The Garden Party, Part Three: Justin Joins In


“You’ll never take me alive, old sport!” Jenner proclaimed, as the other dog tried to drag him off. “Oh, go chase yourself!” the dog said, which in the Jazz Age meant to go away. The other dog, still whimpering, tucked his poor battered tail beneath himself. Everyone at the party was now looking over at them, but Jenner was undaunted by their stares.

“Hey, I was goin’ with the scene,” protested Jenner. “I’m not just here as The Great Ratsby---I’m an undercover gangster too!”

“You won’t be undercover long if you act like that!” said Sadie Lynn. “And besides, there’s no call for real fighting when you’re just play-acting!”

Jenner looked at Miss Blatz, who turned up her nose, refusing to give him the satisfaction of having shocked her with his brutish behavior. Only then did the rat slump dejectedly, mutter some excuse about just trying to stay in character, and abashedly amble off elsewhere.

“He’s always like that,” said another rat, who had been watching the whole thing, waddling forward so as to speak with the trio better. He looked a lot like Jenner, but much fatter, and with brown fur instead of grey. He had on a pinstriped gangster suit, and was holding a little platter of finger foods which he stuffed mechanically into his maw as he spoke.

“I’m Justin, his brother,” he continued, “Jenner just wants to be the boss of everything, is all, and fight to prove it. ‘Specially if there’s a lady around to prove it to.”

He nodded to Miss Blatz, who blushed hotly under her fur and put a paw to her mouth in shock at the insinuation that any of this had been over her.

“Anyway, don’t worry about him,” Justin’s voice was muffled as he talked around a big piece of salami-wrapped cheese. “Like I said, it’s just his usual.”

“But I am worried about him!” said Sadie Lynn. “If he always does this… Then that means he never has any fun!”

Justin chewed thoughtfully, “S’ppose you’re right. Hard to make friends like that, that’s for sure. It’s mostly just him and me, because I let him be boss. Fighting isn’t important to me unless it’s over food!”

“Well, let’s trying talking to him, and see if we can’t fix things,” Sadie Lynn looked to other party-goers, “What do all of you say?”

An outcry erupted from the pets.

“No way!”

“He’s a jerk!”

“He’ll just ruin everything!”

“Look what he did to my tail!”

“It’s a better party without him!”

It turned out that out of everyone there, only Sadie Lynn, Miss Blatz, Sam, and Justin were willing to have anything to do with Jenner… Even Sam was a little reluctant. She was sure to stick very close to Miss Blatz’s side as the four of them approached Jenner, who was sitting alone under a tree, looking down at the dirt and scratching in it with his front paws. He looked very sad and lonely.

End of Part Three

Story and Illustration by Mary Grace Mauney

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