Plunket in Wonderland


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On movie-magic and doggie wisdom

from Chapter Seventeen: “The Perfect Pitch: Gimme that Ol’-Time Blockbuster, It's Good Enough for Me”   

It was a fire hydrant! It was a bright red, freshly painted fire hydrant! It was a bright red, freshly painted fire hydrant sitting in the middle of a five-figure, hand-woven Oriental rug! It was hot. It was thirsty. It was crying out to be peed on!

“Pooka! No!” Collie Sanborne screamed at her de-clawed, de-fanged, de-balled black pedigree pit bull.  “Not on the scripts!”

It was too late, and given a shower was the stack of forgotten screenplays vice president of worldwide production Gary Trampelton had plucked from his father‘s bookshelves to prop up his stuffed animal pillow to create just the perfect angle to be entertained by pitch-day—i.e. just low enough to make certain that any decent idea uttered forth could sail unencumbered over his head without having to pass through his brain; just high enough to maintain a state of consciousness, to assure that too much blood (and all the chemicals, legal and otherwise that went with the flow) did not rush all at once into his cranium to fill up his empty cavity like the surf washing in and out fills up a tide pool with all sorts of strange creatures.

“Rffff! Rfffff! Rfffff!” Pooka whimpered. It was a pitiful combination of Chihuahua –like yelp in the body of a pit bull. It was the perfect comic impersonation of a dog.   “Rfffff! Rfffff! Rfffff!” Pooka repeated with slightly less confidence. “How was I to know it wasn’t a fire hydrant?” Pooka rationalized, as he sniffed around the urine-stained scripts in search of inspiration.

“What was that?” squeaked the voice from behind the stuffed animal pillow that shielded him from the shower.

“Gary! What in hell are you back there for? Bad dog!” Collie turned to her oblivious pit bull, who still insisted to himself that it was, in fact, a fire hydrant that somehow morphed into a stack of scripts as he lifted his leg. After all, this was Hollywood!  “A simple lap dissolve!” Pooka thought.  “It happens all the time, even in the cheapest films! A simple mistake”!  “Go! Sit!” Pooka hung his head in shame and walked over to the corner where one of Trampelton‘s wife‘s needlepoint pillows rested. Pooka sat. “Good dog!” Collie turned back to Gary. “Did he get you?”

“Get me?” Gary asked. He had dozed off just slightly while waiting for Collie to enter the suite and had awoken only after feeling a faint wetness under his armpit where his shirt met the floor. “With what?”

“Pee!” Collie declared.

“PEEEEE??!!” Gary rolled off his pillow in shock and jerked his head up, fully conscious now for the first time since Collie and Pooka made their grand entrance.      “AAAIIII!!!” Gary screamed, plopping his head immediately back down, but unfortunately missing the pillow and feeling yet another sharp pain from the sudden twisting movement in his spineless back.

“What is it?” inquired Buddy with parental concern.

“My back!” he said, resting his head inches from the wet spot on the Persian rug.

“What ‘bout it?” Collie barked, swallowing her “a” to avoid a second syllable.

“I‘ll be okay in a minute,” Gary assured everyone.

“Good! Hurt?” Collie inquired, using as few syllables as possible.

“Naaa!” Gary insisted, as he unconsciously fingered the gold chain he still wore around his neck that used to hold his gold coke spoon back in the days when it was more fashionable to come out of the closet (pronounced,  medicine cabinet) to display one‘s recreational colors. “I‘ve learned how to play with pain.” He lifted his forehead off the rug and turned longingly toward his stuffed animal pillow. He took a deep breath and began squiggling around on the floor like a Santa Cruz banana slug in search of the protective shell it was never born with. With one last, gallant effort, he rolled back onto the pillow, briefly closing his eyes to bear the pain, which had already begun to pass. He drifted back into a state of semi-conscious bliss.

“Oh, great!” Collie sighed.  “He got some on the rug!”

Buddy leaped out of his seat. “He peed on my prized Persian?”

“Cool it, Bud,” Collie ordered her ex-business partner. “I got just the thing!”  She opened up her trusty attache case and grabbed her traveling-size box of baking soda and proceeded to sprinkle a little on the wet spot to absorb its moisture and odor. “1001 uses!” she proclaimed, putting the box back in her attache. Feeling a bit guilty, Pooka pranced proudly over to the scene of his crime, which his master had just dusted white with baking soda.  Finding the neutralized aroma of the spot as disappointingly bland as the forgotten scripts that attracted his upturned leg to begin with—a pile of scripts that through the wonders of doggie-special-effects morphed into a fire hydrant—Pooka recoiled his nose at the white powdery blotch and noticed that the fluttering eyes of the drifting vice president were once again about to succumb. He decided to do his Saint Bernard impersonation and proceeded to lap away on the executive’s mouth to bring him back to full consciousness. Gary stirred awake, turning his head back off the pillow, his nose now resting directly beside the pool of baking soda. Mission accomplished, Pooka strutted loftily back to his special corner, and, taking his cue from the vice president of worldwide production, he rested his head on the needlepoint pillow, glancing at the words of wisdom—“ALL IN A DAY‘S WORK”—before closing his golden eyes in hopes of drifting off to dreamland.

No sooner did the canine eyes shut than the human eyes awakened again. Gary saw, beautifully resting directly beneath his nose, a six-inch patch of deliciously white powder that must have evidently sprinkled like manna from the dark and dingy street corners of heaven above. Like a conditioned animal, Gary started snorting ferociously at the snowy white powder and waited for a buzz. Nothing. He looked around the suite before suddenly snapping back to his senses. No one seemed to have noticed that he had just attempted to snort urine-tainted baking powder. But then his droopy eyes fell on the still clear, all-seeing golden eyes of the de-clawed, de-fanged, de-balled black pit bull in the corner, staring condescendingly at the executive.   “1002 uses,” Pooka yawned, correcting his master’s arithmetic.

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