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Mucky Pups

The Wind Cries Mungo

Peter Miller
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“Get a hold of the hound! I’ll go and phone Mungo,” yelped Mitch, trying to shake Mister Billington Fox off his jacket sleeve. Stewpot caught the dog’s collar and whispered a magic word, making Mister Billington Fox sit down and look at him quizzically. Mitch stuck his phone card into the slot and dialled the number scrawled on the back of a colourful advertising flyer for a freaky disco night called Pump It Up.


“Is Mungo there? It’s Mitch.”


“Who? Oh, Flopsy! No.”

Flopsy was Mungo’s older sister.


Murray Musgrave had long since given up feigning sanity. He was a barnacle encrusted old sea dog, or at least he used to work on ships. His hair was the colour of breaking waves in a force ten storm, and his general appearance was that of a battered lighthouse. The lighthouse keeper was happy to be miles away from the mainland, polishing the glass and talking to himself.

“Okay, Mr. Musgrave, no problem.”

Mitch heard the buzzing sound after Murray Musgrave hung up abruptly, and looked at the receiver, and then at Stewpot, pulling a face to indicate that Mungo’s dad was one boat short of a fishing fleet. Stewpot guffawed and rubbed his nose, causing an elderly lady to look at him warily, and Mister Billington Fox to embark on another freestyle woof-woof freakout. All three went to sit on the bench next to the taxi rank outside the station, the excited dog squeezing between Stewpot and Mitch. There was a big sign opposite.

“Welcome to Troon, Golfer’s Delight,” read Stewpot.

“Bollocks,” replied Mitch, “Golf’s gone right downhill since they took Pro-Celebrity Golf off the telly. Do you remember Pro-Celebrity Golf?” asked Mitch, already smirking, “Royal Troon, Scotland,” he began in a pitch perfect Peter Allis whisper, “Tommy Connery needs to sink this putt to ensure victory. His partner, Peter Oosterhouse, can hardly bear to watch. Their hapless opponents, Tony Jacklin and Jeffrey from Haysi Fantayzee, can only look on in anguish. Jacklin fiddles nervously with the Velcro fastener of his golf glove... the modest crowd are motionless in hushed anticipation...”

“Who the fuck’s Tommy Connery?”

“Everybody knows who Tommy Connery is. At least everyone in Edinburgh knows who Tommy Connery is. Tommy Connery is Sean Connery’s real name, the one he had when he was a milk delivery boy, licensed to thrill. Housewives in nighties, all that sort of thing. Cream, madam? Gold top? Mmmm, that’d be the cat’s whiskers, young Tommy.”

“Do you think that kind of thing really happens?”

“What, getting shagged by bored housewives? Course it does. Mate of mine’s brother worked for an antique shop in London. A woman kept ringing up saying, ‘when are you coming round to measure my gap, young man?’ but the daft sod never went.”

Stewpot looked puzzled and rubbed his nose. “What would you do?”

“Get me tape measure and pop round sharpish,” stated Mitch, matter-of-factly.

“No you wouldn’t, you’d shit yourself. If a real woman came near you, you wouldn’t have a clue what to do,” laughed Stewpot, “look what happened when we saw that prostitute that night. You were off like a frightened ferret, running up the hill shrieking!” Mitch guffawed at the memory of the incident, two fresh faced youngsters stumbling into the red light district on their way home after another night of no consequence. The poor girl must have been scared out of her fishnets.

“How dare you pour scorn upon my status as top flight lover man supreme?” asked Mitch, his face a picture of injured pride.

“Speaking of real women, here comes Flopsy!” warned Stewpot ignoring his daft question, just as an almighty screech sent Mister Billington Fox haywire.

“Skinny cunt!” jeered Flopsy at Stewpot, who wasn’t especially skinny.

“Hiya Flopsy!” replied the unnaturally cheerful Stewpot.

“Fat Bastard!” she sneered at Mitch.

“Hello Flopsy,” mumbled Mitch.

Both boys grinned, aware that Flopsy’s handbrake turn had attracted the attention of shoppers and travellers for what seemed like miles around. She didn’t care. Attention was her middle name. It was never clear if it was a deliberate ploy or not, but Flopsy generally monopolised men’s shifty eyeballs and earned the scowls of most older women, securing the ogling appreciation of Just Seventeen readers. She was what Hollywood used to call a flame-haired temptress, what Stewpot privately called a Champion Sex Carrot. She looked at Mitch, conscious of the hormonal short circuit she was inspiring in his patchwork heart and purple pantaloons.

“Get in the back, Stewpot,” she said, “you come in the front with me...” she sighed, eyes averted, in the direction of Mitch, a virginal vegetable to her carnally electrified champion turnip.

“Shall we go and get pissed then, Big Al?” She had now reverted to her customary booming system voice.

“Erm... yes, that sounds like a good idea. What do you think, Stewpot?”

“Top one. But I’m not drinking any alcohol,” said Stewpot in all seriousness, followed by a hefty “Uggh!” as Mister Billington Fox stood on his genitals in his anxiousness to lick Flopsy’s ear.

“Fuck off, you hairy twat!” But the dog didn’t take any notice. It had taken him these few short seconds to pluck up courage to investigate the newcomer and he wasn’t going to give up easily. He knew that girls were nice to dogs.

“What’s his name?” she asked, extracting his slobbery tongue from her earring.

“Mister Billington Fox,” answered Stewpot. “Is he bothering you?” he enquired, pulling on his collar and making the dog sit down. She didn’t answer, just looked at Mitch and slotted the car into gear.

They had first met Flopsy at a Ceiledh in Glasgow, a lethal combination of folk dancing and alcohol. Mungo, Mitch and Stewpot were there against their will, having lost a bet in dubious circumstances. The vaulted hall was full of the kind of rabid nationalist energy that the slightest nudge of the political switch can turn from dancing about like a demented hill dweller to carving up enemies of the nation with a lovingly cared for pocket knife. Flopsy was teasing her little brother without mercy, lifting his kilt up and laughing like a sluice gate. She winked at Stewpot and Mitch as she was getting intimate with half-pissed rusty rugby player. He had a huge great bushy moustache that must have tickled a lot. Perhaps that accounted for Flopsy’s outbreaks of giggling.

On her way out she brushed against Mitch, who was standing in the queue for the gents’ lavatory. He blushed and looked up the stairs, at nothing in particular, hoping no-one would notice.

Flopsy had harboured a real fondness for him since then, but chose to disguise it by teasing and loud silliness whenever Mitch was around. She regaled them with lurid tales of her exotic love life. Mungo would sit there with a gormless expression on his face, waiting for her to stop. Stewpot would rub his nose, making a squelching noise that, strangely enough, never threw Flopsy off her stride. Mitch would sit still and listen, paralysed by the tumultuous convulsions of flesh and gastric juices that constitute the tell-tale signs of puppy love. It was love in its crawling and stumbling infancy. With time, he’d grown accustomed to the idea of never getting past the step of being flirted with and him looking like a hen in the pouring rain. On the odd occasions when the two of them were left alone together, they got on like a birthday cake and candles. Stewpot told him to play it cool, but what did he know? Mungo just looked disgusted and told him repulsive stories of his sister’s childhood lavatorial excesses. Mitch just sat there with half a smile on his face. He was happy enough, at least for the time being. That was how he saw it. He was nearly numb to the discomfort caused by the regular passage of golfers, executives, policemen and postmen who dragged their way through Flopsy’s weekends. They made him feel like a Pilgrim Father at a wife swapping party, but nothing had ever made him feel comfortable anyway, so he didn’t mind too much.

They covered the half mile to Rabbie’s Bar in record time, screaching to a Starsky and Hutch halt outside. Assorted flesh-eating zombies and Cro-Magnon beer drinkers scowled out of the window, smelling fresh prey on the Atlantic breeze. Their eyeballs melted into curious attentiveness when Flopsy leapt out of the driver’s seat and folded her arms while Mitch got calmly out of the front and Stewpot and Mister Billington Fox fought and fell over one another to extricate themselves from the back, the dog turning it into a canine derivative of the game Twister. Once out, Stewpot adjusted his luminous clothing and looked about him with a dignified air. His Hendrix halo billowed up in the salty gusts, as seagulls cawed and wheeled in excited jigs and dances. He caught sight of the spectators in the window, looked at Flopsy, then Mitch, and rubbed his nose.

“Here?” he asked.

“Why not?” countered Flopsy, having difficulty disguising her smile, “Don’t you like it here? Plenty of mini-skirts,” she teased, a reference to her father’s insistence that Mungo take his friends to see the “MINI-SKIRTS, BOYS! EH? MINI-SKIRTS!”, the white horses atop his head stampeding headlong towards the shore as he roared and shook with laughter.

“You like Rabbie’s Bar, Stewpot. We all do,” grinned Mitch, and gingerly followed Flopsy inside.

The epicentre of the bar’s attention was the big red haystack of hair that bounced across the room on top of a blue and yellow polka dot dress. Flopsy sat down at a corner table. Stewpot offered to get the drinks in, unusual behaviour for him. Mitch looked at him with slightly raised eyebrows, and sat down opposite Flopsy. The fluorescent tartan wallpaper made her face glow strangely, so that she looked like a soggy mass of autumn leaves wrapped up in a tatty Swedish flag. She gave Mitch a cigarette the wrong way round, but he spoiled her joke by noticing what she’d done.

“Ha ha, you can’t pull the sheep over my eyes!” laughed Mitch, not quite hiding his nerves. Oh, for an ice breaker!

“Look at that bloody dog. Sniffing folk’s arses!” whispered Flopsy. Sure enough, Mister Billington Fox was risking life and limb by exploring the bodily orifices of all the women in the pub. Lucky for him that all females love dogs unreservedly, except Mitch’s mother, who says that they are dirty little bleeders and that their owners should all be locked up and the key thrown away. Most owners wouldn’t mind anyway, just as long as their canine companion was locked up with them. The four legged fluffball of fun sniffing his way from one table to the next had yet to learn about the limitless possibilities when it comes to making a man jealous, i.e., is your dog sniffing my bird? Just as Stewpot was carrying the drinks over, a closely cropped armoured personnel carrier grabbed hold of his second hand embroidered waistcoat.

“Is that your fucking dog, pal?” he snarled.

“No, it’s his!” lied Stewpot, pointing at Mitch with his head.

“It’s not mine, it’s hers!” explained Mitch with consummate diplomacy. As if to back him up, Mister Billington Fox trotted over to Flopsy and tried to nuzzle his muzzle up her skirt. She just sat still, dog up skirt, looked at the aggressor and stated bluntly, “That’s right, he’s my special little FRIEND!” the last word shrieked as Mister Billington Fox’s wet nose went a bit too far up her inner thigh, causing Flopsy to jump up, knocking over the fresh tray of drinks. Mister Billington Fox laughed to see such fun, the thug mumbled “arseholes” and turned back to his mates. The barmaid came over with a cloth to wipe up the spilt beer, giving Stewpot a good look at her cleavage to boot. He rubbed his nose in appreciation, the noise causing the barmaid to look up at him and hastily cover herself up as she realised what the apprentice pervert was looking at. Flopsy leant back, enjoying the sight of someone else getting treatment usually dealt out to her. She was as cosy as a recently fed red-haired Cheetah as she began to prowl around the subject of her brother’s illness. Mitch and Stewpot looked at their beer rather than her.

“Mungo’s gone swimming, because the doctor told him he should get as much exercise as possible. But he can’t overdo it, so don’t expect too much jumping about from him. He’s much better than the last time you saw him though, keeps quite busy. He bought a cheap sampler thingy and sits in his room making crappy techno rubbish to frighten the neighbours and annoy dad. He bought the fucking sampler with his bastard sickness benefit! Norman Tebbit would have a fit if he heard the noise he makes, but you’ve got to applaud Mungo’s enterprising spirit. I don’t know who wants to listen to it. I don’t, but at least he’s happy doing it. He sent a demo tape off to Radio Clyde, to that fat bastard DJ, what’s his name, the guy that’s sometimes on the telly spouting shite?”

“Bobby Coil,” offered Stewpot, grinning, “the only DJ in the world named after a contraceptive device!”

“Not true!” ventured Mitch, “there’s a bloke called Rubber Johnny on Radio One in the afternoon. He’s a wanker, always making shite jokes and being sarcastic about music he doesn’t like. Thinks that if something sounds a bit strange it’s because they don’t know how to make it sound like Whitney Houston. And he’s got an assistant called Tampax Lil. A whole load of them, all with silly names, all talking shite.”

“That’s not a contraceptive,” stated Flopsy bluntly.

“Eh?” said both boys and looked at each other quizzically.

“Anyway, that’s where he is,” she sighed, “I don’t suppose you’ll get much out of him because he still thinks everyone’s going to think he’s a hopeless bastard, which he is, but then again he always has been, so it doesn’t really make much difference. The doctors tell mum and dad what’s going on and then they filter it back to me in their own style. Just the right side of hysterical in mum’s case, way beyond the point of almost understanding for dad. It’s quite sweet to see them try. Dad almost got the hang of it, but he had a relapse. Mungo, that is. Mum’s dead worried, doesn’t matter that he’s getting better. She just doesn’t want to be happy, keeps on suffering in deafening silence. She’s seen too many afternoon films about cancer. Either that or it must be something to do with her Lutherian upbringing in Banff. How can people who can’t talk properly be expected to think straight?” asked Flopsy, teeth flashing. Flopsy often laughed at her own jokes. To see her laughing at her own jokes was a lot funnier than listening to her jokes.

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Copyright ©Peter Miller, 2001
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Date of publicationAugust 2001
Collection RSSGlobal Fiction
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