Author : Gray Blix

The first one I saw was at the auto repair. My neighbor, Al, recommended Hans, who fixed a problem even the dealer couldn’t find and did it in one afternoon for only fifty bucks.

“I hope the guy’s still in business,” Al said. “I told him he needs to charge more. Offered him a hundred, but he wouldn’t take it.”

“You’re a lousy bargainer,” I said. I’m a kidder, you know. “You’re supposed to offer less and then agree on something in between.”

“Nah, I was glad to find an honest mechanic who knows what he’s doing. Oh, I almost forgot about his dog. Wait’ll you see that cute little mutt. I asked him where to get one, but he said it just wandered into his shop.”

Apparently Hans was counting on volume to make up for his low prices, because his shop was full of cars. Only one mechanic darted from vehicle to vehicle. I flagged him down, explained the symptoms, and he said he could fix it in a couple of hours for fifty dollars.

Oh yeah, the dog. It was snuggled on his chest in one of those baby carriers. All I could see was its head, a ball of white fur with two black dots that looked up at him or towards me as we conversed.

Hans was busy, so I tagged along for a few minutes while he worked to ask some questions.

“Is that a German accent, Hans?”

“Ya, German.”

“Cute little mutt ya got there. What kind of dog is it?”

He said something that seemed to be all consonants, like “frbllxtmph.”

“That first part sounds a little like ‘fur ball.'”

“Ya, frbll.”

“Why do you keep it strapped to your chest?”

“We are, how do you say, inseparable.”

My wife arrived and tried to pet the dog, but Hans recoiled and the dog’s eyes retracted deep into its fur. As we left the shop, its eyeballs seemed to extend to follow us, almost as if they were on stalks.

When I returned to pick up the car, sure enough, it was fixed and he only charged me fifty dollars.

I didn’t haggle about the price, but I said, mischievously, “Merci, mon ami. You did say you’re from France, right?”

“Oui, France,” he said, handing me the keys.

Well that wasn’t the response I expected. The dog’s eyes narrowed as if it was glaring at me.

“And your little dog, did you say it’s a shit-zu?” I mispronounced it purposely.

“Oui, shit-zu.”

I couldn’t get a rise out of that guy.

A few days later, I saw Al taking out the garbage, and I noticed he had one of those baby carriers on his chest. “Is that one of your grandkids?” I shouted.

“Yeah, grandkids” he said.

I came closer and realized it was a frbll. “You can’t kid a kidder,” I said. You bought that from Hans, right?”

The thing glared at me with those beady little eyes and then looked up at Al.

“Yeah, Hans.”

But when I drove past the auto repair, I saw that Hans still had his frbll attached. In weeks to follow, they popped up on people all over town. Yesterday on the TV news from Des Moines the guy and gal both had frblls strapped to their chests.

Then the lightbulb went off in my head. I said to Marge, “Boy, whoever makes those baby carriers is raking in the dough, huh?”

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