Friday, February 28, 2014

The elf returns

By Hobo Hudson

The little elf stepped from his taxi clutching his new diploma from the Elf Casino manager’s school and, carefully holding his Florida Casino Manager’s license to let the ink dry without smudging, just in time to see the cleanup crew lock the doors and drive away.

After opening the lock with a key from the large ring of keys he had proudly accepted only a little while ago, he stepped inside to find the casino was so clean it looked as if it were brand new. He walked across and entered the hallway leading to the private area and admired the photos of the previous managers hanging on the wall but noticed an area of darker paint on the wall at the end of the hallway as though a photo had been removed. Looking at the dates on the others photos, he saw the last manager had departed in 1998 and wondered what was going on. Where was the photo of the last manager, he wondered.

He entered his new office, and it too was so clean that it looked as though it had never been occupied. After sitting down at his desk, he began opening drawers. There were pens and note pads, stationery and even extra ink cartridges. However, when he opened the bottom drawer, he was horrified to find it filled with used chewing gum, cigarette butts and other items too nasty to tell about. Holding his nose, he pulled the drawer out and carried it outside to dump into a dumpster. As he turned the drawer upside down, he found a slim journal taped to the bottom inscribed with “Journal of Alphonzo P. Elf.”

Curious to see what it was, he tore it off and glanced at the inside cover, where he found a sticky note begging the successor not to throw the journal away before reading the last entry. He turned to the rear of the journal and began flipping back until he found the beginning of the final entry.

It started by asking forgiveness for the messy drawer and an explanation for it. The writer made it clear that it was the only way he could think of to possibly insure his successor would find his journal because his cleaning crew was pretty lax and knowing how fastidious all elves were, he was sure his successor would simply dump the drawer in the trash and would see the journal.

The writer went on to explain how he had  been appointed manager back in 1998 but had been recently fired and all records related to his term as manager were going to be removed. This was all due to his troubles with a customer he referred to as “Dad.” The guy had taken him to court regarding the Elf corporate policy of stacking the deck, and corporate had provided him with ineffective representation which didn’t object, or objected for the wrong reason when Dad openly bribed the judge.

This was fascinating, and the elf quickly turned to the front of the journal to read all about it. Suddenly, he remembered that he was supposed to open the vault and reset it to a timed opening as soon as he arrived. He laid the journal aside and quickly opened the vault and flipped the switch to automatic opening with a preset time of 8:55 a.m. This would give him a few minutes to take the money tray to his cashier so that everything would be ready for the 9 a.m. opening.

Finishing his first official task, the elf returned and began reading the complete journal which ended with two photos of Dad. One showed a disreputable old man with long hair, unshaven and wearing wrinkled dirty old clothes. The other showed a distinguished older gentleman wearing a dark blue suit with his tie neatly knotted and a side pocket of his jacket bulging with dog treats and peanuts. After having committed both photos to memory, the elf lay down to get a few hours of sleep before starting his new life as a casino manager.

Dad, in the meanwhile, had arisen in the middle of the night and pulled on whatever he could find in the dark, which turned out to be a dirty, holey pair of jeans he had been using working in his garden the day before and slipped quietly out of the bedroom. He made coffee and retired with a cup to his computer. After skimming the news sites, he decided to upgrade to the latest version of Doors.

Then, he eagerly clicked on the “Solitaire” button to match wits with the elf but, instead of the elf appearing on his computer screen, he found he had been sucked into the computer and deposited on the sidewalk in front of a casino in Ybor City.

Being very confused, he rang the bell which awakened a very upset elf who stormed to the door. He slid open the view port and demanded to know why Dad was ringing his doorbell at three in the morning. Dad, becoming even more confused, muttered that he’d like to come in and play a few hands of solitaire.

“Can’t you read?” the elf shouted. “We’re closed, and I don’t have any money to pay you anyway.”

As Dad turned away, he noticed pennies scattered all over the sidewalk and immediately fell to his knees to pick them up grumbling that young’uns didn’t have any idea of the value of money these days. Why, 10 pennies are the same as a dime, and 10 dimes are the same as a dollar.

Meanwhile, Lulu Smuttdigger, the syndicated gossip columnist, was growing exhausted and increasingly frustrated. Her deadline was fast approaching and she didn’t have a single tidbit of gossip to report. She had peeked into all the restaurants, checked all the nightclubs and even sneaked into the hotels to inspect their registries and couldn’t find a single politician or movie star out with a cute young thing or one dancing with someone of the same sex.

Spying Dad crawling around on his knees picking up pennies, she decided to interview him and write a heart-wrenching story about how the coldhearted Republicans are leaving the poor to starve, little realizing that Dad was the father of the richest dog in town and his son would gladly buy the casino for him if he were to ask.

When Lulu Smuttdigger walked up to Dad and introduced herself, Dad immediately recognized her name and decided to have a little fun with her. She offered to buy him a cup of coffee if he would talk to her about his life.

Dad , thinking fast, replied she had a deal if she would make it a cup of café con leche and a piece of toasted Cuban bread slathered with butter, remarking that it had been ages since he could afford something like that—meaning that he’s diabetic and his body wouldn’t tolerate all the carbs. Of course, Lulu wasn’t above paying small bribes for stories since her ethics weren’t the best, and she readily agreed.

They went to a café across the street and took a seat at one of the small round tables. After Dad received the promised café con leche and Cuban toast, Lulu asked him to describe his life. Dad dunked a small bit of the buttered toast, and savoring the taste, he began:

“My wife and I live in a house in a little suburb just south of here with our son and his wife, Lily. It’s modest as mansions go—nothing to compare with Avila or some of the other rich subdivisions near here, but it’s adequate for our needs. It only has 10 bedrooms, and I don’t know how many baths but, as I said, it’s adequate since our son spends all his time delving into the stock market and Lily spends most of her time in her dental practice taking care of movie actors out in Hollywood. In fact, she normally gets home so late and leaves so early that we don’t even know she lives with us.

“Mom functions as cook and housekeeper and has her own computer to write stories when she has time. I also have a computer, and our son is trying to teach me how to trade in the stock market, but I’m having a tough time following his thinking. It’s the middle of February now, and I’ve only made about $65,000 while my son has already made a couple of million.

“We don’t have many visitors so, as I said, our home is adequate for our needs. The last visitor we had was Romey and his girlfriend, Josie, just before he ate something that disagreed with him and passed away.”

Lulu immediately dismissed all this as the ravings of a deranged mind but still jotted a note to check, writing Romney—dead? Girlfriend—Josie?

Dad then changed the subject. He asked Lulu if she knew anything about all the Elf casinos being closed because he had visited one just before he met her, and the manager told him they were closed and wouldn’t tell him when they would open. Dad said the manager also told him that none of the casinos had any money, and Dad added his suspicions are that they have gone bankrupt.

After breaking off, dunking and swallowing another small bit of the toast, Dad carefully wrapped the rest of it in several paper napkins and, picking up his Styrofoam coffee cup, rose and said, “It’s sure been nice chatting with you. Thank you very much for the Cuban toast and café con leche, but I’d better go outside because I’m sure my son has noticed I’m missing and will have everyone out looking for me.”

Just as he reached the sidewalk, a long black limousine glided to the curb, and the old man opened the door and stepped inside.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

The latest scam

By Hobo Hudson

WARNING. There are constantly new scams being devised, and my readers should always be on the alert to avoid being taken by unscrupulous critters, hoomans or otherwise.

It pains me to have to report that Dad fell for one of these scams, but it’s true. Dad is pretty cynical, and this is the first one that has gotten by him.

It occurred when Mom and Dad visited Colonial Williamsburg and Dad, being a trifle hungry, bought a sandwich made from a large biscuit which contained cheese and Virginia ham. When he sat down to eat it, a fat squirrel came stumbling up begging for a taste.

Of course, Dad being Dad, broke off a small piece of plain biscuit and threw it to the squirrel. The fellow starting groping around feeling for it but couldn’t seem to get his paw on it. Dad immediately thought the poor guy was blind and couldn’t find it, so he took his pocket knife and cut off a larger piece of the biscuit which contained some cheese and ham, thinking the squirrel’s sense of smell would help him locate it.
At that point, the squirrel immediately tucked both biscuit pieces in his mouth and scurried away leaving Dad feeling like a fool for falling for the ruse.
I am adding the crook’s photo below to prevent others from being taken in by this trick.

If the culprit wishes to prevent further embarrassment, I am willing to remove his photo if he will give back the second piece of biscuit containing the ham and cheese.


Monday, February 17, 2014

The new cat in town

By Hobo Hudson

I usually don’t get involved in the lives and arguments of my kitty siblings who live on the porch. I’m a busy dog and don’t have time to deal with their fights about petty stuff, like who plays with what toys, who gets what treats or who sleeps in what bed. I spend most of my day making sure Dad is doing his job, taking care of my vegetable garden and earning enough kibbles so that I have a comfortable life. During the rest of the day, I’m working on my new book, dictating paragraph after paragraph to Mom.   

The other day when I finally found time for a good snooze, a loud hissing and screaming coming from the porch woke me from my dreams. I was not happy. Looking out through the glass door windows, I saw a bunch of red and gray fur covering the tiled floor of the living quarters of my kitty siblings. I told Dad to open the sliding door for me, and I stepped out on the porch to find out what the racket and the apparent dispute was all about.

Thomas, my red-haired kitty brother, was sitting on the windowsill, staring outside. Pogo, my gray-colored kitty sister, was standing at the screen door, staring outside as well. I walked over to her from where I could see the sun deck, and I saw a gray, black and white cat of medium size strutting back and forth. I’ve seen it several times in my yard and never paid much attention to it. I thought it belonged to a neighbor and was checking out its territory.

I asked Thomas about the commotion and the torn-out fur, but he didn’t want to tell me. Pogo, still too upset, didn’t enlighten me either. I jumped up on the condo where Rocky, my 20-pound kitty sister, was relaxing, and talked to her. She said she had observed and heard everything but didn’t interfere because it would have been too much work to walk down the ramp from where she was, and she filled me in:

Thomas had invited the new cat in town to move onto the porch with everyone else. He told the cat how much nicer and safer it is to live in an enclosed area and receive food and love from people who care. He said he knew from experience how dangerous, unpredictable and stressful life on the streets is.

Then Pogo piped in, “They’re going to trap you, and then they’ll bring you to a torture facility where they prick you with needles and poke you with whatever they have. You’ll be terrified and marked for life and be sore and miserable for quite some time.”

That was all Thomas could take. He wacked Pogo on the nose telling her what a good life she has compared to her fellow cats who have to roam the neighborhood just to find a bite to eat. He admitted, getting trapped was no fun and he still hates the mere sight of a cage, but at the end, it was worth the trouble. He said he even doesn’t remember what happened to him in the hospital, which he insisted is no torture facility, and he never imagined the great life that he has now.  

Pogo being Pogo needed to have the last word but couldn’t come up with a counter retort and instead pulled a bunch of hair out of Thomas’ neck. They stopped the cat fight when the sliding door opened.

After I heard what happened, I wanted to talk to the cat outside but couldn’t see it any more. It will be interesting to find out if it listens to Thomas and let Mom and Dad catch it to have it fixed or if it got scared off by Pogo’s tirade and tries to find another hangout. 

We’ll see. I’m going to be keeping an eagle eye out for it in my backyard. Maybe I can convince it that Thomas is right.


About Hobo

This was Hobo Hudson, my doggy brother, a little terrier mix with black fur. He became famous after his first attempt at writing stories, which was an article published in the newsletter of our local animal shelter, the same shelter in which I ended up years later before Hobo and his parents adopted me. Hobo’s fame quickly spread as he made a name for himself as a business dog and an adventurer. To keep his memory alive, my doggy sister, my three kitty siblings and I, Wylie Hudson, are continuing his blog. Our mom is the blog’s editor.

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