Give a dog a bad name

by Dan

“Richard the third was the most misunderstood king in history, which only goes to prove that history is written by the victors!” concluded the history channel professor.

“You can say that again” said Rick glumly, he felt kinship with his much-maligned and hunchbacked namesake.

Rick was a good man, he visited his mum, he gave to charity, he’d even adopted a rescue dog with Tourette’s which he called Rusty.

His career as a racing driver had started well, he’d quickly become established on the cross-country race scene, with Rusty aboard as mascot in his car The Keen Machine .

Then he’d met her. The girl who stole his dreams. She had joined the circuit a few weeks before, the only female, beautiful and flirtatious. She seemed to like him, laughing at his shy, inexpert jokes and listening while he taught her about chicanes and overtaking.

Then on the night before the big race, she’d sidled in to his trailer, looking a million dollars. “Hey Sweetie” She cooed “How about you and me become a little old team?” She explained her plan, it was ingenious, fool-proof! They’ed be the stars of the circuit, the celebrity couple it needed! All they needed to do first was bend the rules a little.

Rick hesitated, cheating wasn’t in his nature. He’d worked hard and wanted to get to the top fairly but suddenly all he could think about was her. So before the race he switched the signs just as she’d instructed, later slowing down to let her win.

What a fool.

She cut him dead in the paddock and by the next day his reputation was in ruins, a fallen star who bought shame on the profession!

But it didn’t end there. For while she was soon starring in her own TV series, his reputation as some kind of incompetent supervillain grew into a tidal wave of defamation.

Even when he volunteered during wartime to take on a dangerous mission intercepting enemy carrier pigeons they belittled him, making him seem more venal amateur than vital cog. Impressionists exaggerated his voice and the name of both him and his dog were changed by the media to fit the characterisation the world had given them.

They drifted from odd job to cheap motel but everywhere they went they were haunted by his reputation.

“Hey Fella! Didn’t you used to be Dick Dastardly?” the motel receptionist had asked this morning.

It was the final straw! “My name is Richard, Richard Rastingly!” he’d roared.

When, in response his faithful but tourettes-affected dog, gave his usual retort which sounded like a mocking laugh. Rick lost all patience and for the first time in their long acquaintance launched into an enraged tirade before biffing the poor creature violently, which was incidentally, exactly what the receptionist expected.

Now, an hour later Rick turned off the TV set and turned to the mutt.

“Rusty, old boy” he said “I’m sorry about what I said, you’re not a snickering, floppy-eared hound at all. Can’t we be friends again?”

But Rusty continued to cast a sulky silhouette the corner of the motel room whilst mumbling to himself “sashafrasharasha Rick Rastingly”.

Rick sighed and went back to secret book he was writing entitled “Ways to murder Penelope Pitstop”. “Chapter 6” he began, “Dropping Anvils”.