goldfish by okyoboy via freedigitalphotos.net

The Danger of Dahlias – Part III

goldfish by okyoboy via freedigitalphotos.net

Image by okyoboy via freedigitalphotos.net

“Tackle him!” Brenda shouted, nearly beside herself. “Wrap him up and bring him down!”

Tackle him?!! Had Brenda taken leave of her senses? Couldn’t she see that this was an actual live hippopotamus and not some stray dog that had wandered into the yard? Couldn’t she make that distinction?

The hippopotamus opened its jaws wide. Lomax could see down its gullet, a place he momentarily expected to occupy and where an extremely unpleasant fate awaited him. At the last instant he dove to the ground, shielding his head with his hands. The beast passed over him, its hooves kicking up great clods of grass and buffeting Lomax from side to side. It thundered out of the yard and off down the road.

“You big coward,” Brenda called out. In the chaos of the moment, Lomax was uncertain whether Brenda was addressing the hippopotamus or himself.

He got to his feet, dusted himself off. He appeared to be intact and uninjured but for a hoof imprint blazoned across his chest. The hippopotamus had marked him as a way of commemorating its visit.

Lomax watched Brenda kneel over the dahlias. She gathered the scattered petals and stems as though hoping to reassemble the blossoms. Her lashes were bedewed with tears. “My beautiful dahlias,” she wailed. “Gone. All of them gone. Devoured by that horrible hippopotamus.”

“Brenda?” Lomax had to wave his hands to draw Brenda’s attention. “Did it ever occur to you to wonder what a hippopotamus was doing in our back yard?” This seemed to Lomax to be by far the more pressing issue.

“Occur to me?” Brenda’s anger surged to the fore again. “I know what he was doing. He was eating my dahlias.”

Lomax sighed. Brenda could not see beyond the dahlias. The improbability of the hippopotamus’s presence barely registered upon her.

It was the same thing the following day when a giant octopus appeared in the goldfish pond. Brenda was frantic over the fish. She demanded that Lomax save them. Lomax was seized by one tentacle, submerged and dunked till nearly drowned then blinded by an inky discharge as the octopus made good its escape down the drainpipe. The incident seemed something more than mere coincidence. Such a series of misfortunes defied the odds. Lomax began to entertain the notion that someone was out to get him.

The third day when Lomax ventured into the yard, he was confronted by a nine foot Komodo dragon. He barely batted an eyelash. It was almost to be expected. The dragon was stalking Marie Antoinette, Brenda’s prize Pekinese. As soon as Brenda yelled out the window for Lomax to do something, he lured the Komodo dragon indoors. He rushed back out again and locked the door behind him. Let Brenda deal with the dragon, he decided. It was an even match. Whichever one of them walked out the door alive, Lomax reasoned he was ahead of the game.

Better to deal with one potential assassin than with two. The math was so obvious that even Lomax had finally mastered it.

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dahlia by Mister GC via freedigitalphotos.net

The Danger of Dahlias – Part II

dahlia by Mister GC via freedigitalphotos.net

Image by Mister GC via freedigitalphotos.net

The hippopotamus barely stirred when it saw Lomax approaching. It cocked its head and shifted its feet but didn’t stop munching upon the dahlias or demonstrate any sign of alarm. Indeed, its eyes glittered with almost open disdain.

“Shoo!” Lomax waved a hand at the animal. “Git!” The hippopotamus, had it been capable of it, would have shrugged its shoulders. Its indifference, its complete lack of concern, was unnerving. “Go on!” Lomax waved his arms, assumed the most menacing expression he could summon. “Take a hike!” The hippopotamus bit off the head of a dahlia, as if to demonstrate its complete contempt.

“Grab his tail, Hank! Pull him by the tail!” Brenda stood by the back door, clearly furious. Lomax started to sidestep around the hippopotamus to comply and the beast moved with him, thwarting the stratagem. Lomax could smell the hippopotamus now, a stale, musty odor made up of several scents, none of which did anything to encourage him to approach closer. The animal’s blunt, chisel-shaped teeth looked powerful enough to bite clear through a man’s legs. The hot, malodorous tide of its breath engulfed Lomax, caused him to gag. Plainly he was no match for the hippopotamus. Any attempt to drive it away could only end in humiliation and disgrace.

That was when Brenda came charging down the steps, loaded for bear. Her eyes blazed. Her lips had pulled away from her teeth in a maniacal grimace. The hippopotamus stopped chewing, a look of apprehension in its eyes. It took a step back from the garden, as if to dissociate itself from the carnage wrought therein.

“Hah!” Brenda snorted. “Nice try, buster. Don’t think for a minute that you’re fooling anybody.” Brenda gathered a handful of chestnuts which lay scattered on the ground, the shells bristling with thorns. She began to pelt the hippopotamus, targeting its face and snout with deadly accuracy.

The hippopotamus gave a roar of protest, a cry of such volume and depth that the windowpanes of the house rattled. Brenda wasn’t discouraged or put off in the least. She picked up a broken branch and brandished it like a club.

“Didn’t care for that, eh? Well, you’re going to like this even less.” She stormed forward. The hippopotamus held its ground for a moment, ears laid back flat against its skull. Then it reassessed the situation and decided to execute a strategic retreat. It dare not move toward Brenda. So it turned and contemplated the only other line of retreat: straight at Lomax. Its eyes burned with cold fury and it seemed almost to smile at the prospect. It snorted air through its nostrils, pawed the earth with one hoof. Then it charged.

“Don’t let him get away!” Brenda cried. Lomax sought for a place of refuge, somewhere he might escape the onslaught. But he was caught between the house, the fence and the hippopotamus. There was nowhere to hide. He stared at the great grey bulk bearing down on him with the speed and impetus of a locomotive and knew that he was about to die.

Hippo Photo by anankkml via freedigitalphotos.net

The Danger of Dahlias – Part I

Hippo Photo by anankkml via freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by anankkml via freedigitalphotos.net

Lomax knew it was going to be a bad day when he woke up, looked out the window and saw a hippopotamus grazing in the back yard. He rubbed his eyes and shook his head, certain that he must still be asleep. But when he looked again the hippopotamus was still there. Lomax was no judge of such things but the hippopotamus seemed an uncommonly large one, broad and bulky and stout, not an animal one would wish to antagonize or approach without permission. Lomax watched for a couple of minutes to be certain the hippopotamus was really there then turned and woke his wife.

“Brenda? Bren, honey?” Lomax shook her shoulder.

Brenda crawled out from under the covers, bleary-eyed and frowning. Her hair was a complete horror show. “What? What is it?”

“There’s a hippopotamus in the back yard.”

“There’s what? What are you trying to tell me?”

“A hippopotamus. In our back yard. A big one, too. Come and take a look.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake. Go back to sleep. It’s Saturday, remember? There’s no need to get up.”

“I’m serious. A hippopotamus, right outside the window. You’re going to want to see this.”

Brenda flung back the covers. She was scowling and looked seriously bent out of shape. Lomax was going to jolly her a bit, see if he couldn’t lighten her mood, but decided that maybe now wasn’t the best of times. Brenda stalked across the room.

“I swear,” she said, “sometimes you’re no better than a little boy. You’ll do anything for a laugh. Not a thought for the inconvenience it inflicts upon the rest of us. Did it ever occur to you, given that it’s a weekend, that I might have liked to sleep in?” Brenda glanced out the window. She stood stock still, staring at the spectacle as Lomax had done, but quickly regained her self-possession.

“What’s he doing, Hank, can you see? He’s in the middle of the garden. God damn him, he’s eating the dahlias. Go out and drive him away, Hank!”

“Do what?” Lomax stared at Brenda then looked out at the hippopotamus. The animal actually appeared to have gotten larger.

“Drive him away! Hurry, before the brute does any further damage. All my lovely dahlias, just look at them!”

Lomax wasn’t so much concerned about the dahlias. He was worried about the two plus tons of sinew, gristle and gaping jaws that comprised the hippopotamus. But he knew he would have to make a show of doing something. The dahlias meant the world to Brenda. She lavished endless care and attention upon them, was as fierce and protective in her devotion as a mother hen over its chicks. So Lomax blundered down the stairs and out the back door, thinking he could reason with the hippopotamus. One look at the beast up close was sufficient to drive this notion out of his head.