Marybeth Springfield was a born and bred New Yorker, thank you very much. At least that’s what she told anyone who asked. Of course, if they really thought about it, this wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense since she had a very prominent Southern drawl that could be heard in each and every word she spoke. In truth, she was born and raised in Arkansas as Marybeth Hawkins and married young to a Mr. Holland Springfield.
They met on a sunny afternoon in June. He was one of four judges at the Ms. Pottsville Beauty Pageant. She caught his eye during her talent showcase, where she played “Mary Had A Little Lamb” on a trombone while simultaneously shearing a sheep. She winked at him when she came out in a two-piece lilac colored swimsuit, and by the time she emerged from backstage in her green chiffon evening gown, they were madly in love with each other. She won the pageant, not by the merits of her talents or beauty, but by threat of Holland pulling out of future investments in the pageant if she didn’t.
That night they made love under the stars in the back of Holland’s Ford F-150 behind the town’s most prominent establishment: Dean and Billy’s Hot Dog and Gas Emporium. The air smelled of suntan lotion, freshly mowed grass, ethanol and mustard, but they didn’t care. They only had eyes, and noses, for each other.
Holland Springfield was a self made man. He invested in Netflix, Amazon and the Roomba early and now possessed the kind of money that other men of his stature used to fund phallic shaped-spaceships. But Holland was a simple man. All he really needed was good bourbon, a membership to a nice, but exclusive, country club where he could golf on the weekends, and a happy wife. Luckily for him, after they moved to the big apple, Marybeth discovered a hobby, which she put her whole heart into, and it kept her quite content. Holland was happy to oblige her by signing checks every now and then if it meant keeping a smile on her beautiful face. Happy wife, happy life.
Marybeth had discovered the age-old art of breeding show dogs. And not just any show dogs, the royalty of show dogs. The breed so fine, it was fit for a Queen. Marybeth bred corgis, specifically Cardigan Welsh corgis, which were stockier, more pointed and darker in color than their Pembroke counterparts. In other words, they were the more refined of the two, at least she thought so.
As with all great hobbies, this obsession started simply, with just one dog. Reginald was her first corgi. He had a speckled gray and black marble coloring along his back and he was the most proper gentleman she’d ever known, including Holland. She loved him with all her heart. In her lavish mink fur coat, she pushed him around New York City in a baby carriage. She would order meat pies for Reginald at the bakery. She’d buy him a ticket for a seat at the movies with her, and when the attendants argued she couldn’t bring a dog into the theater, she’d slip each of them a twenty dollar bill and they would look the other way.
One time, when denied, she convinced Holland to buy the theater and then promptly fired the employees who dared to say ‘no’ to her. She commissioned a professional painting of Reginald to hang above the mantelpiece in their home. There were more photos of Reginald on their walls than of Holland, Marybeth or either of their extended families combined.
But as time went on, Marybeth began to worry that Reginald was lonely. He often looked at her with a sad expression on his face, his eyes drooping and watering as if he might actually start to cry. He no longer ate his dinner, freshly cooked by an in-home chef, with nearly as much excitement as he once had. She’d read online that breeds like corgis actually did better in pairs. Thus, she went to a breeder and paid an exorbitant amount of money for Lucinda, her second corgi.
Lucinda had a fiery spirit, and she sparked new life into Reginald, which sparked new life into Marybeth. Holland was incredibly happy about this because it meant she was making love to him again, at least twice a week, and sometimes even with the lights on.
Now, Marybeth was taking two corgis on long walks around the neighborhood each and every day. People who saw them were absolutely awestruck at how incredibly beautiful her children were. Of course, people didn’t refer to them as her children, but she did. They’d stop to pet them, take pictures, dote upon, and compliment them. Marybeth was only too happy to oblige. One day, a woman in a blazer said “They’re both so dashing! Do you ever show them?”
Marybeth was taken aback. Never once had she thought of putting her perfect, precious babies into a dog show, of all things. “I certainly have not,” she said. She might have clutched her pearls had she been wearing them. As it were, she clutched the diamond encrusted gold necklace around her neck instead.
“That’s a shame,” said the blazer woman. “I bet they’d bring home all the medals!” And then the woman went on her way. This one brief interaction changed Marybeth at her very core. She couldn’t stop thinking about it. She had never considered that she’d enter her dogs into shows. After all, she’d basically been a show dog herself, forced to compete in pageants by her mother and her mother’s frequently drunk boyfriend Todd. Until Holland came along anyway. But being the proud parent of a couple of winners? That she could get behind. Marybeth loved winning, and she never lost.
And so it was that Marybeth went to work researching exactly what she would need to get Reginald and Lucinda into their first show. She’d just do it once, just one show to prove to the world they were winners and then she could move on to some other obsession. She found a corgi show in New Jersey where she entered Reginald, and another one in Upstate New York where she entered Lucinda. The dogs won both of their respective shows.
And why wouldn’t they?
The problem with winning is that it’s never quite enough. In fact, it often has one wanting more. Winning is addictive. This is why places like Las Vegas are so successful. From their first win onwards, Reginald and Lucinda were in back to back shows, bringing home ribbons, trophies and plaques of various sizes and colors. While Marybeth was concerned that all these awards would clash with the decor of their home, it mattered not, as they shared one thing in common: they all said “1st Place.”
Yet Marybeth wanted more. She wanted her children to leave a paw print on this earth that no one could deny. And that was when it hit her. Like a bolt of lightning, she was inspired. Legacy. That’s what she really wanted Reginald and Lucinda to have. A legacy. And nothing created a stronger legacy than children.
Holland and Marybeth had tried having children of course, but it was not to be. Holland had a low sperm count and Marybeth’s womb was hostile to her own eggs. So it was in these two dogs that their legacy would be bequeathed. Marybeth’s at least. Holland’s legacy came in the form of a baseball stadium that he’d purchased and slapped his name on.
It turned out that Marybeth did not have to wait long because without her knowledge, Reginald and Lucinda had taken a liking to each other and made sweet puppy love on top of one of Reginald’s Gucci shoes.
Not long after, Lucinda gave birth to six beautiful puppies. Marybeth adored watching them both day and night, suckling on their mother and snuggling with her as they slept. As they grew, one of them seemed to lag behind the others. He was always the last to his mother when it was feeding time, and he seemed to be impossibly slow at learning to walk. As time went on, she realized that the runt was simply not using his back legs at all. In fact, she had the sneaking suspicion that he was unable to make them move at all, and this caused her much concern. A winner needed to use all four of his or her legs. Marybeth scheduled an appointment with the most expensive and sought after vet in the city to get to the bottom of the problem. After several months of being waitlisted, they were finally seen.
“The little guy seems to have a fibrocartilaginous embolism,” said the doctor.
“What does that mean?” asked Marybeth who didn’t know the meaning of most words with more than three syllables, let alone scientific terms.
“It’s an acute death of part of the spinal cord,” replied the doctor, giving the dog a pat on his head. The dog, who was now nearing adulthood, let his tongue hang out and panted happily. His ears were beginning to grow large, but his face still had the adorable proportions of a puppy. “In short, he most likely won’t ever walk normally.”
“But this is absurd,” said Marybeth. “He’s the child of two world class show dogs! He is a pedigree among pedigrees. He simply must walk.”
“I’m sorry, Ms. Springfield, but there’s simply nothing I can do to make that happen. We can of course make him comfortable and with proper care, he’ll live a fairly normal, happy and long life.”
“Normal?” gasped Marybeth. “Normal!? Who on earth would ever want to be normal?”
Marybeth left with the puppy in a small carrier, her hopes dashed. This was an incredible setback. The puppy was imperfect, a scar on the legacy of her beautiful Reginald and Lucinda. As she walked, the sun set and a light drizzling rain began to fall. While she had an umbrella, she was in such deep thought, the rain did not even cause her a flinch. She came to a vacant street corner. Normally she would’ve just taken a taxi, but in her foul mood, she decided to walk off her emotions while she thought of a solution.
Upon arriving at a crosswalk, where she was barely present enough to acknowledge the pedestrian signal to stop, it came to her. It was so simple. A large green trash can sat just off to the side of the walkway. It was the kind where the top is mostly closed off and only a small round hole allows for refuse to be deposited and deters prying eyes and wandering hands.
She walked slowly up to the trash can, like someone approaching the edge of a cliff, glancing around to make sure no one was watching. She pulled the puppy from its carrier and held him up to her face. He gently liked her nose, and she held her arms out so that he could no longer reach her.
“Sorry little one, but we’ve got a legacy to uphold and we simply can’t slow down just because one little pup decides he can’t keep up.”
The puppy tried to lick her nose again, but she held him out further. “I’m so sorry. But perhaps you’ll find peace in the great doggy beyond. Just think of how you’ll be rewarded for making this sacrifice so that your mommy and daddy and all your brothers and sisters can go on to be the stars they were meant to be. I promise you, it’ll be worth it.”
She dropped him into the trash can, and he vanished from her sight. Marybeth wiped a tear from her eye, turned, and marched off. There simply was no room for weakness in her family. Not now. Not ever.
Were this a normal trash can, this would most likely be where our little story ended. But there are many mysteries in New York City to consider. Strange abandoned subway systems. Drips of water that fall seemingly from nowhere. Strange symbols painted on walls in dark alleys. And this precise trash can, that just so happened to be an inter-dimensional portal that transported anything placed inside it directly to the top of a Brooklyn apartment building known as Darkmoon Drive.
If you’ve seen any of the promotional materials for this series, you’ve known a corgi was coming for a while. It was, too my great concern, that everyone was the most excited for him when I first announced this series! This was concerning because I knew, and now you do as well, that he would be the last of the main cast (At least for this part of our tale) to be introduced. So I’ve waited and hoped that everyone who was excited for him would be patient. Well now the time is finally here and we have our corgi! I can’t wait for you to see what we have in store for this incredible little pup!