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Needed Adventure: Part Two


by tdyans

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The sun was beginning to set and the junkyard pets were returning home, filing through the junkyard entrance with the foods and goods that they had worked to acquire over the course of the day. As Dantam made his way through the tired crowds after his own day of searching for owners for all of them, he heard three familiar voices calling out, "Daddy, Daddy!" The next moment, his face was being covered in wet little puppy kisses by his two daughters, while his son grabbed the end of one of his long ears in his mouth and tugged.

     "Hey," Dantam said with a laugh. If there was anyone more enamored with the pups than Whooter, it was their father. He pulled his ear up and away from Enzo's sharp teeth and Enzo fell to the ground with a proud smile. "Good to see you guys, too. Now, what do you say we get some dinner and then maybe... a story?"

     "Yes, yes, a story! Please, Daddy!" the pups all cried, hopping around their father excitedly.

     "Dinner first."

     "Dinner, dinner!" they all exclaimed and went running back toward the center of the junkyard where their mother was waiting to make sure that they would pick more than just sweets from the day's rations.

     Whooter, who had only just now caught up to the pups, watched in dismay as they ran off again. He flopped down onto the ground with a sigh. Dantam chuckled. "Come on, Whooter. I'll give you a ride to dinner."

     ***

     The pups had been fed, and their parents had even managed to eat a bite or two, and now the family lay snuggled together near the campfire that lit the middle of the junkyard encampment. "All right, now what story should I tell you guys tonight," Dantam asked.

      "Tell us about the time you escaped from the pound!" Enzo exclaimed, leaping up and bounding around them in excitement. "Or, or-- ooh, the time you fought off a pack of bullies-- yeah!"

     "A whole pack of bullies, eh, Dantam?" Tessa asked, her eyes sparkling. "And you fought them off all on your own!"

     Dantam coughed, but before he could say anything, Costa spoke up. "No, not those stories. Tell us about how you met Mommy," she said with a dreamy look.

     "Blech, not that one!" Enzo said, wrinkling his muzzle in disgust.

     "Oh yes, Daddy, please tell us that one!" Stella cried.

     "Sorry, buddy," Dantam said to Enzo, "but it looks like you've been outvoted."

     Enzo sighed. "Oh, okay... but try to get to the good parts fast-- like when you saved Mom from the petnappers!"

     ***

     "Time to go to bed, Enzo," Dantam said as the story finished. The girls had fallen asleep halfway through and were now being carried by their mother back to the cave. But Enzo was still awake and leaping around excitedly as he re-enacted the "good parts" of his father's story.

     Dantam reached his head down, picked up the squirming pup by the nape of his neck, and headed toward the cave. Enzo continued to swing around and bat at the shadows as his father carried him. "Wow, Dad! I wish I coulda been there too! I'da shown those dirty petnappers!"

     "Oh, you would have, would you?" Dantam chuckled as he set the pup down beside his sisters and pulled a wooly blanket over the trio.

     "'Course, Dad," Enzo whispered, yawning as his eyelids finally began to droop. "When I grow up, I wanna be just like you."

     "Oh yeah?"

     "Yeah," the pup replied, just before he fell asleep.

     Dantam smiled fondly as he tucked the blanket's edge around his son. "Well, I guess we'll see."

     Whooter fluttered up onto the top of the Gelert's head and gazed down at the snoozing pups fondly. "Oh, they're growing up so quickly."

     "Yeah," Dantam said wistfully, "they sure are." Tessa smiled and shook her head at the two doting males, walking over to lean on Dantam's shoulder as he continued. "Before we know it, it'll be time for them to leave for homes of their own."

     Whooter started a little. "Have you found owners for them then?"

     "Well, I think I've found the perfect owners for Costa and Stella-- two girls; they're best friends and they live right next door to each other."

     "Mm, that does sound perfect," Tessa murmured, picturing, with a combination of joy and sadness, her daughters playing with their new owners. "And Enzo?"

     Dantam sighed. "Enzo... Enzo's a bit harder to pin down for some reason. I don't know-- I've got a few possibilities and I've asked them to stop by next Owner's Day to see what he thinks of them, but I'm just not sure."

     "Don't worry, Dantam," Tessa said. "You'll figure it out. You always do."

     ***

      Like so many of the other junkyard pets, Costa and Stella were playing happily with their new owners, giggling and running circles around the two girls. Enzo, on the other hand, was blithely ignoring the ever-dwindling line of humans who stood nearby, waiting for him to make a decision. Several of the candidates that Dantam had chosen for his son had already wandered off by now and found other pets to take home with them. The few who remained were beginning to look distinctly impatient.

      Dantam and Tessa sighed in unison as they surveyed the scene and walked up to nudge Enzo's attention back toward the prospective owners. "Enzo," Dantam coaxed, "have you picked out an owner yet? Do you know who you want to go home with?"

      "I don't wanna go home with any of 'em, Dad!"

      Dantam drew back, ears raised in surprise. "You don't?"

      Enzo sighed in exasperation at his father. "No! I've been tellin' ya-- I wanna stay here and be like you!"

      "Y-you do?" Dantam had never really stopped to think about the implications behind his son's statements of adulation. Now that he did, the idea instantly began to take hold in his mind, spreading like ivy into visions of teaching Enzo the ropes of running the junkyard so that someday he could take over in his father's footsteps. A proud smile began to make its way across Dantam's muzzle at the idea.

      "Uh huh," Enzo answered, bracing his front paws against his father's side excitedly. "Can I, Dad, please? Can I?"

      Dantam looked down at the adoration in his son's eyes and he could answer no other way. "Well, of course you can, Enzo."

      Enzo let out an excited whoop and ran circles around his father. Dantam laughed.

      "Dantam," Tessa said, sidling up to him and smiling along at their son's antics, "I'd love nothing more than to keep Enzo here with us... but are you sure about this?"

      "Sure I am. I know this isn't what we planned, but it just feels right, Tessa-- you know, someone to pass the 'family business' on to," Dantam said with a chuckle. "Besides, he can always change his mind when he gets older, right?"

     ***

     Any strangers looking into the junkyard would have thought that they saw a shadow Gelert being followed around by his exact double. However, on closer inspection, they would have noticed that the double was actually younger, had an unusual white birthmark on his chest, and did not seem the least bit interested in what the first Gelert was saying.

     "Over here's where you store the fruits. Always make sure there are plenty of those-- helps keep the Neoflu away. And then over there-- Enzo, are you listening?" Dantam asked in exasperation as he turned to find his son pouncing at a wild tigermouse, who scampered quickly into an old piece of tubing and out of the young Gelert's reach. Enzo growled in frustration and stuck his muzzle into the tube. "Enzo!"

     "Huh? What's that, Dad?" Enzo asked, quickly pulling his nose from the tube and struggling to look as if he'd been paying attention all along. "Oh, right, right... fruit... causes Neoflu?"

     Dantam sighed. "Enzo, you're almost full-grown. You need to start learning some responsibility."

     "Aw, Dad-- responsibility?" Enzo whined.

     "Yes. Doing my job requires a lot of responsibility."

     "Who ever said I wanted to do your job?" Enzo asked defiantly.

     "You did! Enzo, that's why you stayed in the junkyard rather than picking out an owner, remember? You used to say all the time when you were a pup that you wanted to be just like me when you grew up."

     "Yeah, but Dad, that's not what I meant. I meant I wanted to have adventures!" Enzo said with a gleam in his eye, but his father just gave him a skeptical look. "You know-- fighting off bullies, rescuing Mom from petnappers...."

     "Enzo," Dantam laughed, "those were just stories."

     "Just stories? So they weren't true?"

     "Well, of course they were true." Dantam faltered. "It's just-- you don't tell bedtime stories about working hard and doing chores and watching after everybody... but that doesn't mean that those aren't the things that go on every day. That's just life-- I didn't go out looking for adventures."

     "But Dad--"

     "Enzo, you're not a pup any more. What we do isn't about fun and adventure-- it's about responsibility. I know that seems boring to you right now, but it's important."

     Enzo opened his muzzle to reply, but at that moment, Whooter fluttered down from where he'd apparently been listening in overhead. He landed atop Dantam's head and nodded his own matter-of-factly. "Your father's right, you know." Enzo just scowled at the whoot and sighed, realizing that there was no point in arguing with either of them.

     Dantam smiled at Enzo's silence, taking it as a sign that his son had come around, and turned away again to proceed with his lesson. "And over here's where we keep...."

     ***

     The junkyard pets snored peacefully away within their assorted boxes, barrels, tents and other makeshift shelters. None seemed disturbed by the figure that moved quietly and quickly by them, blending perfectly into the shadows of the junkyard, with the exception of the white birthmark on his chest that would have stood out like a flag had anyone been awake to see it.

     Enzo smiled. Working all day to find and earn food and items to keep each other alive made the homeless pets heavy sleepers. If he could just make his way to the junkyard's entrance without making any noise, he'd be home free. Of course, the moment that this thought swam across his mind, his paw came down on a twig that broke with what seemed to him to be a deafening snap! Enzo stopped and stood stock still, holding his breath and listening intently for any movement. Nothing came except the continued chorus of snores and snuffles, and Enzo breathed a sigh of relief, continuing on his way but reminding himself to be more careful.

     Enzo's heart thumped as he finally emerged from the maze of garbage in the center of the junkyard and caught sight of the outer gate. He was almost there. A triumphant smile laced its way across his muzzle.

     Suddenly, a flurry of brown and orange flew up before Enzo's face. The Gelert let out a strangled yelp before he recognized the figure that fluttered now before him. "And just where are you going?" Whooter asked in his reedy voice.

     Enzo brushed past him in frustration. "Leave me alone, Whooter. It's none of your business."

     "Is it any of mine then?"

     Enzo froze at the sound of the familiar voice. His shoulders slumped with a sigh. He had hoped not to deal with this confrontation... but now that he had to, an even greater sense of determination began to fill him, and he turned to face his father with his jaw and mind both firmly set.

     "What's going on, Enzo?" Dantam questioned, his figure slowly materializing from the darkness. "Where are you going?"

     "Away from here!" Enzo said, surprised and yet somehow pleased at the defiance in his voice.

     All of Dantam's sternness seemed to crumble. "Why? Enzo, what's the matter. What's wrong?"

     For a moment, Enzo's resolve cracked as well at the plaintive tone in his father's voice. "Nothing's wrong, Dad...." But he shook himself, determined not to back down from what he had decided. "But... but everything's wrong." Dantam just stared at him, puzzled, and Enzo's anger returned. "You just don't understand. I can't spend my life here, doing nothing. I can't!"

     "Nothing? Enzo--"

     "I won't, Dad! You had your adventures. I need to have mine, too. I need to do something important, something real and exciting, and.... I just need to go, okay?" He sighed, looking up into his father's pleading eyes one more time, and then turned to leave.

     "Enzo," Dantam called desperately after him. Then his voice shifted again, clutching at his authority once more. "Enzo, don't go," he ordered.

     Enzo paused again and said quietly back, "I'm not a pup any more, remember, Dad? I can make my own decisions." He looked over his shoulder to see his father's face fall, and his voice softened once more. "Just believe in me, Dad." He did not wait to hear whether or not his father would respond. He dug his paws into the earth and fled from the junkyard that had always been his home, out into the dark, unfamiliar streets of the city.

     Dantam watched him go and whispered, "I do believe in you, Enzo. I just--" He hung his head, neither having the words to finish nor needing them-- his son was long gone. A tear fell from Dantam's eye as he listened to the silence that seemed to surround and smother him.

     And then his ears recognized a familiar noise-- the beating of wings. His head shot up, and there was Whooter hanging in the air over his head. The petpet had obviously witnessed the entire exchange between father and son and looked to be as much at a loss as Dantam was. "Whooter," Dantam said urgently, "go after him. Go with him."

     Whooter, still in shock, reacted in the only way to which he was accustomed. "I am no one's to be ordered ab--"

     "Please," Dantam amended, looking up at the Whoot pleadingly.

     Whooter sighed. Of course, he would have gone with or without the Gelert's request. He nodded to Dantam, and flew off without another word.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Needed Adventure: Part One
» Needed Adventure: Part Three
» Needed Adventure



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