Sunday, February 9, 2014

Chapter 9: An Unexpected Penguin

One night, the boss came home with a little stuffed penguin, about half the size of a cat. Donald and James didn't know where it had come from, or why it was here, but it had been placed on the couch, and the couch was their territory. This was obviously a present for them! Donald sniffed it a couple of times, but he preferred shoelaces, lengths of clotheslines and pieces of noisy paper to stuffed animals. James, however, was fascinated. This was a little black and white toy! James himself was black and white! It was meant to be.

He picked up his new buddy and carried him over to the kitchen, so he could keep an eye on this new friend while eating dinner. As he ate, he heard the boss in the other room. "Where'd the penguin go? I thought I set him on the couch! Donald, do you know anything about this?" She walked into the kitchen, took in the tableau, and started laughing. She picked up the penguin and took it back to the living room. "I know you think this is for you, but I haven't decided what to do with it yet, so let's try not to get it dirty. OK?" She placed it on the coffee table. This was firmly established boss territory, and James wasn't pleased. He looked at the boss, and he looked at his new buddy. The boss didn't seem to be paying much attention to how much anguish this separation had caused, so James stood up quickly, pawed the penguin off the table, and ran to the basement, clumsily, since the penguin was fairly large. He curled up around the penguin at the foot of the stairs and waited. If the boss was going to take his friend away again, at least they had this last moment together to say goodbye.

A shadow fell from the top of the stairs. It was the boss. She slowly walked down the stairs, and James could see Donald following carefully behind her. She looked at the two little black and white figures, then knelt down and patted James on the head. "If you want your little buddy so much, then you can keep him." She made no move to take the penguin. James knew he had won.

From that point forward, the penguin was escorted all around the house. If James was sitting under the coffee table, the penguin wasn't far off, perhaps half covered by a sheet of crinkly paper. If James was sitting on the bathmat, the penguin was doing double duty as a pillow. The boss would come home from work to find the penguin waiting next to her shoes, or lying on the futon in the office. It was a well-traveled bird.

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