Long long ago, in a land far far away…
The big black dog looked up at Quackling perching on a branch. He was perplexed why she peered so intently into the distance. Hello, he waved, my first name is Great and my last name is Dane. You look sad and unhappy little quack, what’s up? The sky, she replied sarcastically. He was persistent – I mean, what are you up to all the way up there? Waiting. Waiting for who? Waiting for Todog. To dog? He asked, puzzled. You mean the dog? What dog? Waiting for… wait, wait, is it Godot or Todog? Are you waiting for me?
No, but come on up anyway. And I am unhappy, she added, I think I will be unhappy ever after! No one likes hanging out with me because I’m so annoyingly unhappy. And the more unhappy I am the more snide remarks I make. Quackling sighed. Well, he said, slumping into the branch and looking all depressed, you’re in good company. I’m sad and unhappy too. He sucked a lungful of air in until he reached vital capacity, then held his breath until Quackling was about to slap him to fix his apnoea… and finally let out a great big sigh that blew all the leaves away like a big noisy blower vac.
This is the story of Great the Dane. Once upon a time he had a master, a big man, called the Giant of Despair. The big man and his big black dog lived in a big, nasty and stinking castle. Giant had many-a-dogs but Great the Dane was his favourite. He was great at his work, diligent, and never failed to go above and beyond – he practically salivated over any extra work to be done. He loved being the top dog, and closed his eyes in pure bliss as the master gave him extra pats and scratches at the end of each day. Oh, the cornucopia of meat scraps reserved just for him! To the envy of all the other dogs.
But Giant was a moody man, and his favour changed as quickly as the face of a petulant child. One day some prisoners down in the dungeons managed to escape. Giant was grim and surly and blamed Great the Dane. But you see, it wasn’t really the dog’s fault because the prisoners had the keys to open any lock in Doubting Castle. From then on Giant gave all the pats and scraps to every dog except Great the Dane, even though he always did the best tricks. For awhile he still followed the master’s heels, looking up with great big doleful eyes. But Giant would walk straight past, not even looking him in the eye. Hurt, Great the Dane gave up doing tricks. Then he was promptly kicked out because he no longer earned his keep.
Oh, it’s not fair! The big dog whined and whimpered pitifully. There there, Quackling patted him on the shoulders, a big spider once told me that life isn’t fair. He sniffed back tears and after awhile, turned to Quackling. So, little quack, what’s your story?
Let’s start from the very beginning, a very good place to start, when you read you begin with…
ZYX? Quackling sort of started in reverse chronological order. She told him about the not-so-best-friend-forever fat cat who eloped with a scruffy ibis, about her identity crisis (was she still a quack, or what?), Humming the noisy listener, oh! the cursed feathers, her tears over the glass slippers she adored, and a bunch of other stories about characters from long, long ago. The stories made a string of knots in her stomach and throat, but made her laugh too, just a little. Hmm, no one ever seems to last more than one or two chapters, she lamented. Forget about creatures of the past, said Great the Dane. Let it go! Let it go! Tell you what, I’m no fickle feline and will be your new BFF. I’ll be there for you all the time, and especially when you’re sad! He promised, wagging his tail earnestly. She looked into his eyes hopefully – really truly? You mean that? Oh yes, he laughed generously, you won’t even be able to get rid of me even if you tried!
Their D&M had been going on for some time. Before they knew it the sun had once again dropped off the edge of the world. The colourful skies were blue-and-black. Now in the dark all Quackling could see of the big black dog was his crooked white teeth flashing under the moonlight.
That’s all folks. The end.