Animal Livery — Part 2


Here’s the second half of a quick story I wrote to the prompt: “Start a story with: ‘The night max wore his wolf suit …’”  Part 1 is here:

Animal Livery – Part 2

90 minutes later they were driving back from the hospital.

“And can you believe that doctor’s whistling?” Max hissed and gnashed his teeth.

“I think you are over-reacting,” Scout replied. “He was clear across the emergency room and not even looking at you.”

“Oh, come on, Scout, nobody whistles like that unless they’re calling Rover.”

“I think Max is a much better name for a dog than Rover.”

“I’m not a dog!”

“Right! I’m sorry, wolf.”

Max rolled his yellow suit-eyes. They rode in silence for a couple of minutes.

“You can’t blame them, really. You shouldn’t have sniffed the nurse like that.”

“She smelled nice,” Max said softly. “And anyway, your ear hat didn’t help any. I was sure they thought we are furries or something.”

“I didn’t know you had anything against furries.”

“I don’t. I just don’t want to be mistaken for one.” Scout didn’t see much of a difference, but let it go.

“Is that why you tried to bite the old man?”

“He was petting me, and I clearly told him to stop. Twice. And he didn’t.”

“Yeah, but then, later, the howling.”

“I was mad. The nurses were snickering, and when the intern held up the bed pan and asked me if I wanted a drink, and the whole room started laughing, well, I just lost it.”

“You’re going to have to go back, you know, if you want that suit off.”

“I know,” Max replied despondently. “Just … let’s wait until the shift changes and that run of patients is gone. I don’t think I could face those people again.” He scratched his chin with his hand paw. “I’m so embarrassed,” he said. “I’m sorry I put you through that.”

They were quiet again.

“Hey!” Scout spoke up cheerily. “I have an idea! It’s Friday, so Jason is sure to have a party going at his house. They’re always out-of-control, Jason’s parties, you know, so no one will think anything of the suit. They’ll just think your another wild party animal. We’ll hang out there, maybe have some fun with the suit awhile, and then after a few hours head back to the hospital. What do you say?”

Max looked dubious, but could not argue about the infamy of Jason’s parties and there was some appeal to Scout’s plan, so he agreed. Scout changed direction toward Knight’s Wood subdivision at the next intersection, and while he drove Max hung his head out the window and felt the breeze through the fur in the suit. It was exhilarating.

“I never realized how many smells the city has at night,” he commented.

They arrived at Jason’s house and slipped in by the kitchen door with a few stares, appreciative nods, and flattering comments about the suit. A brunette in a green tank top smiled suggestively back over her shoulder as they passed in the hall. “Nice tail,” she said seductively over the rim of a bluish cocktail. Max began to think the suit wasn’t so bad after all.

“This suit is starting to grow on me,” he whispered to Scout.

“I don’t doubt it,” Scout mused. “You have dog breath, by the way. Have a mint.” Scout plucked an after-dinner mint from a bowl on a hall table and popped it in Max’s suit-mouth. “How’s it taste?”

“Minty,” Max replied around the mint.

Scout looked very thoughtful. “Stick out your tongue.”


“Stick out your tongue.” Max did. The mint fell on the floor. Scout tried to grab the suit-tongue. It was wet and slipped out of his fingers as Max recoiled.”

“What do you think you’re doing?” Max hissed.

“Testing a theory,” Scout replied and led them to the back deck. The deck was strung with Christmas lights and overlooked Jason’s spacious back yard, which was crawling with all sorts of people. They stood watching the crowd, trying to locate Jason.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” Max said.

“Know where it is?” Scout asked absently.

“Yes, but ….” Max pleaded. His ears drooped low and his tail hung limp.

“Ohhhh….” Scout said turning his attention back to Max and realizing his friends predicament. He leaned in close to Max’s wolfish head and whispered in his ear, “There’s no … uh … fly in that suit?”

“No,” Max replied. “And I’ve had to go for some time now. Since before we left the hospital. I’m either going to die of blood poisoning or whatever you die of when you hold it too long, or I’m going to soon have a very wet wolf suit.”

Scout stared blankly at Max’s wolfish face. Max’s eyes searched him and his ears shifted to follow sounds around the yard. His nostrils flared with the scents of the party wafting around the deck and his mouth hung open, panting softly in the mid-summer heat.

“I think,” Scout started cautiously, “that you should go into the bathroom and just try to go through the suit.”

“No.” Max’s expression indicated that he’d been thinking the same thought. “No way.” Max looked like a man – er, wolf-man – standing at the edge of a cliff staring at the raging river below with a stampede of rhinoceros bearing down on him from behind. “If I go in there,” he continued, “and it works,” he said, “and the suit is still dry after,” he added, “then I won’t be able to deny what you will tell me when I get back,” he announced.

“I know,” Scout said.

Ten minutes later Max returned and stood quietly beside Scout.

“Well?” Scout asked.

“I couldn’t go,” Max replied.

“Nervous, huh.”


“Then what?”

“It’s embarrassing.”

“Tell me anyway.”

“Well, you know how wolf parts are … well … attached?”


“So, I can’t … aim … down. Only up.”

Scout’s eyes widened. “Oh, I didn’t think of that.”

“So, I tried straddling the …” Pause. Furtive glance. “… toilet …” he whispered, and then continued in a normal voice, “… on all fours. You know … to get it aimed at the bowl. And…”

A look of horror crossed Scout’s face as the scenario unwound in his imagination.

“…it didn’t go as I expected,” Max continued, “and I made a bit of a mess,” and then he added hurriedly, “but I cleaned it up!”

Scout sighed in relief, but Max continued.

“With a bath towel. Which is now in the trash in the cabinet under the bathroom sink.”

Scout sighed again. “Good thing this is one of Jason’s parties.”

“Yeah, but I still have to go. Badly.”

Scout looked at the dark copse that divided the back of Jason’s property from the street behind it. He nodded in the direction of the thick growth of trees. “I’m sorry to tell you this, Max,” he announced quietly, “but you will have to make use of those trees.”

Max looked up sharply and his ears fell back. His tail tucked between his calves. “No,” he said.

“You keep saying, ‘no,’ but you know the answer is ‘yes.’ You must do this or wet your breeches. No one will notice if you go all the way through and crouch down or cock your leg or whatever you have to do. Anyone over there won’t know it’s a suit — they’ll just think you’re a Saint Bernard or something.

Max looked at Scout who looked at him. “I hate you,” Max said.

“I know,” Scout teased back. Max lumbered forlornly across the back yard. Partiers parted for him as though for a king on parade. He entered the treeline and disappeared from Scout’s view. Not five minutes later he was back, a lightness in his step as he made his way through the crowd, high-fiving whoever was around and practically scampering.

The evening rolled on and the party wound up into a marvelous wild rumpus. Max had a couple of drinks and loosened up, and was quite the hit after leading a conga line and howling so that all the neighborhood dogs joined in. Scout didn’t drink, as the designated driver, but he didn’t have any trouble loosening up anyway, so that was OK. During the course of the night, Max discovered several other feats the suit enabled him to do, including some incredible leaps and a sense of smell that made him impossible to avoid in hide-and-seek. His suit-enhanced night vision saved a mousy but pretty young lady from going home without her rather powerful eyeglasses, about which Scout conjectured, “you can probably see the rover on Mars with these.” The girl was indignant, but was as bare footed as Scout, so they found some common ground and hit it off rather well.

About 1 AM, Scout took Max aside and reminded him about the hospital.

“Yeah, I guess we better,” he said sadly, looking down at his forepaws. “You know, I’ll actually kind of be sad to see this thing go,” he added. Scout smiled.

They headed toward the door when mousy girl approached.

“Are you two going?” she asked, looking hurt.

“‘Fraid so,” Scout said, “Rover here has an appointment with the vet.” And then he added, “I had a lovely time, thanks to you.”

“Here,” the girl said. She pulled a pen from her purse. “Give me your foot.” Scout put is foot up on a chair. The girl wrote her phone number on his instep. Scout smiled. Jason noticed the exchange from part way across the yard and surmised their departure.

“You can’t go now!” he shouted across the many heads between them. “The party is just getting rolling!” Everyone in earshot turned toward Max.

“No! You must stay!” they shouted. Some looked angry, even, and someone started chanting, “Max! Max! Max!” Soon the whole yard had joined in and all raised their hands, fingers curled to mimic claws, in the air in rhythm to the chanting, “Max! Max! Max!”

The green tank top girl ran up to Max and kissed him on his furry cheek. “I love you,” she said. “I could just eat you up, you’re so cute in that suit.” This didn’t sit well with the fellow that followed her who was apparently her boyfriend. He clenched his jaws, furiously gnashing his teeth.

“Get your filthy paws off my girlfriend!” he threatened.

“Down, down, there, big boy,” Scout pushed between them. “We’re just leaving. She’s all yours. Wrong species anyway.” And then he looked back at Max. “Let’s get out of here.”

They pushed their way through the house, a good portion of the crowd following behind, some still chanting, “Max! Max! Max!” and others begging him to stay.

Scout shoved Max into his massive car and drove them off, up Day Drive, through Knight’s Wood, and out into the city by Weeks Road.

“Do you really think,” Max began about half way to the hospital, “that assistant manager at Sole Man Shoes is a bad job?”

Scout grinned. “I think the shoe business got its start when a stone age con artist convinced people they needed foot coverings to protect their feet even when they didn’t. Within a generation, peoples’ feet were to tender to go without them anymore, and so they believed they had to wear shoes all the time. The shoe cartel is a conspiracy to perpetuate the lie that humans need to wear shoes all the time just to keep the shoe business alive. If the shoe business were not an extortion racket lying to the people, then your job would be just fine. But since the shoe business is really an organized crime syndicate, your work makes you complicit in lies, fraud, and theft.”

Max was thoughtful. “Do you think,” he said, “I might make it as a performer, if I kept the suit?”

“Yes. Yes, I do,” Scout replied.

“Turn left there, just after you cross over Ayear Avenue, and take me home. I want to keep the suit.”

“I think that’s a smart decision,” Scout said. “I don’t think you’ll be able to get it off anyway, now that you’re so fond of it and it’s grown on you so. I wonder how the previous owner got it off, or who he was…”

“His name was Maurice Cindnack – that’s how the note was signed, anyway.” Max lurched forward and caught himself on the dash as Scout slammed on the brakes and brought the car to a rudely sudden stop.

“Maurice Cindnack? That was my great-great-grandfather! His grand kids called him Pup-pa. Relatives always said he was a strange old dog and could do some amazing tricks. I guess they were being literal. One day, he just up and disappeared, so they say.”

“What? No way! How did his suit get under my floor?”

Scout looked sheepish. “There’s something I need to confess,” he said. “I convinced you to buy that house because it belonged to my family long ago and I didn’t want to see it torn down, but I didn’t have the money to buy it myself. I guess old Pup-pa Cindnack used to live in it. Isn’t that something?” Scout faked a laugh and grinned. “Hope you aren’t mad.”

Max’s eyes flashed and he bared his fangs. He stuck his head out the open window and howled angrily. Scout put the car in motion quickly and drove them to Max’s house. By the time they arrived, Max had calmed down and he invited Scout in for a beer for the road. Someday, Scout promised himself, he would tell Max the rest, and introduce him to the others, but that would be too much for one night.

Inside the front hall Max sniffed the air, the warm scent of simmering chicken and vegetables filling his keen canine nose.

“Mmmm,” he purred. “Dinner! And it’s still hot!” He turned to Scout. “Glad I forgot to turn that soup off. Want some?”

“Don’t mind if I do, Max old boy, don’t mind if I do.”


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