First time out yesterday I got him farther through the muck, but he was still in it when I left him. I was tired. Jack was sequestered with his objects. The police were about, searching the area. The vicar was out, too, offering exhortations to the searchers. Night came on, and later I made my way back to the muck, chasing off a few vermin and beginning the long haul once again.
I'd worked on and off for over an hour, allowing myself several panting breaks, when I realized I was no longer alone. He was bigger than me even, and he moved with a silence I envied, some piece of the night cut loose and drifting against lesser blacknesses. He seemed to know the moment I became aware of him, and he moved toward me with a long, effortless stride, one of the largest dogs I'd ever seen outside of Ireland.As Flora said once upon a time:"This is an ultrasonic dog whistle. Donner and Blitzen here have four brothers, and they're all trained to take care of nasty people and they all respond to my whistle. So don't start to walk toward any place where you won't be desired. A toot or two and even you will go down before them. Their kind is the reason there are no wolves left in Ireland, you know."
I just googled Irish wolfhound, and I don't know a lot about dog breeds, but it seems to be that the dog depicted on the cover of the dust jacket could very well be an Irish wolfhound.
This passage is of particular interest: "The Irish wolfhound was bred for long solitary hunts based solely off of the dogs ability to visualize its landscape", which is something we see Snuff doing all the time.
And this one: "historically these dogs were required to work at great distances from their masters and think independently when hunting rather than waiting for detailed commands and this can still be seen in the breed."
They're gigantic, though (120 to 150 pounds), so maybe not. Anyone have any pet theories (no pun intended) as to what breed Snuff might represent?
Correction. As he came on I realized he wasn't really a dog. It was a great gray wolf that was bearing down on me. I quickly reviewed my knowledge of the submissive postures these guys are into as I backed away from the corpse.
"You can have it," I said. "It's all right with me. It's not in the best of shape, though."
That's another something I really liked, because it seemed like the way a dog would respond. My wife is a naturalist, and I've absorbed some information through osmosis, and animals, even big ones like bears, tend to try to avoid the fights if they can. Even if Snuff was one of the reasons that there were no wolves left in Ireland, why get killed to prove it? I could really believe Snuff responding in this way, and it reinforces the impression that he's a dog.
Then we get the big reveal:
He loomed nearer. Monstrous jaws, great feral eyes. . . . Then he sat down.
"So this is where it is," he said.
"The missing body. Snuff, you are tampering with evidence."
"And you might say I'm tampering with something already tampered with. Who are you?"
Larry drags the corpse to the river.
"I can't tell you how happy this makes me," I said.
"You just did," he said. "Let's head back."
Zelazny wrote a lot of, well, Zelaznian characters, and many of them had similar personality traits. We don't see a lot of the small kindnesses that come with a true friendship, with is why I treasure those moments when they do arrive.
Larry leads Snuff past the house to a local church, where the vicar is leading a Black Mass.
Larry pointed out that the cross was upside-down, but I'd already noticed this myself.
"Do you know what that means?" he asked softly.
"Religious distress signal?" I said.
Heh heh. I enjoyed the silly good humor of the previous chapter, but I think Snuff's deadpan observations are funnier.
They realize that the Black Mass is something even more sinister, a service to the Elder Gods, and they vacate the premises before it turns into an orgy.
They talk about calculating and Larry's place in the game:
"That's not it, Snuff," he said. "I can't tell you because I don't know. I'm an anticipator. I know certain things about the future, and I anticipate being at the center when the moon is full. And yes, I'm on your side. But I'll also be out of my mind that night. I still haven't worked out the formula for bringing it through a moon-change intact. I'm not sure I should even be categorized as a player. But then, I'm not sure I shouldn't. I'm just too much of a wild card."
I threw back my head and howled. Sometimes it's the best thing to do.
If I needed one line to sum up Lonesome October, there it is. That's perfect.