“As the Lodge Turns” Episode 65: Crime and Pawnishment

On this episode of “As the Lodge Turns”…

Lucy and I watch as Murphy opens his drooping mouth to pronounce our crimes. His eyes bore into us from a grave, wrinkly face, and I can’t help but shiver under the weight of his stare.

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Where did I go wrong? This morning I was an ordinary, law-abiding beagle.

Now I’m trapped in a life of crime…

“Running around playing chase games is all well and good,” Murphy begins in his distinctively loud bark, “but you almost crashed into dogs that were minding their own business.”

I wince slightly as Murphy finishes speaking, trying to recall the course Lucy and I took during our prolonged chase. We narrowly avoided crashing into Max, I know, but were there others? Was I so absorbed in our game that I was blind to the chaos and fear we left in our wake?

I really am a bad beagle!

“Are you talking about Max?” Lucy asks, relief spreading over her features. “He’s tough, a little close call like that wouldn’t have bothered him.”

Murphy scrambles to his feet with an excitement that nearly knocks us over.

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“This yard should be safe for everyone! It doesn’t matter if Max is tough, you need to be more considerate of your fellow lodgers,” he says, barking at us with conviction.

Lucy and I exchange guilty looks, our tails tucked between our legs; being lectured is so much worse when you know your lecturer is right. The folds of Murphy’s face are gathered in earnest concern, and though I know he only wants to ensure a safe playtime for everyone, I feel like I’ve personally let him down…

“We’re sorry,” I say, lowering my head. “We didn’t mean to cause trouble. I understand if you want to lock us up and throw away the key, but please spare Lucy. She was just following me, so I should be the one who’s punished.”

Lucy’s face lights up with a strange mix of wonder and anger. I knew she wouldn’t like this idea, but I refuse to let her take the fall!

“Don’t listen to him, Murphy,” she says with a firm bark, “he’s trying to cover for me, even though this whole thing is my fault.”

What are you doing, Lucy?

Wasting no more than a second, I plant my paws right in front of Murphy, staring into his long face with a bravery drawn from desperation.

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“Come on, we both know who was in front. Beagles, like Basset Hounds, have a strong sense of justice. Do the right thing. Arrest me if you must, Murphy!” I declare with a passionate bark, daring him to defy me with what I hope is a noble speech.

He considers me with expressive eyes, but before he can answer, I feel Lucy attempting to shove me out of the way.

“Beagles may have a strong sense of justice, but they can also be pretty clueless! Bing didn’t see what I was doing behind him, so he has no idea how many dogs I almost ran into. You know though, don’t you, Murphy?”

I push back against her, forcing my way closer to our wrinkly judge. “I’m not clueless! Well…not about these kinds of things anyway! Show me no mercy, Murphy!”

Lucy struggles to shoulder me out of my hard-won position. “This is exactly what I mean! Don’t listen to him – if I’d been faster we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. But I wanted him to win at least once…so I held back…a little…”

Held back?! Not from what I saw!

“I’m just that fast, Murphy. You were watching too, right? Our race was anyone’s game!” I say in a quivering, agitated bark.

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“Anyone’s game? Only from a clueless beagle’s point of view,” Lucy retorts, her brows raised. “Arrest me, now!”

“No, arrest me!”

Before we realize it, we’ve slipped into identical glares, our mouths pulled into unpleasant scowls. Somehow, our competitive spirit has transferred smoothly from an innocent chase game to an act of romantic self-sacrifice.

It’s so sweet of you to do this for me, Lucy, but please give up already!

Murphy watches our exchange, silent in a brooding daze. Then, with no warning, his booming bark suddenly courses through us, putting an early end to our bout of wills.

“I’ve decided…”

We stare at each other, hoping to hear our own names condemned to imprisonment.

“…to put an end to this very entertaining drama! Ha ha, you two are something else!”

Murphy dissolves into a fit of hearty laughter, flopping to the ground with happy snorts. As he rolls around on the turf, Lucy and I are left stunned.

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“But which of us are you going to arrest? It’s me, right?” I ask, sniffing at his frantically wagging tail.

“No, no, no,” he says finally as his laughing fit subsides. “I don’t have that kind of power! And even if I did, you two were only playing. Hardly a crime for the ages.”

Lucy tilts her head to the side. “Then why…?”

“I thought if I was tough with you it’d leave an impression. You do need to be careful running around,” he says, getting to his feet. “But I’ll always be here to keep everyone safe, so you just keep having your fun and don’t worry too much, you hear?”

Murphy noses at a mysterious treat that has appeared out of nowhere on the ground.

“Where did that come from?” I ask, taking a step towards Lucy.

“…I think he was hiding it in his folds…” she whispers.

He takes the treat into his mouth, gladly crunching on the tasty snack. “Mm…my favorite! Well, be seeing you! Play nice now – oh, and Bing…”

I perk up at the sound of my name. “Yeah?”

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“She could’ve gone faster if she’d wanted to,” he says, giving me a wink before running to chase after another group of rowdy dogs.

Lucy pushes her nose into my side. “He’s sharp, huh?”

I let out a relieved sigh. “I should have figured…”

“Still…our race was interrupted before we could find out for sure. You up for another round?” she asks, turning around in an excited circle.

“I’ve already started!” I shout with a laugh before bolting off.

Today, Murphy helped me learn that Lucy and I will do anything for each other, no matter how scary. And that’s way better than winning a silly race!

…to be continued…