Zero and a Half Stars.
Fluffikins did not want to take off his fluffy onesie. For starters, he had spent a long time growing that skin-hair. On Halloween morning he shaved himself with a good razor he found in the bathroom. Soon, a mound of fluff accumulated on the floor.
Florence had done the spinning and weaving. She made a terrible job at first, but after a few frustrated outbursts Fluffikins reminded Florence that it was Florence who insisted he dress as a man dressed as a dog. He would have been happy going as an ordinary man.
When Florence got home from school they weaved the fluff into the fabric until the onesie was completely hairy all over. Then Fluffikins sewed a zipper into the front. That’s always a fiddly business.
And now Fluffikins would lose all that hard work, not to mention the hair-shirt off his back (+ front, limbs and cheeks).
“Just hand-paw over the onesie,” ordered Florence. “You’ll grow another hair coat.”
Fluffikins went into the dressing room, slammed the curtain behind him (which is not one bit satisfying) and grumbled as he disrobed. He hugged the onesie goodbye and pushed it under the curtain.
Without Fluffy inside it, Fluffy’s onesie drooped and sagged.
The lizard snatched the precious garment and whipped out a hairbrush. He passed the brush to Florence. “Ready, set, groom!”
Florence took the hairbrush. She didn’t mind hairbrushes when applied to someone else. She set about styling the onesie.
The lizard offered feedback.
Dogness knows why the lizard owned a hair brush. The lizard man himself had always been as bald as an egg.
Hanging flatly, the onesie looked like a well-coiffed but deflated, headless version of Fluffikins. Fluffikins couldn’t bear the sight, and refused to emerge from the dressing room.
Florence kept brushing and styling. The lizard was suddenly delighted. “I will shift this in no time! You dog things have worked hard for your supper.”
A trail of ant-people appeared from under the door of the staff kitchen. Florence and Fluffikins drew in their breath. They expected a gruesome scene. (As you may remember, some species of lizard are partial to ants.)
Fortunately for the ant slaves, this particular lizard-man preferred kale. One trail of kale-carrying ants marched towards Florence.
Another invaded Fluffikins’ privacy in the dressing room.
Florence took a leaf to be polite. “Do you got any dressing, at least?”
“No. No dressing. Except! Except… window dressing!”
“No thanks,” said Florence. “I tried licking the windows at home. Not for me.”
The lizard had ideas for Florence. He strode all around the walls, up and down, retrieving various garments from crevice shelves.
Florence manoeuvred herself into a pair of tight lycra leggings and a hot pink compression top. “I ain’t happy about this shade of pink,” she grumbled.
“Um, can I please have something to cover myself?” asked Fluffy in a small voice.
As requested, something flew over the curtain.
“Wear this hat. I garnished it myself, with leftover salad.”
“But…can’t I model my own onesie?” Fluffikins asked.
“The onesie does not suit you. There. I said it. Besides, I would like to prove to customers that ‘one size fits all’. This plastic zebra will model my bee-yutiful new onesie. Won’t you, darling?”
Then the wicked lizard rummaged around in his junk drawer for a felt-tip marker. He printed $6999 onto a cardboard tag and pinned it to the onesie-wearing plastic zebra.
“Can’t you let us dog-nap now?” Florence pleaded.
(At least, that’s what she probably said. She’s hard to understand when she’s yawning.)
“Your nests are prepared,” said the lizard-man, gesturing towards the front window. He gave a little cycling shoe tap-dance. “You will be my fashion mannequins while you snooze. Sleep in a fetching pose.”
“I don’t do multi-tasking!” called Fluffikins from the dressing room. “Also, I am a private gentleman. I don’t even like stars winking at me. I can’t be dealing with shoppers, judging me through the glass!”
“You refuse to take my fashion advice!” said the lizard-man. “You question my salads! You despise my hat design! But on this I refuse to budge. Emerge from the dressing room, dog!”
Fluffikins thought he heard the sound of a gun cocked, but it was just the schlop of the lizard, licking his own eyeball again.
“I order you both to enjoy a nice, long relaxing sleep. In the front, see? Next to the zebra and flamingo. When your outfits are purchased, only then do I release you back into the wild.”
Next the lizard pointed to the ceiling, to a key, which dangled ominously from a hook nailed into the rocky ceiling, high above them and out of dog-reach. The key to the front door.