The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree.
As he lay flaked out on his bed, Fraser recalled Gerrard’s words when Fraser had declined a drink on the day of his father’s funeral. But Fraser, unlike his father, was not a tee-totaller. The younger Mountie was more like Spock, generally avoiding the dubious effects of alcohol but, on the rare occasion, he indulged.
This night was such an occasion. Although Fraser drank infrequently he knew how much he could hold without losing control. Drinking was expected in the far north - men often found themselves without much more to do. Any man that didn’t drink was considered odd and not trusted. True, the men that had worked with Fraser found him odd enough, but they did trust him with their lives.
So when Ray arrived at Fraser’s apartment with a couple of bottles of his uncle’s favourite home-made wine (which also happened to be his favourite uncle’s home-made wine) Fraser imbibed in the name of good-fellowship. Mindful of the fact that alcohol increases sexual desire but at the same time decreases performance, Fraser drank until he reached joviality but stopped short of outright inebriation.
Ray had less control. He drank himself to the point that he had to let Fraser be on the giving end of their love-making and himself on the receiving end. It was the reverse of what they usually did and Ray found it an oddly dizzying experience. Unfortunately he was too drunk to remember it the next day.
After a brief but ardent bout, Fraser declared that he needed some rest before attempting a second round. He fell back onto his bed in a pleasantly loopy state. Maybe he had fallen a little bit farther from the tree that his father might have liked, but at the moment he found life good: his head was pleasantly light, he and Ray rested flank against flank like two sled dogs huddled for warmth after a long and satisfying run. He drifted off, his happy pre-sleep thoughts leaving a goofy half-smile on his face.
Ray, though much drunker, was not yet ready for sleep. He eased himself up onto one elbow and peered at the Mountie’s sleeping face. He planted a quick kiss on the end of Fraser’s nose. Such a teeny weeny nose. How did Benny even breathe through that itty bitty thing? But Ray had fallen in love with that adorable nose the first time he had seen it, and later came to love the whole Canadian that carried it around.
Diefenbaker preferred to withdraw to another room when his pack-mates were copulating. It puzzled him why they did this with each other rather than with females, but that was only one of the many things about his two-legged pack-mates that he found bizarre. Still, it was his nature to accept two-legs as well as own-kinds as pack-mates and so he tolerated the cultural differences between them.
The smells in the air of released residue signalled Diefenbaker that his pack-mates had finished what they were doing. He got up off the floor of the food-place and stretched. Before ambling back to the sleeping-place, he turned and looked again at the two empty bottles on table. While own-kind amused themselves by letting out liquids, he reflected, two-legs amused themselves by taking in liquids. They don’t know what they’re missing.
Dief walked into the sleeping-place to see Before-Pack-Mate asleep and New-Pack-Mate trying to stand up but having a hard time of it. Poor New-Pack-Mate. Maybe if he learned to enjoy himself by letting liquids out, as own-kind did, he’d be better off.
“I need air,” Diefenbaker heard New-Pack-Mate mutter. Then the two-leg, swaying back and forth unsteadily on his inadequate limbs, went out of the sleeping-place, headed towards the opening of their shelter and into the tunnel that led outside.
Sometimes after copulating New-Pack-Mate fell asleep beside Before-Pack-Mate and sometimes he went to his noisy-sled and rode away. Tonight the two-leg was so unsteady on his feet that Diefenbaker figured he should watch through the hole-in-the-den-wall and make sure the two-leg made it to his sled safely. He jumped up and leaned his paws against the ledge below the hole-in-the-den-wall, watching for New-Pack-Mate to come out of the door and head for his sled.
After a time, New-Pack-Mate came into Diefenbaker’s view again but he did not go in the direction of his sled. It had begun to rain while the two-legs had been busy drinking and copulating. The rain was coming down hard but New-Pack-Mate didn’t seem to be bothered by it. Instead he leapt around and frolicked in the downpour like a careless puppy. Usually two-legs knew enough to come in out of the rain. This one’s brain must be surely addled from keeping too much liquid inside, Diefenbaker decided. Didn’t two-legs know how unhealthy that was?
I’d better go along with him and make sure he is all right, Diefenbaker decided regretfully. He had no desire to go out in the rain, but it was always in the best interests of the pack for pack-mates to take care of one another.
Ray was as happy as he could remember being for a very long time. The rain cooled his flushed skin. He tilted his head upwards to let the run-off from a drainpipe trickle onto his face and then remembered Gene Kelly doing the same thing in ‘Singing in the Rain’. Ray set off prancing about in what he thought was a plausible imitation of the old Hollywood musical dance number. He whirled around in circles, stomped into puddles and hopped back and forth from the sidewalk to the street.
Two uniforms in a passing patrol car saw him differently. They pulled over just as Diefenbaker was on the staircase making his way down to street.
“This dude’s probably not dangerous,” the older of two cops assured his younger partner. “Just go check him out. If he lives near here we can take him home. Good deed for the night.”
“How come I get to check him out and you stay dry in here?” whined the younger man rhetorically, as he got out of the car.
The young cop sloshed his way towards the dancing Italian. “Whatcha doin’, buddy?” he inquired pleasantly.
Ray focussed on the uniform. The kid had on a standard issue raincoat and protective hat. Damned if he didn’t look just like the cop who came over to Gene Kelly in the last bit of the Singing in the Rain dance number. A perfect opportunity. Ray spread out his arms in imitation of the old dance great and sang, as had Gene Kelly at the end of the song in the movie, “I’m dancing - and singing - in the raaaaaaaain.”
The kid, for all he was young, had a father who had indoctrinated him in the lore of old Hollywood musicals. He chuckled. “You sure are, buddy. You live around here?”
It was at that moment that Diefenbaker trotted up to them.
“Hey, fella,” the cop greeted the handsome animal. “This your daddy? Looks like he’s had a few too many.”
Diefenbaker made a few short barks to explain that this two-leg was not his sire but one of his pack-mates. The wolf wasn’t surprised that the younger two-leg didn’t seem to understand. Here in the Too-Little-Snow-Place very few two-legs understood him.
Diefenbaker sensed good will from this two-leg, despite his failure to understand, and tried to communicate through physical action. The noisy-sled was nearby. Diefenbaker pressed his snout against New-Pack-Mate’s legs to shove him in that direction.
“Hey, lay off, Dief,” New-Pack-Mate protested.
Diefenbaker barked at the young two-leg again and this time the young two-leg understood that the wolf wanted his attention. That was promising. Diefenbaker led him to the noisy-sled.
“Oh, this is his car?”
Diefenbaker woofed affirmative. Then he returned to where New-Pack-Mate was standing and tried again to shove him in the direction of the sled.
“I’m not sure that’s such a good idea, fella,” the young two-leg said. “He’s in no shape to drive.”
Diefenbaker had to agree. Probably the best thing for New-Pack-Mate would be to come back into the den. He turned his head towards the opening that led to den he shared with Before-Pack-Mate and barked again, hoping the young two-leg would understand and help get New–Pack-Mate inside.
The young two-leg was fairly intelligent, it seemed. He took hold of New-Pack-Mate’s arm and pulled him while the wolf led the way to the right opening. Just inside the opening to the den, Diefenbaker paused and, as politeness required, shook the excess rain off himself before coming near to a place for sleeping. The two-legs cringed and shielded themselves but did not shake. Two-legs were as unmannerly as pups.
Instead the younger two-leg took New-Pack-Mate into the sleeping place - both them still soaking wet. There Diefenbaker saw that Before-Pack-Mate was still asleep, oblivious to the noise of all of them coming in.
Diefenbaker woofed and trotted over beside Before-Pack-Mate. He lay his snout on the bouncy-sleeping-on-thing to show the young two-leg to put the unsteady pack-mate there beside the other sleeping one.
“Whoa,” said the two-leg. “This is a little more information than I need.” He leaned close over the sleeping form of Before-Pack-Mate but still Diefenbaker sensed no danger. The young two-leg only seemed to be looking more closely at the sleeping form. He didn’t smell like he was planning to attack, so Diefenbaker didn’t interfere.
“I think I seen him before,” the young two-leg said to himself. Diefenbaker considered this comment and decided it was neutral - it would neither harm nor help Before-Pack-Mate at this time. Therefore Diefenbaker didn’t need to take any action because of it.
“Well, if doggy says this is your bed, I guess it’s no business of mine.” The young two-leg then eased New-Pack-Mate out of his wet outer covering and onto the bouncy-sleeping-on-thing beside Before-Pack-Mate.
Diefenbaker had been waiting for New-Pack-Mate to protest being pushed around by the younger two-leg but that didn’t happen. Instead New-Pack-Mate was allowing himself to be unceremoniously shoved along, unwrapped and pushed down to a lying position.
Why does he let himself be pushed by that young two-leg and not by me, Diefenbaker wondered, not a little insulted. Maybe it’s because he’s using hands.
Diefenbaker marvelled, as he often did, at the hands that allowed two-legs to keep hold of things and do what they liked with them while leaving their mouths free to talk and eat. There’s so much you can do with hands, Diefenbaker thought. It doesn’t seem fair that two-legs have them and own-kind don’t.
“Well, good-night, boy. I’ll let myself out,” said the young two-leg and left them all alone.
Diefenbaker sat watching his two sleeping pack-mates just long enough to see that they were safely and comfortably settled in. Then he lay down, put his snout down on top of his front paws and pondered.End