“But don’t you want to see Fish?  It’s possible it’s actually your dog I’ve got,” Coal Blackstone told Bliss Carmen over the phone.
     There was a lengthy silence.
     “Yeh maybe,” said Bliss.
     “Who’s that on the phone?” Homer Rubik asked her, not looking up from a Massacre of the Innocents to which he was carefully adding lurid details.  “I told you, I don’t want anyone coming here!”
     “But that might be Fish she’s been looking after!” Bliss said to him.
     “Just tell her to email you the dog’s picture.”


     His Worship Cass (“The Mass”) Tamburlaine—for that’s what the press was calling him now—decided that, seeing how it was getting to be late morning and time for a little pre-luncheon snack, he would leave his office and stroll across Nathan Phillips Square to the wagon-train of chip-wagons stretched along Queen Street in front of City Hall where, as he had so often done before, he would conduct, with a couple of his cronies, a fast-food crawl from truck to truck, moving judiciously along the length of this mobile smorgasbord of deep-fried things, until he had grazed to his satisfaction.
     “Hand-cut fries,” he murmured to the crony on his immediate right, a portly middle-aged man with a handlebar moustache, whose name, Cass was reasonably sure, was Robert Stackbolt.
     “What’s that, Cass?” asked Robert Stackbolt.
     “It’s a nice phrase.”
     “What is?”
     “Hand-cut fries.  Something homey and…cottage-industry about it.”
     Robert Stackbolt murmured his assent.
     Cass, Robert Stackbolt and three other indistinguishable flunkies in grey suits and beige spring raincoats, were just passing the Henry Moore sculpture majestically moored in front of City Hall 
     “And ‘chili-dog.’
     “Pardon, Cass?”
     “Another heart-warming name.”
     “Oh.  Yeh, right.”
     “Smacks of the comic, somehow.  I mean ‘dog’ is sort of funny anyhow, and then when you hook it to ‘chili,’ it starts to get a bit goofy, wouldn’t you say?”
     Yes, I suppose it does,” Robert Stackbolt replied.  “I don’t usually give much thought to that kind of thing.”
     They had now reached the Queen Street curb, and Cass was as excited as a kid on Christmas morning.  The flotilla of food trucks pulled up to the sidewalk seemed to spread their welcoming, encompassing arms to him like old friends.  The deep-fry cooks within each wagon leaned out into the bright sunny morning and hailed him as a fellow fried-food traveler.
     “Good morning, your Worship!” cried out the grizzled man in the first truck.  “What’s your pleasure this fine day?”
     “Good morning, Maximilian!” boomed Cass.  “Fryer all charged up?”
     “Ready to serve your every deep-fry need!” Maximilian boomed back.  “What’ll it be, your Highness?”
    By now Cass’s cronies had caught up with him and a few of them were gazing in some alarm at the vast number of the Vulcan-like fast-food forges stretched out along the street. 
     “You guys hungry?” Cass asked them.
     There were rumblings of indecision.  Robert Stackbolt announced quietly that he might see his way clear to go for a hot dog.
     “Give me a chili dog, Maximilian!” boomed Cass. “And a large Coke.  And a large fries,”
     “Good choices,” grinned Maximilian, turning away then to prepare Cass’s heart-stopping pre-prandial snack.  Most of the others ordered coffees.  One, a vanilla-coloured aide named Jeremiah Flood, walked two trucks to the east and bought himself a large strawberry sundae.  Cass watched him out of the corner of his eye and over the top of his Styrofoam tray of crackling golden foods.
     “Hey Jeremiah!”
     “Yes Cass?” replied Jeremiah, steering his frozen tower of soft ice cream and florescent red sauce to a nearby bench.
     “You know what that stuff is, right?” 
     Jeremiah acknowledged that he really wasn’t too sure.
     “Petroleum!” Cass told him, a huge boyish satisfaction gurgling in his voice.
     “Whatdyamean?” asked Jeremiah Flood.
     “It’s not ice cream.  It’s an edible petroleum product.” 
     “What’s an edible petroleum product?” Jeremiah asked him.
     “I’m fucked if I know,” Cass answered, with a hearty guffaw.  “Another triumph of science, wouldn’t you say?”
     Jeremiah stuck his pink plastic spoon into the petroleum and heaved a sigh so total he almost dribbled red neon sauce on his tie.
     “So I guess I shouldn’t eat it.”
     “Nonsense my boy!” crowed Cass.  “It’s ingenious.  It’s inventive! It’s contemporary.  Ice cream is a 19th century treat.  But we live in the present!!  The urban present!  Eat up, enjoy!!”
     Jeremiah picked up his spoon again and dutifully plunged it into the vanilla oil fields resting on his lap.  Cass smiled at him encouragingly.
     “Well?” Cass asked him.
     “Good,” mumbled Jeremiah, reeling from brain-freeze and wishing he could lie down.