Factory Tails — Short Story Two
by Barbara Anne Helberg
*** Cerberus and Sirius
“Cerberus and Sirius will always battle, son. See the blacker sky, there?”
Morris’s young male pup, heavy and tall for his sixteen months, gazed upward at the early evening dark clouds gathering and floating from the Far North southward to the U.S. Dakotas. “Yes, Dad, I see,” said the German Shepherd mix pup.
“Do you know what it means, Dane?”
“It’s Cerberus, isn’t it? He’s trying to find Sirius in the Heavens, right?”
“You bet! He’s upset, huh?”
“Yup! Slinging black!”
“Where’s Sirius now?”
“Hiding good, if he’s smart!”
The pup giggled and squirmed where he sat fully haunched beside his larger German Shepherd mix father, a simple, farming Corndog who relaxed on his haunches, as well. “Where is Sirius, really, Dad? He’s not a-scared of Cerberus, is he?”
“He comes and goes, boy. Some say he is plenty unhappy with dogdom for the way we’ve abused the environment.”
“But why would he hide away, Dad?”
“Well, if he is hiding, I think he’s waiting for the right time to take on Cerberus.”
“But can either of them win? They’re both so fearsome.”
“I don’t know that. I do know Good Spirits will always fight the Dark Forces of Evil.”
Morris looked hopefully at his young son and asked, “Would you push an old dog hanging off this high bridge, or help him climb back up?”
“I’d help, of course!” Dane declared.
“No questions asked?”
Morris nudged Dane and said proudly, “That’s Good. You see, we aren’t born bad, son. We’re born with Good Spirits. We learn of the Dark Forces of Evil. Some of us succumb to it. Most of us fight the Dark Forces of Evil in our lifetime. Not everydog wins the fight. Now, Sirius, he waits for the right time. And he guides us to the right decisions.”
“And Cerberus is the Devil! Evil!” Dane jumped up and spun in circles and yipped toward the blackest portion of the sky. “What about the ‘n-vi-rwa-ment part? What’s that about?”
“Word has it that Cerberus put pollution notions in dogs’ minds in retaliation for the destruction of his first born by the Japanese War Dogs. He made all dogdom destroy its living quarters to punish in return. And we do destroy our environment daily. We pollute it without a second thought with our own bodies. Over and over again, waste products are mixed into our streams and growing fields. We literally poison ourselves.”
“And diseases. Is that why we have a lot of new diseases like The Icky Bug? Because Cerberus put a curse on dogdom?”
“So it is said by The Dog Scribes.”
“Can’t Sirius help?” Dane asked. He looked up at his taller father with great question marks in his eyes.
Morris was humbled by the look, and burdened by it, too. It made him think dogdom should be doing much better by its new generation. Handing down a polluted environment to the next generation, appropriately tagged The Question Mark Generation, was a troubling circumstance. What really were the answers?
To Morris, it usually came down to a matter of education on Earth. All dogs were privileged stewards of the land. Their grade card wasn’t terrific. He looked into his son’s eager, but questioning eyes. There, the soul was plain. But the answer the soul sought was difficult. Hopeful, yes, but difficult, at best.
“It’s a matter of notions, son. Just as Cerberus works with bad, cruel notions, Sirius projects good notions. But all he can do is give notions. It is dogdom that chooses Sirius’s notions to act upon.”
“Or chooses Cerberus?”
“Exactly. Dogdom has the free will to make choices.”
Dane gazed back at the sky. Angry, quick black clouds jerked across the skyscape as Morris watched with him. Toward the south, below the Dakotas, lighter clouds followed, slowly, steadily. Behind them patches of yellow, blue, white, and red sky queued for a similar journey.
“Choosing is hard, isn’t it, Dad?” Dane said quietly beside Morris.
“Oh, yes.” Morris smiled down at his boy and gently reached a paw across the youngster’s shoulders. “You have a good start in the right direction, Dane.”
His son’s answering smile was a day’s reward.
What greater endeavor than to guide? Morris thought.
Story, Photo, and Artwork from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg