by Fred Patten
“Beware, foul monsters! Here comes Battering Ram!” shrieked Glen at the top of his young lungs. Thelma’s piercing, “Mommy! Glen is calling us foul monsters!”, was hardly softer.
Dennis Dog placidly went on reading the morning newspaper, selfishly pleased that the children had picked their mother rather than him to resolve their squabble. Gladys came in from the kitchen, frowning. “Glen! What did you promise when you asked me to buy you that Zortcho-blast?”
“Aw, Mom!” Glen protested indignantly, waving the gaudy plastic space gun vigorously. “I didn’t mean to call them foul monsters! Battering Ram is fighting the slimy glorps of Neptune, and they’re playing house right where Neptune is!”
Gladys sighed. “Okay, let’s put it down to rainy Saturday blues. Thelma, are you sure that Glen meant that you and Lisa were foul monsters?” Dennis got up and went into the bathroom to wash his hands for lunch as Thelma mumbled a, “Well, maybe not,” behind him. He came out just as his wife resolved the affair. “All right, it’s time for lunch, and hopefully the rain is letting up. Glen—” But the boy forestalled her, eagerly shouting, “Hey, if it’s dry after lunch, can I go and show Chuck my Zortcho-blast?”
There was the usual family small talk during lunch. Glen was looking forward to getting together with the neighbor’s boy, Chuck Cat, to play at defending the Earth from the monsters of Neptune. “Chuck was Captain Cougar last time so I get to be Battering Ram this time so our secret fortress will be on the top of the big hill in Shady Park. When Captain Cougar is the leader, Chuck always makes the treehouse in his back yard our secret fortress.” Dennis understood both the situation and Glen’s feeling. It was natural for cats to prefer to climb trees while goats liked to be King of the Mountain. When he was a boy, he and his brothers did not have any one place that they played. They roved through their neighborhood as a noisy pack. Dennis smiled. As a dog, it had taken some getting used to raising a family of goat children. But children were basically children, and he loved Glen and his two sisters as much as if they had been his own species.
The rain did stop during lunch, and Glen thundered outdoors with his toy space gun. As Gladys put the lunch dishes in the sink, she asked, “Are you going out this afternoon? If you’re not using the car, I’ll go to the mall.”
“Let’s go together,” Dennis suggested. “With both of us doing the shopping, we’re more likely to get finished before it starts raining again.”
At the department store, Dennis picked out a winter sweater while Gladys got the children some clothing. “Hey, Honey,” he called, pointing at a bright ski jacket on display. “Have you got a present for Sam yet? What do you think of that?” Dennis knew that his wife’s lover was a big skiing enthusiast.
“Yes! It’s perfect!” Gladys beamed as she inspected one of the jackets. “Sam will love it! Oh, Dennis, thank you for thinking of him!”
“Hey, what makes you happy makes me happy,” he grinned, blowing a kiss at her. Dennis Dog and Gladys Goat had been happily married for almost a decade. They had both wanted a family, but since they were biologically incompatible, Dennis had no objection to Gladys’ continuing her relationship with her old college lover, Sam Ram. He was hardly in a position to, since his parents’ desire to see grandchildren had led him to find a sexual partner of his own.
Sam would drop by their home on Christmas afternoon to see Gladys and his kids, just as Dennis would go to visit Paloma and his pups at her home across town. Dennis almost felt sorry for his friends who married within their own species and never knew the joys of an extended family life.