn’t seem like there was any trace of Anippe. It took me a few moments before I realized where she was hiding.
Sticking out of the pile of leafs was a tiny pair of Anubis ears. I could hear some rustling- that had to be Anippe’s tail.
Pops and Anippe were up to something, all right. Even though I was having a hard time keeping a straight face, I figured I should play along.
“Hey Pops- have you seen Anippe around?” I said loud enough for my daughter to hear.
In the moment or two of silence before he answered, I could hear more gentle rustling from the pile of leaves.
“Hmm….can’t say I’ve seen her around. Have you checked with your mother?”
Apparently my little girl couldn’t wait any longer and burst forth from the pile of freshly raked leafs.
“RAAAH!” she yelled out as she burst out from the leaves, lumbering forward as she quickly grabbed onto my leg. “I got you, daddy!”
“You sure did! You got ‘im good.” Pops said, patting my little girl’s head.
My little girl was beaming as she was still clinging to my leg.
“Whoa there- you sure surprised me there, little Wag-a-muffin!” I said, following this up with more headpats.
“Anippe- what are you doing?” a voice from behind us admonished. “That’s no way for a proper and diligent Anubis to behave. Besides, I’m sure your gramp gramp worked very hard to rake all those leaves.”
“It’s all right.” my dad chuckled. “I’m glad she’s having fun and I can always get Graham to rake up when she’s done.”
“Really?” Sakaali asked hesitantly.
“Yeah- he was always trying to weasel his way out of raking the leaves when he was a kid, so I think it’s only fair he starts today.”
“Jeez, dad….” was as far as I got before Sakaali took off like a shot and jumped into the pile of leaves. It was still big enough that she completely disappeared for a moment and looked as though she was swimming around once she resurfaced.
“Wait for me, mommy!” Anippe said as she bounded back towards the leaf pile.
In no time, Sakaali and Anippe were halfheartedly throwing pawfuls of leafs at each other before taking turns diving under the big pile.
“I still don’t see why you save yourself the trouble and get a leafblower, Edgar.” another voice spoke up.
Mom had decided to rejoin us now.
“I keep telling you, I’m not giving Albachon’s one dime. Their manager is clueless and disrespectful. Everyone at that store is!”
“Dad- they’re the only hardware store around for like 40 miles.” I chime in
“Then I’ll drive- I’m not going to Albachon’s.”
Sakaali stopped swimming around in the leaf pile long enough to listen in.
“Edgar- based on what I’ve heard, I think you’re absolutely correct.” my wife spoke up. “Relying on proximity while overlooking subpar customer service is by no means a viable business model.”
“See? She gets it!” Dad said, pointing to my wife who’s now partially concealed by the huge leaf pile.
“How exactly did you come to this decision- if I may ask, Edgar?” Sakaali asked, seemingly not noticing a little black tail and a pair of Anubis ears circling around her like a shark’s dorsal fin in the open sea as the leaves continued to quietly rustle.
I could see mom’s eyes grow wide, and I’m sure mine were the same way as we were both frantcially signalling to my wife to not continue with this topic.
“I’m glad you asked!” Pops said. I had little reason to doubt he was glad, given how he had been telling me, mom, his brothers, my mother’s brothers, their kids, his coworkers- basically ANY form of sentient life about his retail horror story.
“I’m working on this plumbing project and I run out of the L joint connectors for some of the piping. I’m in kind of a hurry, so I head to Albachon’s…….big mistake.” he seemed to be subconsciously doing these little karate chops with both hands as he voiced his satisfaction, only now I could see mom was mimicing him.
“So I’m asking if they had and L joint piping and this punk stoner in an apron shows me some PVC pipe. When I tell him those aren’t ‘L’ joints, he has the gall to say
“They’re like lower-case ‘L’s- does that count?”
I heard this story enough times to join in with mom pantomiming dad.
“The whole time I’m saying to myself “Wrong answer, kiddo!”. So before he can say anything else, I demand to speak with the manager.”
Mom’s way ahead of me in getting dad’s mannerisms and body English down and I’m trying not to crack up as she’s doing this not even two feet away from Pops with him none the wiser.
“I can’t believe what I’m hearing. The manager is basically telling me he’s more interested in getting his dim-bulb nephew a part time job rather than hire someone who’s qualified and knows what they’re talking about.”
“Sakaali, dear…..could you come and help me in the kitchen for a bit?” My mother asked uncertainly.
“Oh…I…..” Sakaali began before she realized my mother was offering her a graceful exit from one of my dad’s long-winded harangues. “Certainly- I shall join you momentarily” she replied as she climbed out of the leaf pile.
As she walked by me, she stopped for a moment and turned around to examine her tail. Naturally, there were dozens of leaves stuck in the fur. With a smug little grin, she handed me a rake.
“Once you’re done here out here, husband, it appears that my tail shall require some attention from you.”
I scowled a little bit before taking the rake. As she turned to leave, I playfully started running the rake through her tail.
“Nobody likes a smartass, Graham.” she smirked as she jogged into the house.
“Says the Anubis who married a smartass.” I chuckle.
The rustling of the leaf pile grew louder and finally Anippe emerged.
“Hey there- looks who decided to join us again!” Pops said.
“I was wondering when you’d come up for air, sweetie.” I chuckled.
“Phooey- I think I swallowed a leaf.” Annipe grumbled as she began brushing herself off.
“I’m just glad you got out of there before the leaf leeches got to you.” I say offhandedly.
“L-leaf leeches?” she asks nervously.
“Oh yeah….nasty little bloodsuckers that make themselves at home in big leaf piles.
Why do you think I was so afraid of raking leaves when I was your age? They’ll just grab on to some poor unsuspecting kid and……CHOMP!” I playfully grab her arm.
Anippe lets out a frightened yelp. “Nooo! Daddy! Don’t let the leaf leeches get me!” she whimpered.
“That’s enough frightening my grand-daughter.” Pops tells me sternly before turning to reassure Anippe. “There’s no such things as leaf leeches- your dad is just being a big old meanie.”
“Jeez, Pops….” I grumble.
“All right- let’s get back to work and wrap this up.” Pops said abruptly before I can say anything else.
Grumbling, I take my rake and start using it for it’s intended purpose.
I can see that under the big pile of leaves Anippe and Sakaali had been thrashing around in was a tarp. Dad was gonna bundle these bad boys up and take them to the dump later on in the week.
After a few moments, I realize something. Anippe is still out here with us and it’s still kind of quiet. Turning around, I see my little girl scooping up a small armful of leaves and crouching down before setting it down in a little pile. I’m glad to see her tail is wagging once again, so I couldn’t have scared her too badly with the tall tale about leaf leeches.
However, as soon as she turns around, her wagging tail scatters the little pile she had been working on. Turning around, she seems genuinely preplexed at where her leaf pile went. This process repeated itself twice and was likely going to happen a third time until I heard Pops speak up.
“Whoa, Missy Paw Paw. You don’t have to do that for us.”
“But the sooner I help you finish, the sooner you, me and daddy can head back inside.”
“Sweetie- you’re a guest. Grandpa doesn’t want you working.” Pops started.
“You’re spoiling her, Pops.” I offered.
“YOU- get back to work….” he groused before turning back to Anippe. “Tell you what- since you’ve already been such a helpful little Anubis, how about you join me and your dad for a little treat afterwards?”
I had some idea of what dad had in store for me and him when we were done, but I was curious to see what Anippe was going to get from him.
Despite one adult and one juvenile Anubis thrashing around in the leaf pile dad had raked up, it didn’t take long before we had them bundled up into three different tarps- complete with Anippe throwing individual leaves into the tarps before we tied them off.
Although fairly light, each of the bags were bigger than Anippe. Me and pops made three trips lugging them around to the front of the house next to the garage with my little girl eagerly following.
“Alright- make yourselves comfortable. I’ll be right back.” he said to the two of us.
Nor really sure what was going on, I just kind of paced back and forth, waiting for pops to return. After a few minutes, he re-emerged from the garage with three bottles before settling down on one of the bags with a satisfied grunt. The bag of leaves was threatening to swallow him whole- although once he adjusted himself, he looked like he was sitting in an oversize beanbag chair.
“All right- Graham, I hope you don’t mind an IPA.” Pops said, holding up a glass bottle.
“Heh- well, since you’re twisting my arm.” I said, taking it from his outstretched hand. The label said Stoneface- must’ve been one of the newer craft breweries that started up after I left.
“And I have something very special for you, Miss Paw Paw.” he said, holding out a plastic bottle.
A bit like root beer, only clear and flavored with birch oil- giving it a sort of minty aftertaste. Also very much like root beer in that it’s non-alcoholic.
“Oooh- you’re in for a treat.” I tell Anippe as she clasps at the bottle with both paws.
The Anubis pup was dwarfed by the bag of leaves she settled down in, but quickly opened the bottle and took a sip.
“That was one of your dad’s most favorite treats when he was growing up.” pops said as the two of us were waiting for a reaction- any reaction- from Anippe’s first sip.
After a prolonged silence, my litle girl lets out a satisfied “Mmm!” as she takes another sip. Sakaali (and to a lesser extent, me) usually try and limit her intake of sugary snacks or drinks, but it isn’t everyday that Pops gets to dote over his only grandchild.
“It’s good, isn’t it?” I ask her.
She nods. “What’s it called?”
“Birch Beer.” Pops answers.
“Y-you’re giving me beer?” Anippe asked in wide-eyed shock.
“It’s OK- I won’t tell your mom.” Pops said with a wink.
My little girl looked at me and then Pops as though he had just let her in on some big secret before taking another sip.
“You’ve earned it, kiddo.” I said to my girl as the three of us relaxed in our improvised beanbag chairs for a bit.
Before it got dark out, mom stuck her head around the corner to let us know that it was suppertime.
Dinner was mom’s Yankee Pot Roast and baked potatoes.
“Are there many of our kind living in the area?” Sakaali asks.
“Yes- not many, though. Do you remember Mr. Gagnon?” Pops directed that question at me.
“My old high school principal? Yeah.”
“He met a weresheep through a matchmaking service. They got married after a couple of weeks.”
“Really? I thought Mr Gagnon was kinda……” how can I put this while within earshot of my daughter. “……..light in the loafers.”
“So did everyone else until he showed up out of the blue one day with his wooly wife.”
“There’s that Yeti up in Quatssac who waves to traffic all afternoon.” Mom spoke up. “I guess its still too warm for her to be hugging people.”
“Oh yeah- I heard about her. She seems like a good kid….just a little….off.” Dad replied.
“What about that liazrdwoman? The one who set up that judo place on Webster St?” Mom asked.
“She closed up shop and moved elsewhere. Said something about a lack of ‘worthy competitors’ around here.”
“I heard some of the students taking lessons there started calling her ‘Godzilla Jr.’.”
“Probably not to her face.” I added.
“Oh!” Dad said as though he just remembered something. “There’s that Whitehorn commune north of here om Devonshire Notch- I guess a bunch of ’em got together and decided to live off the land.”
“That can’t be going too well for them- I saw Mrs Applebaum at the salon and she said there was a couple of them at the county food pantry the other day.”
I chuckle quietly- not at the White Horn commune’s plight, but at how my wife’s ears are perked and at attention. Clearly Sakaali is enjoying the small town gossip she’s hearing tonight.
“Doesn’t sound like alot, but you gotta remember that this is still not alot of people around here to begin with.” Pops said to my wife.
“Anippe, dear? How is school?” Mom asked.
“Good. Sometimes I get to build things with blocks.” my daughter beamed.
“Have you been making any new friends?” Mom followed up.
“Yeah….there’s some Jinkos in my class. They’re sisters, and we play all the time! Especially if there’s a cardboard box around.”
“Their mom is Sakaali’s personal trainer, too.” I point out.
“I knew it!” Pop said, smacking the table before pointing to my wife. “I could tell you’d been working out, but I wasn’t going to say anything right away.”
“I’m quite pleased with the results.” my wife said before affectionately grabbing my arm. “As is your son.”
“Quit ogling my wife, Pops…..you’re a married man.”
“You got a halloween costume all picked out, Missy Paw Paws?” Pops asked, not acknowledging my rather reasonable request.
“I wanna go out as Detective Neboo! But only if I can get Gabby to dress up as Sesuha the Sphinx.” my little girl said.
“Who’s Gabby?” Mom asked.
“One of her jinko friends.” I explain.
“And if that doesn’t happen?”
Anippe thought about that for a moment.
“Hmm….maybe Hippodamia Parenthesis.”
“A hippo dame and a pair of parenthesis?” Pops ask in exaggerated confusion.
“Oh- my little one had her nose buried in the tablet for just about the whole flight over here.” Sakaali began to explain. “That’s a scienfitic name for ladybugs.”
Mom couldn’t help but gush.
“I don’t know about this detective one, but I bet you’d be just a darling little ladybug.” she tells her granddaughter.
“Have you two thought about coming out to visit us?” Sakaali asked. “We’d love to have you over.”
“I….I dunno….” Pops said hesitantly. “Sounds like we’d be an imposition for you guys. Besides, the way airfares are these days….”
“We’ve certainly thought about it dear…” mom began. “It’s certainly worth looking into once some of those plane tickets go on sale.”
“You know they have Duncan’s Donuts out there- don’t you Pops?”
My father arched an eyebrow and stopped chewing. Clearly I had his attention.
“Do they now?”
“We keep inviting you out there so you can visit your granddaughter and all I hear from Pops is ‘Why do you gotta live in such a gosh-darn hot place anyway? It’s like living in a sandy blast furnace that’s famous for cactus and a big hole in the ground’.” I say so that both mom and Sakaali can hear, only Pops never used ‘gosh darn’. “But the second I mention they have his favorite donut chain out there, Pops is all ‘Well now- book me on the next flight!’.”
“Maybe I just wanted you guys to come out here with Missy Paw Paws and visit us.” he said morosely.
“Well- we’re here now, and our invitation still stands, Pops.” I reply.
“I’ve wanted to go to Arizona for awhile now.” Mom said.
“Like I said- you’re welcome to stay with us.” Sakaali assured her.
Dinner and dessert passed without the subject coming up again. After everybody excused themselves, Sakaali, Anippe and I continued unpacking and called it a night.
McPearson’s Farms was bustling the following day. So far, it looked like most families were out in the pumpkin patch trying to find the best gourd to hollow out and make into a Jack O Lantern.
I’m not sure if they lived there or were just working there, but there was a weresheep in striped overalls and a surprisingly modestly dressed holstaur at the gate. After I paid for all five of us, the weresheep punched a hole in five tickets before tearing them off of a roll and handing each of us a little baggie of sweets along with the tickets
“All right, my little wag-a-muffin. Where would you like to go to first?” I asked Anippe.
My daughter took in her surroundings with wide eyes. Ahead of us were a couple of food stalls selling gyros, pretzels, funnel cakes and hot dogs, the aromas from them wafting over us. Beyond that was the pumpkin patch, the line for the hayrides, a petting zoo and the cornstalk maze.
“What’s the Maze of Maize?” She asked, looking at me and Sakaali.
“It’s a labyrinth made out of corn, dearest.” Sakaali said with a warm smile.
“A lab-rinthe?” Anippe asked- a bewildered expression on her face before something dawned on her. “Oh! You mean like one of those traps that mean old Kheket will spring on Neboo and Sesuha?”
Sakaali was positively beaming now that her daughter was referencing her favorite TV show.
“Yes- very much like that.”
Of course, my parents had no idea who Neboo, Khehet or Sesuha were, but were more than happy to play along.
“Let’s do the maze first!” she said excitedly, her tail beginning to wag as she grabbed her mother’s right paw and started dragging her to the entrance.
“This will be good practice for when I have to take back all that stolen treasure from that purple snake’s lair!” Anippe said to all of us as we followed her in.
Jesus Christ on a toboggan.
Have you ever been lost in a maze- corn or otherwise?
It’s not exactly fun, even when surrounded by loved ones.
My nervous habit apparently was to carry a small pouch of black licorice and chew on it while I was feeling bored or impatient.
The seal on this bag was opened after the second or third dead end.
After Anippe led us down the sixth or seventh dead end, the novelty of this particular attraction had worn off
“Oh no….” Anippe whimpered as she looked at yet another dead end. “Something must be throwing my senses off. I knew I shouldn’t have had those beers.”
This revelation was met by a simultaneous, outraged “WHAT!?” from both Sakaali and my mom.
“Graham- would you care to explain what our precious Anippe is talking about?” My wife said.
“Edgar, what do you know about this?” mom growled simultaneously.
“Relax ladies….it was just ONE beer….” Pops began.
Wow- was that ever the wrong thing to say. Dad and I were now on the recieving end of the unchoreographed matching glares of burning death. I don’t know if there was a category for that in the Guiness Book but if there was, mom and Sakaali’s picture would be alongside it from now until the end of time.
“It was a Birch Beer, honest!” I explain hastily.
Sakaali still looked confused.
“It’s a soda- like root beer or ginger beer.” mom explained.
However, this didn’t seem do anything towards calming down my wife.
“Graham! What did we say about keeping a close watch on Anippe’s intake of sweets?”
“Hang on- it was my idea. Little Miss Paw Paw was helping us out with some yardwork and I thought I’d get her a little something for her trouble.” Pops said.
My wife moderated her tone a little.
“I suppose if she earned herself a treat, then I don’t mind.”
“All right- getting back to the situation at hand. The quickest way out is a straight line.” I grumble. “Who’s with me?”
“Graham….wait.” Mom admonishes me.
“Hang on- I got an idea.” Pops said. “If you can’t follow your nose, maybe you need to elevate your perspective….”
“Dad- I don’t think throwing my daughter over the wall is going to help”
Pops said nothing, but got down on his haunches and let Anippe climb aboard. He was now giving her a piggyback ride- and although it was a bit of a cheat, it was enough elevation for her to start guiding our way out of the maze.
“Aw…my little Wag-a-muffin. While you’re up there, can you do daddy a favor?”
“Say: ‘Who run Bartertown?’…”
Understandably, Anippe looked confused as I got out my phone and started recording.
“Wh-who runs Bartertown?” she followed this up with a perplexed shrug.
Close enough I figure as we start heading out.
“Perhaps you can boost me up on your shoulders, husband.” Sakaali offered half-seriously.
“Only if you’re wearing those little green spandex booty shorts you have when you’re working out with Vanessa…..”
Oh shit, I said that out loud and now my wife is glaring at me.
While dad’s idea seemed like an improvement, it wasn’t completely foolproof as we ended up in a few more dead ends.
However, our innovative little girl was looking at the complimentary bag of candy they handed to her at the entrance and looked like she was formulating a plan.
“I’ve got an idea.” Anippe said, reaching into her bag and pulling out some candy corn. She starts throwing individual candies on the ground every few paces- making sure we’ll see it if we double back.
“That’s my girl! You managed to find an actual use for that inedible garbage called ‘candy corn’.”
“That’s rich, coming from someone who used to love black licorice.” Pops grumbled.
“Still do, thank you very much.” I shake the pouch for emphasis.
“I swear, he gets that from your side of the family.” Pops says to mom.
“Well- if he got that from me, then he also must’ve gotten all the adorable genes from our side and passed them on down to this little cutie.” mom said as she reached up and gave Anippe a playful little boop on the nose.
My daughter responded with a stifled little giggle.
“Hey- I got an idea, why don’t we use Graham’s licorice as trail markers.” Pops offered.
“Dad- I will spend the whole fall and winter in here and go full Donner Party on every last one of you before I start throwing my imported Australian licorice onto the ground.”
“Oooh…..La dee dah! What kind of sissy brags about having imported candy?”
“Edgar- I seem to recall you driving up to Quebec to get armloads of Coffee Crispers.” mom chastised pops.
“Coffee Crispers?” Sakaali asked.
“It’s a candy bar that’s almost exclusively available in Canada.” mom explained.
“You were probably still pregnant with Graham. I’m pretty sure they were part of your cravings.”
“No- Graham was five.” Mom insisted.
“Wh-why would I drive all the way up to Canada for a candy bar?” Pops asks, although his tone is beginning to sound pretty unconvincing.
“Dozens of candy bars. Sweetie- Graham was in kintergarten and you were bragging about the exchange rate.”
“I was probably fishing for walleye at Lake Megantic and brought back a whole bunch because the Canadian dollar was so low at the time.”
“So you…….imported candy like a- and I quote- ‘sissy’?” I point out.
“Up ahead- we go all the way to the end and take a left!” Anippe spoke up, thankfully diverting attention away from our increasingly pointless argument.
Thankfully the exit to the maze appeared
“You did it, Missy Paw Paws!” Pops congratulated. “Now- let’s get some of that treasure from this Kook-ette’s lair.”
“Kekhet.” Anippe corrected him with a giggle.
“What’s this?” Pops continued with a tone of mock surprise as he went to the food stalls with Anippe still on his shoulders and me, mom and Sakaali in tow.
“Well how about that, Missy Paw Paws?” Pops asked in his gravelly tone. “When you said treasure, I thought you meant diamonds and rubies. But it looks like Kook-ette’s treasure was actually all this yummy food.”
“What would you like, sweetie?” I ask Anippe as Pops lowers her down from his shoulders. If Pops wasn’t going to buy her whatever she wanted from one of the food stalls, I certainly would.
Sakaali would normally object to most of the offerings available from the different stalls, but she also appreciated that it’s not every day that Anippe got to go out with her grandparents.
“Ummm……” my daughter looked around the food stalls before us.
“What are Creepies?” she asks us, pointing to a food stall with an ogress in an apron and chef’s hat that barely managed to fit inside.
“You mean crêpes?” mom corrects her.
“They’re not unlike little pancakes, I suppose.” Sakaali began to say.
“Let’s get some of those!” she said as she grabbed mom’s hand with one paw and Sakaali’s paw with her other and started dragging them away.
Instead of following, me and pops went to a different food stall that was selling something more robust and had a shorter line. He ordered a big pretzel, beer and hot dog while I had a bratwurst on a roll along with a hard cider to wash it down.
“Is it just me, or is that girl just a little bundle of energy?” Pops remarked as he tucked into his pretzel.
“It isn’t just you, Pops….jet-lag hasn’t even kicked in for her. Sometimes even a young stud like me has a hard time keeping up with that little bouncing ball of energy and wags. It’s only natural for a creaky and decrepit old man to have a hard time keeping pace with her.
“Son- I’m never to old to kick your ass. Candlepin, cribbage….you name it.” Instead of continuing, he was holding out his plastic cup of cheap lite beer as though…….
“A toast!” he said.
I raised my glass. “To the cutest little Anubutt on either side of the Pecos.”
“May she run you ragged for years to come.” Pops chuckled.
“That’s her mom’s job.” I reply with a wink. “Speaking of….”
The ladies returned- each of them carrying a paper plate with some crepes on it.
Mom kept it simple with some powdered sugar, cinnamon and a melting dollop of butter on hers. Sakaali’s featured whipped cream and chopped up strawberries while Anippe had drizzled chocolate syrup and sliced bananas on hers.
“That’s not a crepe- that’s a work of art, princess.” I said to my daughter.
“Would you like a bite, daddy?” she offers, holding a forkful in front of my face.
“Thank you- I would like that very much.” I tell her.
It tasted even better than it looked, but it would be bad form to scarf down my daughter’s crêpe in front of her.
Maybe I can get her to look away for a second. No…wait- that would be just as bad.
Meanwhile, mom and Pops were discussing something.
“If it’s all right with you two, we’d love to take Anippe to the pumpkin patch and petting zoo while you guys can go on the hayride.” Mom offered.
Translation: they were more interested in doting over their newly-arrived granddaughter than me and Sakaali having some privacy- but it just happened to work out that way.
The good news was that Sakaali and I had the hayride almost completely to ourselves.
It was a leisurely wagon ride down a dirt road beyond the farm that cut through the hills and forest, skirted a small lake and even featured a covered bridge a little over a mile away from the farm.
With two horses pulling, the driver gave us some running commentary on the road and surrounding farmland and forest.
He reminded me of the Pepperidge Farms guy.
“You know, It’s not just ANY Anubis I’d offer my licorice to….” I say as I slip a little nub into my wife’s mouth. “It has to be an extra-special, extra-beautiful Anubis.”
Sakaali beamed joyously as she chewed for a bit and the wagon continued plodding down a dirt road with vibrant reds and oranges serving as a leafy canopy.
Then my wife’s facial expression changed.
“In the name of Ra, this is terrible” she said, quickly leaning over the side of the wagon to spit out the licorice.
“Promise me one thing, my love….” she continues, seemingly regaining her composure.
“You never buy anything like that again- I’m at a loss to describe how awful that truly was.” her face was still scrunched up in disgust.
“Are you kidding? Now that you said that, I know I don’t have to worry about you swiping any of it.”
“I can condition Anippe to enjoy that vile tasting concoction and then she can swipe it from you on her own accord.”
“Nice try, but you’re bluffing. I know how inflexible you get with Anippe and junk food.”
“So you’re admitting it’s junk food then? Maybe I should have you cut back.”
“It’s pretty healthy, all things considered.” Holding up the little pouch of tart black candy, I start reading off the label. “For centuries, extract from the root of the licorice plant is said to have aided in digestive health and was used to treat ulcers, heartburn, colic and indigestion.”
“That’s hardly an unbiased source.” Sakaali replied. “Besides, you don’t suffer from any of those maladies.”
“Must be because of all that licorice I’ve eaten.”
“Now this bridge up hea’h was completed in 1844 and is the second oldest bridge in the county- the oldest still open to vehicle traffic.” our guide begins. “Ten yeahs aftah it was opened. it was damaged by a flood and rebuilt.”
“Locals call it ‘The Kissing Bridge’.” Pepperidge Farms guy continues.
That seems to get my wife’s attention.
“Why’s that?” Sakaali asked him.
“Well- back when it was first built, public displays of affection were usually frowned upon, but since a bridge like this offered some privacy for a couple out on a carriage ride, they’d take advantage of it and steal a kiss when they were riding through.
“Is that so?” she asked almost dismissively as the horse-drawn cart plodded into the enclosed bridge.
The *clomp clomp* of equine hooves echoed off centuries old timbers as we slowly made our way through the structure.
Before I could say anything, I felt a pair of warm paw-hands grabbing my face and even warmer, softer lips on mine.
As I stifled a surprised moan, I could feel Sakaali making a satisfied little whimper as we continued passing through the bridge.
“You fool….” she whispered after breaking the kiss. However, I could still hear her over the hooves striking the wooden planks that made up the bridge’s surface. “Why does it feel so wonderful to be in love with such a foolish man?”
I have no immediate response to her other than to silence her with a kiss of my own as the light from the other end of the bridge drew closer.
“How many years have you had to figure that out?” I ask her slyly. “Makes me wonder who the real fool is.”
My wife furrows her brow and gives me a playful little bop as we re-emerge in daylight. The driver catches a glimpse of this before turning his attention back to the dirt road with a knowing chuckle.
Maybe his first hayride with an Anubis on board, but Pepperidge knows what’s going on.
Once we’re on the other side of the bridge, a thought occurs to me.
“Hey- how many accidents has this farm had with the hayrides?” I ask the driver.
“Oh….I’ve been doing this for eighteen seasons now and we have a pretty dahn good safety record if’n I say so.” He said proudly. “But every once in awhile, you’ll get some yahoo who doesn’t listen to instructions and falls off or somethin’ like that.”
“So someone falling off would be pretty unremarkable?”
“Ayuh- unremarkable….” he nodded.
I pull out my wallet and fish out a $20 before leaning forward to hand it to the driver.
“We’re falling off…..don’t remark on it.”
He looks a bit surprised before taking the $20 bill and tucking it into his breast
pocket. Sakaali looks confused as I scoop her up in a bridal carry and jump from the slow moving hay wagon.
“Ayuh….completely unremarkable.” Pepperidge Farms guys muses knowingly as he trotted away on a now-solo hayride.
“What are you doing?” Sakaali asked as we hit the ground.
Holy shit- I’m lucky I didn’t snap an ankle on the landing right there.
“I recognize this spot- I wanted to show you something, and we can’t get there by horse-drawn cart.” I explain.
This dirt road….this path…..it’s all coming back to me.
Not even a half mile up this path is a lake….we have to make our way down a small embankment and cross a set of abandoned train tracks to get there.
“What about Anippe and your parents?” my wife asks.
“We can walk back from here. Trust me- they’ll be thrilled at getting to spend more time with her.” I tell her as we make our way down the trail.
The path is barely visible down a gently sloping embankment, but we follow it anyway before crossing a set of train tracks with rusty rails and weathered ties. On the other side of the tracks is a small lake- the calm waters acting like a looking glass as they reflect the blue sky and orange, red and yellow leaves of the surrounding trees. More trees- some of them even still green dotted the hills on each side of the lake.
“Is this safe?” Sakaali asks as she crosses the rusty rails.
“Yeah- this line hasn’t seen a train on it for 20 years.”
Off in the distance, the two of us can hear the honking of some Canadian geese as they fly past in formation.
“Oh husband….” Sakaali marvelled. “This is simply amazing- there’s nothing like this in the desert….”
I have to admit, the desert has always had a stark beauty and certain intangible charms of its own, but this is what New England is famous for and for good reason.
“When I was a kid, I sometimes used that dirt road we were just on as a shortcut home from school.” I explain. “If my folks were mad at me or I got into a fight or flunked a test….well…..I didn’t always come home right away. Sometimes I’d just spend an afternoon here skipping rocks or gazing at the clouds.”
“I rather wish I had known about this place before partaking of those crepes.” my wife mused. “This would be an ideal spot for a picnic.”
“You got that right, but right now, since it’s just the two of us….” I say as I pull the hairbrush mom gave Sakaali from my jacket.
Sakaali’s eyes lit up.
“Indeed I did…..now- let’s get all those leaves and hay out of your tail.” I said as I sat down on a little rock formation a few feet off the ground.
With some trepidation, my wife carefully crawled next to me on the rocks and laid herself belly-down across my lap as though I was ready to give her a spanking (and believe me, it’s not as though the thought had never crossed my mind). As I start going to work brushing her tail, I can hear a contented sounding little whine from her.
“Aaaah……this is so nice.” she muses happily now that she’s comfortable.
I take my time with her tail, using slow and deliberate brushstrokes since I know how much she loves this treatment. Time seems to stand still, but eventually I finish this task that my wife takes so much joy in.
“Husband….I still have the taste of that wretched licorice concoction in my mouth.” Sakaali began as she got back up.
I can see that she’s blushing noticably.
“If only there were some way to remove that taste from my mouth.” she said teasingly as her paws were fumbling with my belt. “Perhaps with the taste of something I find much more alluring.”
“If only….” I muse.
“Your empress orders you to assist her with procuring her most favorite sword from the armory.” she demands with a wicked grin.
“Well now….who am I to deny my most beautiful and magnanimous empress?”
That was the other advantage to this location was the privacy in addition to the sheer beauty. We were seperated from the dirt road that served as the route of the hayride and nobody was swimming or boating on the lake this time of year.
I opened the gates to the ‘armory’ by unbuckling my belt as Sakaali slid down and worked my stiffening member from my boxers.
“Mmm…there we go- I’m sure this will make me forget all about that awful licorice concotion you tried foisting upon me.” she said as she began playing with my member while on her knees.
“My empress, I should tell you that this sword needs to be properly lubricated before I can put it all the way up to the hilt in its favorite sheath.”
“I’m on it.” she grinned lecherously as she gently blew on my shaft before giving it a gently lick.
It had been awhile since I had gotten oral from Sakaali- this seems to be a little something she decides to reward me with, but only when she’s in the very best of moods. More of my erect cock slips into her mouth- I’m tempted to grab the back of her head and pull it forwards, but settle for putting both hands on her shoulders instead.
My throbbing, engorged cock feels like its wrapped in warm, moist bliss as Sakaali bobs her head. In a haze, I tighten my grip on her shoulders as I look down at her.
Somewhere, somehow, from a million miles away, it registers that I’m hearing a bus driving by on the dirt road on the other side of the woods and train tracks.
Except…..how can that be? The bridge is way to small to accomodate a motorcoach.
Fuck, I’m overthinking tings….best to sit back and enjoy-
A flash of silver.
Oh fuck- a gleam of silver not even 200 feet away and it looks like it’s coming from the train tracks I just got through telling my wife was completely abandoned.
I’m struggling to utter some kind of warning to my wife, but all I can manage is incoherent jibberish because….well….I’m getting my dick sucked quite expertly by a gorgeous Anubis in the woods.
“Ah…Sakaali….” I call out. I’m trying to form more words, but the effort is clearly coming up short as I can feel myself edging closer to climax.
Even if I was able to say “Sakaali- I was mistaken about the inactivity and traffic levels of this particular railway line- perhaps we should be discreet for a moment” she was too busy bobbing her head and moaning lewdly.
Well damn…..here comes a train- like it or not, I’m into exhibitionism now.
I don’t even have time to savor the ecstacy I’m feeling as the dam breaks and I shoot cords of sticky white seed into my wife’s eager mouth- I shudder and relax my grip on her shoulders as I let out a lewd moan that I’m trying to fabricate into a warning.
By my very iffy math, this train is less than 100 feet away- partially obscured from us by some shrubs and tall rocks, but it won’t be that way for much longer.
Regaining my bearings, I look around at my surroundings. My first instinct is to take Sakaali and duck into the woods, but that would surely draw attention to us from the same train crew I was hoping to avoid being spotted by. Jumping into the lake wasn’t a viable option, either.
Plus Sakaali’s still using her mouth to play with my cock after swallowing the last of my seed.
Not gonna lie- it does feel pretty good.
The train’s less than 50 feet away when I realize something.
This rock formation between us and the tracks comes up to my waist. As long as Sakaali’s still on her knees, it looked as though she could be obscured from view from the rest of the train crew.
Clattering around the bend, the loud train grew closer. The engineer must’ve spotted me, because there were two short toots from the air horn- an apparent greeting.
Getting a good look at it for the first time, I could see it wasn’t so much a train as a single, self-propelled passenger car with what looked like an engine compartment along the roof.
“Sakaali- you might wanna-“
My warning was cut off by another toot of the air horn. That was enough of a distraction for her to pull her mouth away from my member. With both hands free, I quickly tried zipping up.
It was close enough that I could see this railcar was filled with lots of camera-toting sightseers.
“Graham, what’s that noise?” Sakaali asked as she sprang to her feet, wiping a bit of my seed from the corner of her mouth
The railcar was virtually right next to us as she looked on in horror.
“On your right is Inspiration Point- a popular lakeside retreat with local couples where they went to get away from town.” someone in the car was explaining over a PA system. “As some of you can see, it remains a popular spot to this day.”
After lumbering past the two of us at a walking speed, the railcar began to speed off.
“Graham…..didn’t you just tell me this railway was abandoned?” my wife seethed.
“What would you call that just now?”
“S….surprise grand re-opening tour?…………” I say feebly. “Surprise!”
“Your reccolection of your hometown seems to be a bit off.” Sakaali understated.
“I just- OW!”
Sakaali has picked up the hairbrush and begun smacking me with it.
“Y-you fool! I can’t believe you…” she barks as she starts running after me.
“I didn’t know! Stop hitting me with that thing….it hurts!” I yell out as I’m trying to keep my distance from her.
“That’s the whole idea, Graham! Now come back and take your medicine!”
“I shall be even more cross with you if I’m forced to pursue you.” she growls.
I leap across the train tracks and start scrambling up the embankment only to loose my footing and fall.
Sure enough, the first thing I see when I look up is an angry, panting anubis closing in on me.
“Look at it this way, Sakaali……now those people on the train will actually have some interesting photos of their trip to share!” I almost plead.
I have to duck as my wife now sends the hairbrush flying at me. It misses, but I turn and see Sakaali making a sputtering sound as her shoulders are quaking.
“You asshole!” she’s trying to sound mad, but it’s not very convincing as she starts laughing. “That’s not how I wanted to get famous!”
“I tried warning you, but…….damn it, you were just too good at that thing you do.” I almost plead.
I’m on the recieving end of another halfhearted bop from her balled up fist-paws.
“Graham- you cretin. Let’s start walking back before we get into any more trouble.”
I nod quietly in agreement.
“You think Anippe will have worn herself out by the time we get back?” I ask as we start hiking back towards the dirt road.
Our daughter was far from exhausted. In fact, she was up to her eyeballs in little barnyard critters when we got back, much to mom and dad’s amusement.
Two lambs and a baby goat were vying for her attention as a goose, a calf and rather large rabbit watched nearby.
“Stop being a butthead, Mr. Goat.” she gently chastised the pushy kid. “I have enough pets for you and the Woolworth twins.”
Although she sounded exasperated, I could see her tail wagging away. The boisterous little goat seemed to calm down with a hug from Anippe as I started taking some pictures. The whole scene was being supervised by my parents and the weresheep girl that punched our ticket on the way in.
“Our granddaughter seems to be fond of giving every last critter here a new name.” Pops mused as we walked up to him.
Anippe was now petting the goat with one hand paw and the heads of the two lambs with her other.
“It looks like you made some new friends while we were away.” Sakaali says to our daughter.
Anippe nodded and pointed to the other animals.
“That’s Mr. Honk Honk and Mr Hop Hop and Mr Moo Moo-“
The weresheep watching over the petting zoo spoke up.
“That’s actually Miss Moo Moo…” she corrects my daughter.
“How dare you assume gender.” I say out loud before Anippe resumes the introductions.
“And here are the Woolworth twins- Shaggy and Harry- and here’s Mr. Goat.”
The dimunitive kid introduces himself to Sakaali by gently thumping his head into Sakaali’s left calf.
“Mr Goat? I don’t know, dearest…..that sounds a little generic.” Sakaali contemplated as she reached down to pet the goat. “How about we call him Ramses?”
“Sakaali- that was ba-a-a-a-ad and you should feel ba-a-a-a-ad.” I chuckle.
“Graham- don’t make us write you out of the will.” Mom chastised me.
“Too late.” Pops followed up.
“Guess that joke really got your goat, huh?” I say to Pops.
“Don’t encourage him, Edgar.” mom scolded Pops.
“Are you ready to go?” I ask Anippe.
“I guess.” for the first time today, she sounded a little mopey. “Can I feed Mr Hop Hop one more time?” she pleaded.
Before i can say anything in the affirmative or negative, Pops wordlessly hands her two quarters with a smile on his face, which she immediately walks across the ‘enclosure’ and hands to the weresheep. The weresheep gladly hands her what looks like a little remote control. After a moment or two I can hear what sounds like a steam whistle as Anippe appears to be working the remote with her little grabbers. I figure my imagination is playing tricks on me given our recent run-in with that passenger train that got an eyeful, but almost as soon as I dismiss it, I hear the whistle again. It sounds much…..smaller.
And the reason it sounded much smaller was because the whistle was coming from a G-scale model railway whose tracks were partially concealed by some hay on the ground. A little steam engine towing some open-top freight cars rounds the bend and comes to a stop in front of Anippe. Inside the cars the little engine was towing was what looked like kibble. Each car had a different animal on it- rabbit, goat, cow, sheep…..
My daughter was looking up at the weresheep, who simply smiled at her and said
That was the cue for my little wag-a-muffin to grab a pawful of kibble from one of the cars and beckon the rather portly soccer-ball-sized rabbit over. It took very little persuading on her part as he casually hopped her way while she got down on her haunches.
“It’s been alot of fun today, but I guess I’ll be going soon, Mr. Hop Hop.” she said.
Although it looked fairly quick for a rabbit that size, I’m guessing Mr Hop Hop was approaching Anippe at the bunny equivalent of a casual saunter.
“Look at the bright side…” I quietly say to Sakaali as I nod to the model train. “At least nobody on that train saw us down by the lake.”
Sakaali bopped me with her balled-up paw fist again.
“What was that?” Pops asked.
“Oh….nothing.” I say innocently. “By the way, Pops- how long has that rail line down by the lake been re-opened?”
“A couple of years now- they never tore up the track when the B&M abandoned it and some group got together and decided to run sightseeing trains with secondhand equipment over the weekends. This is usually their busiest time.”
Wow- that would’ve been great to know before Sakaali and I took that little detour from our hayride.
Shit- Sakaali is glaring daggers at me now.
“Oh ayuh. One of the lumber mills up in Quatssac is making noise about producing wood pellets and using the line to ship ’em out. Even if that falls through, they’ve been making some money on the side by storing freight cars on the line in the off season.”
“You don’t say.”
“Why are you asking?”
“Oh….no reason.” I say innocently.
Pops clearly isn’t buying it, but doesn’t really seem interested in pressing the matter further, either.
Turning my attention back to Anippe, I can see her giving the rotund rabbit the last of the bunny food.
“I had a good time today too, Mr. Hop Hop…..but I have to go now.” she sighed, giving the bunny one last pat on the head before getting back up.
Sakaali seemed to be taking a break from glaring daggers at me to attend to Ramses the Baby Goat. Anippe blew a kiss in the direction of all the other animals in the enclosure as she followed Mom and Pops out of the enclosure and into the parking lot.
Instead of heading home right away, I stop by the town’s only pizza parlor and get a couple of pizzas to go so that mom won’t have to cook that night.
Not too surprisingly, Anippe and Sakaali have theirs with a fork and knife while me, mom and Pops just use our bare hands.
Our little girl is lagging- which isn’t surprising considering both the jet lag and pretty eventful day she had.
“Are you going to send your little jinko friends a postcard?” Mom asked Anippe.
“What’s a postcard?” she asks.
“Oh- it’s usually a pretty or silly picture of a place that you’re visiting that gets mailed to your friends back there. You can write a message to let them know how much fun you’re having and let them know you’re thinking about them.”
“That sounds kinda neat….but…..I don’t remember Gabby and Layla’s address.” Anippe sighed.
“Don’t worry.” Sakaali said as she began rifling through her purse. Holding up a business card, she said to our daughter “I have their address right here if you need it.”
It was for Vanessa’s personal trainer business- and it looked pretty slick, too.
“We can always make some time for that tomorrow, pumpkin.” I point out. “You’re looking kinda pooped right now- you ready for bed?”
“I think so.” Anippe nodded before turning to her mother. “Can you read me a bedtime story?”
My wife looked as though she was pondering this for a moment.
“May we be excused so we can change into our pajamas?” Sakaali asked mom.
“All right then, Anippe- let’s change. Then, when you wash your paws and brush your teeth, we can select a story to read.”
My otherwise sleepy little girl nodded enthusiastically.
After helping mom and dad clear the table, I put all the leftover pizza slices into one box and went outside to throw away the extra one. Trudging up the stairs, I can overhear my wife talking with our daughter.
“Are you sure we’ve read this one already?” Sakaali asks.
“Mm-hmm. I think we’re all caught up on the Great Detective Neboo Adventures.” Anippe points out.
“I see…..” Sakaali clearly doesn’t want to disappoint our little girl, but it seems she’s at a loss and can’t think of another option.
“I may have just the thing.” I hear Mom speak up.
I peer into Anippe’s room in time to see mom hand off a book to Sakaali. Sure enough, my wife is wearing a pair of pajama’s adorned with ankh designs while Anippe’s PJs are decorated with little pyramids.
“What’s this?” Sakaali asks, examining the book.
“It was a favorite of Graham’s when he was little.” Mom reminisces.
No way….she can’t be talking about-
“The Pokey Little Puppy?” Sakaali reads out loud.
“I can’t believe you held on to that, mom.” I say from the doorway.
“Oh sweetie- maybe you were too young to remember, but you learned to read using that book.”
“I want to read about puppies!” Anippe said, her tail now wagging furiously.
“Good idea- let’s see what sort of mischief this lethargic juvenile canid gets himself into.” my wife muses.
I can hear a pair of footsteps behind me and mom. Dad is sticking his head in the doorway to take in the sight of his granddaughter being read her bedtime story.
“She’s not gonna do the one with the detective?” he asks
“No dear- Sakaali says she’s caught up with that series.”
Pops quietly nods as Sakaali speaks up.
“Five little puppies dug a hole in the fence and went for a walk in the wide wide world….”
She has Anippe’s undivided attention as my girl looks wide-eyed at the accompanying illustrations.
“Through the meadow they went and down down the road….oh my! Look at those unsupervised little puppies.” Sakaali said to our daughter. “Aren’t they silly?”
Anippe nodded as dad and I were discreetly taking pictures from the doorway.
“They look like they’re having fun.” Anippe said.
“As much fun as you had today?” my wife asked.
“No….but that’s only coz I had alot of fun.” our little girl giggled.
Mom and Pops quietly excused themselves as Sakaali continued reading to our girl and I remained by the doorway, watching Anippe become further engrossed in the Pokey little puppy’s misadventures.
I quietly bid my parents goodnight as they got ready for bed.
I know how this story ends, but I certainly don’t mind spending a little more time looking in on my wife and daughter.