Wednesday, October 7, 2009
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Roscoe was still deciding whether to fight or fly when the shrub shook mightily and the shadow emerged, taking the shape of a large dog with black fur and tan markings.
"Buddy!" he and Rosie cheered.
The shadow grumbled and shook himself violently, trying to dislodge the twigs and leaves stuck to his coat. "Don't 'Buddy' me," he grumped. "I've been tailing you two from one end of Maple Ridge to the other for the better part of the day. I've been soaked in streams, chased by human urchins, threatened by people whose garbage cans you've knocked over and almost squashed by I don't know how many cars..."
Ignoring his tirade the piglets clustered round their best friend and nudged him happily.
"But this last stunt!" he howled. "Now that was the dumbest thing I've ever seen - even for a a couple of pigs who haven't got one whole brain between the two of 'em!"
Of course Rosie and Roscoe could always tell what Buddy was really feeling by the irrepressible movements of his tail. If he sounded grouchy, but his tail wagged - as it was doing at that particular moment - it meant he wasn't grouchy at all. He was just pretending, to make a point. So they cuddled up until he broke down entirely and began licking them happily, laughing as only a dog can.
"Thought I'd never see either of you again," he whooped. "The looks on the faces of all those humans..." he gave up trying to describe the scene at the supermarket, content for a moment to sit and let the piglets settle down.
"But why were you following us?" Rosie asked.
"Because you were lost."
"But how did you know we were lost?"
"Because one of your friends at Hearts on Noses told me so."
"Mr. Trots," Rosie said, annoyed. "Scratch," Roscoe guessed.
"And one or two others I could name," Buddy said. "But we haven't got time for gabbing. Night's coming on and we've got to get back to the sanctuary. The adventure's over now. We've got a long way to go."
"How can it be over?" Rosie objected. "I still haven't found any wild pigs, Buddy. I'm not going home 'til we've found our wild cousins."
"Don't know about wild pigs," he said, raising his muzzle and sniffing the air. "But there's some wild things out there that I do know about, and you won't want to meet 'em. They come out at night time."
Rosie stared defiantly.
Roscoe shivered. "What kind of wild things," he quavered.
"Well, they're my distant cousins, if you really want to know. But I wouldn't introduce you to them because unlike me, their bite is definitely worse than their bark. In fact, they don't really bark at all... more like yipping, the sound they make."
"Coyotes?" Roscoe shuddered.
"Yep. They're around. I can smell 'em even if you can't. They'll be out as soon as the sun sets, and there ain't a critter around that's as hungry or sly as a coyote."
"Rosie!" Roscoe pleaded. "We have to go."
"He's just bluffing," she sniffed.
Roscoe looked at Buddy's tail. It hung limp between his hind legs, like a flag on a windless day. Following Roscoe's glance, Rosie read the sign as well. There was no doubt about it: Buddy wasn't kidding.
"But if we go back now I'll never get to see my wild ancestors!" she wailed.
"I'd guess more than one of your wild ancestors made a meal for a pack of Coyotes, Rosie," Buddy said matter-of-factly. "There's nothing meaner or smarter, believe me. They're my kin. I know how they think."
Rosie's head hung low and her ears drooped. She sighed until all the air had come out of her. Roscoe nudged her cheek consolingly. Buddy licked her gently.
"All I'll ever be is a farm pig," she moaned. "Just a stupid barnyard oinker!"
"Don't talk about my best friend like that," Buddy growled.
She tried to smile, looking up at him nose to nose. But her head sank again, as if it was to heavy to hold upright. And when they moved off at last, Rosie lagged behind so that Roscoe and Buddy had to keep checking over their shoulders to make sure she was still with them.
"She knows it's not safe," Roscoe fretted, feeling guilty. "We have to go back."
"That doesn't make it any easier, my friend. Not for her. She probably has a touch of the wild in her blood, and that must make the sanctuary feel like a prison sometimes. Can't worry 'bout that now, though. We do have to get back."
He glanced westward, to the point where the sun was sliding behind the rooftops. They were nowhere close to the open fields that surrounded the Hearts on Noses Mini-pig Sanctuary. It would certainly be dark before they arrived home. That would have been frightening enough, but what made matters even worse was a sound that came to them from a long way off, north, over the rooftops in the same direction they were headed. It was a terrible sound, a crazy sound, the sound of lunatics laughing.
"Coyotes!" Roscoe shuddered.
Buddy trotted on grimly, not saying a thing.