But First Another Erudite Introduction by That Noted Supernaturalist Miss Stoker-Belle
Ha! I’ve at last wrested control of the bold font header from Ms. Allison. In the past she has used the header as a platform to throw shade my way, which I’ve been forced to refute in the first hundred words or so in previous displays of my genius. In yet another stroke of brilliance on my part, I recently introduced both the disinfecting and misremembering properties of anise del toro to Ms. Allison. She’s been gazing out her office window for a number of hours now. The Great Authoress is temporarily beyond the grasp of reality, and incapable of doing more than creating mist on the small mirror I occasionally place under her nose, let alone able to sling further shade on the intricacies of my personality. Rest assured, she’s fine. “Comfortably numb,” as the song goes. Really. Thus I have never been better.
This is the first Feeble Fable of the Fantasmagorical to feature two Spirits, a Lippybyte and a Shadowghost (aka, “Shogg”). “Lippybyte” is pre-post-post-pre-End-of-Days-concurrent-modern snark-word, which labels a certain type of audial spector scientifically known as a “disembodied voice.” Back in the days of Chaucier, “Praettleghostie” and “Speekerling” were commonly used–both of which I personally prefer to the modern moniker, for Lippybyte sounds something that’s looked for in a cholesterol test–but since nobody asked my learned opinion on the subject, we’re stuck with it.
Conversely, Shadowghosts are the only othersiders in the Spiritus Compendium who haven’t snarked-up their ancient name. Even the only acceptable synonym “Shogg” dates back to the honeyed era of mead. It’s my theory that the conspicuous consumption of that potent potable, coupled with the dubious standards of Dark Age dentistry, had more to do with the coining and pronunciation of Shogg than any other factor.
Personality-wise, Lips tend to be dog loving extroverts, while the Shogg population is predominantly cat adoring dudes who are shy in death and were seldom kissed in life. Supernaturalpower-wise, Lippybytes can do much more than create creepy, bass ackwards, end stage COPD-sounding mumblings that sound like those cryptic messages you hear at the end of certain classic rock albums. Quality Lippybytes are articulate and well spoken. Sadly, living people do not listen well. But dogs are gifted listeners. This is why the Lippybte is considered “The Dog Whisperer of the Otherside.” And over the centuries the Lips have developed a sensitivity of perception which allows them to correctly interpret what’s up with any given dog, as well as a soothing vocabulary designed to let every member of houndom know that everything will be all right. (Goddam Docs flagged “all right” and suggested the gutterly “alright.”; the death spiral of literacy continues. Right?)
Shadowghosts, though bashful, are extremely territorial. When they get it in mind to “haunt” a certain room or wall, well, that’s how it’s going to be, Goddammit. Until he decides to move on to another chamber or surface, you can’t do a sonofabitching thing about him. In this respect, Shoggs get on well with cats who have a similar mission statement. Some of my fellow Supernaturalists believe that the Shogg is a close relative of the Fabulous Felinespy ghost–a fabled phantom allegedly never seen by humans but who’s easily spied by cats, only. This Supernaturalist is convinced that the aforementioned portion of my colleagues are congenital idiots. Right? Shoggs are the Fabulous Felinespies. It’s like what I told George Noory on Coast to Coast the other night: “There’s as much difference between the Shog and the Fabulous Felinespy as there is between Clark Kent /Superman, Boris Johnson/ Boris Yeltsen, Pearl Jam/Stone Temple Pilots or Kermit the Frog and Yoda. I ask, has anyone out there ever seen any one of these mo fo couplets together in the same room at the same time?” For some reason my connection was severed before I could opine further. An obvious conspiracy–Right?
Oh oh, Ms. Allison has awoken with a hangover deep enough to hold a three day rain. Best skedaddle before she connects her absence from reality to Yours Truly.
Awesomenicity by any other name continues to be Miss Renfield Stoker-Belle!
Labradoodle, Lippybyte, Tabby and Shogg: A Feeble Fable of the Fantasmagorical
Leopold the Labradoodle is a fine fellow. He’s deeply loved by his human family, and he believes that everyone is either a friend or soon to be one. At eighteen months, forty-five pounds, twenty-one inches and possessing an eternal puppylike cuteness that hasn’t diminished an atom with adolescence, everything is right about Leopold. That, however, hasn’t always been the case. But nowadays everything’s A-okay about Leopold, thanks to the intervention on his behalf by the family cat and two ghosts.
You see, a little while back, during the wild spring thunderstorm season, a circumstance arose that raised questions about Leopold’s courage. He merely expressed concern when the lightning first flashed, which was the staid and sane way to go, but then immediately lost his nerve at the deep rumble of thunder, which caused him to seek comfort in the closest available lap. It’s a hell of a thing to see a forty-five pound dog curled up like a potato bug in a person’s lap. It catches notice.
“Bro, that’s the sort of thing the slaves post on YouTube,” Digby, the family’s four-year-old brindle tabby, said to Leopold after the previously described event happened for a second time in a week. “Diggers” is a worldly fellow, and surprisingly sympathetic, for a cat. “A Siamese pal of mine got famous for getting a parakeet feather stuck to the back of his head when he was a kitten. Maaan, it was affixed to the only spot we cats can’t reach–you know, where the slaves put the flea drops. At first, my friend went cutely ballistic–slaves just love that, the bastards. Then dude tried to play it off as though it was perfectly normal for a Siamese kitten to prance about as though he were an Indian brave. But it was too late. Three phones were aimed at him. His slaves renamed him ‘Tweety’; cats named Tweety never get laid. Four-hundred thousand views for Tweety, Leo, my boy. If one of the slaves has a charged phone on hand next time you go to lapland, you’ll go viral. You’ve gotten lucky twice that way, don’t count on a third. Might as well hop in the car and have them take you to the nut-drop doctor. And you’d better get used to being called something like ‘Fraidy Pup.’”
Leopold listened, then he padded off to his place in front of the hearth. He considered what Digby had told him. Although he’d only a foggy idea on the subject of “nut-drop” doctors, his noble lab bloodline chafed at the notion of being labeled a coward, but the highly intelligent poodle side of his mind was already resigned to it. “Je, chiot fragile.”
“Hello, handsome. Why the long face?” Friend’s voice spoke into Leopold’s left ear. Although Leopold couldn’t see or smell Friend, he always took comfort in her voice. It was silky and smooth and always positive. If Leopold had known that Friend was a Lippybyte ghost, dead for more than sixty years, he would not have held it against her.
Leopold raised his head and tilted it in such a way that explained everything.
“Poor darling,” the Lippybyte said. “Tell you what. I’ve got an idea. But I need to consult my colleague first.”
The Lip went to where the Shogg was secreted in the wall, in a shape no larger than the period at the end of this sentence. “My friend,” she said, “I want to do something kind for friend Leopold, but I need your help, and that of the cat.”
Shoggs can assume any shape up to two meters or so in circumference on/in their surfaces of choice. Although “Shadowghost” best describes the phantom, it doesn’t convey the fact that Shoggs are able to cast lighted shapes in darkness as easily as they work the other way around. The Lippybyte knew this and saw a great advantage in it.
After devising a plan with the Lippybte, the Shogg visited Digby in the guise of the Fabulous Felinespy, a supposedly separate Spirit altogether. Cats hold enormous respect for the Fabulous Felinespy, so gaining Digger’s participation in what had become a conspiracy was a slam dunk.
Dogs, however, are the only creatures who are honest and have a conscience. Well, no, that doesn’t prevent them from fucking up, but they are the only species in the world that feels genuine remorse about their mistakes. This makes them lousy co-conspirators. But there come times when trustworthiness is an asset in dubious undertakings.
Under normal circumstances Lippybytes and Shoggs aren’t pals. Their relationship is like that of cats and dogs. However, as had been the case with Digby and Leopold, different ghost types who were “raised” together get along just fine. Digby was two when Leopold first bounded into his life, and after a short period of perfunctory hisses and snout whackings issued on the part of Diggers, they became, if not litter mates, as friendly as their instincts would allow. This too has always been true, well, mostly, about the Lippybyte and Shogg. The Lip had been in the house twenty years before the Shogg took up residence in the living room wall. Neither had set foot in the house nor had either a special connection to the place in life. The Lip had entered through an old Philco radio, and the Shogg managed to cross the pond from England in a mahogany trunk purchased in London by a previous inhabitant. They liked the people who had lived in the house in the past as well as those who currently called it home. The ghosts only wanted the best for the residents, especially for the animals.
Although the conspiracy was easily hatched between the ghosts and Digby, getting honest Leopold to cooperate took some doing. Standard poodles are up there with the border collies, brains wise, and labs ain’t no dummies either. It was decided early that Diggers should be left out of the negotiations, for the essentially amoral feline axiom “It’s good for me, so what’s the problem?” wouldn’t be enough to sway a bright, honest creature into committing an act of skullduggery designed to fool the “slaves.” It fell to the Lippybyte to convince him.
“Now, sweetheart, we realize that this plan creates an ethical dilemma in your mind,” she said. “But this will work out well for everyone. Just trust us, we love you and this action will make you an even greater Good Dog in the slav–people’s eyes.”
Perhaps pulling the Good Dog card from the bottom of the deck was a dirty trick. Who’s to say? But there it lay on the table. Paradoxically, a dog can no more resist the temptation to be a Good Dog than they can deny the existence of an untended pot roast on the table.
It was on a dark and stormy night when Operation Good Dog took place. At precisely three AM on the dot, Diggers and Leopold “met” the Lippybyte at the wall inhabited by the Shogg–who never once in his four-decade run had been noticed by any human resident other than by generations of family cats.
“Hello handsome,” the Lippybyte said. “I see you brought trouble along.”
“Hardee, har har,” said Digby. “Let’s get this over with. I can’t possibly function on less than nineteen hours’ sleep.”
At this point the Shogg expanded on the wall. Digby shamelessly bowed to the apparition who had gathered-to in the shape of a man. The shape was bright white in the darkness and bore no further resemblance to a human being other than in a two-dimensional outline–but it would be good enough.
Leopold bowed for a different purpose. He allowed Diggers to mount his back like Sabu climbing onto a kneeling elephant. The labradoodle carried Diggers to the front door, which was adjacent to the haunted wall, and with observant Leopold’s coaching Diggers undid the chain and unshot the bolt. Then Leopold took the knob gently in his mouth and turned it. The door came open and stood ajar. After that Diggers dismounted, and with his role in the mission done, he went back to bed.
The Lippybyte whispered “Now, sweetheart,” in Leopold’s ear. He began to bark wildly, and the Lip began to bellow in a deep manly voice, for Shoggs are mute in the real world.
“Off me! Off! Off! Help! Help!” she yelled as Leopold inserted growling and chewing sounds between barks.
The riot raised the sleeping household. The first person down the stairs turned the lights on which caused the Shogg to go from white to dark as he “exited” the front door in a hurry, with the Lippybyte still hollering bloody murder and begging for mercy: “Someone, anyone, please please please, call off this incredibly brave hound!”
The Shogg vanished before anyone could get a good look at him, and the Lippybyte issued a few muffled shouts, which successfully created the impression that “the intruder” had run off.
Leopold cleverly paw-kicked the door closed. It shut with a slam. He ceased barking and gazed with loving bright eyes at the stunned family huddled at the foot of the stairs.
One of the children broke first and ran to Leopold and thrust her arms joyously around his neck. “Good dog! Good dog!”
Although this “crime” will never be solved, no one will ever forget the heroics of one conspicuously brave labradoodle by the name of Leopold.
Moral: Wag the Shogg.
When your story is lost in the fog,
And you fear it has sunk into the bog–
Take it from me,
Submit something about a cute dog .