by Art Arduous




Muk had driven up the back drive way and parked the El Camino there. The estate had a large back service area. In the front, at Bobby's place, TMZ had a small, brightly lit set-up on the terrace balcony. From a distance, someone who looked like Harvey Levin was interviewing Bobby. Muk had thought it best to stay out of it.

Ali BeeDee had just been released from jail. There had been some drama surrounding a warrant for an outstanding parking ticket at the Grove. In a late afternoon motion, she was released on a very high bail and charged with felony grand theft. Someone with pockets posted the $400 grand bond. The media had something to talk and tweet about. All of the other harsh realities exploding in the world today were shoved out of the way in favor of Miss BeeDee. She was the All American, clear-cut and much preferred diversion from the true troubles at hand. Emperor Muk


Pedro and Blu were taking Muk's instructions to pivot each light that lit the statue. The sky was dark but still edging purple. The dogs were running busy. Muk was taking a long stroll to view all angles. He stayed in the shadows to attract no attention from above. He tied the arms of his Lucky Fortuna sweater around his neck.

Muk kept it down, "Blu, try a smidge toward 11 o'clock."

She twice knocked the light box with her balled fist. The wide-angle beam of light bounced twice against the fluid artwork.

"Perfect. Lock that down."

Muk walked in a wide arc. Pedro stood with his hands in his pockets. Blu took a wrench and tightened the nut. She stood and brushed the dirt off her knees. Muk was happy. He imagined the smoothed brown dirt covered in green grass. Something taller should grow around the edges.


The completed sculpture looked like a million bucks. It was interesting. It caught your eye and held it. Or so he thought. Muk had done his best job and felt secure in the many decisions that he had made. In his mind, he questioned and answered all of them again. All good. He also knew that he'd come back some day and want to change some things. And maybe cringe about others that he could not.

"We're done."

Pedro clapped once. "Sick!"


            Slowly they backed away, toward the north side of Hugo's place, keeping an eye on their latest creation, this well-lit colossus. The jasmine was exploding and the perfume was heavy. The sensation was so over the top that it demanded attention.

            Blu slid into the middle of the bench seat of the El Camino. Muk was driving. Pedro took shotgun and rolled down the window.

            "Where're the dogs?" Muk remembered that he had not seen Nick and Nora in awhile.

            "Probably on TV," laughed Blu.

            Muk closed his door and rolled down the window. He put his fingers together and touched his lips.  He whistled low and short, loud enough that TMZ would probably have to edit it out of the newscast. Pedro opened his door. And they waited. Crickets sang. Jasmine bloomed. In the back driveway, there was no panoramic city view.


Thinking of the dogs he's had for eleven years, Muk smiled and laughed, "Those lil buggers..." He poked-on the stereo, pushed the advance button seven times and turned up the volume. A lone guitar started twanging. Leslie of Leslie Stevens and the Badgers began to sing "Shoulder to Cry On." The crickets cadenced the rockabilly beat.


There was a fast rustle of leaves and Nora galloped in and landed on Blu's lap. She was radiating heat, breathing wet and fast, quite happy. A second later, Nick jumped onto Pedro. He too was breathing fast. Pedro had to laugh. Life can be so absurd and funny. He closed the door. Muk was leaning out the window, preferring the cool evening air to the canine sauna suddenly inside the cab.


Pedro glanced over toward Nora. His face fell and he actually gasped. Alarmed, Blu followed his reaction. She could only see the back of Nora's head. She leaned over to look around and came eyeball to eyeball with a big, diamond-bordered emerald earring attached to the dogs earlobe. Her hands shot up to the dog's collar. A chain of large emeralds, framed with diamonds, surrounded the dog's neck. The dog was smiling.

Muk sensed the change of vibe and looked over. His eyes popped. The sight of Nora, proudly, wearing millions of dollars worth of stone, stopped him, froze him. Twenty million thoughts short-circuited his brain. "Shit! Wow! Wow!"


He poked off the stereo and fired the ignition. The car roared alive. "We gotta get outta here!" Muk punched the accelerator. The rear wheels kicked up gravel. Muk steered with his knees, following the bend in the road, down to the street. He wriggled out of his lightweight duster, quietly whooping. In the passenger seat, Blu and Pedro were wide-eyed and silent. Muk threw his jacket over Nora, covering her entirely.


Muk took the wheel in both hands and slowed to the gate. It was an eternity for the electronic eye to tell the gate to open. As it slowly swept inward, a pap on a motorcycle about a block away lazily turned to see the El Camino rock and gun onto the street. Muk sensed the guy's rhythm and put his hand over his face as they passed. The photographer's camera flashed once.


Muk blew onto Loma Vista laughing at the getaway. He slowed down and corrected the wheel. This was no time to attract attention. Muk was on fire. Someone had put those jewels on the dog! It seemed unlikely that Nora could have done that herself, but then again, he wouldn't be surprised either.


Pedro was blowing a gasket with a million questions that could not find a way to his mouth. Blu was stunned. The tall jacket that rose from her lap was moving and nodding.


After Muk turned east on Sunset, he reached over and pulled his jacket off Nora. The dog was sitting tall and smiling. The neon streetlights twinkled off the emeralds and diamonds.

Muk yelled, "Well! Who woulda thought-a that!?" He bongo-ed the dashboard and punched on the music.



Look for the next exciting chapter of Emperor Muk!





Catch Muk on or






For the Love of Muk

Back in the Muk Again

Muk Fast Five



All Muk'd Up





All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real
persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.







© Gordy Grundy, All Rights Reserved


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