Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dog and Pony Show

The collar, fine. He could live with a bright red poofy collar. It was for the kids. But not a bow around his tail. That’s where Jamie drew the line.

“C’mon, querido,” Lamar pleaded. “Niles is wearing his.”

“He don’t mind a bow tied around his tail. I do.”

“At least put on the hat.”

“I ain’t wearing no little red hat!”

Lamar muttered several Spanish swears. “This isn’t real life. It’s show biz. It’s about flash and over-the-top. You have to dress accordingly.” He shrugged elegantly, all over, as only a snake can. “You are such a tightass. Normally that’s your best feature, but today—”

“You already got me doing backflips on a horse. I ain’t wearing a stupid-looking hat on top’a that.”

“I’m wearing a hat.”

“You’re the ringmaster. You’re supposed to be wearing a hat. What if it slips while I’m flipping around? Then what?”

“Then the kids laugh and have a good time. Isn’t that the point?”

Niles stamped his hoof. The slim dapple-gray Arabian stallion had gone whole-hog with the costuming: a padded blanket in a moon-and-stars pattern for Jamie to balance on; a bridle stuck with rhinestones; glitter on his hooves. And the big crimson bow tied around the base of his inky tail. And a big red plastic hat. He and Lamar had been up half the night coming up with that getup. Jamie figured they’d spent more time figuring out what to wear than he and Niles had in rehearsing their routine.

Niles poked his nose toward the flap of their dressing tent to indicate the ring in the field beyond, as well as, presumably, the audience gathered in the stands. It wasn’t just families out there. One section up front was reserved for a group of shifter younguns who’d lost their parents to hunters or been rescued from abuse or “research” by unscrupulous humans. Wayne and Dante had thrown this charity shindig together primarily with those cubs in mind.

The horse-shifter’s snort held a wealth of significance. There were children out there—children, mind—who’d lost everything. And Jamie didn’t want to wear a hat?

Dang that nag. Even without his human voice he got his point across.

“Okay,” Jamie relented. “I’ll wear the hat. But not the bow."

Excellente.” Lamar clapped his hands smartly. “Let’s do this, amigos.”

Jamie climbed onto Niles’s back and shifted to his red wolf form. Lamar secured the little plastic hat to Jamie’s head, between his ears. Niles whinnied approval.

Lamar smacked a quick kiss on Jamie’s muzzle. “Knock ‘em dead, lover.”

Lamar strode into the ring in his black tie and tails, and swept his tall hat in a low bow to the audience. Jamie had to admit he looked hot. He’d probably want to wear it to bed later. Well, that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Lamar boomed through his mic, “Master Dante’s Shapeshifter Spectacular is proud to present the incredible acrobatics of Niles the Wonder Horse and the Amazing Jamie!”

Jamie steadied himself on the padding, adjusting his balance as Niles trotted into the ring. The hat stayed secure on his head. The things we do for kids, Jamie thought. And, let’s face it, for love.


Rebecca Gillan said...

Woo-hoo! I love it!

Pat C. said...

I haven't figured out Niles's orientation yet, but I'll bet he's a brony (a male fan of My Little Pony). This does not necessarily indicate gayness.

Savanna Kougar said...

Echoing Rebecca, Waaahoo, love it! You go Jamie, Niles, and Lamar. Give those kids a show they won't forget. Only in Talbot's Peak.

Just fabulous, Pat.

brony... I sure didn't know that.

Rebecca Gillan said...

Brony? That's awesome!