As promised Max is once again back to “read” to you an excerpt from his book Tails from the Park.
Tails From The Park Excerpt
It’s as if he’d stepped out of a dark novel on a bad night in the driving rain. He had that
look about him: an aura of evil. This beast was black from his scarred head to the tip of that long,
thick tail. His mouth hung open, emitting a constant stream of drool. As he walked he dropped
his massive head low, sniffing the ground for a scent of something to hunt, to kill and
eat…something like me.
We’d all taken to calling him Black Dog, as if it were a title of sorts. Mean and dangerous,
he must have weighed in at 150 pounds. A Labrador mix with a lot of Rottweiler in him, he
would be a handful for anyone. And the tik, tik, tik, tapping of his long claws on the blacktop was
eerie… especially at night.
He appeared at odd times, there was no way to know when he’d show up. But he always
came from the south, his scent drifting ahead of him. Most cats at my end of the park were all
keeping close to home because of him. I’d taken to lounging on the deck, keeping one eye on the
street and the other on Baby…just in case.
So I wasn’t surprised one late afternoon when Black Dog silently strode into view,
slack-jawed, drooling, and looking mean. He’d silently come from in between two trailers down
the street. I knew he was hunting. He was snorting now and again with that nasty, drooly grin on
his dog’s face. To make matters even more intriguing, the park’s maintenance man appeared in
his golf cart from the opposite direction. Both stopped suddenly, and stared at each other. I’ve
had several run-ins with the maintenance man in the past, all of which ended in my being
blamed for lots of damage that, in fact, I was not responsible for. Well, at least not all of it. I
knew this man had a bunch of tricks up his sleeve and didn’t play fair when it came to transient
animals drifting through ‘his’ park. Maintenance Man got out of his vehicle, a long pole in his
hand. A looped rope was at the other end.
Suspicious, Black Dog moved sideways. His ears twitched. A menacing growl emanated
from deep in his throat. As a rule, I try my best to leave all dogs alone. But even I can’t trust
myself from doing some sort of mischief, to these beasts whenever I can get away with it. My
good angel felt sorry for him; even my bad angel said I should pass this one up. So I decided to
let it go and watch these two morons fight one another. But then I heard a voice come from a
small box sitting on the seat in the golf cart. The voice belonged to the Park Manager (who
disliked me as much as Maintenance Man did). The black box screamed, “Do you have him?
Maintenance Man reached for the box, pushing a button on its side, he yelled into it.
“Not yet, I’m…”
Black Dog chose this moment to lunge at the loop of rope on the end of the pole. He
grasped it in his meaty jaws and pulled on it, hard. Maintenance Man was yanked away from his
golf cart, his left arm extended as far as it could go. He tripped and stumbled across the
blacktop, toward Black Dog. Deep growls filled the street as Black Dog pulled Maintenance Man,
who had now fallen onto the street, dragging him farther and farther away. Maintenance Man
struggled to his feet and pulled the pole back. For a moment it was a standoff.
Curiosity came over me. I wanted to see what was up with this black box; the one Park
Manager was hiding in. Good angel warned me not to be so nosy… bad angel agreed saying with
a wink, “You might get hurt.” A dare is a dare even coming from a cat angel. Stepping off the
railing, I dropped to the deck. An easy leap from there brought me to the street and the golf cart.
In a second, I was standing over the black box. The Park Manager was still yelling instructions to
Maintenance Man on how to apprehend Black Dog.
Trying to steady himself, Maintenance Man grabbed the windshield brace on the golf
cart. His adversary made one last effort to pull him away. Then the looped rope broke in two.
For a moment it looked like this heavyweight bout had ended in a draw. Well not exactly. Tricky
Maintenance Man lifted the pole over his head, and brought it down hard, missing his opponent
by inches. Black Dog simply placed a huge paw on the pole, making it immobile. Barking
furiously, the massive canine bit the pole and wrenched it with ease from Maintenance Man’s
hands. Then the mighty beast thrashed the pole from side to side in victory.
A little shaken, Maintenance Man reached over for the black box but grabbed me instead.
Not surprisingly, my bad angel flew away in a hurry. With a howl I lashed out at Maintenance
Man scratching and clawing his hand and arm. He recoiled and yelled in pain. I had but a
second to make my escape. I stood with my front paws on the backrest, which turned out to be a
mistake. With my bare back exposed, he was able to grab me by the extra fold of skin over my
spine. In pain, I let out another howl as he pulled me off of the seat and held me up over his head
with a look of triumph on his face. But it only lasted for a second, because when he looked down
he was staring straight into the dark eyes of Black Dog.
In an instant, Black Dog reared up to his full height and snapped at Maintenance Man’s
arm. The massive dog missed but his weight pushed his adversary over. Halfway down to the
ground Maintenance Man’s grasp on me loosened and I fell out of his hand and onto the street
with a painful thump. Dazed, I rolled over onto my side to see him running down the street
yelling something about a mad dog. While I was trying to get up, the shadow of Black Dog swept
over me. He stood astride where I lay. Terrified, I looked up at him. He opened his mouth, huge
amounts of dog drool hung down inches above me. Yuck.
I thought “Oh! Max you poor slob, this is it,” and closed my eyes, awaiting my fate.
I could feel his breath on me. Then his teeth grabbed the scruff of my neck and, ever so
carefully, he raised me up. Just as carefully he walked back up the steps of our house and placed
me softly on the deck. The next part I hate to admit…but he started to lick me from head to tail.
Mom chose that moment to come home. The sight of me lying on my side all soggy with
dog slime and with my enormous rescuer standing guard over me, must have given her pause.
She stopped at the bottom of the steps. Black Dog came up on all fours and menacingly leaned
forward, again a deep growl coming from deep in his throat. Mom stepped back, dropping her
work things on the pavers. I think she must have been scared but it didn’t show on her face. For
a few seconds my new buddy watched her intently. I let her know I was OK by giving out a nice
“Mah-rour-r-r-r.” Then incredibly, this gigantic beast whimpered as he sniffed the air over the
deck railing. On alert, his ears rapidly twitched from side to side.
From the south came a whistle, then what sounded like a young boy’s voice called out a
name that I’d not heard before. Barking, and dancing from side to side Black Dog knocked over a
couple of my Mom’s plants, immediately his thick tail wagged when two people, a woman and a
young boy appeared in the street in front of our trailer.
My mom slowly turned toward the street, a slight smile on her face. She waved, haltingly
at them. Black Dog bounded from the deck with a happy look on his battered dog’s face, he flew
past my mom and almost knocked over the middle aged woman who was holding a dog leash
and collar in her hand. He lovingly licked and nuzzled both of them. I watched this family
reunion with keen interest.
I’m going to have a little talk with my bad angel, soon.
Still nervous, my mom sat on the steps and began talking in jerky sentences, finally
asking the woman where they had come from. No doubt she felt relieved at being liberated from
the danger of this giant dog, who now appeared to have a owner.
The woman introduced herself as Val and her son, Robert. They also lived in the park.
They had to leave their dog at home alone in the daytime until Robert returned from school to
let him out for a run. Today they were both late, so Black Dog had simply let himself out. Val was
aware of the complaints about their dog and his occasional fights and wanderings in the park.
She’d not said anything to the park manager about owning a dog because they hadn’t paid extra
money to have one in their rental.
During this conversation I’d taken up a spot next to my mom, nuzzling her side as she
listened to our new friend. I leaned on her as I was still a little groggy from being man and dog
In a moment of truth, Val told my mom how she’d wished she’d gotten Black Dog fixed to
keep him at home and not out fighting with the neighborhood dogs. Now she feared he was too
After a pause she said, “It’s getting late and we don’t need to be here when the
maintenance man comes back for this thing.” She indicated the golf cart still parked in the
street, the radio crackling out its interesting sounds. My mom’s new friend took the leash and
collar and slipped it over Black Dog’s head; he looked at her with love and devotion. Robert
clapped his hands, and took the leash from his mother then the two of them ran off down the
street. Val said goodbye to my mom.
While Mom petted me in silence, she gazed thoughtfully beyond the now empty street.
We sat there for a long time. Later during dinner, when my dad asked her what had happened
that day, curiously she replied:
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