LOVE IS A WONDERFUL, TERRIBLE THING

Submitted into Contest #113 in response to: Start or end your story with the line ‘This is my worst nightmare.’... view prompt

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Fantasy Funny Romance

'For there was never yet philosopher that could endure the toothache patiently,however they have wit the style of gods and made a push at chance and sufference.'

-This is my worst nightmare...'

Barry the Beagle was at the end of his wits. His rational perspective and acute perceptions were often blessed to trigger critical changes in others but now he felt as if wandering an endless desert in a futile search of an oasis. He tried every trick in his book to win Pumpkin’s favours and he tried them all in vain. Even worse, he found himself ridiculed by the red-hair she-dog, more and more with his every following attempt at seduction. At the end of his rope of desperation, he decided to consult h,is best buddy Satan.

-As if I ran out of stuff… And dignity… That’s been gone for a while now. When I see her I just wanna run. And every time I see her it gets worse… I wanna see her again… Soon…

-You’re a mess, my friend. You need some inspiration... Some new lines, perhaps? Fresh approach?

-Got any?

-Not originals, you know me… But my human is reading some stuff to me at night time, you know she’s always keen on expending my horizons, some old guy, Shakespeare they call him, or something like that. Famous for his ways with the ladies... 'Sonnets', I think…That might just be an answer to your little dillemma.

-At this point, I am ready to try anything… Bring on the Shakespeare…

-'The course of true love never did run smooth'- Satan gave a free sample.

-Why don’t you come over tomorrow night? I’ll get some stuff ready by then.

-Thanks, my dog.

-Don’t mention it.

Due to his human interferance, Satan was becoming one of Bard’s biggest fan. Shakeaspeare seemed to him like a human with unusually high levels of understanding of the world in all its emotional complexities, the drama, the timeless truths of the nature of all the living beings, his words, intense, passionate, adressing the philosophical and emotional issues, capable of expressing the difficulties of both the human existence and the canine’s. His favourite, so far, was Merchant Of Venice and some parts of it, with its bold explorations of fairness and justice really made him wonder. 'Hath I not eyes?', he thought to himself. 'Hath I not paws, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled, by the same winter and summer as human is? If you prick me, do I not bleed? lf you tickle me, do I not laugh? If you poison me do I not die? And if you wrong me shall I not revenge?' Shakeaspeare seemed like a guy perfectly capable of helping Barry in his romantic misdemeanours.

With his human's, Tillie, assistance, Satan got well prepared for the task ahead, finding the most enchanting of old William’s lines, fool-proof and guaranteed to win the heart of Barry’s beloved, sacrificing an entire evening to make sure that his friend memorises the cream of the top. With the new day came new strength and new thoughts.

Upon their next meeting, granted just a moment of privacy, with no introductions or further notice, out of sheer desperation, Barry the Beagle cleared his throat and began reciting:

-Should I compare thee to the summer day...

-Say that again?-Pumpkin’s attention has been grabbed.

-Should I compare thee to the summer day.

-Why would you wanna compare me to the summer day?- Pumpkin wanted to know.

-Darling, you gotta let me know… Should I stay or should I go.

Barry was at the point of calling it quits.

-Oh, that one I know... I like it. Funny, I’ve never pictured YOU as The Clash fan. My human young ones listen to that stuff all the time… It makes me crazy.

-It does…?

Within the next week the Park’s visitors could observe the most staggering transformation ever undertaken by a Beagle. After a consultation with Satan, it was decided that Tillie, as a token of friendship towards Beagle's human, Howard, was to present Barry with the brand new collar of his choice, thick black leather, studded with spiky metal with a pair of silver chains loosely hanging down. And a thick chain

leash to complement it. Tillie was let in on the whole situation and was very pleased to be of use. Besides, it was only appropriate for Barry to get his own leash and dispose of the rest of Batman’s (Howard's previous dog) residue, may he rest in peace.

Howard was a bit taken by surprise by his friend’s choice in the matter, but was reassured that was all the rage within the Beagle community and it’s best he keeps up with the spirit of times. Any possible objections he might have had were sure to dissappear at the sight of Barry’s ecstatic manner at accepting the gift.

-I should have thought about it earlier.

As for Barry, the first dog to witness his sudden transformation was Bono, a nine-year-old Basset Hound, who happened to bury a very precious bone somewhere around the weeping willow, about six years ago, give or take a year. Unfortunately, he forgot the exact location of his treasure and every summer season, year after year, he kept making futile attempts at recovering his long-lost property. Bono’s social life suffered enormously as a result of his forgetfulness, since he was growing increasingly reclusive and obsessive about his excavational works. His every waking moment was spent on planning, searching, executing and not giving up. The only dogs he would tolerate, in very moderate ways, were the ones sharing his passions.

Over the years, Bono became aware of the fact, that all his fellow excavators could fall into two separate categories. Those interested in finding some unusual artifacts in order to gain popularity, telling the stories and exchanging useless info in a competitive manner, they were not truly interested in a fine art of excavation and busy Bono was no longer wasting his precious time on them. The other group was the vocational club, following a true calling in a passionate manner. These were the true lovers of excavation, constantly interested in improving the technique and expanding one’s knowledge accordingly. They were famously supportive of one another’s efforts, often suffering condemnation for their art, considered by some unimaginative humans to be useless and harmful, going on in spite of the odds and following their true passion with full dedication and determination, no matter the consequences, fully aware of the simple truth, that a dog is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to sleep at night and in-between does what he truly wants to do. Barry wasn’t one of them but he was sympathetic.

-Howdie, Bono… Found that bone, yet?

-Not yet. I feel it gone, yet not know where it’s left…

Giving the weight of deep and careful consideration to that matter of great importance, Bono was considering a slight change of the location.

-To dig or not to dig…

-Keep digging… It’s gonna turn up somewhere… Don’t give up, my dog.

Barry was a supportive kind of a fellow and Bono appreciated it.

-Thank you, my friend. I’ll try over here today. Maybe I’ve overlooked something the last time around. See ya…

-Good luck, body.

That kind of commitment should not possibly go unnoticed. Admirably, even if Bono knew that tomorrow the world would break into little pieces, he would still keep looking for his bone TODAY.

Respectfuly, Barry passed him with a similar air of a dog on a mission, determined, concentrated and fully capable of realising his goals. He felt confident, that his new image combined with the patience, persistence and romantic finesse would assist him in reaching his dream of stealing Pumpkin’s heart this time around and his newly found optimism, mixed with a healthy dose of ambition and positivite attitude, would make his dreams of love come true. Realising, that it may take some time, patience and proper planning for the enterprise to bear fruit, he was no longer in any kind of a hurry, a great believer in inconspicious actions and a never-lapsing influence, willing to go for a long haul and not to push his agenda too strong in order to gain some brief, instant gratification. Maintaining the inner light of his convictions, he wanted to take it easy, don’t rush into things but savour them instead while polishing his project to a jewel brilliance. Barry made his plans and he intended to be deliberate and specific about them. He was fully committed to the bigger picture of what future had to offer, firm and faithful on his course, deeply believing that, this time around, should he play his cards right, his constancy was bound to lead to success and his journey was to end in lovers’ meeting. He spotted Pumpkin right by the waterhole.

-Oh, mistress mine… Where are thou roaming?

-Hi, Barry…

Barry waited for his beloved to raise her eyes and notice his methamorphosis.

-Wow… What happened to you? You look… Good… Different… But good.

-You like it? Howard picked that gear up. It’s not really my style, but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings…

-I like it a lot.

The thing about Pumpkin though… Barry was never sure if she was being serious or just having some serious fun at his expense.

-It’s always tease, tease, tease…- passed through the Beagle’s mouth.

-Don't you not know that I’m a she-dog? When I think, I must speak.

Barry’s heart skipped a beat.

-And though she is but little she is fierce…

Pumpkin was a firm believer in the rights and equality of the she-dogs, struggling each and every day to comprehend the nature of gender uniquality among the canines as well as the she-dogs related issues, their social roles, opinions and the reasons behind them. She firmly believed, that both she- and he- dogs should not be discriminated based on gender that they should all receive an equal and fair treatment at all times. The opression of the she-dogs she was considering to be a shameful practice founded on the irrational principles of prejudice. The equality in her mind meant that the criteria used to discribe and define a dog’s nature needed to be objective, neutral and fair for each individual as such and that the fundamental, universal rights needed to apply to all simply because they were the inalienable principles of freedom, basic to the very foundation of the canine society and its culture. In strong favour of bodily integrity, autonomy, education and freedom of speech, under no circumstances would she allow herself to be intimidated by a mere he-dog.

-'Love me or hate me, both are in my favour… If you love me, I'll always be in your heart… If you hate me, I’ll always be in your mind.'

The sight of Joker approaching brought Barry back to reality. At first glance, it was impossible to know which side of Joker’s personality was in charge at the very moment and one had to be on the pins and needles until the most current state of mind of the bi-polar Amstaf was properly identified. Also, possible rapid changes in his emotional landscape needed to be taken into consideration. Barry suspected that the mood swings were the results of Amstaf’s occasional secret ways of disposing of the mood-leveling pills that his responsible owner was hiding inside of his breakfast pate, each and every morning. Nonetheless, the delussions of grandeur, the unbound energy, the optimism and desire to take on the most impossible of tasks, along with an unrealistic assessment of his abilities were believed to be an indication of the current high.

-Poor dog! 'Thou art infected! This visitation shows it…'

Joker probably hasn’t been sleeping for a couple of days and was walking around with the air of the one on a verge of a grand discovery, speedily moving along with a brand new toy, a full-size tire, in his powerful jaws.

-A good sign…- Barry said to himself.

-Hi, Barry… D’you like my new freesbie?

-Hi, Joker. Very impressive. A bit big, one might say…

Barry was a natural dyplomat, eager to go that extra mile, tip-toeing around the issue, careful not to trigger Joker’s temper.

-I can handle it… Hi, Pumpkin…

-I love your tire, Joker… Let’s go float it in the pond.

-Now… Pumpkin, don’t…- Barry felt concerned about his beloved safety.

-We did that last time around, didn’t we, Joker…?

Joker nodded and turned in the direction of the pond and Pumpkin added quietly, for Barry’s ears only:

-Don’t worry, he’s harmless. And the water calms him down...

-Just be careful… He’s a fruitcake…

-Just a bit excentric… See you later.

-Parting is such sweet sorrow… A thousand times good-night.

This unfortunate turn of events seemed to complicate Barry’s today agenda.

Alas!

A vision so enticingly wonderful deserved the endless persistence… Barry had high hopes for the future and would not allow himself to be swept along by unfavourable circumstances or permit his steadfastness to be shaken, refusing to see this minor setback as a personal failure and decided on channeling his passions into creating more of his viable plans on his way to a certain, well-deserved future deliverance. His inner constancy, coupled with the external flexability, he felt no longer lost in self-doubt and ready to endure the rapidly changing conditions, while maintaining his strength of purpose and determination, approaching the matter in a mature manner in order to keep himself in the game. His iron will at the forefront of the situation, sincere and earnest on his path, he was determined to keep building a strong foundation for the future. Plenty of hard work was required in order to build an enduring, solid relationship, but knowing that there was a larger game playing out, he was all up for it, considering waiting to be much more than just empty hoping, but rather an active state of inner certainty leading to perseverance, a proof of a strength of his character, convictions and truthfulness. He felt as if the deeper connection was calling him up, his capacity for intimacy growing with their each new meeting and an enhanced, everpresent strong desire to merge with the one he adored emotionally, physically and psychologically was running at large at warp speed. The good things were well worth waiting for and the setbacks did not mean a defeat.

Fortunately, a potent persistance was a vital, integral part of Beagles’ personality. Barry felt himself flooded with positive emotions as he watched Pumpkin giving him one last, best look of the day. Lost in a haze of her beauty, he didn’t want to break the spell.

-'She’s a brave wench. I love her more than ever and long to have some chat with her…'

As usual, eager to explore the mysteries and to probe the emotional depths Barry was beginning to suspect that under the tough, self-protective exterior, a soft, gentle, delicate and fragile creature was hiding, a creature in great need of someone to share her feelings with. He knew that Pumpkin liked to march to her own drum, but oh… How passionately, how whole-heartedly and how intensely he wished that he could be the drummer in charge of her rhythm!

Alas!

With the horizons of his fantasies extending far, the fact that he was not able to explore so far in the reality of his existence was a source of huge frustration. There wasn’t much pleasure and enjoyment in Barry’s romantic sector at the moment, but despite all the destructions, his mind and his heart were solidly focused on love and he was determined to remain flexible, endurant and relaxed in all of his Pumpkin-related enterprises.

Practicing patience, the closest companion of wisdom, appeared to be the smartest strategy for a while longer. Barry was determined to proceed with a straight fly of an arrow, waiting for his seeds of desire to blossom into fullfillment, providing it with fertile, nourishing grounds, applying patient, light but consistant pressure until a desired effect was achieved. He was mindful of the fact, that constant dripping can make a hole in the hardest of stones and careful not to disrupt the line of the melody by holding on to one note for too long.

Barry was also aware that he could jeopardise his progress, if he tried to bolt ahead too quickly and decided upon cultivating his enthusiasm, while moving forward cautiously towards his final destination, the longed for domain of the eternal bliss, until he builds the momentum he would be able to sustain for the long haul, saving himself for the future main event.

Pumpkin ran after Joker and Barry realised that he will never understand the she-dogs. But then… The she-dogs were meant to be loved, not understood.

-Love is a wonderful, terrible thing...

September 25, 2021 12:06

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