There was a full moon that night. No one’s saying moon magic had anything to do with anything. Just setting the scene.
When Mrs Mutt saw her little girl dressed in a dog costume she almost keeled over. Florence looked exactly like someone’s pet dog.
And that dog of hers, well he looked like a dog dressed as a man dressed as a dog.
Which is a real scalp-scratcher.
Mr Mutt agreed to lend his frowsiest overcoat. Shrugging it on, Fluffikins fully extended into a lanky, hipster type. To complete the picture, the strange creature had procured a pair of spectacles from somewhere.
The word ‘uncanny’ was uttered a number of times that evening. Yes, ‘uncanny’ was definitely the word for it.
Fluffy locked himself inside the downstairs bathroom for over an hour. Finally the transformation was complete.
“What’s that pet of hers gone and done to himself?” said Mr Mutt. “Something’s definitely different. I can’t put my finger on it.”
“He’s only gone and shaved both cheeks!”
With his cheeks shaved, you might expect Fluffikins to look something like a schnauzer, but no. He had the face of a gentleman.
“How is it you got a beard?” Florence asked. “I thought you said you was only six years old, same as me.”
“In dog years I’m plenty old enough to grow a full and luxurious crumb catcher.”
In fact, Fluffikins was born fully bearded. It was just a matter of shaving the rest of his face fluff to reveal it.
“Did you leave some tufts on your belly and whatnot?” Florence whispered. “If not, let me know. We’ll change your name to ‘Baldikins’.”
“Don’t mess with the name,” said Fluffikins. “And for the record, this onesie is plenty fluffy enough.”
With this man-person as her chaperone, Florence didn’t need her parents for trick-o-treating.
“You can’t go out by yourself, Florence. You’re only six.”
“But I’m not by myself. I have this gentleman as my guard man.” Florence pointed to Fluffikins with her tail.
Also, Florence was not ‘ONLY six’. She, too, was middle-aged in dog years — about the same age as her own parents, in fact. Her votes counted equally.
“I can see you worked hard on your costume,” said Mr Mutt, who had read in a parenting book that he should praise his daughter, to counterbalance some of the tellings-off.
Florence and Fluffikins had whipped up the most fantastic costumes. Perhaps if the uncanny pair could be trusted with the sewing machine they could be trusted on a simple trick-or-treat mission up and down the street.
“Everything will be fine. Everything will be fine.” Mr Mutt kept saying that. “Neighbours are patrolling the streets,” he reasoned. “If they’re stopped by strangers, it’ll probably be some coffee-sipper needing directions to a beatnik bar with stand-up poetry recitals. I mean, look at that dog.”
“I’m fine with it,” said Mrs Mutt, who had only been worried about what the neighbours might think. None of the neighbours would recognise Florence anyway. They’d assume she was an actual dog. Also, with Florence and Fluffikins out from under her feet, Mrs Mutt could enjoy a quiet, trouble-free evening. It had been a hard day of Florence hi-jinks. As a responsible mother she had said ‘no’ fifty-three times.
“For the fifty-fourth time, no, that dog may not borrow my eyebrow pencil!”
“Fare thee well,” said Mr and Mrs Mutt, shooing them out into the chilly evening.
Florence and Fluffikins embarked bravely upon their Halloween mission. They even stopped in at that scary house at the end of the street.
A sweet old lady dressed as a witch answered the front door. She wasn’t duped.
“Ooh, a man-dog dressed as a man dressed as a dog! And a little dog-girl dressed as a puppy. How wonderful! I wasn’t expecting canine folk. Let me fetch some Meaty Morsels. Or perhaps you’d prefer pumpkin?”