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Last year we got a rescue cat that my son-in-law named Barako — hoping, I think, that the animal would clean up the right-wing rodent population around the place. I’m not very good with names and found myself often calling the cat Obama. Recently two little puppies came on board. One my son-in-law named Banjo, the other Grrr because much of what the little terror did was attack shoes or firewood or the occasional dropped loaf of bread and vigorously shake it back and forth while growling fiercely, grrr, grrr, grrr. His greatest virtue besides being cute, was he never dropped a bomb in the house.

The other day the chore fell upon me to take the little radicals for a walk. So down Rays Road we went, the only distraction from the blissful kiss of nature being the regular attacks by Grrr on fallen dead tree branches and corn chip wrappers that the returning school kids leave along the road so they can find their way back to the bus stop in the morning.

When we passed Rye Cooter’s place there was the old Redneck standing in the doorway beside a tattered old American flag smiling a big toothless hello and waving. I hadn’t talked with Rye much this past year so I went up to say hello and he invited me in, dogs and all.

“How ya doin’ old man?” I asked. “Heah?” he answered, obviously not hearing very well. The house was clean but somewhat cluttered with maps thumb-tacked to the walls everywhere, a monopoly game spread out on a low coffee table in front of the couch and a rocking chair in the corner by the wood stove piled with a collection of dolls.

We were still working on the how-de-dos when we heard a big rip and I looked to see Banjo pawing a map stuck on the wall in her attempt to reach the dangling ribbon of a half-mast helium balloon printed with a picture of a donkey under the words, “Kiss my.”

“Whose that fuckin’ with Afghanistan?” Rye asked.

“Jobama,” I replied swatting the pup away from the wall. Rye stared at me for just a second like he didn’t understand then looked back at the pup who was now into the monopoly game.

“What’d you say his name is? Now he’s fuckin’ with the god damned money.”

“Jobama!” I repeated, this time a tad louder. Rye looked at me a little longer this time, a little harder. “Yo mama wears combat boots,” he said flatly.

But now Grrr was in the corner growling away and Rye turned to him. “How do you call that dog fuckin’ with all the dolls?” Grrr had one of them and was really going at it.

I pulled my head down into my collar and mumbled. “Try Grrr,” I said knowing it wouldn’t do any good.

“Tiger, huh? Figures. Yo mama probably thinks he be a real animal in bed.”

I had to laugh. Rye laughed and we parted still friends, I think.

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