Cinder has joined Quincy, and sometimes Boston and Quincy, for short “walks.”
Quotes are required around “walks” when Boston comes along because his limited mobility has made them more like “shuffles” or “putters.” Now, add Cinder. Every 25 feet he gets spooked by a loud sound (construction worker banging on a house), an everyday sound (a bird chirping), or an alleged sound (Cinder, what is it?). He sits down. Daddy comes back and pats his face: “You’re okay, Cinder. Walk.” He usually walks…
…except when an impatient, “out-of-my-way” Suburban-driving Los Altan pulls up at a crosswalk. Then, Daddy has to pick the pup up to complete the journey, even when the driver is secretly Papa. Cinder’ll need to learn to cross on his own four feet before he gets much bigger.
Through all this, Quincy keeps looking at Boston, then Daddy, at Cinder, then Daddy. Her faces screams, “Seriously? Can we get this shit moving?”
Boston and Quincy have absorbed Cinder into the pack without much of a hiccup. They are old, and they are used to other dogs generally, but Boston has never been friendly to unfixed males. He goes after them. But, he hasn’t had even a nervous or annoyed moment, much less snapped at or nipped or asserted himself with the little guy. Quincy has corrected Cinder once or twice, but only in the mildest of ways, at least so far.
The kennel pickup was a bit more abbreviated than thirteen years ago because the staff knew about Kohl. The woman asked about him, expressing some surprise that his parents were Yucca and Yakuza, because Yucca was a pepper and salt (and Kohl was black). It’s possible to breed pepper-and-salts with blacks and get blacks, but it must not have been done that often.
D (flashing back to that little tidbit when leafing through the kennel paperwork): Look, guys!
C: Can I see?
D: This is a picture of Fitzpatrick…
C: Cinder’s dad?
D: Yes, and this is Komfort, Cinder’s mom.
C: Which one had Cinder?
D: Um, his mom, goose. Komfort. But, look on the back. This chart shows Cinder’s parents. See, there’s Fitzpatrick. There’s Komfort.
F: I thought you said that very few words start with “k”, Daddy.
D: That’s basically true, Fisher, but look. Here are Fitzpatrick’s and Komfort’s parents. And their parents. And then their parents. Going way back. (Pointing at a Yakuza-and-Yucca pairing in the tree.) What do you see here?
C: Is that Yucca?
D (surprised at her sounding out skills): It is! Good job, Cory. And this is Yakuza!
F: What does that mean, Daddy?
D: That means that Cinder is related to Kohl.
F: Was Kohl Cinder’s dad?
D: No, that’s Fitzpatrick. It looks like Kohl was Cinder’s great grand uncle.
C: Did Cinder meet Kohl?
D (um…): No, silly. Kohl lived with us here. He died six months ago. Cinder was born three months ago. They couldn’t have met each other.
F: Does that mean Kohl was Cinder’s grandfather?
D (why split hairs): Almost, yah, Fisher, basically. Isn’t that cool?
D: Maybe that’s why Boston and Quincy have been so nice to Cinder since he came here. Maybe he smells like Kohl.
F: Well, I don’t know what Cinder smells like, but he just looks like Kohl. Except Cinder’s not black. That could be it, right, Daddy?
Sigh. Daddy doesn’t explain that smell probably matters more for dogs than looks…or that the chart also indicates that Kohl was Cinder’s half great grand uncle on his mother’s side.
Papa tries out the nickname “Cinder Block” a few times.
F (later): Daddy, why does Papa call Cinder “Cinder Block”? What is a “Cinder Block”?
D: A cinder block is like a heavy brick. A really heavy brick.
F (a little confused): Cinder’s not like a heavy brick.
The whole week in Cancun the twins (especially Fisher) beg not to be left at the kids club.
It’s understandable. This kids club is just awful. It has a huge pool around a mock Mayan temple with multiple water slides and fountains. So gaudy. It also has air hockey, foosball, and pool tables. What kid wants those? It has board games and art supplies in an air conditioned room. Yuck. Visits from characters in traditional Mayan dress carrying monkeys and iguanas. That’s not safe, people. It has older kids and younger kids from all over the world. International jerks. They can all head down to the beach as a group. Play soccer. Sand, belch. There are activities, like making pinatas or headdresses. Yawn.
The little torture victims figure out that they can watch Daddy and Papa play tennis from between the cement posts at one of their kids club area. They can also talk.
F (as Daddy winds up to serve): Oh, hi, Daddy.
C (as Papa is about to hit the ball): We’re going to the little kids club! Just wanted to tell you!
F (after a point): Good try, Papa. That was a really good try.
On the last day, it’s hot. When they approach the bars of their prison, Papa asks them make themselves useful, pass a beach towel through. For the sweat. They enthusiastically comply. Project! A few minutes later…
C (behind Daddy, who waits to return Papa’s serve): Daddy! Hey, Daddy!
F: Daddy, do you need some water?
Annoyed, Daddy turns around. Fisher is holding a bottled water through the cement posts.
D (squelching annoyance): No, guys. Hey, guys, go play. We need to finish our tennis game, okay.
F: Okay, but do you need this water?
D: No, thanks, Fisher. We have water. That’s very sweet, but we have water. Can you please go play?
F: Oh, sure!
They don’t go play. Daddy and Papa play a point that ends a game.
F (still holding out the bottle of water): Daddy, I just brought you this water because the water down there looks like it’s warm. This water is cold. See? Do you want this cold water, Daddy?
D (smiling): No, thanks, Fisher. We’re almost done. How about this, if you go play for a few minutes, we can finish this set and come get you. We’ll drink the cold water then, okay?
F: Okay. (Not leaving.) Are you sure you don’t want this cold water, Daddy? You look hot.
C: Daddy, you do look hot. You are all sweaty.
D: No, thanks, guys. Can you please go play for a few more minutes?
C: Come on, Fisher.
F: Okay. I’ll keep this water for you, Daddy. (Pause.) Have fun playing tennis, Daddy. (Pause.) I’m sorry, Daddy, but I hope Papa wins today, okay?
D: Okay, Fisher, okay. I’ll see you in a minute.
C: Come on, Fisher.
F: Bye, Daddy. We’ll be at the big kids club, okay?
D (would kill him right then and there on even a hint of insincerity): Okay, Fisher.
F: And, I’ll keep this water for you, Daddy, okay?
D: Okay. Bye.
They finally leave the prison yard and head back to their cells for some gruel. Or something.
F: Daddy, what does that say?
F: Why does it say that?
D: So that if he gets lost, anyone who finds him will know his name by reading his tag.
F: How is Cinder going to get lost?
D: Well, I don’t know. Hopefully, he won’t. But, sometimes dogs get lost.
Cinder runs out back. Fisher follows.
F (a few minutes later): What does it say on the other side, Daddy?
D: That’s contact information.
F: What’s contact information?
D: Information that tells anyone who finds him who owns Cinder. Like, it has Papa’s phone number on it so that anyone who finds him can call Papa. Then, we can go get Cinder.
F (eyes lighting up): That tag has Papa’s phone number?
Uh oh. He races out back where the dog is. Daddy sees him trying to read Cinder’s tag. Five minutes later, Fisher’s back, smiling and holding a piece of paper with a number scribbled on it.
Fisher’s been trying to winkle out Papa’s phone number for a couple of weeks. He thinks it’d be funny to call Papa at random times from the landline. He’s tried everything, unsuccessfully, to get that number.
Now he waves the paper with the right digits around and starts what can only be called a happy dance…