Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Puppy on the Tricycle

Around the roads near the Bran Castle in Brasov, Romania, where the vampire Count Dracula once used to live, you will often hear villagers tell tale of a small puppy who goes along on his tricycle during very dark times, calling out into the night as he goes on his way. It is heard: squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, and then this squeaky pedaling stops, and the puppy calls out in his sad lonely voice, "Toadie!" Squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak. "Toadie, where are you?"

Often it is said that some young girl or other may come over, hearing the calls of puppy, who has stringy white fur, and picks him up, and cuddles him. "Where are you pedaling away to, little puppy?" she asks. The puppy tells her that he is looking for his Toadie.

"Have you seen my Toadie?" asks the puppy, sadly.

"No," say the girls, usually. "But why don't you come in with me? I'll give you nice meals and a warm cozy patch, and I can cuddle you all day long."

The puppy would just shake his head. "No, I need to find my Toadie," he would say, and get back on his tricycle.

"Well, then maybe you should go and look near some ponds. Your Toadie could be there," the kind girl would tell the puppy. But the puppy would not move, now. Curious, the girl would ask, "Well, why don't you go to a pond already?"

Standing still on his tricycle, the little puppy would weep sadly, his tears soaking his furry cheeks, and say "I'm blind. I'm a blind little puppy. I don't know which way the ponds are."

Then the girl, who is usually kind and goodhearted, would pick the puppy and his tricycle up, and turn him around a little. "There, I've set you in the right direction. Just keep pedaling on, now, straight, and you'll finally get to the pond."

The puppy, though blind, would nevertheless look up at the kind and pretty girl, and sadly say a "Thank you." The he would turn and pedal away, towards the pond. Squeak, squeak. squeak, squeak. "Toadie ... I'm coming to you ..." It would start to drizzle, tiny beads of Transylvanian rain, and naughty little children who would not listen to their parents and fall asleep quickly would hear, in the miserable patter outside, the squeaky pedaling of the puppy as he went by on his tricycle, calling for his "Toadie", and their hearts would be filled with so much sadness for ten days.

At midnight, the soaked, blind puppy would finally feel the cool water of the pond at his feet. "Toadie?" he would call out into the darkness, but only the quiet lapping at the sides would answer. So the puppy got off his tricycle, and paddled into the dark waters on his two feet. "Toadie," he called out into the lonely night, "where are you? Toadie ..."

"I say, old chap, what's with the racist remarks?" came a voice.

The blind puppy stopped cold in the dark pond. "Toadie?" he asked.

"Yes, yes. What is all this? Why do you keep using that word?"

The waters lapped against the puppy's belly. "I'm looking for my Toadie," he said to the voice. "She's supposed to be somewhere here, according to the kind girl."

There were three distinct patters, like hopping, and then the puppy felt something land in the water next to him. "I see," said the voice accusingly. "So some bird tells you to come into the pond, calling out for Toadies, and you go ahead and do it, eh?" The puppy felt a cold, sticky and wet thing punch him in the gut, and he panicked.

"What was that?" cried the puppy, turning in the dark waters of the pond, "what was that?"

"That will teach you," said the angry voice. "See? I'm striking you with my tongue, see?" The puppy was punched in the gut again.

The puppy thought for a little while, as the angry voice kept punching him in his tummy. Finally, he asked, "Wait -- are you a toad?"

"Fancy that," said the voice. "A toad! So you do have some manners after all."

"You don't understand," said the puppy, sadly, "I wasn't calling for you, I'm searching for my Toadie." He was struck again on his belly. "Stop it," cried the puppy painfully, "I'm blind!" He curled over in the water.

There was some silence, and the punching in the belly stopped. Finally, the voice said, with some reservation, "Well, just don't go around calling us Toadies. It's a sensitive subject."

"I'm not searching for toads," cried the puppy tearfully. "I'm searching for my Toadie, who is a ducky. I've been searching and searching, and searching, for years."

There was a little more silence. Then: "You are searching for a Toadie who is a ducky?" asked the toad.

"Yes," wept the sad little puppy. "A cute little yellow and fluffy ducky," he said. "She used to sit in the basket in front of my tricycle," he said, pointing back to the shore in the general direction he thought he'd left it. "I'm blind, you see," the puppy told the toad. "And my sweet ducky would sit cutely in the basket, and she would guide me as I cycled through the streets. If I was coming to a wall, she would say 'Quack' loudly, and I would know I had to turn."

"'Quack'," said the toad, flatly. "She would say 'Quack'?"


"And then you would turn, and not hit the walls?"


The night grew a little colder, and the toad took a sombre step back. Everything somehow suddenly seemed a lot heavier, and gravity is not a friend to hopping creatures. In front of him, the puppy began weeping again, and his nose was wet. The toad shook his head, then said, "Look -- why did she leave you?" He rolled his eyes.

The puppy stopped sniffing, and a guilty look came across his blind eyes. "Well, one day, as we were driving --"

"Cycling," interjected the toad.

" -- cycling together, on my tricycle, and I heard some music on the streets, and I became ... distracted." The puppy looked down guiltily.

"Music?" asked the toad. "What kind of music?"

The puppy shook his head. "Don't know. It was very interesting music. Jazz ... I think. I think that is what they were calling it on the streets as I cycled by."

"Ok, ok," said the toad, snapping his toad fingers a little impatiently. "So you got distracted by some music, so what?"

The puppy began to sob again.

"Oh please, God," said the toad.

The puppy continued his tale. "Well, so I was hearing the music, and I listened to it as I was pedaling. And then ... then I got lost, and I couldn't hear my ducky, who began quacking away."

"Ah," said the toad. Things were certainly getting very heavy tonight. "So you ignored her," he said.

"I did not ignore her," said the puppy, and there was just the tiniest hint of a growl in his sad voice. "I was lost in the music."

"Then what happened?" asked the toad.

The puppy sniffed, and became sad again. "Then, I drove us into a wall." At this, the toad let out a gasp. "We survived," said the puppy quickly, "no injuries, physically. But -- but my little ducky's Sunday Hat had flown off her head, and landed in the dirt." The toad covered his face with his toad fingers. "She was livid. Look -- I know, I know it was my fault. I am to blame. It's all me," cried the poor puppy.

A crocodile, who had been hiding under the water nearby -- eavesdropping on their conversation -- rose from his hiding place in the dark and shed a single sad tear. The toad gave him an evil eye, and the croc sank back into the pond again. "I see," said the toad, turning back. "So she left you, eh? On account of crashing into the wall and dropping her Sunday Hat?" The puppy nodded sadly. "So what are you going to do now?" asked the toad.

The puppy turned this way and that, and then finally called out, "Toadie? Where are you?"

"Ah," said the toad. The night had already become very heavy, and cold. The puppy's lonely calls carried across the water, lapping at the shore of the pond, and into the village night, through the roads near the castle where the vampire, Count Dracula, had once lived. There was no sign of sunlight or the day breaking any time soon.

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