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If A Tree Falls In the Living Room Can Anyone Hear It?

Jon Kaufman
Jon Kaufman

Allow me to begin this column with an apology.  On Sunday, December 13th I was to attend the annual holiday soiree for the staff and family members of the Roanoke Star Sentinel.  Unable to attend this joyous event last year due to an illness in the family, I was greatly looking forward to sharing some yuletide joy with this terrific group of people.  The previous night Janet had prepared a tray of sumptuous sausage hors d’oeuvres to share and only a brief stop to gas up the car stood between us and the merriment.  Or, so we thought.

As the pump meter clicked off dollar after dollar of low grade petroleum, I realized that I had left my Blackberry at home. Thankfully we were just a few blocks away and had been gone less than five minutes.  When you have three dogs living in your home, however, five minutes is all that is required to change your life.

Zooming into our driveway, I parked, left the engine running, and bolted towards the front door of our house.  As I wiggled the key into the lock I noticed that the usual welcoming party of hounds was not there to greet me at the door.  What’s more, I could see our rather enormous Christmas tree laying flat on our living room floor.  Panic, began to set in. Had our dogs been dispatched by a fallen tree during the few minutes we were gone?  I waved for Janet to leave the car and join me.

In my haste I had briefly forgotten that when I enter our house alone our four-legged family rarely, if ever, rises to trumpet my arrival, however, when Janet appears they salute her entrance as if Lindbergh had just landed.  Sure enough, the second Janet’s foot hit the porch; everyone was present and accounted for.

The living room was a complete mess.  As usual we had decided to purchase the largest tree this side of Rockefeller Center, cresting at ten feet and bearing the width of a Valley Metro bus.  Why such a huge tree you ask?  High ceilings and the fact that Janet owns every Hallmark ornament ever manufactured.  Add a few thousand lights and all that is missing is a live nativity scene in the foyer.

As I sifted through the wreckage, Janet donned her CSI cap and surveyed the crime scene. Discovering a spruce trail leading to our upstairs, the investigation was beginning to take shape.  In one of our upstairs bedrooms she uncovered the following curious clues; two sets of paw prints, a Bluetooth headset and the headless body of a small bird. Janet surmised that the culprits were still in the house and reported that the bird’s head was nowhere to be found.  We rounded up the usual suspects.

Shiloh, our blind diabetic dog, was quickly eliminated from the list of transgressors.  Shiloh didn’t possess the weight and strength to topple our indoor Redwood, nor did he have the sight to snare a bird in flight. Janet’s attention immediately turned to Roscoe, a Bassett Hound with a history of destruction.  Roscoe loves walking under the Christmas tree, in fact, he creeps slowly around the base of the tree as if he is trying to remain unnoticed, like a tiger stalking its lunch deep in a thick forest.  Certainly such shady behavior would make Roscoe the object of some speculation. But we had to ask –  does a slow-witted, un-athletic canine that sleeps eighteen hours a day posses the ability to catch and behead a bird, much less fell such a substantial spruce?  Surely there was at least an accomplice!

Mya, our American Black and Tan Coonhound, (an avid catcher of mice and birds) had managed to slip away during Roscoe’s interrogation and was hiding somewhere in the house.  We interpreted Mya’s flight as a strong sign of guilt and grilled Roscoe to give up his partner. Showing no signs of cracking under the pressure (typical Bassett) Roscoe failed to incriminate his cohort, and instead decided to take a nap effectively halting our inquiry.

Piecing the puzzle together Janet concluded that the bird must have stealthy entered the house, saw a tree in our living room and decided to make it home.  Spotting the intruder, Roscoe alerted Mya and the two launched themselves towards the tree in pursuit of their winged prey. Naturally, the bird, now a material witness to the crime, had to be eliminated.  Janet guessed that the Bluetooth headset had been planted as either a red herring or a misguided attempt to implicate me in the malfeasance.

Mystery solved!

I considered trying to attend the Star Sentinel party, but once the clean-up was complete the hour was getting late.  I regret not being able to join the group again this year, and would like to wish them and all of our readers a very happy holiday season!

By Jon Kaufman
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