“He pissed in his cup!” Emma says to me as she is tying off the kayak on the trailer. “I just got that line! It’s not Piston Cup! When Mater and Lightning McQueen discover all of Doc Hudson’s championship trophies, Mater says that Doc did “What in his cup?”
"Pass me that rope. We need to tie the kayaks to the rack. Not to each other like we did the last time...when they fell off on our first turn," I am on the other side of the trailer tying knots. Already the sun is high in the sky and my shirt is soaked with sweat. “That’s why we always laughed so hard at that line, Em.”
“And dad quotes it all the time: 'He did what in his cup?'; I can’t buh-lieve I just got it! I’m old enough to drive now,” Emma says. “Are there other lines like that too?”
“Oh, Em, all Disney movies are made for the parents' entertainment. This is how we are able to sit through them with our kids!” I tease her. “Remember when Lightning McQueen is left repaving the road after he thought that nice couple was going to save him? He calls out that he is in Hillbilly Hell. He says his IQ is dropping! I’m not sure how many toddlers would pick up on that humor.”
“Mom! Cars was my all-time favorite Disney movie when I was little. You made me a Lightning McQueen cake for my second birthday. I loved that movie,” Emma said. "If you pass that rope back over here, I can tie it down here."
“And we didn’t mind watching it, over and over and over again,” I agreed. “The Dusty Rust-Ez scene taught us that race cars don’t need headlights because the race track is always lit; and so is his brother. Disney movies are great for catching double meanings of words. We also loved “Frozen” when you started watching it.”
“Oh no! Not that one too!” Emma groaned. "WALT DISNEY LIED to me! We have to change our dog's name now.”
“You’re being dramatic. And, speaking of dogs, I think we are all set here and ready to roll! Let me just let the dog out one more time and then we can head out to make some paddle swirls!” I said.
Emma hopped in the car and waited, thinking that she was going to have to re-watch all of her favorite movies again. How much had she missed out on? Is this why it felt like everyone was always laughing so hard and quoting lines from the movies? Damn, she needs to ask her best friend about this. Did she already know about this? She pulls out her phone to start a text when her mom suddenly appears in the car window, breathless.
“Have you seen Walter? I think I let him out this morning, but I can’t remember if I let him back in. I can’t find him and his dish is empty. Maybe I just forgot to feed him this morning in our rush to kayak?”
Emma hops out of the truck and slams the door with a little more force than necessary. “Don’t worry so much, Mom. He always shows back up. I’ll get him.”
Emma gets the dish and pours some dry food into it and begins to noisily shake it. “Walter! Here Walter!! Walt! Want some food?! Walt?”
The two stare at each other on the back deck silently pondering their options. Do they leave to go kayaking? Or do they wait for their ten year old collie? He could take hours to find his way back from his adventure in the nearby woods. Do they abandon their day of kayaking on the river to go find their wayward beast?
As Walter has gotten older, he has started to wander less often. But that doesn’t mean that he stays home all the time anymore. They live out in the country and those fields across the street sometimes call his name. He feels the need to run through the fields chasing mice and rabbits. Deer, squirrels, and chipmunks play hide and seek games with him in the woods behind the house. Walter gets bored with his people friends and needs to be among his furry friends on occasion.
Sometimes Walter can be found in five minutes. Sometimes Walter can be gone for an afternoon. But he always comes home for dinner. Usually in need of a bath.
Emma and I shrug and head for the kayaks. Walter will be back about the same time we are. We will all be hungry, tired, and wanting dinner at about the same time. "It's your turn to give Walt a bath," I tell Emma as we hop in the truck.
It’s now been three days since Walter has been home. Emma has alerted all the social media at her fingertips that our dog is missing. They are now going to make up flyers to pass out to their neighbors. All five of their neighbors on our country road. They aren’t giving up hope, but at the same time are starting to think something happened.
“This is the cutest picture of Walt I have, Mom,” Emma said, “Who am I kidding? They are all cute! Look at those floppy ears? His tongue sticking out? He looks like he is smiling for the camera here! I miss him so much!”
“We just need one for the flyer, maybe two. We can use one of his face close up and then a whole body picture? Oh, for pete’s sake. We need one clear picture. That one will work. Put that one on the flyer. No, not your phone number! Use my home email address. We don’t need a bunch of quacks texting or calling,” I said. “We can pass them out as soon as they are printed. Just let me know.”
Emma and I are at the last house on our road. We saved this house for last. It is the creepy house. The house with the longest driveway. The driveway that is hidden with the most trees. The driveway that has two pick-up trucks with those odd and box-like units that sit in the bed. If asked what color, We would both have to shrug and say, “maybe greenish grayish brown?”
When we passed the mailbox at the end of the driveway we noticed that it was overstuffed with mail. “Do you suppose they’ve gone away?” Emma asked.
“He lives alone. He doesn’t have any family in the area. He likes to keep to himself,” mom said as she continued down the rutted driveway. Yeesh, I sound like a horror movie.
“So when you knocked on the door, no one answered?” the officer asked.
“That’s right. We just left the flyer on the front porch under a rock so it wouldn’t blow away and then got back in our truck and left,” mom said.
“And where did you get the rock?”
“You said you, 'just left the flyer on the front porch under a rock so it wouldn’t blow away', so where did you get the rock?” the officer’s eyes bore holes into the mom’s. She was afraid to look away for fear of breaking down and crying.
He snapped his notebook shut and suddenly smiled. “Okay, that’s all I need from you. Have a good day!”
“So he wasn’t living there alone this whole time, Mom?” Emma meekly asks.
“Apparently he had a lot of us fooled for a very long time,” I say.
“He worked with his wife to catch all of those animals? How many did that officer say? Hundreds? Stuffed? Hanging on walls? Sitting on shelves? It will take months before they can sort through them all? We didn’t even smell anything! How is that possible?”
“They were professionals...well, they, and then he was the professional. I can’t believe…” I stopped there not wanting to finish my sentence. My hands curl into Walter's fur as he lays sleeping near my feet.
“You can say it, I’m sixteen mom. I’m old enough to understand the Disney jokes now mom, I can handle death and murder. Just say it: He stuffed and mounted his wife.”