The plan had worked well though. A couple of days later Jix really did announce the bill, as Elgie had programmed him to, and on 2nd July 1928 the Representation of the People Act would be passed as it had before the timeline was interfered with. So that was something, and Deirdre would have several interesting encounters as a result.
But in the meantime, the dogs’ jail-break was all over the papers. Elgie and the detective decided to lie low for a while. In fact, they laid low for nearly a month, hardly venturing out, and when they did, keeping well clear of Westminster and Mr. Wellbeloved’s dog prison. The work dried up, except for cases that the detective could solve from her office, such as the less-than-challenging ‘Case of the Missing Keys’, solved with a, “Have you looked in your other coat?”.
With all the time they had on their hands, they couldn’t help being less worried about being caught by the incompetent police than being tracked down by Swagmire and his sinister human. Having never met him, he loomed large in their imagination. Someone breaking the rules of chrono-loping was someone to be afraid of.
But on June 26th, after a long overdue run in the park, they found themselves across the road from the office in a cheap eatery, he with a pile of lamb chops and gravy, and she with a cheese and potato pie (only Elgie had manage to adjust to eating meat which actually came from animals, rather than having been grown in a food lab). They were in significantly better spirits, especially Elgie, for it was his birthday, and they had agreed not to mention Swagmire.
“I’m getting pretty full”, said Elgie, burping politely.
“Was it a nice day?”
“The best birthday ever”.
“Well it’s not ov…I mean to say…let’s go back and we’ll read your favourite story”.
This was currently ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’.
Deirdre paid the slightly bemused waitress and they set off back to the office. But even as they approached their door at the end of the corridor, Elgie’s blood ran cold. Through the glass window, behind the gold lettering advertising their trade, it was completely black. Elgie know that they had left the curtains open. They always did, so that anyone in the street would know they were open for business. Alarmed, he opened the door tentatively and reached for the light, hoping to catch whoever the intruder was (Swagmire?!) in the act.
Imagine his joy and relief when Lulu, Lady, Percy and Gruff appeared, and with a new friend they had met through Percy, called Pipo. They were all wearing party hats and began to sing “Happy Birthday to You”. Then, just as his heart rate had returned to normal, Elgie spotted a huge pink cake covered in candles (ten, arbitrarily, because Elgie was very circumspect about his age). As he blew the candles out, they all cheered. Elgie ate a huge slice. And then another one. And then….
“Elgie”, said Deidre, affectionately flicking cake crumbs off his little black button nose, “You are a very special dog and a wonderful friend. I do love you so very much. I don’t know what I would do without you.”
“Don’t be silly”, he replied. “You should just keep a picture of me in a frame and tell me about all your new cases. But don’t bring the mood down DD. Let’s have a dance!”
Pipo had borrowed a gramophone from his humans. They wound it up, and everyone danced the Charleston.
Elgie in particular cut-the-rug most enthusiastically, until he flopped down exhausted.
“Now that was the best birthday ever”, he sighed.
26/6/2006 – 11/6/2018.