A Life Less Ordinary

 

home / season six / episode ten / act I

   
The Beginning was when I decided, for the first time, that maybe I deserved a bit of a vacation. Considering the things I've been through over the last couple of years, there are some who might say that it was overdue. Or maybe I'm just a workaholic. I guess it could seem strange to be taking a vacation in January, but since getting sunburned -- very badly sunburned -- in late October, my view of the seasons has been a little inverted, so I thought I’d try and head for some place warm, or warmer than where I’d been. Somewhere south-ish…

Anyway, I had managed to find myself a nice, sandy and, surprisingly warm and sunny spot on a strip of beach in California and was just about to relax when I felt something pawing at my arm. I lifted the sunglasses off my nose, glanced down, and saw something that made my blood curdle.

* * * * * * * * *

Dog’s Story

Argyle. Love him and hate him. I was relaxing this morning on the couch, enjoying my slumber. One can never have enough beauty rest. Well, as one might guess, Mr. Argyle decided that I needed to go for a walk. Alone. Now, I love to walk as much as the next dog, but this was utterly ridiculous. Los Angeles, California, and I'm traipsing around all on my lonesome. Hmpf. And, if it was not enough of an indignity that he sent me out alone, I was compelled to model this atrocity of a sweater. Whoever heard of such a thing -- clothing for dogs. We were created with coats of our own, we require no additional covering.

Sigh.

So, I obeyed the behest of my loving master and trotted along the boardwalk, searching the sandy beach for this Jarod person. Yes, yes, yes. I remember Jarod. And I remember he has helped us, Argyle and I, out of more than a few mishaps, but that does not mean that I was pleased with having to locate him.

Ah, I have found the tall man with the deep voice and dark hair. Pretty-boy, if you ask me, but Argyle likes him, so I shall oblige -- in this instance. But, aw man, I’m wearing more clothes that he is. Oh, the humanity. If I could walk with one paw over my face, I would, but that would look stupid. Well, I'm here. Guess I'll just, as they say, "grin and bear it." I shan't bark as that might annoy him and attract undue attention. A more subtle approach will suffice.

* * * * * * * * *

I have to confess that it was tempting to roll over and ignore the little guy, much as I like him. Still, like his owner, he's very persistent. Sitting up, I saw another blood-curdling sight, and this one had me up on my feet in short order. With Dog tucked under one arm and the other holding my towel, it had me running down one of California's nicest strips. No, it wasn't Miss Parker. That I could definitely have coped with. It was far, far worse. You’ve probably guessed that, for lack of anything else to do, Lyle was sunbathing. You may not have realized that it was the sort of beach where what you wore didn’t matter so much as the fact of whether you were wearing it in the first place. Ewww!

* * * * * * * * *

Centre Jet
Somewhere over Virginia

Miss Parker sat back in her seat, glancing over to where Sydney was perusing a book and then to where Broots was sitting, trying not to get sick all over the seats that had only been installed in the jet the previous week. Sniffing, she reached into her purse for a tissue, looking up to find the older man offering her a bag of something.

“Try one of these. They were recommended to me as being good for a cold.”

“Thanks, Syd,” she responded damply, trying to suppress an urge to sneeze and cough at the same time. “But I prefer to take my chances with the genuine article rather than the all-natural alternative.” She pulled a throat lozenge out of her bag and slipped it into her mouth, speaking around it. “Broots!”

The other man looked up, trying to ignore the fact that the plane had hit a pocket of turbulence. “Y…yes, Miss Parker?”

“The funeral of this friend of yours is on Tuesday, right?”

“Uh, yes.”

“So the three of us go to California, find the Blue File, go to the funeral and leave again.”

“Umm, kind of.”

Miss Parker glared at him. “What do you mean, ‘kind of?’”

“Well…it’s just…”

She stamped her foot on the floor of the plane impatiently. “Well, what?”

“The…the order said that we have to pick up Lyle on the way. That’s where he’s on vacation and he’s supposed to help us with this…hunt…”

”Great!” Miss Parker snorted, rolled her eyes and wrapped herself in the blanket on the seat next to her. “We take the thumbless wonder along for a ride to the funeral of a man with no digits. And I bet he won’t lift a finger to help us find his missing Blue File either.”

* * * * * * * * *

Once we were a safe enough distance away from the beach, I put Dog down and contemplated what the sight of him probably meant. As none of the ideas that were being presented were at all to my taste, I then tried desperately to think of a way to escape. In the meantime, the poor little guy was trying to draw my attention to something that was tucked into his collar.

* * * * * * * * *

Do I look like a sack of potatoes? Is Jarod crazy? Okay, so that last one is still up for debate, but geez, what could he have seen that would make him take off so fast? Especially considering he wasn't wearing very much.

* * * * * * * * *

I’ve heard of carrier pigeons but carrier Dogs? That’s a new one on me. I have to say that he did a good job, too. I pulled on a pair of shorts, relieved Dog of his burden, put him on the front seat, leaned against my car and read it. Before I tell you about the contents, though, it might be worth going over a little past history. Argyle and I first…met is probably the wrong word here, I think. Collided seems somehow ineffective. We were brought together with a sickening thud by one of my pretends several years ago and each subsequent meeting was only a slight improvement on the previous one. No wonder I need a vacation.

* * * * * * * * *

Damn that Argyle. He is always doing this to me. I cannot believe he wanted me to traipse all over Los Angeles to find this guy. Sure, I like Jarod and all, but my paws hurt and this abominable sweater Argyle's put on me, it itches like crazy. I tried to shake it off, but somehow it's attached to my front legs and just will not release its hold. Not to mention, he stuffed a very poorly folded sheet of paper under my collar. I’ve been shaking my head for over an hour, to no avail. However, one must remind me to thank Argyle's friend, Jarod, for removing that uncomfortable sheet of paper. My best guess is that is what I was to bring to Mr. Jarod. I shall have to remember to snub Argyle for several hours for this disservice.

* * * * * * * * *

So, to come back to the immediate past, I opened the note and read it. Then I read it a second time and, still trying to fully comprehend the meaning - some genius, huh? - read it again. It was a wedding invitation.

* * * * * * * * *

A wedding invitation? Is Argyle kidding? Oh, and by the way, yes, I can understand English. Simply because I am a dog, of the Jack Russell Terrier persuasion, does not mean that I am in any way unintelligent. Argyle wants to wed. Fantastic. Where does that leave me? I suppose I shall be put out on the doorstep to survive the elements all on my own. My master is in dire need of an education in the care of one's pets. I am, after all, a part of the family too. Maybe I will appeal to this friend of Argyle's. Jarod may be in need of a travelling companion. I do know he moves around a substantial amount. It’s just a thought in the back of my mind. (And yes, dogs have thoughts too.)

* * * * * * * * *

I got into the car beside Dog and followed the surprisingly clear directions to a tall and luxurious apartment block a few miles down the strip. I might as well mention here that the last time Argyle needed my help, it was with a woman. Not to work out the right things to say, or, more aptly in his case, the right things to wear, but to locate the woman herself after she was kidnapped. Luckily it all ended up okay and nobody got hurt - except me, a couple of times. As I looked at the towering building in front of me, I began to wonder just what it was that Argyle needed this time. Casting a glance at the clothes the doorman was wearing, I figured he probably didn’t have enough ‘green’ to pay the rent.

* * * * * * * * *

Argyle's Apartment
Long Beach, California

“Jay-man!”

* * * * * * * * *

Dear God, Dog here, can you please get me out of this now?

* * * * * * * * *

Jarod submitted to the enthusiastic embrace with which Argyle greeted him after opening the door of the apartment. He walked in and looked around before holding up the piece of paper that he had found on Dog’s collar.

“What’s this supposed to be?”

“What’s it look like, Jay-Dog? It’s a wedding invitation! Me and Mona…” He gave an eager wink, prodding Jarod in the ribs with his elbow. “We’re tying the knot!”

“What?!” Jarod moved out of the way of any more enthusiastic gestures, his eyes widening.

”We’re getting hitched, man. Walking down the aisle, saying ‘I do,’ you know.”

Jarod raised an eyebrow. “You’re getting married.”

“That’s what I said!” Argyle picked up Dog and hugged him. “And my little four-legged friend here was sent on an errand to find me a groomsman.”

Jarod allowed his jaw to drop as he leaned against the wall for support, slowly trying to take in what Argyle had just said.

* * * * * * * * *

THAT was why he sent me out into the hot sun wearing a wool sweater? To find someone to be his best man? Now I know I am moving in with Jarod. That is, of course, granted he survives his stay with Argyle. What ever am I to do with him? Argyle, that is.

* * * * * * * * *

It took me a while to get over the words that had come out of Argyle’s mouth, but I didn’t bother asking him to repeat it. Not because I didn’t believe it or anything as complex as all that - I just didn’t really want to hear him say it again. A wedding? Okay, so Argyle and Mona are supposedly mature adults and should reasonably be expected to work things like that out, but really: Argyle getting married? And to Mona? The only individual in that whole apartment with any sense, until I showed up at least, was Dog! Oh yes, and, of course, Benny. And his room was the first place that Argyle took me. Don’t get me wrong, that wasn’t a problem. I’d always had a bit of a soft spot for ‘Pop.’ Why else would I go to all the trouble of trying to save his son’s life? It was, after all, something that, for a while at least, started to look like an annual event.

The break had been nice for me, but not for him. Argyle ushered me, ignoring my protests, into Benny’s bedroom, where I found him lying in bed. When I’d first met Argyle’s ‘pop,’ he had been faking a brain tumor while trying to cope with the loss of his wife, Adela. I didn’t have to look at him to know that he wasn’t faking it this time. And I could hear in Argyle’s voice as he let us speak for about half a minute before ushering me out of the room and into the kitchen that he didn’t have a clue ‘Pop’ probably wasn’t going to live long enough to see his son walk down the aisle.

* * * * * * * * *

Something is wrong here. Jarod has that look in his eyes that says he knows more than he is willing to inform Argyle. I must say, that I now feel dreadful for some of the things I said about Argyle. Why? Look at Jarod; he knows something is not right. I would wager that "Pop" is not well, and may not live for the wedding. I could not live with myself if something were to happen to Argyle's father and I was not around to comfort him. Argyle is sweet like that; he requires the presence of all family members when something is not right in his life. I will remain by Argyle's side as long as he needs me. I am a very loyal pet after all.

* * * * * * * * *

Long Beach Airport
Long Beach, California

Miss Parker pulled her sunglasses down a notch on her nose and looked around as Broots tried to make the wheels of the luggage trolley all move in the same direction at the same time.

“Well?”

“Well, what?” Broots puffed, numerous beads of sweat rolling down his neck and dampening the collar of his Hawaiian-style shirt.

With both hands on her hips, the woman turned to face him, her expression demanding. “Where is he?”

The technician looked around for a moment, bemused. “Who?”

She snapped her fingers in his face. “Lyle, Broots. Where’s Lyle?”

“Oh…he’s…probably on the beach somewhere.”

Her eyes widened in disbelief. “What?!”

“Well, he is on vacation.”

Miss Parker waved the order in Broots’ face. “Not anymore.”

“Yes, Miss Parker.” Broots peered around it. “But you’re the one who gets to tell him that.”

Miss Parker heard the sound of a muffled laugh from behind her, turning to glare at Sydney, who, as he pocketed a well-thumbed book, had approached in time to hear the discussion. Rolling her eyes, she headed for the nearest exit, muttering under her breath.

“I really need a drink…”

* * * * * * * * *

I entered the kitchen to find the bride-to-be standing in front of the sink, a sheaf of papers in her hand. She didn’t see me at first and continued waving her arms around in the air and noiselessly mouthing words that she read. It was only when Argyle came in, a minute later, that she finally noticed I was there and I regained enough self-control to speak.

“What the…?”

Okay, so it wasn’t my most inspired statement. Sorry.

* * * * * * * * *

Argyle's Apartment
Long Beach, California

“Oh, my Mona, Jay-man…”

Argyle hugged Mona, and Mona turned and hugged Jarod, who sincerely hoped that he wasn’t expected to complete the circle.

“My Mona, she’s auditioning for a play.”

“Auditioning?” Jarod's eyebrow got another workout.

“That’s right.” Argyle pulled out a chair and sat on it. “After all, we are in the actor’s capital, right?” Reaching out an arm, Argyle pulled Mona into his lap and, before wrapping both arms around his neck, she pushed the pile of pages across the table to where Jarod was standing.

“And my Mona, Jay-Dog…”

* * * * * * * * *

Words apparently failed Argyle at that point. They were failing me, too, but for a totally different reason. An actor? Mona? A serious actor? I mean, sure, I’d dabbled a little in theatre. I’d even had a spot on a television show for a while, not that anybody noticed. At least, I hope they didn’t notice. Still, I’ll be the first to admit that Mona had had practice on the stage. To be more precise, a few years back, she’d been a showgirl. In Vegas. In fact, that was the whole reason that she and her soon-to-be-husband had met. Her boss had needed protection and, well, it’s a long story. Come to think of it, those involving Argyle usually are.

Argyle decided at this point that he, Mona and I should go for a walk so we could discuss plans. I didn’t really want to think what plans he might want to discuss. If they had anything to do with me, I felt that it would somehow be better for all concerned if I wasn’t involved. Unfortunately, without hurting anybody’s feelings, I couldn’t think of a way to avoid it. So I decided to stick around. For a while. At least until I saw the way things were going to go.

* * * * * * * * *

This, I am not looking forward to. Argyle wants to take a walk and talk about something? He's making plans. Great. You know what this means, right? This means that Argyle is probably going to screw something up and I shall be left, well, I guess I would not be holding the bag as I have no hands, but I know something will happen to me. Something always does.

* * * * * * * * *

While Argyle and Mona were getting dressed, I knocked on Benny’s door. In the short time we’d had together before, I hadn’t been able to work out exactly what was wrong with him and now I was wondering if he’d tell me.

* * * * * * * * *

Argyle's Apartment
Long Beach, California

“Come in, come in. Don’t stand there, letting the cold in.”

With a smile, Jarod did as he was told. Shutting the door, however, blocked a lot of the fresh air coming in from the hall and strengthened a smell that he had first noticed when he had gone to be reintroduced by Argyle. Glancing around, Jarod could see the incense burner on the table and nodded at it.

“Did Mona give you that?”

Benny nodded. “She sure did. Said a nice smell made a real change to a room’s atmosphere. Good Fung Sway or something.”

Jarod made a quick mental note to find out more about that and glanced around, his eyes quickly coming to light on a series of bottles that Benny had pushed in behind other things on his bedside table. Looking up, he saw that the older man had spotted what he was eyeing.

“You’re still sharp, Jarod.”

He smiled. “I’ve had a lot of practice of late.” Walking over, he picked up several of the bottles to read the labels before looking at Benny. “Real or sugar again this time?”

“Real.” The man shifted uncomfortably. “Don’t know why they’re bothering about it, though. Ain’t gonna do me a lot of good. Not now.”

Jarod nodded slowly and returned the bottles to their places on the table, making sure that they were almost out of sight.

“You haven’t told Argyle?”

“Not yet.” Benny glanced up. “He told me that you were coming and I was kind of hoping that you might be willing…”

“How about Mona?”

“Those two tell each other everything and letting it out to one is the quickest way of spilling the beans to the other. Just like me and my Adela.” Benny glanced up, a look of concern on his face. “Jarod, I know that this is asking a lot of you…”

The younger man nodded and tried to smile. “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.”

* * * * * * * * *

I didn’t really know what else to say. After all, I could hardly refuse, could I? But it was going to take a delicate touch to get that point across and I had a feeling that I was about to discover some very good methods of procrastination. Such as that walk we were going on…

When Argyle called me to say that he and Mona were ready, I don’t know what I was expecting. Scratch that, I did know what I was expecting. I was expecting the unexpected. And I got it. It was Argyle’s shoes that first caught my eye. Now, my own taste might not be great -- I prefer ease to variety. But cream sandals with dark socks? Even that wouldn’t have been so bad if there weren’t a gap -- a short one; he’s not that tall -- to his shorts of a bright Hawaiian pattern -- a pattern that clashed in every possible way with the print of his shirt. In hope of escape for my brain that was suffering under the clash of color, I looked down at Dog. Now, I’ve seen canine fashion. Heck, I even helped them to come up with the idea in the first place. But I couldn’t help feeling that, while the top, shorts and even cap were a good idea, the sunglasses with a strip of zinc on his furry little nose were going a little overboard. And from the look he was giving me, I think he thought so too.

* * * * * * * * *

Ahem -- have I mentioned lately that I am prepared to kill my Master, Argyle, with only a moment's notice? He must be certifiably insane. As though the wool sweater from this morning was not nearly enough, he thrust my poor dog body into this T-shirt, a pair of blue shorts (he is crazy), and sunglasses. Does he really believe these will remain firmly in place on the bridge of my nose? I would shake them off now, but he would return them to their improper location, then find a strange manner in which to attach them to my face. Oh, but the horror of it all is this goop he smeared along my nose. What is that? I would wipe if off, but then it would be all over my paw. I could use Jarod's pants, but he has been so kind to me that I shall refrain. For now. Oh, the humanity.

On to Act II

 
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