Don´t Worry About It
A Dotty Story with Bob the Dog by Russell Rosander
Dotty, my imaginary wife, woke up terrified. She had been sleepin´ curled up next to me and had startled me awake too with her cry. She jumped up outta bed and went to the front door. She looked out and saw……nothin´. Just our patio and yard bathed in peaceful moonlight as a few crickets chirped and frogs croaked and a firefly darted in a crazy pattern, blinkin´ through the garden. In the distance, a dog barked and then gave it up and all was quiet again.
“What´s the matter?” I asked.
“It musta been a dream,” she said, “I dreamt I heard a sound, that there was something evil out there tryin´ to get in and get us.”
“Ah!” I joked. “The boogey-man strikes again!”
“It´s not funny,” she admonished. “I was terrified! Now I don´t know if I can go back to sleep.”
I got up and put on some pants, went into the kitchen, filled the kettle and lit the stove to make us some hot cocoa. “Let´s just give ourselves a little time to calm down again,” I said, “It´s only three in the mornin´. There´s still plenty of time for sleep.”
“Ahh!” she said, visibly relaxin´. “I have no idea what it was all about. Do you suppose it was some sorta premonition?”
“I´m not really all that big on premonitions,” I said, “I´ve had a lotta dreams like that and they usually turn out to be just nothin´.”
“Well, you live in reality. In the imagination where I live, there are serious monsters.”
“There are monsters in real life too.” I said, “There´s real narco-traffickers and banditos out there.”
“Well, sumpthin´ sure scared me!”
“Sometimes,” I told her, “our dreams are just about our hopes and fears. I suppose some of the fears are things that started during our childhoods and ended up in our subconscious where they come to life again as bad dreams, but by the time they do, we don´t even recognize them and they´ve grown. They were once just silly childhood fears and somehow, they never got revealed for what they were, just empty fears about nothin´.”
“Why is that not comforting? Something triggered it and there must be a reason. Please don´t make light of it. This could be serious.”
We drank our cocoa and went back to bed. Soon, we were both sawin´ logs again, but Dotty´s sleep was fitful. When we awoke in the mornin´, however, all seemed right with the world again.
Dotty said nothin´ more about the dream. I knew she hadn´t forgotten about it. Dotty is a curious person and anything that comes along that she doesn´t understand will niggle her until she finally figures it out, or at least, comes up with some sort of explanation that will ease her mind.
I used to wonder if the people I imagined had imaginations of their own. I´m now convinced that they do. Dotty has repeatedly come up with explanations for things that I never would have thought of. When a story is growin´ in my head, I sometimes ask her what she thinks about this or that. I have often been dumbfounded by her perceptions. Dotty has taught me that there is always another way to look at just about anything and it´s often useful to see both ends of the horse before deciding which way to get on.
By the time the morning had passed and the thermometer had risen and the day moved on into a typical lazy Mexican afternoon, I looked out and saw Dotty engrossed in a pile of books on the patio table. I went out to take a closer look. Judging by the titles they were all self-help books. Some were written by prominent authors and authorities on various subjects. Others were pseudo-science such as “5000 Dreams Interpreted” which is basically just fortune telling. There was “Conquer Your Fears” by Dr. FredricoValoroso, “Take Back Your Head” by Maria Antonionetta, “In Defense of Irrationality” by Oscar Wildman, and what the cover touted as “The Consummate Psychological Mystery Solver”, Bob the Dog´s “Transcendental Cures for Whatever´s Bothering You” Under Bob´s name was written, “The Guru of Calle Michoacán”.
“Is this by our Bob the Dog? I´ve never heard of it. Where did all these books come from?” I asked her.
“The Bob book is imaginary. There all Imaginary. I got them at the Imaginary Beer Bob´s Book Exchange. There´s a much better selection there than there is at the real one.”
“I knew he had a couple of short stories, in fact, I transcribed them for him and helped him with the spellin. I thought he only wrote fiction.”
“It is fiction,” Dotty said, “Fictional people such as myself need fictional psychological advice sometimes. He didn´t need help with transcribin´orspellin´ on this one because it´s never been written. It´s totally fictional.It´s so fictional that most booksellers refuse to carry it. They say there´s no profit in books that don´t exist. The genre is called `real fiction´.”
“Do you mind if I take a look at it?” I asked.
“You can read it after I do. I was goin´ to check that one out next.”
As Dotty picked it up I thought “Jeeze Bob. The guru of Calle Michoacán?” She thumbed to the back lookin´ for an index hopin´ to see a list of problems that were addressed in the book. Nope. Nothin´. She flipped back to the front. “That´s strange,” she said. “Most of the pages are blank.” In the front of the book she found a portrait of Bob on the title page. She went to the first chapter. It read, “Don´t worry about it.” And that was all there was. “Oh my gawd!” she said burying her eyes in her hand. “I always knew he was a nut. These self proclaimed mystical gurus are always the same. They speak in riddles or tell you things that nobody could understand and call it wisdom. If they knew anything, why not just say it in a way that´s clear and understandable and save everyone a lot of trouble for nothin´. I´ve half-a-mind to go into town and tell him what I think about this!”
Dotty, being imaginary, lives in an imaginary universe. It parallels the real one, but isn´t exactly the same. It has many of the same features. The Barra de Navidad she was headed for was the mythical, imaginary one. All my friends who live in the real one are in this one too, just as I imagine them and hopefully even nicer than they are in the real life. Dotty, of course knows just about all of them, and considers them her friends as well. Having read some of the “Dotty stories” I have written, she now exists in their imaginations as well. When she walked into Hector´s Corner Bar at 132B Calle Michoacán, everybody greeted her warmly.
Bob the Dog was ensconced in his “office” in the middle of Michoacán street where the cars were swerving around him. When he saw Dotty, he got up and sauntered over,while a truck slammed on it´s brakes to avoid hittin´ him, for a pat on the head. Bob always was a ladies man.
“Bob,” she said withholdin´ the pat, “I´ve got an issue with you. I just read your book, “Transcendental Cures For Whatever´s Bothering You”, because I´ve got a problem I´m tryin´ to figure out and it´s only got one dang sentence in it. What kind of book is that?”
“I thought it was very concise and to the point.” Bob said. “Actually, I thought it was a little long, over two hundred pages!”
“But they´re all blank! I´m no closer to understandin´ my problem than I was before I read it. `Don´t worry about it?´Jeeze! What a bunch of nonsense!”
“My point exactly” Bob said. “Ultimately, in a transcendental sense, everything is just a bunch of nonsense.”
“Hrumph! My wog told me it was the `boogie-man´. Are you two conspirin´ to confuse me?”
“The BOOGIE-MAN! Oh my! This is serious! Maybe you´d better tell me the whole story. If it´s a mystery, The Transcendental Detective Agency is at your service.It´s a free service. For a nominal pat on the head, I´ll gladly take your case.”
“No, you´d only tell me it was pirates or sumpthin´….. Oh, what the heck,” and she told him about the dream.
Bob listened in silence as he always does, but the gears were spinnin´ in his head, grindin´away. When she was finished he said, “Hmmmmm. So your worried about the dream. Did you try `5000 Dreams Interpreted´?”
“I´m hopin´ it´s not a premonition. I don´t want my fortune told.”
“Wise, wise, most fortune tellers are charlatans. I´ll begin my investigation immediately. Why don´t you go have a beer or two while I meditate on it.”
“Ok,” she said and went in an ordered a beer from Gladys. She sat down at a table under an umbrella to drink it. Five or six beers later, despite having enjoyed a pleasant afternoon chatting with friends, Bob was still in the middle of the street. He looked like he was asleep. She decided to go home and finding herself a little tipsy when she got up, chose to take the bus instead of walkin´.
When Dotty came home, I saw her wobbling down the road from the bus stop. “Oh my gawd!” I thought, “She´s drunk. She´s been so frightened by that nightmare, she´s taken to the bottle.”
“Dotty!,” I said, “What´s wrong?”
“Don´t worry about it,” she said, and promptly went inside, closed the door behind her, and went to bed.
The next morning, I decided to go to town and have a talk with Bob myself. Whatever had happened there yesterday, couldn´t have been good. Dotty´s not much of a drinker. It was totally out of character for her to come home drunk. Whatever Bob had told her, it musta upset the hell out of her.
It was almost noon when I headed out. Dotty was still sleepin´ it off. Soon, I was walkin´ down calle Michoacán toward the Corner Bar. There was Bob, sittin´ upright in a chair, like he was just another human, leanin´ with his back to the wall and wearin´ a silly deer-stalker hat, smokin´ a pipe and holdin´ a magnifying glass in one paw. He was obviously trying to look like Sherlock Holmes. I´ve never seen him look so ridiculous. Seems this detective business must have gone to his head. I ordered a beer and went and sat down next to him.
“What´s happnin man?”he asked.
“Well, conciderin´ that that phrase went outta style a long time ago, you´re lucky I´m old enough to remember it. What´s happening is that I want to know what the hell happened here yesterday that got Dotty so upset.”
“Oh,” he said, “I heard she was a little tipsy when she left, but I missed it. I´d fallen asleep by then. She was a little bent outta shape about my new book though and she told me about a dream that was really buggin´ her. She wanted to know what it meant and I told her I would investigate it for her. I went out to my office to meditate on it, but I got sleepy and dozed off for a few minutes. When I woke up, she was gone.”
“So what´s the deal with that book? I thought it was kinda ridiculous myself. Most people expect more than one sentence when they buy a book.”
“Oh dude! That hurts! Have I ever criticized the crap you write? All that poetry.Pleeeeeeze!Have I ever said one bad word about all that mushy junk? No, I haven´t! I respect your crap, man, I respect it!”
“Oh knock it off, Bob,” I told him. “Do you really expect to get away with one sentence in a two hundred page book?”
“What´s wrong with that? It just needed a few extra pages for filler. The content seemed like pretty good advice to me!”
“Jeeze Bob. All it said was, ´Don´t worry about it.”!
“Correct-o-mundo! Good in almost any situation. But the book says a lot more than that!”
“Where? All the other pages are blank!”
“Here,” he said, handing me a copy. “Look for yourself.”
I opened the book to page one. This time, there were two sentences, “If you encounter something you don´t understand, bite it. If it´s bigger than you, just bark.”.That was it. “This one´s a little different, just as stupid, but different. Are you tellin´ me that every copy has different advice in it?” I asked.
“Nope, they´re all the same. This book is interactive. It transcendentally anticipates your question and gives you only that answer. It´s kinda like a Magic Eightball. Way better than “5000 Dreams Interpreted”.”
“You mean, it has an unlimited number of answers?” I asked.
“Well, I am just a dog. I only have so many, but to tell you the truth, I don´t need that many, ´cause so few people ask dogs for advice.”
“Well,” I sighed, “Actually Bob, it´s way more than I thought possible from you. So have you come up with anything on this mysterious boogie man of Dotty´s in your meditations?”
“Well, actually, no. I was gonna get back on it later this afternoon after I´ve changed costumes.”
“It´s a promotional gimmick I´ve come up with to advertise my services.”
“So what´s this afternoon´s costume?”
“I´ve got a Marharishi outfit.”
“I meditate better when I´m in it.”
“Oh. So I suppose you actually take this dream seriously? I mean, Boogie man dreams are pretty common. I suspect that just about everybody has had one or two in their life time. Maybe it´s just a stupid dream.”
“Dreams are never stupid dude. They just take an irrational mind like mine to understand them.”
“So you really think the Boogie man is out to get us?
“Not us dude, you. This whole story is goin´ on in your head. He`s out to get you!”
“Out to get me! That´s absurd! I know for a fact the Boogie man is imaginary!”
“Exactly! Just what world do you think you´re in at the moment Dude?
I swallowed the rest of my beer and headed for home.
When I got there, I found I was in for a shock. I hadn´t imagined that Dotty would carry things this far.
The old ´71Airstream Landyacht had been transformed into a fortress. It looked like a battleship, complete with canons sticking out of every port. It was surrounded by a wall of sandbags which Dotty was still busy pilling higher. There were numerous Danger! And Beware of the Dog! signs around the perimeter. I stood before it all in utter amazement. It was difficult to believe my eyes. My jaw was touchin´ my toes.
“Jeeze, Dotty,” I said, “I see your prepared for a siege.”
“You can´t be too careful,” she responded, “You may think I´m bein´ silly, but in the imagination, situations like this can become deadly serious in a heartbeat. I just want to be ready.”
“Have you figured out yet just what or who we´re up against here?”
“Nope, but I know it scares me whitless.”
I reached out to encircle her with my arms to comfort her, but she stepped back and said, “I´ve got a lot more work to do here. This is no time for playin´ around!”
I went inside and sat down feelin´ a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing. I was feelin´ kinda dazed. I was startin´ to wonder if this isn´t what happened when a person spends too much time in his imagination. I knew Dotty well enough that if I went back outside and told her that I thought she was unnecessarily freakin´ out that she´d prob´ly turn on me and tell me that I was the one bein´ foolish and just didn´t have a clue how dangerous a place the imagination could be.
While I was thinkin´ this, Charlie, our imaginary nine year old boy came up behind me outta his room in my subconscious. “Whatta we gonna do Wog?” he asked.
I turned to face him. “D´ya thinkshe´s gone loco or sumpthin?” he continued.
“Well,” I answered. “I ´spect she may be over-reacting a little.”
“She won´t let me go outside and play with Moonbeam,” he pleaded. “She says he´s got a job to do.”
“Jeeze, Charlie, I just don´t know what to do. If I didn´t feel so danged sorry for her, I think I´d want to go out there and kick her butt.”
“I heard that!” cameDotty´s voice from outside, “You can just sleep by yourself tonight!”
“Dang,” I said.
For the next three days and nights, Dotty didn´t sleep a wink. She never left the ramparts she had built around the trailer. On the fourth day, I found her passed out, exhausted, slumped over the pile of sandbags.
I picked her up, brought her inside and laid her on the bed. She had insisted that Charlie and me stay indoors the entire time. I had been feeling sorta uncomfortably virtuous by conceding to it. We had both contracted a bad case of cabin fever. It was a relief to be able to go outside again.
I decided to use the time Dotty was sleeping to go to town and see it Bob had made any progress in his “investigation”. It was a slim hope, but I was fresh out of ideas and didn´t know what else to do. I asked Charlie to stick around with Moonbeam in case she woke up so he could tell her where I was. I didn´t want her worryin´ any more than she already was.
When I reached the bar, I didn´t see Bob anywhere. I could hear Hector, inside, yellin´. “Damn it Clive, how many times have I told you not to listen to that dog!” Clive is one of the wonderful local characters that live in Barra de Navidad, and he often “works” at Hector´s in exchange for a few beers. He occasionally performs street theater there as well, for free, to everyone´s amusement.
“I don´t care if he told you,” Hector bellowed, “that it was OK to help yourself to anything in the refrigerator or drink as much beer as you liked! He doesn´t buy that stuff! I do! Bob has never bought anything in his life! He´s just a dog, just a damned dog!”
“Well I thought,” Clive defended, “Considering how I´m dying and all………”
I sat down and Gladys brought me a beer. “What happened?” I asked.
“Don´t ask,” she said.
“Is Bob around anywhere?
“Nope. Hector 86ed him. I suppose he’d be back tomorrow though. He always is.”
“Any idea where he went?”
“Who knows where Bob goes.”
“Has this happened before?”
“Many times,” she told me.
“Dang,” I thought to myself, “I wonder if I´ve wandered into the real world by mistake?”
I thought about what to do next as I sipped my beer. I didn´t want to go home empty handed, without any new information that would help our situation, but that´s exactly what I ended up doin´. Dotty was still asleep when I got home.
She never woke up the rest of the day. She was still asleep when I crawled into bed next to her. It felt good to be lyin´ beside her again.
Sometime in the middle of the night, I was blasted into consciousness by a huge explosion that must of lifted me a half a meter off the bed.
I took me a moment to grasp what was goin´ on. My eyes fluttered around the room until they finally alit on Dotty, who was standing next to one of the cannons with a match in her hand. The air was air was full of acrid smoke that smelled like cordite. I opened my mouth to speak when “BLAM!”, the trailer was rocked again.
“It´s out there!” I heard Dotty say through the terrible ringing in my ears. “ It tripped my tin can alarm and I woke up just in time! Don´t worry. I´ll get him! I´ll protect you!”
“From who?” I asked. “Jeeze Dotty! You don´t even know who´s out there! It could be just some innocent animal! Where´s Moonbeam anyway?”
“Oh gawd! I don´t know where he is!,,,,,,” and then we heard him barkin´ outside in the darkness.
“Hold your fire Dotty, I´m goin´ out there!” I said.
“NOOOOOOO!!!!” Dotty screamed.
“Well it hasn´t gotten Moonbeam,” I said, “ You´ve prob´ly scared whatever it is half to death with those cannons. Who or whatever it is is prob´ly long gone.”
“I´m goin´ with you then,” she said. Then she thrust a blunderbuss into my hands.
“Blunderbuss?” I thought, “Where does she get this stuff? Is there some sorta “Pirate Surplus Store” around here that I don´t know about”
We collided trying to go through the narrow trailer door at the same time and stumbled out onto the patio. Moonbeam was still barking somewhere out in the darkness. I looked towards the sound but didn´t see nothin´. I dashed back inside for a flashlight, tellin Dotty, “Don´t shoot until you can see what it is!”
Back outside, I pointed the beam towards the barkin´.
“Oh my gawd!” Dotty screamed as my light found it.
There was Moonbeam and the phantom facin´ one another off. It was really ugly. It was grotesque! Then it turned towards the light. Fear was risin´ in my throat. Finally I could see……..it looked a lot like………….Bob!
“What are you doin´out here Bob?” I asked
He turned back towards Moonbeam before he could answer. Moonbeam was about to attack. “MOONBEAM!!!” Dotty yelled. “STOP!”
Moonbeam froze in his tracks.
Bob was still tremblin´ when we got him up and into the trailer. He didn´t sit upright in a chair the way I had seen him do at Hector´s when he was in costume. He laid spread eagle on the floor like he was tryin´ to hug it or sumpthin. He had a dazed look in his eyes.
I went and found some leftover meat and put it in front of his nose. He just stared at it.
“Jeeze, Bob, you coulda got yourself killed out there. What are you doin´ here in the middle of the night, anyway?”
“Would you like some water?” Dotty asked.
“Yeah,” he said. He didn´t move again until it was in front of him, then he propped up a bit and took a few laps. He stopped and looked around the trailer. He was still breathin´ kinda heavy. The smell of smoke and explosives still hung in the air. His eyes rolled a bit in his head, and then, suddenly, he blurted out, “I figured it out. I couldn´t wait to tell Dotty.”
Dotty looked at him, “Well jeeze Bob. Don´t leave me hangin´! What the hell is it?”
“It´s a nothing´,” he said, “It´s just a nothin´.”
“A nothin´! What´s a nothin´?” she asked.
“A nothin´,” he said slowly, “is just about the meanest, scariest kind of monster there is! I´m surprised you don´t know about them. I thought everybody was afraid of nothins.”
“I thought it was gonna take my husband away from me. How could a nothin´ do that?”
“That´s just the point,” Bob said. “You´d be left with nothin´. No imagination to be in, just nothin´.
“How can nothin´ be a monster. Nothin´ is just nothin´.” I asked.
“The monster,” Bob said, “is fear. The fear of loosing somethin´ or someone you love. It´s the thought of nothin´ that scares us.”
“Well, how do you fight a monster like that?” Dotty asked.
“You can´t fight them,” Bob said, “there´s nothing´ to fight. The only thing you can do to make them go away is……..
Don´t worry about it.”