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Under a deadline from his editor, Howie the wire-haired dachshund creates a story featuring a superhero whose ability to stink enables him and his sidekick, a sparrow named Little D, to fight crime in Central City.
I am so upset I can't write! Well, okay, I can write, but I can't write a book! I owe my editor another book soon, and I don't even have an idea. I don't think my editor would be very happy to get a book about how I just had my third bath in three days!
You would think -- what with his being a college professor and her being a lawyer and all -- that Mr. and Mrs. Monroe would be smart enough to figure out that a dog isn't a dog without certain smells in his life.
But do they say, "Oh, Howie, what is that delightful aroma -- a new aftershave?"
Nooooo. They say, "P. U.! Howie, you stink! Have you been rolling around in the compost heap again? Now you're going to have to have another bath."
Then they tell me that the pile of garbage and rotting food and smelly weeds in the far corner of the yard is there to make fertilizer for their garden. Fine. I have nothing against fertilizer. In fact, I'm all for fertilizer. But how come they get to enjoy it and Uncle Harold and I don't?
Life is so unfair.
Especially when you're a dog.
I'm going up to Toby's room to sulk. Maybe a good sulk will clear my head so I can come up with an idea for my next book.
Oh, the curse of the writer's life! Readers demand more books. Editors give you contracts, then insist that you actually write the books you promised you would. But what of the poor writer? Is he a machine, churning out books as if they were nothing more than chew bones or squeaky toys? (Not that I have anything against chew bones or squeaky toys.) Or is he a living, breathing creature made of flesh and blood who can't be expected to create whenhe's been scolded (again) for rolling around in the compost heap and made to suffer the indignity of three baths in three days!?
Life is so unfair.
Especially when you're a dog.
And a writer.
The best thing just happened! Toby was in his room, reading this big stack of comic books, and he must have known how I was feeling because he said, "Come on up here, boy, and let me read to you."
So I did, and he did, and now I know what I'm going to write!
By Howie Monroe
"TROUBLE IN CENTER CITY"
Things were bad in Center City. Gangs roamed the streets, knocking little old ladies down and running off with their handbags. Signs were posted everywhere:
GANGS CARRYING HANDBAGS MAY BE DANGEROUS
No one was safe. Not even dogs. Dogs were not allowed to be smelly. If they were, they were locked up in the jug. The can. The cooler. The hoosegow.
People kept their little old ladies indoors and gave their dogs baths every day. Sometimes more than once.
It was a terrible time.
Howie Monroe, a decent, mild-mannered, and law-abiding citizen of Center City, worried about the safety of his family, the Monroes, even though they gave him too many baths and would not let him roll around in their compost heap.
Why have a compost heap, he wanted to know, if you can't roll around in
Howie wished there was something he could do to make life better in Center City, but what could he do? After all, he was only one small dachshund in a world gone mad, one tiny voice in a sea of voices, one pebble in a field of boulders, one itsy-bitsy minnow in a school of sharks! He didn't even dare leave his house for fear that, unable to resist the lure of the compost heap, he would be picked up for unlawful stinkiness and tossed into the clink where he'd have to share a cell with gangs of criminals armed with handbags.
One day he was sleeping under the coffee table when he was awakened by a loud
KEERASHHH from outside. Harold and Chester, the other decent, mild-mannered (except Chester, sometimes), and law-abiding pets with whom he shared his home, came running into the room.
"What was that?" Chester the cat cried out in alarm.
"It sounded like KEERASHHH to me!" said the keenly aware dachshund puppy.
"Let's investigate," said Harold.
They all jumped up onto the sofa and peered out from behind the living room curtains.
Howie couldn't believe his ever-observant eyes. A large garbage truck had KEERASHHHed into the fire hydrant (his favorite fire hydrant, too, but never mind) in front of the house. Garbage was tumbling out of the truck while water sprayed through it, turning it into a big, gooey, soupy, smelly mess.
"It's every dog's dream!" Howie said, gasping.
"It's going to have to remain just that," Harold, the older and more sensible dog, said with a sigh. "A dream."
"But why?" Howie, the younger and more impulsive (not to mention impetuous and spontaneous) puppy, demanded to know, even though he already did. Know.
"The mayor of Center City hates smelly dogs," Harold reminded him.
"That's not fair!" cried the outspoken and righteous Howie. "We've got to do something about it!"
"There's nothing to be done," Harold said.
"Center City is full of corruption and crime," said Chester. "It will take somebody a lot more powerful than a mere mortal to do anything about it, Howie."
Howie scowled. He hated feeling powerless. Even worse, he hated feeling mere.
Whatever that was.
"Maybe I can do something about it!" cried the brave, courageous, and defiant pup. "Maybe I'll just go out there and roll around in that muck. I'd like to see somebody try and stop me!"
"No!" cried Harold. "You'll end up in the slammer, boy! You don't want to break your mother's heart!"
Howie sniffed back a tear. "My mother raised me to follow my conscience," Howie told the older dog. "She would be proud of me!"
Harold sniffed back a tear himself. "You're right," he said. "It takes a young fellow like yourself to remind old fellows like Chester and me that there's more to bravery than being brave. Sometimes there's being stupid."
"Right on!" Howie asserted.
SKREEEE -- he ran as fast as his little legs would carry him until KAPLOOMPH -- he shoved through the pet door and -- PLIPPITY PLOPPITY PLIPPITY PLOPPITY -- he charged around the yard until he reached the front curb and -- SHHPLOOFFF -- he threw himself into the soggy mess of garbage and waited for the coppers to arrive.
It didn't take long. ZEEHEE ZEE HEE ZEEHEE came the sound of the sirens. Howie Monroe braced himself. He was about to be arrested! He was going to spend the rest of his days in the Big House eating gruel and fearing handbags!
And that's just what would have happened if it hadn't been for the sudden storm that sent a bolt of lightning -- ZZZZZAPPP -- right to the hydrant next to Howie's back left leg. That bolt of lightning changed everything -- not just for the decent, mild-mannered, and law-abiding Howie Monroe...not just for all the Monroes...not just for Center City...but for the ENTIRE UNIVERSE!
Text copyright © 2003 by James Howe Illustrations copyright © 2003 by Brett Helquist
Posted March 1, 2013
I wunder if james howe is actually gunna be writin howie Monroe 'nd ta 'nchnted chewbone ev'r how 'bout u 'cuz im gunna wanna no soon 's it comes out 'ey im talkin' like Hamlet oh and im only 'lev'n but best kidz book 'views 're cumin' frum kidz right