“Marica?” Missy got up from her desk, laid down her reading glasses, stretched, and asked, “Do you have a minute?”
“Sure, Missy! What’s on your mind this cold gloomy day?”
“Ruff?” Rocky, too, was curious.
“Well,” Missy heaved in a big breath of purified air (thanks to Marica’s recent shopping trip) in the way that one heaves in a big breath when one has a big announcement, and said, “I am nearly done!”
“Done with what?” Marica asked.
“R.U.F.F.!” Even Rocky knew what Missy was talking about– it’s nearly all she’d been talking about for months.
“Why! My Epic Novel, of course!” Missy’s was somewhat dismayed that Marica even had to ask.
“Oh my gosh, Missy. I’m so sorry! I’ve so been wrapped up in other things. I’m sorry,” Marica apologized.
“That’s alright, Marica,” Missy could tell it was a heartfelt apology and she did not want to make Marica feel any worse. “In any case, I am nearly finished!”
“Ruff!!” Rocky said excitedly. He was ready to move on to other conversational topics. Indeed, he had in mind that, as the weather was cold and damp, they should read some British detective novels together.
“Missy, that’s just wonderful! I know you’ve been working very hard on it,” Marica said.
“Indeed, I have. But I wonder if I might please ask for some help, here in the late stages?” Missy asked.
“Sure! How can we help?”
“Oh, my Dear Friend!” Missy said to Rocky, “You have helped more than you know! Explaining to me the masculine psyche must have been quite an undertaking for you. I thank you again! I could not have come to understand what transpires in the heart and mind of an epic hero when faced with Herculean tasks– tasks that would extinguish a weaker soul– were it not for your expedition on the subject of the male ego and… .”
“Exposition?” Marica asked.
“That’s what I said, Marica. Do you need to get your hearing checked? I think you just might. In any case, Dear Friend, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!” Missy said to Rocky.
“Ruff,” Rocky said humbly. He was a male of
few words, literally one word, not prone to going on and on, nor to seeking out this sort of lavish attention. He had, in fact, found the rough passages Missy had asked him to read quite good. Credit where credit’s due, he had to admit she was a keen observer of both canine and human behavior– feline, too, though given the… weirdness of Tiger and Snaps, the two she most frequently observed, he was not sure how well those observations generalized.
“What can I do?” Marica asked.
Missy returned to her desk, retrieved a ream of printed pages, and– finding not a square inch of empty space on Marica’s desk– laid the pages in her lap. She began, “Not only has Rocky been most helpful, but so too have that Ol’ Retired Hippy, Gilbert, and his Sidekick, Bebe. I sent the manuscript to Gil electronically. He reviewed it with a special focus especially on Aristotelian virtues and Modern Day Virtue Ethics, á la Philippa Foot’s Virtue Ethics. And of course I was interested to hear what my precocious little friend, Bebe has to say about the Epic story. She seemed to quite like it, though I am not certain she understood the subtlety and nua … . Oh my.” Missy cleared her throat.
Missy had taken to heart the criticism that she sometimes rambled unnecessarily. She had rehearsed her request to Marica, and she realized that she’d gone off script.
“I wonder if I could impose upon you the task of a final edit? I know you and John prefer editing hard copy, so I took the liberty of printing out my Epic Novel– double spaced, of course, and with margins wide enough for marginalia. Again, I know this is an imposition on your own writing time but I would be ever so grateful!”
“Oh, Missy! That’s so thoughtful!” What a Dear she is, Marica thought. “I don’t actually have ‘writing time’ but I would be honored to read your manuscript,” Marica said, looking down at the ream of pages.
Some moments passed as Marica flipped though the manuscript of Missy’s Epic Novel. Meanwhile, Missy relaxed at Marica’s feet, and Rocky faded away… wondering why… no Staffordshire Terriers… in …
“Umm…, Missy?” Marica said after a few minutes.
“Yes?!? Yes?!?” Missy jumped up loudly in anticipation of Marica’s approval. “What do you think so far?”
“RUFF!” Rocky woke abruptly.
“Well, Missy. Have I missed something? I mean, this looks wonderful and your inclusion of the Table of Illustrations is fabulous,” Marica complimented. “But what’s the title of your Epic Novel? Where’s the title page?”
“R.U.F.F.?” Rocky was wide awake now.
Missy was just sitting there, with a glaze over her eyes.
“Rocky! Do something!” Marica commanded.
“RRRRrrruuuuffff!” Rocky jumped from the bed, tucked his bulbous head into the side of his right shoulder, and targeted his whole 45 pounds straight into Missy’s furry neck.
“R.U.F.F.,” he said after impact, and, after a little shake, said, “Ruff.”
“Missy?!? Missy!?!” Marica helped Missy to her paws, “Are you okay? What’s wrong?”
“Well. My. I… . I…,” Missy stammered.
“Shake it off, girl!”
Missy did a good shake and sat down. “Why I don’t know what came over me, Marica. I believe I was paralyzed by embarrassment,” she shook a bit more. “Thank you, Dear Friend, for knocking some sense back into me.”
“Ruff,” Rocky mumbled and got in his box. Too much excitement.
“Oh, Missy, nothing to be embarrassed about. Happens to everyone,” Marica consoled. “It’s easy to get so wrapped up in writing that you forget to tend to the obvious. Why, just the other day I published a blog post… .”
“Excuse me, Marica,” Missy’s senses had fully returned. “As much as I enjoy your little blog, it is not of the same, shall I say, elevated literary strata as an Epic Novel. No, no. Most certainly not,” she insisted.
“I suppose that’s right, Missy. But that still leaves your Epic Novel with no title.”
“I am now painfully aware of this,” Missy said shaking her head and getting to her paws. “Would you mind opening the back door for me? I could use some fresh air and some time to myself.”
“Sure, Missy, c’mon,” Marica said as they walked out of the den.
“Ruffruffruff,” Rocky chuckled to himself when they were out of earshot.