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Mucky Pups

This Is Murray’s Song

Peter Miller
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Murray Musgrave stepped back sharply, sloshing his tea all down his best golfing jumper. He bared his teeth, screwed his nose up and stared wide-eyed through his thick rimmed spectacles.

“Hi Dad!” sang Mungo, dusting down his trousers.

“All right, Pops!” said Flopsy, disentangling herself from the umbrella stand that she had knocked over on the way in. Mitch and Stewpot stood sheepishly in the open doorway, Mister Billington Fox whined softly and thumped his tail against the doorframe, thump, thump, thump.

“COME ON IN, BOYS!” barked Murray amicably, “CAN’T YOU TWO EVEN COME IN THROUGH THE BLOODY DOOR PROPERLY?” he asked his children. Mungo patted Murray’s belly in response, slinging his P.E. bag in a corner of the hall. Flopsy kissed her father on the cheek. Murray wiped it away with the back of his hand and then looked at where the kiss should have been. There was no sign of it except for the uniform direction of the white hairs on the back of his hand, which interested the Magnus Pyke in him for a moment. He grinned at Mitch and Stewpot and offered to take their jackets, Stewpot’s colourful plumage prompting hydraulically raised eyebrows. Flopsy disappeared upstairs, the creaking floorboards keeping track of her heavy movements. Mungo started to make tea, singing while Mister Billington Fox sniffed around his newly slipper-clad feet. When Murray reappeared at the door he caught sight of the dog for the first time. “WHAT THE BLOODY HELL’S THAT THING DOING IN HERE? SHOO, GO ON OUT OF IT!” he yelped. “Dad, don’t get your y-fronts in a twist, it’s Stewpot’s dog, Mister Billington Fox, he won’t hurt you. Or the kitchen cupboards, so relax. Why don’t you take him out for a walk? Leave us in peace?”

“Who, me?” he asked gently.

“No, the Duke of Edinburgh.”

“Would he mind? Do you mind Mister Bubbington Trots? Will he be okay with me, Stewpot? If I take him for a run in the park? I’ve got a big carrier bag full of tennis balls in the shed. Found the lot of ’em, you know. Never bought a single one. Never use ’em now the kids are nearly grown up. They’re just going to waste in there. I could take him down the park and throw a ball for him, I bet he’d like that, wouldn’t you, eh boy?”

He knelt down to scratch Mister Billington Fox’s fluffy midriff. The dog lay down and turned over, sticking his legs up in the air to aid Murray in his tummy tickling attempts.

“You’re a Scottish dog, aren’t you? You’ve got a Scottish belly, haven’t you?” Murray murmured affectionately as he petted the dog. Mister Billington Fox behaved impeccably, “but just wait till you get to the park,” thought Mitch.

Five minutes and an ill-tempered search for suitable shoes later, Murray and Mister Billington Fox were serenely strolling down the road in the direction of the park. A huge expanse of greenery ringed by a gravel path and a thick mass of trees, Murray was sure the dog would love it, and told him so repeatedly.

The three friends had just settled down at the kitchen table with their tea when Flopsy materialised at the door. She was wrapped in a Flintstones beach towel and smelt very clean.

“I’m out of Evax,” she stated, rubbing her hair with a smaller matching towel.

“Don’t look at me, sis,” answered Mungo, “I haven’t eaten them.”

“What’s an Evax?” frowned Mitch.

“It’s what girls put in their knickers so that they don’t get them all covered in fanny batter,” said Stewpot, looking pleased with himself. “Like a jam rag, only thinner and sometimes with little wings.”

“Wrong. Evax ARE jam rags, pube brain!”

“I haven’t got any, sorry,” shrugged Mitch.

“I know you haven’t got any. What would you want them for? To wipe your dribbly nose? Who’ll nip down to the shops for me?”

“I’ll go with you if you go dressed like that. I’ll even buy you a packet of Jaffa Cakes,” suggested Mungo.

“Thanks for nothing, little brother. What about you two?”

“I’m not asking for that! They’ll think I’m a pervert or something,” flustered Stewpot, halo quivering.

“Too shy, I daren’t,” said Mitch to his tea.

“What a pair of poofters as well!” Flopsy stomped back up the stairs in a huff, leaving Mungo and Stewpot in a giggling heap on the kitchen table. “And it’s called vaginal discharge, not fanny batter!” she shouted. The resulting laughter made the kitchen window rattle.

Murray kicked and scuffed at the gravel, Mister Billington Fox barking and tearing around after the small stones that flew up, first one and then another, never having time to well and truly capture one before another came flying after it. Murray chuckled gaily, but soon straightened his face and behaved himself as befits a man of his seniority when two old ladies appeared around the corner.

“Morning ladies!” he smiled, as Mister Billington Fox busied himself around their swollen ankles.

“Morning? It’s well past twelve o’ clock, young Murray!” scolded the elder of the two, her partner adding, “We’re just off to the chapel for our lunch. Who’s is this beautiful dog? It’s never yours, is it?”

“No, no. It belongs to a friend of Mungo’s, Stewpot.”

“Stewpot? What a stupid name, don’t you think so Mrs. Wilson?”

“Yes, we’re having stew today, aren’t we? I’ve no idea what kind of recepticle they make it in. It’s brought to the chapel in a van, you know,” she confided, “By a scruffy young fellow with long hair. Thinks life’s a joke, more fool him. What’s the dog called?”

Murray stood up straight, puffed out his chest and announced, “Ladies, may I introduce Mister Bubbington Frog!”

“Oh my goodness, who gave the poor thing such a ridiculous name?” asked Mrs. Wilson, aghast.

“Search me, ladies,” said Murray, his attention caught by something moving in the tree above his head. “Is that a squirrel up there, Mrs. Johnstone?”

“I can’t see anything, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised. There have been squirrels in this park since I was a young girl. We must get going or we’ll be late for dinner.”

“Yes, you’d better run along, or your fancy men’ll think you’ve run off with David Hasselhoff!”

The old ladies trotted down the path, tittering to themselves excitedly. Murray stayed put, looking for the squirrel.

When Mrs. Johnstone was a young girl the town must have been a different kettle of temptations altogether. It had changed an awful lot since Murray was a youngster. He and his friends used to have competitions to see who could piss from one side of the canal to the other. You had to watch out for barges, otherwise they’d have your guts for garters. The only things that sailed up the canal now were Coke cans and plastic bags. In the pub there’s all that talk about young lads and lasses going down there to sniff glue and take drugs. Thank God none of my kids are into drugs! Flopsy’s a wee bit wild, and Calvin’s a bit on the dosy side, but... nothing serious. Mungo seems to doing all right this time. Good job his friends have come to see him. Looks to have really cheered him up, the miserable little bugger.

Murray had attempted to play Trivial Pursuit with his son about a week ago. Mungo knew loads of answers, stuff Murray had no idea about.

“Why would anyone want to know the colour of yak’s milk?” he had asked in exasperation.

“What was it then, speed, acid, ecstasy?” spat Jimmy Nail in a broad Geordie accent, as bruised as his face. He was a pop singer now, as well as a TV detective. Things were going well for him. He had cornered an evil drug dealer on the mean streets of Newcastle, and was treating him with tough-guy contempt.

“I only know it because I’ve played this bloody game so often, Dad. I know loads of useless rubbish because of this game, and so do half the people in the whole world.”

“You mean you don’t want to play no more, is that it? Do you want to watch Bender on the telly?” asked Murray in a hurt voice.

Spender, not Bender, Spender.”

“Aye, you’re right. Spender. Hey big spender!” he sang, “Shirley Bassey. I’d beat you at a Shirley Bassey quiz, so I would!”

“Tiger Bay.”


“Forget it. I’ll pack the things away, you watch Bender on the belly. I mean telly. The box.”

Murray turned to face the television set. His wife Millie came in, looking dog tired, as Mungo sneaked out and up the stairs to his room.

“Are you not playing anymore?” asked Millie in a tone of mock surprise.

“No, I’m watching Bender, can’t you see?”

“It’s called Spender, you old fool!” she laughed affectionately.

Spender, that’s the boy, Spender. Spender. Big Spender. Nearly finished now. Soon be time for the news. See what’s been going on in the world, eh?”

Murray realised that the dog had buggered off. He whistled energetically, but Mister Billington Fox didn’t show up. Murray wheeled three hundred and sixty degrees one way, then the other. He looked like a complete freak, but no-one was looking, except for the squirrels whose own behaviour could hardly be called normal. Murray had seen on a documentary how they stuff nuts into their cheeks, making them look frankly ridiculous, as he had pointed out to Millie. Murray carried on down the path until he came out of the thicket and onto the common. There in the distance he could just make out the silhouette of Mister Billington Fox. He was hard at work pumping back and forth, apparently trying to bludgeon a petite Cocker Spaniel to death with his groin. Murray started to bound up the slope, shouting, “Get off, you dirty bugger! Leave her alone! Get off!” again and again until he arrived. Out of breath, Murray grabbed Mister Billington Fox and tried too wrestle him away from his stub-tailed lady friend. It was hard work. After about five minutes of strenuous effort he eventually heaved them apart. He continued pumping at thin air for a moment as Murray fell over backwards in slow motion, still holding onto Mister Billington Fox. They landed with a hefty thump, the dog struggling to get free and finish what he’d so enjoyably started. Murray was in such a state of bespectacled shock that he forgot to let go, a wheezing squeal escaping from between his clenched teeth. Mister Billington Fox managed to wriggle himself upright and was now pinning Murray down. Neither man nor beast seemed to know what was going on now. Murray tried to remove the heavy animal from his chest, but it was no good. He struggled manfully, images of Tarzan fighting ferocious lions flashing through his dazed head. His hand clasped something warm and cylindrical. It felt like a wax crayon, only stickier and gooey. A scream echoed around the park. Mister Billington Fox leapt about six feet back in shock at the immense sound, rather than at the disagreeable novelty of having his exposed penis grasped by a respectable pensioner who was kind to old ladies. The dog recuperated his senses before Murray, who sat on the ground staring at his hand with a look of sheer horror on his distorted face. Mister Billington Fox sidled up to him and licked his face, the dog’s slobbery tongue scraping against the big teeth that were left unsheathed by his cracked and chapped mouth. He recovered his mental equilibrium to see the Cocker Spanielette trotting prettily down the slope, stopping only to sniff the odd stray dog turd. Murray wiped his hand on the grass, muttered something unintelligible to Mister Billington Fox, and slowly stood up. He straightened his back as if he was back on the Poop Deck and looked all around to see if anyone had witnessed the sorry affair. When he was satisfied that they were completely alone except for the twittering birds, hopping around in a frantic search for worms, he brushed his trousers with his hands, swore energetically at the two grass stains on his knees, and set off for home. But not before delivering a hefty boot to Mister Billington Fox’s backside.

Flopsy, now fully dressed, had plonked herself down with the others at the kitchen table. She had a mischievous glint in her eye and her words came out in a merry babble.

“Right, you wankers,” she announced, “here’s question seven. Ready?”

“Yes,” said Mitch, “we’re ready.”

He was having a good time answering the questionnaire that Flopsy had devised for a local listings magazine. Entertainment information for the Glasgow and Edinburgh areas was broken up by cartoons, opinion columns, a bit of gossip, and “fun” questionnaires like this one. The questions touched on etiquette when visiting new acquaintances, things to do on a first date, and other staples of colourful publications aimed at teenage girls and thrusting executive women with no brains and too much free time, according to Flopsy, who could be very bitter at times. The twist was that these standard questions were interspersed with more risqué and humorous questions, unlikely to be found in Cosmopolitan or Just Seventeen.

“Question seven,” boomed Flopsy, “this one’s for the boys, it’s a bit different from the others, see what you think.”

She often tried out her questions on her brother, but today she was in luck. More guinea pigs to attach electrodes to.

“Your friend shows you his ample collection of child pornography. Do you:

  1. Scream ‘Pervert!’ and run out of the house to fetch a policeman.
  2. Explain quietly to your friend that you’re not really interested in that sort of thing. Suggest going out for a quiet drink instead.
  3. Ask if you can make photocopies of his collection and book to go on holiday to Bangkok together?

What do you think?”

Mitch looked at Mungo, who shrugged his shoulders and looked at Stewpot, who rubbed his nose and cleared his throat.

“I think number two would be the best approach in this case. After all, it would be churlish in the extreme to deny a fellow man’s freedom of choice.”

“What about the kiddies’ freedom of choice? They don’t want to have their pictures taken starkers, do they?” reasoned Mitch.

“Little kids love getting their kit off, look at them on the beach! They only have to smell the sea air and they’re chucking their clothes off like... like... like Smurfs at a Smurf orgy.”

“Smurf orgy?” exclaimed Flopsy. “Have you been watching dirty videos again?”

“No, no, I read an article about it in the paper down at the library. The people who own the Smurfs are taking legal action against an adult comic called ‘Safe Sex Smurf Sex’ or something, I can’t remember.”

“The people who own the Smurfs?” said Stewpot, wrinkling his nose, “Isn’t that Father Abraham? I bet he’s the first one to sign up for any Smurf orgies that are going on, the dirty old Rabbi! I bet he organises them! I bet he...”

“Here comes Dad,” Mungo cut him off, “we’d better change the subject. He’s a bit uptight about Smurf sex, it’s his age. He’s getting on a bit.”

The door opened and Mister Billington Fox reacquainted himself with everyone in the kitchen in record tail-waggy time.

“He moves about as fast as one of those remote control cars that goes about ten times quicker than a real one. Relative to its size. Know what I mean?” pondered Mungo.

“The bloody thing’s been... making love!”

“What are you on about Dad?” asked Flopsy.

“That dog, Mister Bubbington Thingy, he has been... copulating, yes, copulating with a young lady canine on the common!”

Stewpot stifled a laugh and gave Mister Billington Fox a conspiratorial pat under the table.

“It’s a bloody good job its owners weren’t there to see it, otherwise we’d be getting a hefty vet’s bill or God knows what! Can dogs get abortions?”

“Relax Dad,” soothed Mungo, as Mitch looked on in wonder, “he probably didn’t even have time to do it properly, it can take ages for dogs to get coupled up properly. I’ve read about it.”

“You’ve read about it, have you? Have you read about this too?” enquired Murray, brandishing the soiled sleeve of his jacket, “Have you read about getting this bloody mess off before your mother sees it? I’ve got the bloody stuff all over my hands as well. Dirty little dog! No offence Stewpot, but you’ve got a randy little beast there. He’s made me look like a bloody fool, so he has.”

Finally, they could control themselves no longer. Everyone burst into laughter, Murray included. Mister Billington Fox went loopy, his amorous adventure erased from his acorn-sized brain.

Although Murray feigned concern over his wife’s reaction to his dogspunk-spattered jacket, he had no real need to be worried. Millie was an uncomplaining woman for the most part, except when someone tried to shirk their workload at the hospital. She was a senior nurse, with three more years to go before retirement. She worked all manner of strange shifts, which no-one else had ever managed to fully understand. Mungo had been surprised by his mother’s early arrival many times in his childhood, often requiring him to stuff some evidence of misdemeanours committed (or in the process of being committed) under the settee cushions or beneath the armchair. He would then spend the rest of the afternoon and evening trying to figure out a way of disposing of the offending nuddy mag or “erotically charged” novel. One of his favourites was a Christmas present from himself to his mother. It was a novel based on Dallas, her favourite television programme. Unlike the telly version, the book was brimful of anatomically detailed sex scenes.

He had since graduated to more sophisticated erotica, such as Zen and the Art of Mutual Masturbation, a quasi-religious tome that Mitch and Stewpot had caught him with on a previous visit. “You’ll be sorry when I’m an experienced oriental lover and you two are still banging away like a couple of old Mini Coopers on the blink,” Mungo had said as he hid it from his mother’s prying eyes, even though he was no longer a naughty teenager. He had also invested in Madonna’s “Sex” book, but he hadn’t taken it out of its silver wrapper, despite the deafening pleas of his grubby-fingered friends. It was stored away with his most treasured records, ready to be sold (for what he hoped would be an enormous amount of money) at a later date. He had calculated that by leaving the wrapper intact, and resisting the temptation to gawp at Madonna and her friends’ tits and bums and fannies, his eventual financial return would be three times that of an opened mint copy. Besides which, pictures of naked people were not particularly interesting to Mungo anymore. He considered all that to be kids’ stuff. It was animal sex or nothing for him nowadays, or so he claimed to anyone daft enough to listen.

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