I had just decided the day couldn’t go on without another pot of Blackheart Vienna Roast when our dog Bogart walked in and announced, “Found the problem, finally, the baastads.”
On any other occasion having one of my corgis address me would cause a panic at the least, but when the AC, water heater and dryer kick it on the same morning you’re a bit numb and don’t rule anything out. I went with it.
“What problem?” I asked with a slight quiver, thinking with weak amusement that I could detect a bit of Richard Burton in his voice.
“Your conveniences. The water and whatnot failing. Think I can stop any more from goin’ south. Need to get out back.” He pause for a moment to scratch his neck as our other dog ambled into the kitchen and said, “Yes — quite clear what the issue is.”
I had half expected this, so I just put my mug down and turned to Koda. “What is it?”
“Tylwyth teg,” she answered. “Sorry — faerie to you. Mucking things up, it is.”
Little people, magical ones. Not really a surprise given the way it was going. It actually made more sense than brand new appliances failing at once for mechanical reasons.
“Can you do something about it?” I asked. Couldn’t hurt to try.
“Yes, but I’ll need a few things from the yard and cupboard,” she replied. It struck me that she affected an English accent, but then again Kristy and I always said she belonged in Buckingham, what with her demanding nature. I nodded.
“All right. One thing though — why hadn’t you said anything before?”
Bogart looked up. “Wasn’t sure it was them. Had a hunch but nothin’ else.”
“No, I mean — never mind. What do we need?”
At mid-morning we lay on the patio looking out at the backyard baking in the May sun. I had spent a good fifteen minutes pulling things from the pantry and following Koda as she searched the wooded area beyond our back border for various roots and plants. Bogart had stood watch on the hill and now lay to my right, eyes darting here and there.
“Don’t corgis get along with faeries?” I queried. He shifted his tricolored bulk a bit and sniffed forcefully with disdain.
“Never. Our ancestors were practically enslaved by them. Threw off the yoke in the last century but they pester us and our associates when they can. Minor stuff, but uncalled for.”
It crossed my mind that Ana and Jeff, who we met during CorgiCon, had been plagued with a spate of homeowner issues last fall. The pool pump, garage door and a transmission, all in a week…
Koda sniffed the bowl filled with our procurements. “Wish there was some elder’s ribbon around. Very potent, but it’s too warm for it to thrive here.”
“Will this kill it?” I queried, looking at the paste and thinking back to my last D&D campaign a decade ago. She gave a shake of her head.
“No, but a thorough dousing will make it leave for good. It will go and find anoth—”
Bogart suddenly cocked his head in typical curious-canine fashion. “Quiet — he’s about.”
I peered out, scanning about for motion. Something the size of a dragonfly zipped by low to the ground, fast and with no noise. It pulled up before reaching the fence and disappeared into the top branches of the oak tree.
“That’s it? How can you tell?”
“Look above that broken bough near the left,” advised Bogart. “The lighter form.”
My eyes search through streamers of Spanish moss until falling on a thin figure no more than three inches long. Delicate arms and legs clung to a branch before pushing off and allowing filmy wings to burst with speed.
“Get ready,” Koda yelped as she left the porch in a fawn-colored flash. I was to stay low until both dogs flanked the faerie. They claimed he would harass them, allowing me to sneak up and smear the repellant. As soon as Bogart joined the fray I dipped my hands into the mixture and began to creep into the yard.
The moment came: the wispy being was twirling above the dogs in a corkscrew motion while they circled, and a low growl from both was my sign. I darted as quick as I could, hoping the neighbors were all occupied indoors, and raised my hand toward the fluttering shape.
And it may have worked had I not tripped over Bogart.
The faerie immediately shot up as I hit the ground, my striking hand gouging into the soil. The bowl flew from my other grip and struck the tree trunk, spraying its contents all over the flowerbed.
“Bloody hell!” Koda roared, hopping away from my legs. Bogart had recovered and moved out to the center of the yard, eyeing the creature as it danced just out of reach, and I could have sworn I heard thin, buzzlike laughter threading through the slight breeze.
I was thinking of endless repair bills when Bogart muttered, “Blast it,” ran to the fence and tore back weaving right and left. The faerie stayed stationary but high, having no doubt been in this spot before. Yet at the last minute Bogart lunged nearly vertical, forty-plus pounds of low-slung fury rising up farther than I — or our minute tormentor — could imagine.
Jaws snapped, and our problem was gone.
Koda stared mutely as he landed, gave a few hearty chomps and issued forth one of his usual belches. A filmy wingtip fluttered down to be lost among the grass.
“Well,” Koda mused, “I guess that’s just as good!”
“Might over magic,” Bogart retorted. He licked his snout. “What’s for lunch? That fellow wasn’t much of a meal. Bit stringy, actually.”
“I’ll check the fridge,” I said, pulling out the phone to cancel the warranty company’s appointment.
Philip Wentz writes in Florida, USA.