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Small Pleasures at The Blind Pig
by Jack deMule
Jack deMule -- all rights reserved

After the obligatory morning job search, Jack dozed on a park bench. The classified section of the newspaper shading his eyes. The thud of heavy hoof falls, heading in his direction, brought him from the verge of sleep. Dr. Bob was galloping around the bridal path again. Pulling the papers from covering his muzzle Jack starred into the blue autumn sky. A sky so clear, you could see the moon. If only they had stopped at the moon. He thought back to the days before the martian flu.

The mars probe had been no big deal. It was just another mission in a series of uneventful missions. The whole series was more a public relations job. Sure, a few researchers anxiously awaited the data from the probe. But most of the NASA people looked it as a funding opportunity. It was something to titillate the masses so there would be funding for the real projects. Every other probe had returned negative results in their search for life. Over time, the quarantine procedures were relaxed, and even those were given only perfunctory treatment.

The NASA workers, and associated research personnel, were the first victims of the flu. The international scope of the project, and the flu's long period of latency, insured that it's outbreak would be world wide, and simultaneous. Jack was offered a position at Malabar after he was effected by the flu, but his days in the labs at the cape were over. Animal dander, and shedding hair, made clean-room work impossible for many flu victims. He decided to take the option of an early retirement. Jack pulled the papers back over his head.

A shadow fell across the reclining mule morph, and the image of a smiley face appeared in his mind. "Hi Dr. Bob! Would you mind moving over a little? You're blocking my sun, and I'm trying to work on my tan." The smiley face was followed by a dagger, then the image of running horses appeared to Jack. "Running? No thanks. I've got a gig at the bar tonight. I think I'll just rest this afternoon." The Shire morph shrugged and trotted off. Jack watched as Bob headed for the sand pile in the playground. A good long run, followed by a roll in the sand. How relaxing, Jack thought. Maybe Dr. Bob has it all figured out. Why keep fighting life as a scab. Then he returned to his nap.

That evening at The Blind Pig there was the usual crowd. The lupine rowdy pack occupied their corner, joking and howling. When Jack saw Spots, Mandy, and the heavy crew stopping in for a break at the end of their busy day, he broke into 'Cow Town Boogie.' Stan was not amused. Even Randy and Peggy stopped by. Jack played requests, pop tunes mostly. After playing 'You'd Be So nice To Come Home To' for Peggy and 'Get Out of Town' for Mark Jack slipped into playing 'It's De-Lovley'. Until the lupine boys howled him out of it.

As the evening progressed, the patrons became more absorbed in their reveries, and Jack slipped in a classical piece now and then. An image of a violent storm swirling around a jagged mountain popped into Jack's head. Moussorgsky!? I don't think so Dr. Bob! I'd like to keep my hide intact. Would you settle for a little Charlie Mingus? Say, 'Weird Nightmare?' Forgetting she was in the bar, Bob flashed an image of Peggy. A chill went down Jack's spine. Peggy flashed an image of dogs eating, but returned to her conversation with Randy and Howard. Uh, maybe something to sooth the savage beast..er, I mean breast. Les Preludes, ok? Bob shrugged, and returned to sipping his Dr. Pepper at the bar.

Late in the evening, when the bar had cleared out, Jack played a discordant, linear composition piece. Which was met with groans and growls, as he was pelted with pretzels and onion rings. Jack stopped playing and stomped over to the bar. "Mark, if one of those peanuts goes in my ear. The world will be deprived of the great American novel." Donnie shook his head. Jack returned to the piano, grumbling "all the world's a critic" under his breath.

Free drinks and a piano to play, thought Jack. Life is good, even for a scab, if you take pleasure from the little things. He was still playing when Donnie turned off the lights.

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