TRIXY THE WONDERDOG
Amir De Witt was having a bad day.
Actually, since he and his family had moved to from Delhi a month ago, every day was a Bad Day. He missed everything about his old home in Johannesburg. He missed the view from his bedroom window out over the bay; he missed the monkey puzzle tree in their front garden and the den he’d built in its prickly shade; he missed his friends; he missed his old school – but most of all he missed Trixy, his dog.
“I know it’s hard darling,” his mother had said, putting an arm around his shoulder, “but they won’t let us take the dog to India. But Trixy will be happy here – don’t worry. She’s going to stay with Aunty Mira and Uncle Jack. She’ll be fine.”
It was all very well, and he was sure in his heart of hearts that she would be fine – Uncle Jack and Aunty Mira were great, and they had a lovely farm with grounds where she could romp about to her heart’s content – but what about him?
He missed the snuffle of her wet nose on weekday mornings, getting him up and out of bed. He missed the swish-swash of her feathery tail on his legs, the little pink pads of her paws when she jumped up to greet him, the sloppy wetness of her tongue licking his face when he came home from school each day. These days, Amir thought to himself as he walked slowly towards the school, he felt like One Big Missing Machine.
“Hey, Witless,” called out Aruna – the big, bossy girl from Class VII.
“Yeah, Dim-Witty, come over here,” joined in her friend Mona.
They both collapsed laughing – like this was the biggest joke in the whole world. Amir sighed. It was the same routine every morning. No one in South Africa had made fun of his name. In fact, it was a pretty common name – there were at least two other ‘De Witt’s in the senior school.
During the first period – maths – Amir sat by the window, doodling on his notebook. Instead of working out 354 divided by 6, he gazed out on to the dusty playing field, and imagined Trixy dashing around outside, chasing her tail, or chasing the little chipmunky squirrels that lived in the trees around the edge, or the noisy crows that hopped around near the railings.
“A-meer!” Mr Venkatesh suddenly shouted. Amir jerked out of his daydream.
“Would you like to share with the class what is so very fascinating outside?”
“Er…er… nothing sir.”
“Exactly. And Nothing is what you’re going to get in the next test if you don’t get on with your work. Right. NOW.”
Amir turned back to his book. He found that in the margins he’d sketched – a long fluffy ear, a black triangle for a nose and whiskers, four ovals and a blob that looked just like a dog’s pawprint.
“We’ll see you at breaktime, Witless,” hissed Aruna from the desk behind. “And you better bring our money.
Oh help, thought Amir to himself. Yesterday, he’d managed to wheedle twenty rupees from his mother on the pretext that he needed a new notebook. A few days before that another fifty, saying that their class was going on a school trip. But it wasn’t going to be long before his mother cottoned on to the fact that the money wasn’t going anywhere but into the pockets of Awful Aruna and her Moaning crony.
Trixy, mixie, wonderdog. Where are you? He sent a silent plea up into the air.
The words floated out of the open window and up into the air, up, like a kite – three magic words, floating out of the school yard, over the town, up and up into the clouds, above the clouds into the icy clear air in the stratosphere, even higher floating past the sharp silver edge of the moon, up and away to the furthest reaches of the great velvet dark-and-light spangled sky, until…
until…a light flashed on the console of a strange looking spacecraft, and a beeper went off. Meep! Meep! Meep!
The captain adjusted the headphones beneath his long fluffy ears. “Red alert! Red Alert!” he woofed into his mouthpiece. “Star Command to Trixy. Come in Trix.”
There was a crackle of electricity and then the captain heard a tinny voice: “Trixy to Star Command. Reading you loud and clear, sir. What’s the problem?”
“It’s young Amir,” the captain growled. “He’s sending distress signals. You better get on it right away.”
“On my way, sir”
“That dog’s gone crazy,” said Uncle Jack, watching Trixy spinning around like a very furry spinning top. “Hey, girl, you want to go walkies?”
Trixy barked twice, and dashed to the back door. The moment Uncle Jack opened it, she was off like a flash of brown lightning. She rounded the corner of the yard, and screeched to a halt behind the coal shed. She concentrated with all her canine might on the little boy that she’d loved and looked after, until she could see his face clearly – the mole just above his right eyebrow, the shock of floppy hair, the dimple on his left cheek that appeared whenever he smiled – and the tag of her collar glowed red… redder… superbright…Pchang! With a single great bound she leapt into the air, soaring up over the trees, paws outstretched, startling a flock of flamingos that happened to be winging their way home.
Trixy the Wonderdog streaked across the sky – faster and faster, skimming the tops of the ocean waves, zooming up high over mountain ranges, blazing across deserts and forests in a beige flash, her red tag leaving a momentary trail in the sky. Occasionally people would glimpse this trail, and blink once or twice, wondering what on earth…? But by the time they’d look again, Trixy was over the horizon and speeding onwards towards India.
In a classroom in New Delhi, the clock’s hand was creeping towards 11. Amir’s hand kept creeping towards his pocket, hoping madly that by some miracle, a twenty rupee note lay there forgotten in a corner. Never mind twenty, even a tenner would do. His fingers groped around. Five? Two? A one rupee coin, even?
He was doomed.
How was he going to explain another torn shirt, and a fresh set of bruises to his mother this time?
Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiing. The bell went for breaktime, and a great hubbub burst out as twenty-nine chairs scraped backwards, twenty-nine notebooks were flung into twenty-nine bags, and fifty-eight feet went pounding out of the door. The thirtieth pair of feet belonged to Amir De Witt, and they seemed to be glued to the floor.
Aruna’s ugly face poked back around the door. “Come on, Twitface,” she called sweetly, “We’re waaaaiiiting.”
There was no escape. Amir told his feet sternly not to be so pathetic. They moved reluctantly, first one, then the other, then the first again, until they carried him – plod, plod, plod – out of the door and into the playground.
“Where’s our money?” demanded Aruna, pushing her face close to his.
“Yeah, come on, dweeb. Cough up.” Mona flicked her long pony-tail in his face and mimicked Aruna’s scowl. “We know your folks are loaded, Mr Richy-rich Ambassador’s son. So why not spread a little of your wealth around?”
“Yeah,” snickered Mona, “like, around us? Heh heh heh.”
“I thought I had some here,” Amir stuttered, frantically searching his trouser pockets. “I have got it… oh, no, maybe it fell out…erhm…”
“Fell out?” mocked Aruna. “Ooooh, aren’t we careless with our money, little Twitters? If you’ve got so much to lose, you can just pay up double tomorrow.”
“I sh…sh… shan’t!” he said, desperately, “ I mean I c…c…an’t.”
“Oh yeah?” The two girls advanced on him. “Well, in that case…”
Amir edged backwards until he felt the wall of the school building behind him. There was nowhere left to go. He winced, and closed his eyes waiting for the first punch to connect – when suddenly – suddenly, he heard a whoosh! And a Woof! And a swish-swash-swish of a feathery tail.
He opened his eyes and to his amazement he saw – Mona’s white panties! She was lying backwards in the dust with her legs in the air being licked to death by….
“Trixy?” Amir cried.
“Woof! Woof!” replied Trixy, and then bounded after Aruna, catching her skirt in her teeth. Aruna fled across the yard, yelling “Aarrgh! GERROFF me you stoopid dog!” Trixy bounded after her barking, her tail rotating like a helicopter, her ears flying. Aruna scooted up the nearest tree, startling a pair of squirrels, and perched in one of the lower branches looking terrified.
Trixy bared her teeth in a pretty convincing snarl, as if to say, “You just try it, honey.” Turned tail, and trotted happily back to Amir.
Amir was still standing, stunned by the turn of events, leaning against the wall. Trixy bounded up to him, her collar tag still glowing like a little beacon beneath her chin, and jumped up. Her paws made two dusty prints on either shoulder of his shirt, and she licked his face until he thought she might lick it clean off.
“Trixy – you came!”
“Grrrruff!” she replied. Which meant, in dog language, ‘you betcha.’
As he walked home from school that evening, Amir felt his heart lift, and his feet skip. He felt happiness bubbling inside himself like he was one big glass of icy-cold coke, fizzing and sweet. Suddenly, the bubble burst, and he stopped dead. He squatted down on the pavement and took Trixy by her ears, until they were nose to nose. He looked intently into her chocolate brown eyes.
“You’re not going to… you’re going to stay aren’t you? I mean, you’re not going to go away again?”
She cocked her head to one side, as if to say, well, I wasn’t the one to leave in the first place! Then she trotted a few paces ahead and stood stock still. The little red tag on her collar glowed.
“Trixy to Star Command. Come in Star Command.”
“Reading you loud and clear. What news?”
“Situation sorted,” she barked. Then wuffled a bit to clear her throat.
“Excellent work, Trixy,” came the reply. “Was there something else?”
“Requesting permission to relocate, sir.”
“Relocate?” barked the Captain. “What on earth are you barking about?”
“Well, sir,” Trixy replied, “Delhi’s really quite nice at this time of year, and I … well, I think the city needs me.”
“Oh,” wuffed the Captain sarcastically. “It does, does it?”
“Well, sir, one corner of it, anyway.” Trixy looked back at Amir, still squatting on the pavement behind her, looking a bit puzzled, a bit lost, a bit forlorn.
There was a pause. Then the Captain’s voice came through loud and clear.
“Permission granted,” he barked. And then added in a softer voice. “Now, go walkies.”
Trixy’s ears cocked up, she shook her whole body as though she was wet, and jumped to attention. “Yes, sir! Thank you sir! Over and out.”
And as she bounded back to Amir, the collar tag glowed fainter and fainter until it was just an ordinary plastic badge with the words ‘Trixy’ and a phone number etched into its surface. And somehow, Amir just knew that Trixy was here to stay.
As he ran back home with Trixy frisking along by his side, Amir decided that Delhi looked like a pretty nice place to live after all.
From Superhero Scholastic India, 2007