JAKE AND THE BEAST
JAKE AND THE BEAST
“It’s a St. Bernard,” Jim repeated needlessly.
“Why, yes, Jim, it is,” Blair repeated needlessly.
“It’s. A. Saint. Ber. Nard.”
Huh oh. His partner was punctuating after each word. Never a good sign. Fortunately, Blair knew exactly how to handle this particular Jim-response.
“Yes. Jim. It. Is. A. St. Ber. Nard.”
“Our son found a St. Bernard,” Jim said as if Blair hadn’t responded.
Unfazed by Jim’s change in his usual Jake-inspired remarks, Blair offered helpfully, “Actually, if we want to be completely accurate, the St. Bernard found him – which, by the way, they’re supposed to do. Find people, that is. And in finding Jake, it found us. If we’re aiming for complete accuracy, that is. And being detectives, I’d assume accuracy would indeed be our aim.”
“It’s a St. Bernard. A really, really big St. Bernard,” Jim said tonelessly.
Huh-oh. Jim had gone toneless. But again, Blair was an unquestioned Jim-expert. He rolled back on his heels, then forward while rubbing his chin thoughtfully. “You know, your powers of Sentinel-observation are still amazing after all these years. Because, yes, even from this distance of, what, three feet? You nailed it. It is, indeed, a St. Bernard.”
Finally tearing his gaze away from their son, and the-horse-disguised-as-a-dog, he faced his partner. “I hate you. You know that, right?”
Ever the magnanimous half of the partnership, Blair patted him reassuringly on the chest, right over Jim’s heart. “I know, man. I know.”
Eyes narrowing in suspicion, he looked down and into his partner’s bright blue eyes; brighter for the mirth he was trying so hard to hide. Jim growled low in his throat, causing Blair to throw his arms up in mock surrender. “Oooh, now I’m scared.”
Disgusted by the fact that he’d never win, would never win, Jim returned his attention to their son – and his breath caught in his throat.
Jake was walking back in the direction of their vacation cabin, the soft crunching sound made by his new winter boots connecting with the snow, sweet to Jim’s sentinel hearing. But the sound wasn’t the reason for his reaction. No, that was due entirely to the picture Jake made, one mitten-covered hand resting on the back of ‘The Beast’ and the closeness of the two as they moved through the newly fallen snow.
Jim could tell by the utter stillness of his partner that he too was equally affected by the incredible – and admittedly – beautiful sight.
After a few moments, both men silently followed.
They’d traveled a fair distance from their vacation rental during their morning ‘pre-hearty breakfast’ walk, so for the first few minutes, both men remained silent.
The sight of their five-year old son, in full winter gear, including a snow hat knitted by Sally, walking through the snow-covered Cascade mountains, with a dog big enough to be a small horse, was too incredible to disrupt with conversation...but eventually the silence was broken by both men - at the exact same time.
“That dog belongs to someone, Sandburg. An animal like that doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. Its owners are probably looking for it right now and when they show up, it’s going to break Jake’s heart.”
“I can just see Goody sleeping on The Beast’s back, can’t you? Heck, I can see both Goody and Jake on its back, sound asleep.”
Then Jim’s words penetrated, causing Blair to say, “What do you mean, ‘break his heart’?” - while at the exact same time, Jim said, “Sleeping on its back? Are you crazy? That thing will eat Goody in two seconds flat, lick its lips, then devour the couch for dessert.”
“That dog may have had owners at one time, but definitely not now,” Blair continued as if Jim hadn’t spoken. “Jake’s its owner, trust me on this.” Then Jim’s words penetrated and, looking truly shocked, quickly added, “Eat Goody? Devour the couch? Talk about crazy. And-“
Before he could finish, Jim decided to put an end to the ‘Ellison-Sandburg’ comedy routine by placing his gloved hand over Blair’s mouth. Unfortunately, Blair kept talking and, being a sentinel, Jim understood every word.
Sometimes the sentinel thing could be a real drag.
Reluctantly, he removed his hand, freeing the dam of words from behind his leather glove.
“...is now ours and we need to come up with a name because honestly, Jake has a lot of wonderful qualities, but naming things isn’t one of them, and you’d better accept this now, because that horse disguised as a dog will probably want to sleep with us and that’s one thing we’d have to put the kibosh on because it would definitely crimp our… you know… other bed-type activities.”
“You mean like, oh, say, reading?” Jim interrupted – except Blair was still talking.
“…he’ll need a proper bed because Jake’s twin simply won’t do. The Beast… hey, that’d be a great name for him… The Beast… yeah, I like that.” He looked up at Jim. “What do you think?”
Grateful Blair had stopped, because it meant he’d taken a breath, and offered Jim the edge-wise word, which he quickly took, even as he marveled at the fact that once again Blair had mirrored Jim’s thoughts. In this case, his use of ‘The Beast’. “Sandburg, I want you to stop that brain of yours, shut that beautiful mouth, and listen to me.” Even as he finished, Jim realized Blair had taken a breath and started up again.
“…not listening to me, Jim… huh, what do you mean, ‘listen’ to you? You need to listen to me. And beautiful mouth? Did you just tell me to shut my beautiful mouth??”
Sighing the kind of sigh signaling familiar territory, namely 'Life with Sandburg', Jim said, quite firmly, “We are not taking that dog - we are not keeping that dog - we are not adding any more animals, great or small or gigantic, to our happy home, and yes, I did because it is. Is all of that clear?”
Not in the least bit mollified by the use of ‘beautiful’ when basically telling him to shut up, Blair gave an exasperated shake of his head. “Man, sometimes you can be so obtuse. It’s a good thing I love you.”
Jim suddenly realized they’d started walking again and were, in fact, almost at the cabin. He knew, with every fiber of his being, if that dog made it in the front door, it was over, he’d be stuck with it. Damn, too late. He could hear it opening, heard Goody’s excited barking – barking that was suddenly cut off.
Fearing the worst, he grabbed Blair’s arm and started running, certain Goody had just become an appetizer for ‘The Beast’.
Okay, so no appetizer for ‘The Beast’. He slowed their pace back to normal just as Blair asked, “What the heck was that-“
“Goody just met The Beast-“ Jim started to explain.
“And you thought she’d just become an 'appetizer de St. Bernard'?”
“You’re really getting scary, Chief. You’re finishing my sentences before-“
“You know how you’re going to finish them?” Blair finished for him.
“I hate you, Sandburg. You know-“
“I know, and you’re starting to repeat yourself. Hey, what would happen if I started calling you, ‘Ellison’? ‘Ooh, lower, Ellison… that’s better, Ellison… yeah, just like that, Ell-“
Jim decided his hand wouldn’t do it this time; so he covered Sandburg’s mouth with his own.
Blair sat on the couch in the huge living room of their ‘quaint’ rustic cabin, watching Goody and Jake scramble repeatedly over the brown and white mass currently lounging rather contently in front of the fire. A fire that had become a necessity after his and Jim’s romp in the snow. Which reminded him; he needed to remind himself to put a notation in his journal reminding him that romps in the snow left ice where no one wanted it – ever.
Jim was on the phone, trying to track down the owner of the ‘mass’ and, if his tone was any indication, Ken Simmons, owner of the town’s diner/drugstore, had just provided an answer that had left Jim conflicted. Blair, on the other hand, grinned. Looked like their household had just grown by one massive dog.
“Okay, well, thanks, Ken. Appreciate your help. Yes, I’ll tell him. See you tomorrow night.” Jim hung up and, seeing Blair watching him, motioned him over. When Blair reached his side, he took his arm and gently pushed Blair into the kitchen.
“Something tells me you’ve got good news and-“
“Yeah, yeah, Chief. Look, first, the dog has a name, it’s,” he closed his eyes as if he couldn’t believe what he was about to say, “it's King.” He opened them, took a deep breath, and added, “And yes, King has owners-”
“I hear a huge ‘but’… and judging by the icy look in your eyes, I’m not going to like this particular ‘but’ any more than you?”
Jim glanced over Blair’s shoulder at Jake, who was now trying to groom ‘King’ while Goody dozed happily on its back. “Chief, its owners brought it up here for the specific purpose of leaving it here – in the snow – alone.” At Blair’s shocked expression, and the question he’d certainly ask any second, Jim added, “Bought it as a puppy-“
Blair held up a hand. “No need to say another word. His-“
“Her,” Jim interrupted. At Blair’s stunned look, he shrugged. “Evidently her ex-owners were as bad at caring about the sex of their puppy as they were about its size.”
“But she’s a St. Bernard!”
Glancing heavenward, Jim said, “This is where I came in.”
Blair. patted his arm in comfort even as he said, “Seriously, man, how dumb can her ex-owners be?”
“According to Simmons? Very. They’ve had a cabin up here for years, are well known, but not well liked, and they drove all the way up from Seattle to ‘dump the beast’ because ‘St. Bernards can survive alone in the snow’.” At Blair’s questioning look, he added, “Simmons overheard them at breakfast this morning, congratulating themselves on how smart they were. He was just getting ready to come up here to rescue it himself when I called.”
Smiling, Blair glanced back at the dog. “So… King, huh?”
“Chief?” Jim said, the warning clear.
“Hey, look at it this way, now no ‘Found’ posters, no teary-turning over of The Beast – although clearly, now that we know The Beast is a she, we should re-think the name-“
Knowing he’d lost – again – he used his mouth in one of Sandburg’s…er…Blair’s, favorite ways.
“so she’s Goody’s now? for real?”
“Goody’s?” Jim asked, knowing instantly he shouldn’t have because the answer was sure to drive him over the final edge.
“Yep, Jake, Goody now has her very own pet, one we know she’ll gladly share,” Blair confirmed.
Would he ever learn? With Jake and Sandburg, Jim knew the answer was doubtful. Certainly kept life exciting...or something.
“i think we should name her, though,” Jake mused from his perch on the back of Goody’s new ‘pet’. “goody doesn’t really know about things like names,” he finished thoughtfully.
Jim decided this was his opportunity to shine. Besides, he’d been thinking about it since returning to the living room, giving Jake the good news, and passing Ken's invite to Jake to act as DJ for one song at the dance Saturday night. “How about Queenie?” He really shouldn’t have been surprised when four heads – two human and two animal – swiveled in complete unison towards him. “Hey, it’s a good name,” he defended in a tone perilously close to a whine.
Jake looked down at the calm dog beneath him, then at Goody, who, from her spot between her ‘pet’s’ front legs, yipped, and finally at Blair, who nodded.
“I do believe Poppy’s done it, Jake.”
Running his small hand down the thick, soft fur, Jake said softly, “queenie.”
Their newest family member raised her head, chuffed gently, then dropped her elegant head back down, apparently happy with her new name.
Feeling smug, Jim said, “I believe my choice has consensus.”
Looking supremely happy, Jake said, “don’t know what that means, but queenie says yes and so do I and so did goody and so did daddy and so did you, my poppy, cuz it was your idea.”
Patting Jim’s cheek, Blair said, “It sure was.” He batted his eyelashes as he added, “My hero.”
Jim swatted him on the back of his head.