Monday, May 13, 2013

Donna, Riggins, And The Turtle

Donna had been home for almost forty-three minutes when she heard her beloved Boxer dog barking and growling on the back deck. Sighing the sigh that only someone who has worked all day and doesn't have a lot of patience in reserve can, the writer left the family groceries on the kitchen counter, letting the oranges roll out of the bag and migrate everywhere from behind the coffee pot to the floor and not really caring. Opening the back door, the dog's ears bounced upright. "Riggins! What's going on out here?" Looking at her for a moment, the canine companion resumed his barking. Donna noticed that his fur was bristled.

More interesting, he was nose to nose with her turtle sculpture, issuing "try me" to the carefully crafted member of the Testudines branch of the animal world. "What are you doing?", asked a woman who was on the verge of laughter -a welcome source of stress relief for someone whose relationship with time pressure was more than a little too intimate for her liking. Riggins, focused deeply on the shell-clad figure, ratcheted up his assertion that the turtle was up to something. "Oh Riggins", giggled the woman. "I need to put the groceries away. Then I'll make your dinner, okay sweetie?"

Minutes later, Donna was jarred by the dog's barking -and a long, aggressive growl never heard by her before.

That was too much for her. Walking quickly to the door, she was set to scold him when something caught her eye.

The turtle was facing the other way. And standing on only one rear foot, as though performing the first half of a pirouette.

"What -RIGGINS! GET IN HERE NOW!", shrieked a very rattled Donna, not unaware of the subtle smile below the nose of Yurtle's direct descendant. Unknown by her, the shelled little guy had been nibbling at the tulips planted in the back yard a week earlier. Riggins, not needing any further commands, high-tailed it into the house and did his Boxer best to hide under the nearest bed. Riggins was still reeling from the scolding he had received the night before for wiping his nose on the same bedding after stopping at the hall toilet for a nightcap. The dog, known by her Facebook friends as having a rather prodigious rear end, was unable to completely shield himself under the Serta Perfect Sleeper. With read end aloft, the poor canine was hoping that the turtle wouldn't break into the house. More specifically, he worried that the decoration-come-to-life might be a snapping turtle. The bed was Riggin's last line of defense. Boxers are known in Germany as "fearing neither death nor the devil", according to an old Prussian proverb. Turtles, of course, are neither. The poor guy wormed his way out from under the box spring, driven by his new sense of vulnerability, and foregoing his favorite heisted sock.

His timing couldn't have been better; as he padded his way to the hallway, both he and Donna heard the patio door sliding open. Donna, now unable even to speak, peeked from behind the door of the study. That she noticed small, wet turtle footprints making their way down the hall -directly toward her, with no turtle in sight- was interrupted by a scraping sound behind her. The woman turned to tell Riggins to be quiet -and came face to face with the former occupant of the deck patio.

Sensing that his owner was under inexplicable duress, Riggins overcame his fear, bounding into the study to stand in front of a very frightened Donna. The turtle, apparently intent on holding the family household hostage in exchange for lettuce, continued closing the gap between himself and Donna. She was out of options.

Riggins went to work. Showing why his breed had been named Boxers, he wasted no time shifting into attack mode. Fueled by his love for his family and a little adrenaline, Riggins revealed that we was a southpaw. In no time he set up a right-right-left combination which soon had the snapper reeling, but not for long. The fawn-coated fighter found himself dodging and weaving his opponent's lunges and snaps. The Boxer again went to work, peppering his prey with any number of combinations (except, of course, anything including uppercuts since dogs aren't built that way).

Now "Son of Yurtle" was over on his shell, all four legs kicking frantically at the air as if to rival a ceiling fan. When he noticed the turtle had had enough, the alpha hero stopped long enough to rest a paw on the tummy of his vanquished foe. Riggins mumbled a "mrowroworw" to the defeated turtle. Donna could only wonder if Riggins was admonishing the patio decoration to perhaps be kinder.

There seemed to be no hard feelings as Riggins nosed the turtle back on his feet and followed him outside. Donna, for everything she had endured within a fifteen minute span which felt like an eternity to her, felt compassion for the little leaf-eater. "Well, I guess we probably won't eat this entire head of lettuce. Here you go. But from now on, behave yourself!" shared the very compassionate animal lover.

Donna opened the patio door. The turtle plodded his way out, nodding appreciation to the woman for what turned out to be a marvelous anti-oxidant snack. Riggins trotted outside as well, eager to sniff the flowers and perhaps chase a few squirrels.

 Donna shut the door, both relieved and thankful for the entire chain of events. As she sat down to reflect on what had happened, something caught her eye.

The turtle had become a statue once again. Riggins didn't notice it.

He was barking and growling at a garden gnome.



  1. You are a genius. I LOVE this story and am printing it off for my files. You are very "Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe" in your style. I love both the imagination, and how the fun part is sandwiched between slight terror. The final line is amazing. Robert, you are so gifted. I am honored. Thank you!

  2. Thank you for the wonderful feedback, Donna! Having owned Boxers in the past (Can one really own a Boxer?), I know how life can be -that muddy paw print, dog-fur-on-the-sofa and-dog-slobber existence which I'd never change for the world!