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Lost Dog Wicked uncleWicked Uncle’s Lost Dog -

Story by Bertie.
Read by Richard.
Proofread & Audio edited by Jana Elizabeth.

When Jemima was old enough to walk to the shops on her own, Dad bought her a phone.

It was her most prized possession. She could text her friends and call her mum for a chat when she was no further away than the end of the street.

“Not her again,” grumbled Jeremy when he heard their mum’s phone ring. “What is it this time?”

Jeremy did not have a phone yet, but he had resolved to ask Uncle Jeff for one for his birthday. It was bound to be a better phone than his sister’s because Uncle Jeff was much richer than dad. Dad held down a steady job, while his brother Jeff had been in the army. After that he worked in shipping for a few years, invested in property, and now he did something from home called ‘Day Trading’. No one else in the family was quite sure what that meant, but it paid well because he was never short of cars, gadgets, holiday homes, and girlfriends. There was just one sign that he was growing out of his bachelor lifestyle. He had been going out with Jessica now for a year, and that was a record.

Before Jessica met Jeff, her parents used to look after her dog when she was at work. Nowadays Jeff found that he was frequently visiting the park with Smoochies.

One Sunday morning, when Jessica was on duty at the hospital, Uncle Jeff called to collect the kids and take them for a walk with Smoochies. The kids absolutely adored Smoochies. They did not mind one bit being pawed or licked or jumped up on - and if Smoochies minded being grabbed hold of and hugged, she did not show it. There were plenty of doggy games to play like fetch the ball, or find the smelly socks, or tug of war on an old rope.

“Smoochies is going to sit with me,” said Jeremy.

“No, she wants to be on my lap,” insisted Jemima.

“Now kids, let her sit in between you.”

So went the inevitable argument when they got into the back of Jeff’s car. They drove off, and it wasn’t long before Jemima was texting her friend Cindy. Cindy called back and they started chatting:

“We’re just on the way to London with our Uncle Jeff. He’s so cool, you should meet him one day and we’re taking Smoochies, that’s his girlfriend’s dog, for a walk in Hyde Park and then we're going to have tea somewhere.”

“When I have a phone, I won’t chatter on it all day running up bills,” said Jeremy.

Cindy was saying: “Hyde Park? We live near there, come round so we can see Smoochies.”

Jemima had met Cindy on holiday in Cornwall. They'd not actually seen each other since, but had kept in touch by email, texts, and phone calls. Cindy’s family lived in Bayswater, just north of the Park. Jeff had recently bought a flat on the other side, in South Kensington.

“Uncle Jeff, can we go and have tea at my friend Cindy’s house? She’s inviting us,” asked Jemima.

“Let’s see how things go,” said Jeff, who realised that an invitation from an eleven year old was not quite the same thing as one from her parents.

Jeff parked near his flat and they walked to the park. It was a glorious Sunday afternoon and loads of people were out for a stroll. Smoochies behaved badly. She chased squirrels, nearly knocked over a roller-blading teenager, and stole a sandwich off some picnickers. The kids thought all these antics were hilarious. Uncle Jeff was apologising left, right and centre, and calling Smoochies frantically trying to get her under control. They found a space to play fetch the ball, and Smoochies seemed finally to be taking more notice of Jeff. He bribed her heavily with treats every time she brought the ball back and sat with her eyes gazing up at him and tail beating the ground. He told the kids not to chase her, because that made her run away and not come back when she was called.

But then disaster struck! Smoochies spotted a pair of horses. They were being ridden by two young people wearing yellow jackets. Now, there is one colour that Smoochies absolutely can’t stand, and that’s the colour yellow. As for horses, she’s fine when nobody is riding them, but when she sees a person on a horse she thinks it's some kind of strange monster. She stood pointing her nose at the horses. Jeff knew he had about five seconds to catch her attention:

“Smoochies, come here! Smoochies,” he called.

She glanced at him, and he thought for a moment that the lip-smacking prospect of a treat was about to win over the dogged instinct to chase a strange beast. But then Jeremy made a dash to grab her collar. You can’t catch Smoochie by surprise, her reactions are far too quick for that. She was off, charging towards the horse, with Jeff, Jeremy and Jemima sprinting after her.

Of course Smoochies got there first, and was jumping and yapping around the horses’ legs.

The two young girls who were riding them were admirably calm as the horses swished their tails and danced around. Of course one kick from a hoof could have done away with Smoochies for good. And as for the idea of a startled horse throwing off one of the girls - that was unthinkable!

Jeff was soon on the scene. He made a dive to catch Smoochies by throwing himself into the sand like a hapless England goal keeper playing against Iceland. Of course Smoochies got away, first darting towards Jeremy and then swerving at the last moment.

No matter how embarrassing or difficult a situation is, there is always some idiot that can make it worse. One duly arrived at the scene. A man jumped in front of Smoochies waving his arms around and shouting a kind of war cry, like: “WAAAAAAAAAH!”

“You’re not helping!” called out Jeff.

The man swung a heavy boot at Smoochies trying to kick her.

“Don’t you dare kick Smoochies!” called out Jemima.

“Yes, Uncle Jeff was in the army and he’ll kick you into next week!” said Jeremy, which was exactly the sort of inflammatory language that Jeff was trying to avoid.

“You get that dog under control!” replied the idiot. Jeff was furious, but he had no time to stop because Smoochies was off again. This time running up the hill, propelled faster than ever by the fright she had just taken. Now a gang of boys was chasing her, and she kept going in a straight line. She ran into the long grass and disappeared from view. When she reappeared she was halfway towards Bayswater Road, with Jeff, Jeremy and Jemima a long way behind. They were powerless to stop her and it was with total dismay that they saw her head straight towards four lanes of traffic. By some miracle the lights were red for the traffic on the crossing as she dashed across. But she was still spooked as she reached the other side and ran down a side street. Jeff followed her into the square and called out to two armed policeman standing guard outside a Very Important Person’s House:

“Please, stop that puppy!”

Smoochies wasn’t really a puppy but he thought it sounded more sympathetic to call her that. But the police officers did not help. Indeed, they had more important things to do, like stopping Jeff and telling him he should be in control of his dog.

“Yes, I know,” puffed Jeff, losing valuable time. When the police officers had finished ticking him off, Smoochies was round the corner now and completely lost from view.

Two women sitting outside a coffee shop said that they had seen her go ‘that way’ and Jeff trotted on. But Smoochies was nowhere to be seen. Jeff stopped to call Jemima’s phone to find out where the kids were. It rang and rang but she didn't answer.

“That’s strange,” thought Jeff. “Why isn't she answering?”

Jeff wandered around the streets calling: “Smoochies, Smoochies!”
A parking attendant told him he had seen a dog running towards Sussex Gardens, another busy street. He headed up there and was relieved to find no sign of a squashed dog, but he was far from sure that she was safe because this was central London. There was no shortage of car infested roads for a dog to get run over on. Eventually he found an inner city canal.
He sat down on a bench next to the water and took out his phone again. Before he could dial Jemima’s number, it began to ring.

“Hello, have you lost a dog?” said a voice.

“Yes, have you found her..Is she ok?” asked Jeff.

“Just a bit shaken,” said the voice. The person on the other end of the phone explained that she worked for a vet, that Smoochies had been found running among the cars on an incredibly busy road under the flyover, and that a kind person had brought her in. Her name tag had fallen off, but she'd identified her by her microchip.

“Thank goodness!” exclaimed Jeff, relieved that they had called him and not Jessica, as both their numbers were on the register of dog owners.

It would be for the best if his girlfriend did not learn about about Smoochies’ near death experience, he thought.

The vet was some way off. On his way to collect Smoochies, Jeff crossed the road where she had been found. It seemed incredible that she had survived that fierce traffic. Jeff eventually reached the vet, somewhere near Little Venice, and a very shaken Smoochies was placed into his arms. He decided to call a taxi to take them home. He took out his phone and thought:

“Wonder where the kids got to?”

Before calling a taxi, he dialled Jemima’s phone again. It rang, and rang, and rang, and eventually the answer service kicked in:

“Hello This is Jemima. Leave me a message unless you're Dad. In which case, Dad, stop worrying. Peep!”

“Er, Uncle Jeff here. Smoochies is safe. Where are you two? Give us call. Thanks love.”

While Jeff sat in the back of the taxi with Smoochies on his lap, he tried to call Jemima a couple more times. There was still no reply.

“Bother!” he thought. “Found the dog and lost the kids!”

He might have guessed that Jemima had forgotten to charge her phone the night before, and had been chatting on it so much in the car with her friend Cindy, that the battery had run down.

He thought for a moment or two and decided he had better tell the taxi driver to pull over near the park. He got out and and walked to the place where he had last seen Jeremy and Jemima.

He expected to find them sitting under a tree waiting for him to return. There were some families sitting under the trees, but the kids were nowhere to be seen!

He looked at his phone and saw that he had already called Jemima six times.

“Seventh time lucky,” he thought. But it wasn’t. There was still no reply.
“Perhaps they followed me,” he thought, and began to retrace his steps. He led Smoochies, now on the lead, into the square and spoke to the two police officers outside the VIP’s house.

“Don’t suppose you’ve seen a couple of kids have you officers?” he asked.

“Well, well well, this just isn’t your day, is it Sir? First the you lose the dog, and now the kids!” said one of the policemen.

Jeff sensed trouble: “Oh, I expect they're with their mum. Thank you officer,” he replied and hurried off.

He wandered around the streets, somewhat forlornly wondering: “At what point do I call their mother and admit that I’ve lost them?”

He popped into a cafe, ordered a latte, and sat staring at the happy face that the barista had drawn in the froth. Seeing that his phone was on low charge he resolved to make the call while he was still able. He dialed their mother’s number.

“Hello,” answered Liz, his sister-in-law.

“Hi Liz, Jeff here.”

“I know,” she said. “I was wondering when you would call. Have you lost something?”

“Well Smoochies,” he admitted.

“Yes and..?”

“Well the kids too.”

“Is that all?” she asked.

“Err yes, that’s.. that's.. that's all I can think of for now. Oh, I found the dog by the way.”

“Glad to hear it. Well you will be pleased to know that the children are safe and sound, no thanks to you. They are at their friends house in Bayswater. Jemima met Cindy in the park and explained they'd been abandoned by their uncle who was off chasing a lost dog.”

“What a relief! That is good news,” said Jeff.

“Well isn't it, just..!” replied Liz, with a sardonic touch that made Jeff whince.

She gave Jeff the address and he and Smoochies made haste and caught a cab to Cindy’s house.

The kids were overjoyed to see Smoochie safe and sound and everyone agreed it was a miracle that she had been found alive. Jeff thought to himself: “And it’s a miracle I’m alive because if Smoochies or the kids had gone missing for any longer, my life wouldn’t be worth a straw!”

And that was the story of ‘Wicked Uncle’s Lost Dog’.

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