"Lay down, would'ja?" Igby pleaded.
We were on the plane. The plane was flying on it's way to Florida. We were in the cargo I guess it's called, and there was luggage all over the place, the lighting extremely low. Igby's crate was secured next to mine and there were other dogs all in this big group in there. Several of them were talking, and one particularly bitchy Beagle kept barking randomly about squirrels.
I was pacing, which is why Igby wanted me to lay down. I guess the shuffling of my paws on my crate was getting on his nerves, but I couldn't help it. I was nervous.
"It's a long enough flight without your constant pacing," Igby muttered.
"I'm worried about Nick and Lauren and this Producer-human," I told him. "What are we gonna do about him? He's trying to ruin the wedding. And your human makes my human too happy to let that happen!"
Igby sighed, "Let the humans take care of it, Nacho."
"But Nick doesn't even know about it! How can he take care of something he doesn't know!"
"Lauren knows, she'll take care of it."
I paced more. "She's not gonna tell Nick, you heard her say so yourself."
Igby sighed even heavier this time. "Nacho, we are dogs. There's nothing we can do to save the wedding from the Producer-human. The humans can take care of themselves." I heard Igby shuffle around in his crate and I knew he rolled over so he could ignore my pacing, fed up with trying to talk me down from doing it.
I just couldn't lie down and pretend that everything was okay and I had nothing to worry about. I liked Lauren okay and Igby was a good friend most of the times, but Nick - I loved Nick and if he was sad then I was sad and things that threatened him were a threat to me and the idea that Producer-human was a threat to his happiness with Lauren made me feel threatened and angry and worried. I wished so much I could just find him, climb up on him, and tell him exactly what was bothering me. I knew Nick wouldn't let anything rip apart our little weird family. He'd make sure everything was okay and we'd all be happy.
But I had no way of telling Nick what I knew.
I was still pacing when the air pressure in the cabin dropped and we were descending into Florida. When the plane landed, despite all my hours of thinking and pacing, I was no closer to having an answer for what to do to help the humans. I was exhausted, but energized by worry, feeling highstrung and tense...
Perhaps that's what made me make one of the stupidest choices of my entire life. Perhaps pacing pugs make irrational choices is the lesson that everyone should take from all this.
Airplane-worker Humans got in the plane and Igby and I were loaded onto a cart that was brought inside this big airport building and after a long ride on the cart we were left in a room to wait. Igby moved around a little, but neither of us said anything, we just waited for Nick and Lauren. It took awhile, but finally Nick was there and I barked excitedly, wishing maybe just this once that he could understand that bark bark bark actually meant the Producer-human is trying to sabotage your wedding and steal your Lauren-human away! He didn't seem to get the translation, though.
"Hey Nacho," he said, bending down and staring into my grated crate door, "Hey buddy, I missed you too... yeah I did." He pressed his face into the door and I licked his nose. He smiled.
I love that smile, I thought. I had to help protect him somehow and if he couldn't hear me when I barked my warning then I'd have to find some other way to tell Nick what was going on.
Nick loaded my crate up next to Igby's again on another rolling cart, all the luggage they'd had before in Los Angeles was piled below us. As Nick pushed the cart through the airport, him and Lauren were discussing the latest happenings on some show on the TV Box that they watch together until Nick interrupted her mid-sentence to answer his phone. When he hung up, he turned to Lauren, "They're gonna be like an hour before they'll be here to pick us up."
Lauren sighed, "An hour? Ugh."
"Yeah." Nick pushed the cart over to a bench and Lauren sat down and dug in her purse until she pulled out a little mirror and started putting stuff on her face. "I need coffee while we wait," Nick said, looking around. "I think I saw a Starbucks down that way last time we were here. You want any?"
Lauren shook her head, "I'm okay. I'll stay here with the stuff."
"Okay. Be right back."
Nick walked away.
"He'll be right back, Nacho, quiet," Lauren said.
I whimpered again. I didn't like it when Nick walked away. Particularly when I was worried about him. It gave me a panicked feeling. Which also may have been a contributing factor to what was about to happen...
"So that was a delightful flight, wasn't it?" came an all-too-familiar voice. I turned to see Producer-human walking towards the cart. Both Igby and I started growling and he made a face in our direction, then stood a couple feet away, staring down at Lauren. "Where's the mighty groom?"
Lauren didn't even look up from her mirror thingy.
"You know what I think?" Producer-human said slowly, staring at his fingers, "I think that you're hoping I'll tell Nick so that he will break up with you and you and I can end up together and continue what we had before."
Lauren's voice was level, but only just holding onto its cool. "I told you, Terry, there wasn't anything to continue. Please leave me alone except on a purely professional basis."
He grinned. "Well why else would you keep me on the job?"
"VH1 hired you, not me," Lauren replied cooly.
The Production-human smirked and he took a step toward Lauren. It was a small step, really, I guess, but it was a step that made her flinch and the moment she flinched .... I dunno, something monsterous took over me. I launched myself at the door of my crate, expecting to only make a loud racket and bounce off the grated door, but instead... instead something very different happened.
Instead, the crate flipped off the cart and I found myself doing a 360* turn in the air before the crate crash-landed on the tile floor of the airport. It burst open along the side seam where the lid met the base and it was like I was hatching from a plastic egg. I found myself standing there - one half of the crate on one side, the other half on the other side, and nothing but cool tile beneath me.
Everyone of us paused.
Lauren's eyes widened.
Producer-human's face paled.
Igby stared out of his own crate.
I stood there, feeling the cool beneath my paws.
"Jesus," Producer-human muttered, "It's loose."
And just like that, I lunged forward: exactly one thing on my mind.
Producer-human thought that one thing was blood. He leaped up and onto a chair, shrieking as I rushed by him. Lauren jumped forward trying to catch hold of me, but I was out of her grasp long before she could catch me. "NACHO!" She shouted as I streaked into the airport crowd, "Someone catch that dog!"
I ran like a bat out of hell. The only thought on my mind was finding Nick. I was fucking terrified. I've never been loose in a public place like the airport before and holy shit it was horrible. There were people and smells and colors and these crazy floor parts that moved beneath me. There were people yelling and rolling suitcases and carts and all kinds of things going on. I felt like there were a million people and none of them were my human. I listened, desperate to hear his voice, and sniffed, but all I could smell was the gallons of snot that had built up in my nose during the flight that I hadn't yet had the chance to sneeze out. I pictured Producer-human running after me, chasing me, trying to stop me because he knew I knew too much. I doubled my speed. Where the hell was my human?
I found myself suddenly dodging cars. Angry cars. They were barking at me loudly in these big, glaring voices that echoed and made me jump. Sometimes, I thought, coffee is a car ride away. Maybe Nick was in one of the cars? And I tried to peek into them as they barked at me, trying to spot Nick. One or two of the cars almost ate me, and my heart leaped into my chest, and I ran even faster to get away from them, and the next thing I knew I was in a huge parking lot with tons and tons of sleeping cars and I wandered through them, whimpering, shaking, trying to find the one I recognized, the one that Nick had tamed, and I couldn't find it, and I felt scared and the tar was hot under my paw pads.
When I reached the far end of the field, I looked back but I couldn't see Lauren or Igby or the cart or the Producer-human or Nick or anything that I recognized at all. I found a small patch of grass next to a big fence and I laid down, my legs shaking so much I could barely keep them moving. I was panting, my heart racing. I laid close to the ground, my ears flat to my head, looking around, listening to the sound of strange, hissing bugs in the heat and the sun was starting to go down and on the other side of the fence cars rushed by. A plane took off and it was so close that it's roar shook my fur and I pressed my nose into my paws. I shivered.
I didn't know what to do. I didn't know where my humans were. I was alone. In this big, huge, scary, awful world I was all alone.
I howled.... even longer, lower and more pathetic than I had the other night in the Other Room.
I wanted Nick.