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Infatuation Situation

                    All Dogs go to Heaven
              Little Memories of a Beautiful Life

               Episode 13: "Infatuation Situation"

Starring:
           Bess
           Sasha La Fleur & Charlie B. Barkin

San Francisco Streets
9:00 AM

Sasha La Fleur was at the Flea Bite Cafe, getting things ready for the day. Meanwhile, Charlie B. Barkin was on an errand to fetch some things he needed to clean the store room at the Cafe. Detergent, some mops and sponges were Charlie's purchase from Sidney's General Store. The sun was hanging high, and it was a very hot Friday morning. Charlie was half running, half walking to get to the Cafe as soon as possible.

Sometimes, now and then, there was trouble in the alleys were some dogs lived. There was a band of four bully dogs lead by a boxer named Klin, and they often did some bad things. Dump paint on the sidewalks, steal coins from other dogs, and sometimes worse things like cause fires and things of the sort.
Even though they were bad, they never quite dared to attack the Flea Bite Cafe; once they did, and Charlie beat the daylights out of them. He left a deep scar on Klin's face with his canine teeth, right under the left eye, which was blinded with time. Klin wanted to pay off Charlie for blinding his eye, but he never dared to try another attack.
However, they were up to mischief today, and that was what started the trouble.

Charlie was going his way, when suddenly, he heard a call of help.
"Help!",yelled a stranger's voice.

Charlie looked around, but saw no one. But then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw something running. It went into the nearest alley, followed by a bunch of other figures. Charlie got a close look, and saw who it was. Klin and his gang. They were chasing someone, Heaven knows what for. But, they were up to no good, so Charlie went right after them.
A female Cocker Spaniel was running desperately from Klin and his thugs, yelling for help. The bad dogs were gaining on her, and without knowing it, she turned into a dead end. She was cornered.
Klin and his bunch smiled malignantly seeing that their victim had no escape route.
"Hehehe. What have we here?",said Klin",a little lost lady, are you?"

The Spaniel began to cry with fear.
"Ooh, did we scare you",crooned Klin",well, we might as well get it over with then, right boys?"

The others laughed in a sinister way.
"Help!",bellowed the Spaniel with tears in her eyes",someone, please, help!"
"Don't worry, lil' gal",said Klin",we won't hurt you, much."

Suddenly, a huge figure leaped in front of the little female. She looked up, and her eyes went wide. It was a big German Shepherd with sharp teeth and massive arms and legs. It was Charlie!
"That's as far as you go, Klin",growled Charlie", get out of here before things get ugly."
"Oh yeah. You're gonna pay for this blinded eye, Barkin",yelled back Klin",get 'im, boys!"

Three dogs charged at Charlie, but he was too fast for them. He clawed one of them on the face, threw another against the brick wall, and sunk his teeth in the other's throat. All three limped away in pain. Then it was Klin's turn. He charged at full speed, but Charlie merely swung his big paw, striking Klin right in the face, and sent him flying across the air. He had landed a good hit, because Klin's nose was bleeding quite badly.
Charlie grabbed a piece of cloth that was dumped on the floor and threw it at Klin.
"Wipe it off, Klin",yelled Charlie",and don't you ever let me catch you around here again. You've got your own alley, so stay there!"

Klin ran off, leaving Charlie and seeking safety.
Charlie turned around to the Cocker Spaniel.
"Are you okay?",asked Charlie.

She just nodded, too astounded to speak.
"It's not safe around here, Miss",said Charlie",there are thugs in every corner. Follow me. I'll take you somewhere safe."

Charlie started to walk, and the Spaniel followed him. She was a bit nervous, but Charlie had saved her from an ugly situation, so she followed him.
"Uh, thanks for the saving",said the Spaniel.
"You're welcome",said Charlie smiling",those bullies had bothered people before, but I bet now they'll think twice before doing anything stupid."

The Spaniel suddenly remembered something.
"Uh, your name is Barkin, right?",asked the spaniel",I heard one of them say it."
"Yes. Charles B. Barkin",said Charlie.
"My name's Gracie",said the Spaniel",nice to meet you, Mr. Barkin."
"Nice to meet you too,"said Charlie",are you from out of town?"
"Well, yes I am",said Gracie",my owners are from San Diego, and came to visit their grandparents here in San Francisco, but I got lost from them, and I ended up here."
"Do you remember the name of the street where you live now",asked Charlie.
"No",said Gracie",but I remember the place. A green stucco house with a tree in front."
"Hmm",said Charlie frowning",there are lots of green stucco houses with trees in front. But don't worry, I'll help you find your way home. I've lived here some time, and I get around."
"Thank you for you help, Mr. Barkin",said Gracie, looking up at Charlie who was three times taller than her",You are very kind, although I don't know you at all".
"It's nothing",said Charlie",helping people is my job."

Gracie looked up at Charlie. He was so handsome, so strong and agile. At the same time, so kind and noble. She started to feel a crush on him at first sight, although she didn't know him. He was everything a girl could ask for. Or so he seemed.

They turned into another alley.
"We're going to my work place, the Flea Bite Cafe",said Charlie",we'll take care of you if those thugs try to harm you again."
"We?",asked Gracie.
"Yeah,"said Charlie",me and someone else you'll meet soon."

Gracie smiled. Perhaps it was another handsome male like Charlie. Perhaps his brother. Or a cousin, or friend. She could hardly wait.

Flea Bite Cafe
9:15 AM

Charlie and the Spaniel arrived at the Cafe.
"Is he your brother, or cousin, or just a friend. You know, the one that I'll meet soon?",asked Gracie.
"Well, not exactly",said Charlie.

He went in, followed by Gracie, and he sat at the counter on one of the high stools.
"Please, have a seat",said Charlie.
"Thanks, but I'll just wait here",said Gracie. She was willing to meet the other handsome male, hoping he was like Charlie, or better.

Charlie placed the bag with the things he had bought on the counter.
"Sasha",Charlie called out softly",I'm back".

Gracie's bubble burst violently.
"Sasha?",thought Gracie, not expecting this",well, maybe she's his sister or something".

But, her hopes melted down completely when she saw a beautiful, young Irish Setter come to where Charlie was.
"Hello, Sasha",said Charlie smiling.
"Hi, Charlie",said Sasha with a sweet smile in return. She sat on a stool on the other side of the counter and kissed his cheek.
"I got everything we needed for the store room. Detergent, mops and sponges. I'll start the clean up right away",said Charlie.
"Oh, Charlie. You are the greatest",said Sasha.
"I've got something rather unusual to say as well",said Charlie, holding her little paw",we have a guest."
"A guest?",asked Sasha.
"Yes. Well, kind of",said Charlie.

Charlie called Gracie, and Gracie sat on one of the stools. She looked at Sasha, full of envy.
"Sasha",said Charlie",this is Ms. Gracie. She was chased by Klin's gang."
"Oh, those trouble makers again",said Sasha.
"Yes, but she's safe now",said Charlie

Charlie turned to Gracie.
"Ms. Gracie",said Charlie",I would like you to meet my girlfriend, Ms. Sasha La Fleur".
"Nice to meet you",said Sasha with friendly smile, holding out her paw for Gracie to shake",and welcome to our Flea Bite Cafe. You'll be okay here. Charlie and I will take care of you".

Now Gracie was completely sunk.
"Girlfriend, huh?",thought Gracie bitterly, but she shook Sasha's paw.

At that moment, Bess came into the Cafe.
"Hello everyone!",said Bess.
"Hello Bess",they answered.

Bess came up to where they were and noticed the newcomer.
"Bess",said Charlie",I'd like you to meet Ms. Gracie. Ms. Gracie, this is our friend, Bess".
"Pleased",said Bess, and they shook paws.
"Now",said Charlie",does anyone want a refreshment? I'll make something delicious for everyone; you ladies just sit down and relax".

Charlie dashed into the kitchen to fix something to eat.
"Is he always this nice?",asked Gracie.
"Always",answered Sasha, looking sweetly at Charlie.

Sasha and Bess sat down at a table with Gracie. She glared at Sasha, and whenever Sasha looked at her, she just gave a false smile. Although they had been nothing but kind, Gracie didn't like Sasha. She had bursted her hopes with Charlie, although neither Charlie or Sasha knew it.
"So, Ms. Gracie",said Sasha cheerfully",where do you live?"
"That's what I don't know",said Gracie",I'm lost. The only thing I remember is that I live in a green stucco house with a tree in front."

Sasha thought.
"Hmm",said Sasha", There are lots of green stucco houses with trees in front".
"That's exactly what Mr. Barkin said",commented Gracie.
"Really?",said Sasha smiling",oh well, I guess we do think the same thing at times. Hahaha".
"Yeah",said Bess",you two are like two beans in a pod. Alike, and different at the same time."

Gracie didn't like this remark. It made her angry, but she tried not to show it.
"Don't worry Ms. Gracie",said Sasha",we'll help you find you house. Helping people is our job."

This too was another of Charlie's quotes, but Gracie said nothing.
Just then, Charlie came to the table with a tray of little sandwiches and glasses of cool peach juice.
"There you are",said Charlie",help yourselves."

He gave a glass of juice to everyone.
"Go ahead and try it",said Charlie",I hope it's good".

Gracie sipped some. It was deliciuos.
"Mr. Barkin",said Gracie",it's great! Did you make it yourself?"
"Well, yes I did",said Charlie",I'm glad you like it."
"I can see now why your place is so famous",said Gracie",you must have a lot of customers."

They ate the sandwiches, which were praised by Gracie just as much as the juice.
"Mr. Barkin, I must say you are a gourmet",said Gracie.
"Do you like the bread? It's Charlie's also. He bakes it from scratch",said Bess.
"Do you, Mr. Barkin?",asked Gracie.
"Yes, actually",said Charlie.
"I must say I am impressed. Besides good looking, manly and strong, you are also talented",said Gracie, looking at Sasha to see if she showed any signs of jealousy or dissaproval. To her dissapointment, she didn't.
"Yes, Charlie is very special",said Sasha with a nice smile, much to Gracie's annoyance.

After they finished, Charlie cleared the table and took care of the dishes with Sasha's help. Bess and Gracie talked a little more.
"So, Bess",said Gracie",where do they live?."
"They have a house in an alley not far from here",said Bess",it was a human house at one time, but now humans don't use it anymore, and us dogs can move in without problem."
"Do they live, together?",asked Gracie, with a little stress on that last word.
"Yes they do",answered Bess.
"And, they work here everyday, don't they,"asked Gracie, being as cassual as possible.
"Yup",said Bess",and I work with them as well. We only close on Sundays".

Gracie thought Bess would be a good fountain of information about Charlie, provided that she didn't guess her intentions.

Yes, you might have guessed it already. Gracie was determined to get Charlie to like her, no matter what. But this little Spaniel, as you might have also guessed, didn't truly love Charlie. She just...er, wanted him. You know, because he was handsome and brave, and a good cook. She thought Charlie was just like any other male, susceptible to female flirting. Unfortunately for her, she thought wrong. She would find out that Charlie was completely different from everyone else she had ever met. And you'll see that as you read on.

Charlie and Sasha came back to the table and sat down, side by side.
"I think you'd better settle down and rest before we go out to find you house",said Charlie.
"We thought maybe you'd like to come to our house",said Sasha",what do you say?"

Gracie didn't want them to suspect anything, so she accepted. Charlie closed the Cafe temporarily. Then, Gracie, Bess, Sasha and Charlie left the place and started the walk towards their house.

Canine's Household
11:00 AM

The canine's got to the house, and Charlie opened the front door with a key he had with him, not the one he hid in a crack in the wall. When they went in, Gracie looked around and admired the interior.
"The family room is over here",said Charlie",please make yourself at home."

They all sat on the sofa and couches. After they had settled down, they started to talk about the further proceedings.
"So",said Sasha",what do we do first?"
"There is a green stucco house close to the park",said Charlie",we can start there. Ms. Gracie, do you remember living close to the park?"

Gracie thought a moment.
"I don't remember",she said",but it might be a good place to start."
"There is another green stucco house on the next street, close to Sidney's",said Bess.
"I remember seeing one just close to Van Ness Av.",said Sasha.
"Well",said Gracie",I guess we'll have to seach 'em all".

Charlie and Sasha thought of starting with the closest one, near the park. Everyone agreed it was best.
"Would you like to take a nap before going?",asked Sasha",the guest room is just down the hall."
"Oh, thank you, but I'm not tired",said Gracie",I'd rather stay here and chat with Bess."

Bess just smiled.
"Okay, let's leave at two thirty then",said Charlie",how's that?"
"Suits me well",said Gracie.
"Great. Then it's settled",said Sasha.

She and Charlie went out to the shady balcony through a wide doorway across the room, and sat down together.
Gracie stayed inside with Bess.
"Good time to get some information",thought Gracie",I'd better be careful, though."

She turned to Bess.
"So, Bess",said Gracie",how are you doing?"
"Oh, just fine",said Bess.
"There's some stuff I need to know",said Gracie",about you all."

Bess sat up.
"I'm all ears",said Bess.

Gracie pointed in direction of Sasha and Charlie, sitting outside on the balcony.
"Don't they ever argue?",asked Gracie",you know, them two".
"You mean Sasha and Charlie? No",said Bess",they don't waste time in silly things like arguing or fighting. Only stupid people do that."
"But surely they disagree sometimes",said Gracie.
"Oh, yes, we all have different oppinions, so naturally they disagree once in a while",answered Bess",but when they do, they search for a point of agreement calmly and without getting angry, instead of shouting or arguing. Smarter than most people if you ask me."

Gracie was quite startled by their total absence of conflict.
"Boy, Mr. Barkin sure is handsome",said Gracie",and brave too. He's a real dream. What do you think, Bess?".

Bess didn't say anything.
"By the way, what does he admire most in a female",asked Gracie, forgetting to be cassual",does he like the smaller ones? Does he like slim ones? Or just pretty eyed ones? Or does he like the ones that flirt a lot?"

Bess didn't speak.
"I wonder what he thinks about me",said Gracie.

Bess still didn't speak. Gracie stopped talking.
"What's the matter, Bess?",asked Gracie",did the cat eat your tongue."

Bess looked straight at her.
"Ms. Gracie",said Bess calmly",Charlie already has a girlfriend, and I can assure you, he wouldn't change her for anything in the whole universe. Not even if you give him the whole world, he would never change Sasha. He completely adores her, she is the very center of his life, and he is willing to give his life to protect her. Now that, if you ask me, is true love."

Gracie just sat there silent. Bess had seen her feelings. She was smarter than Gracie thought.
"I assume you have a crush in him",said Bess.
"Well, yeah",said Gracie.
"I don't blame you at all for feeling that way. It is perfecly normal for us females to feel attracted by a male like Charlie, because he is truly very singular indeed",said Bess", But tell me, honestly, do you like him just because he's good looking, strong, and talented, only because he's cute?"

Gracie looked uncertain.
"What do you mean by 'just because he's cute'?",Gracie asked confused",He is cute, and I like him, isn't that clear? That's all there is to it".
"I'm sorry, but that's not all there is to it",said Bess",no offense, but you don't truly love Charlie. You just feel attracted to him for what he looks like. Sasha loves Charlie for who he is. Sasha loves him for the person he is inside: sweet, kind, intelligent, respectful and caring. You just want him for who he is on the outside. And there is a great difference between you and Sasha. You want him for selfish reasons, for your own happiness. Sasha doesn't, she want's him to be happy. And, Charlie feels exactly the same for her".

Gracie didn't say a single word, just stared.
"Look",said Bess",I don't wish to offend you, but you must try to forget about the idea that Charlie will like you sometime. Charlie is much more that just a pretty face. He is handsome, no one says he isn't. In fact, I think he's handsome too. But he is not available, and he is not the kind of guy for you. Please understand".

Gracie was reluctant.
"What do you know about my feelings for him?",protested Gracie.
"Please, I'm just trying to help you",said Bess.

Gracie ignored Bess and looked at Charlie and Sasha, sitting on the balcony, holding paws and smiling. She felt a terrible hatred building inside her towards Sasha.
"It's not fair",thought Gracie",why does Charlie like that setter so much? I could be a lot better girlfriend than her. And that's what I'm gonna prove."

She looked at Bess again.
"Look, Bessie",said Gracie, with her false smile",I'm sorry. I'll just have to leave Mr. Barkin to his rightful female."
"Don't worry",said Bess",I won't tell them anything, okay?"
"Okay",said Gracie, not meaning it one bit.

She was determined to get Charlie to like her, no matter what. She would have to compete with Sasha, even if she already was his girlfriend. Gracie was obsessed by now. And only one thing was certain, they were all in for a surprise.

San Francisco Streets
2:30 PM

Charlie, Sasha, Bess and Gracie set off to search for the famous stucco house that was home to the Cocker Spaniel. They followed the street, passed the Cafe, and got to the park.
"Well, here we are",said Bess.
"The house is on the other side",said Charlie",we can cross the park."
"Good",thought Gracie",the park is the perfect place for our first date."
"Let's go on, then",said Sasha.

Gracie's idea was to walk alongside Charlie, and lean on him, although she was not tall enough to reach his shoulder. The only problem was that Sasha was walking beside him too.
Oh well, Gracie would take that as a challenge. She walked beside Charlie, which was not very easy because Charlie's legs were longer than hers, therefore his paces went farther. She managed to half run to keep up with him. Bess, walking beside Gracie, was watching her.
"Ok",thought Gracie", so far so good. Now for the next step."

She was about to lean on Charlie, but he suddenly stopped, and she walked passed him.
"Here we are",said Charlie",this is the house I told you about."

They had already gotten to the other end of the park, and across the street there was a green stucco house, just like Charlie said.
"Well,"said Sasha",let's see if it's your house, Ms. Gracie."

Charlie and Sasha walked towards the house. Gracie sat down awhile on the side walk, and Bess walked towards her friends.
"Nice try",whispered Bess at Gracie as she passed by.

Gracie just grumbled. Then she got up and followed her.
The house did look like hers indeed. Sniffing the ground around it, though, she got the answer.
"No",said Gracie",it's not mine. I smell other humans. Not my owners."
"Oh, well",said Charlie",we tried."
"Yeah",said Sasha",let's go look at the other ones".

Everyone agreed. This time, they didn't go through the park. Instead, they went around it. It was quite a while after that they got to another green stucco house with a tree in front, very close indeed to Sidney's General Store. Gracie does the same thing as before, and finds that is isn't her house either.
"Well, that's isn't it either",said Bess.
"The last one is near Van Ness",said Sasha",I'll lead the way."

Sasha walked ahead of them to show the way.
"Ha!",thought Gracie",a perfect moment to try again, now that she's out of the way."

Gracie half ran beside Charlie and tried to lean on him again, but they turned at a corner, and Gracie failed again.
"Give up",said Bess as she walked passed.

After a while, they got to the last stucco house they knew.
"Is this it?",asked Sasha.

Gracie smelled around the place, and, it was! It was her house, because she could smell her owners and herself as well. However, she was not going to admit it. She had plans for Charlie, and returning home would be an obstacle for for her plans. She would lie, saying that the house wasn't hers, and would go back with them.
"Nope",she said",it's not it."

Charlie, Sasha and Bess gave up.
"Oh well",said Charlie",we'll search again tomorrow. Let's go home."
"Yeah",said Sasha.

They went back along the same streets they had came from, and returned home.

Canine's Household
4:45 PM

Sasha, Charlie, Bess and Gracie were back in the living room, sitting down and planning their next moves.
"We'll have to ask the police dogs about the location of other stucco houses",suggested Bess.
"That's a splendid idea",said Charlie.
"And maybe we could ask the dog that brings the newspaper too",said Sasha",he'll know for sure."
"Another great idea",said Charlie.

Gracie was thinking about her own next move. Maybe she could ask to help them at the Cafe, and thus prove that she can work a lot better than Sasha. She was willing to try anything. By now, she was obsessed with her crush.
"Gee, guys",said Gracie",I really appreciate all you've done for me. I really wish I could repay you in some way."
"Oh, don't worry Ms. Gracie",said Charlie",that's not necesary."
"We help because we want to",said Sasha",we don't need anything in return."
"I'd really like to help you. Maybe I could give you a hand running your Cafe tomorrow",said Gracie.
"Well...",thought Charlie",alright! It's fine with me".
"And me too!",said Sasha.

Gracie just smiled. Night came, and Gracie was lead to the guest room. Bess went home. Gracie went to sleep, planning all her moves beforehand. Charlie and Sasha fell asleep in the living room. And so, everyone was in the deep trance of the night, until dawn the next day.

Flea Bite Cafe
8:00 AM

Charlie, Sasha and Gracie were at the gates of the Cafe. Charlie opened the locks with his keys, and Sasha and Gracie stepped in.
"Well",said Charlie",there isn't quite so much to do, just get the tables, glasses and refreshments ready. When the customers arrive, take things they order to their tables, someone attends the cash register, and someone attends the soda fountains".
"Charlie and I usually do the tray carrying",said Sasha",Bess attends both the register and the fountains."
"It doesn't sound that hard",said Gracie",I'll be able to help."

Gracie had planned on taking over Sasha's dutys, showing that she could do them faster or better in some way.
Charlie went to the cupboard, and got out the soda glasses and mugs.
"I'll rinse and arrange the glasses",said Charlie",meanwhile, you girls can get out the napkin and tooth pick holders, and the salt and pepper trays."
"Right",said Sasha",the trays are in that drawer, and the napkins and toothpicks are in the other."

Sasha indicated the location of the different things they used. Gracie arranged the napkins and filled the salt and pepper shakers. Sasha then showed her how to opperate the soda fountains. Gracie did a fine job, but was waiting for her chance to prove herself better than Sasha. And it came.
Charlie was drying the rinsed glassed and arranging them on the counter, when he realised his drying cloth had been soaked up.
"Uh, Sasha?",said Charlie",could you please get me a dry cloth?"
"Of course, Charlie",said Sasha, walking towards the drawer in which they kept the cloths.
Gracie shot off like a bullet and flung open the drawer, taking a pawfull of what seemed like drying cloths and raced to where Charlie was. She held them out, smiling in a flirty manner.
"Uh, thank you Ms. Gracie",said Charlie",but, those are trash bags."

In the hurry, Gracie picked a paw full of trash bags instead of drying cloths.
"Silly me",said Gracie, cursing and swearing inside.

Sasha came with a drying cloth in her paw, and gave it to Charlie.
"Thank you, Sasha",said Charlie.

This made Gracie furious.
"Oh, I think I forgot to show you where we keep the cloths",said Sasha.
"I just got confused",said Gracie",sorry".
"That's alright, Ms. Gracie",said Charlie",you meant kind."
"You have done a great job",said Sasha",we'll consider you if we ever need to hire someone else."

Gracie just gave them her false smile.
"Well",said Charlie",that's almost all there is to it."
"Now, we wait for the first customers to arrive",said Sasha.
"Oh, I'm good at that",said Gracie.

Sasha and Charlie sat down at the counter. Gracie sat on the stool next to Charlie's. She was thinking seriously about what she should do next. Trying to compete with Sasha was too difficult, because Sasha had an enormous advantage. Maybe playing dirty will do the trick. Yes, a trick or two to make Sasha look ridiculous might be the appropriate way to make Charlie change his mind about her.
"I'll have to be careful, though",thought Gracie",I can't risk being caught."

Her chance came faster than she expected. The first two customers came, and ordered two mugs of soda. Sasha filled the mugs to brim and placed them on a tray. Turning around to get a dry cloth to wipe the drips of soda, Gracie threw a paw full of salt into both mugs. Now, a chemical reaction occers when sodium cloride comes in contact with carbonated water, and the reaction causes froth to appear very quickly. As Sasha turned around, took the tray and started walking towards the customer's table, froth climbed out the mugs like lava from a volcano, and it spilled onto the tray and floor. Alarmed, Sasha turned back towards the counter, but she slipped on the froth that had spilled on the floor. Fortunately, Charlie was close, and he held her, preventing her from falling and dropping the tray.
"Whew!",said Sasha",you where in the right place and at the right time, Charlie. Thank you."

Charlie smiled. Gracie felt triumphant, she had made Sasha look like a dummy.
"Oh, you should be more careful, Sasha",said Gracie",or you could hurt yourself".
"Yeah",said Sasha",I guess you're right."
"Don't you agree with me, Mr. Barkin?",asked Gracie, glancing at Charlie.

Unfortunately for Gracie, Charlie was there to help Sasha, and not to make her feel bad.
"Don't worry, Sashy",said Charlie, smiling",it happens to everyone now and then. The important thing is that you are okay."

Sasha smiled. Charlie wiped a bit of froth from Sasha's cheek with a clean cloth, and this gesture made Sasha feel very happy. But it also made Gracie furious. She had failed again.
"Curse you, Sasha!",thought Gracie hatefully.

The customers drank their mugs of soda, paid, and left.
Bess came at around 9:30 and said hello to everyone. She wasn't at all surprised at seeing Gracie working at the place. She had already thought that the Cocker Spaniel would try in vain to impress Charlie.
"Well",said Bess",it's nice to see you all working together."

Sasha and Charlie smiled. Bess went to the sink and help Charlie rinse the mugs.
"I spoke to the newspaper dog this morning",said Bess",and he said there was another stucco house at the corner of St. Patrick street and Palm street. Maybe we should try there."
"Yeah",said Charlie.
"I could take you there now, Ms. Gracie",offered Sasha.
"But you must take care of the place",said Gracie",Mr. Barkin could take me, while you stay and attend your Cafe?"
"Hmmm",said Bess, guessing Gracie's intentions",I think we should all go together."
"Well, someone had to stay in charge of the place",said Sasha",why not do what Ms. Gracie says? Do you agree, Charlie?"
"I can take her a while and come back",said Charlie",that is, if you girls have no trouble staying in charge of the place for a while."
"No problem at all",said Sasha",we can manage the place for a while."
"Okay",said Charlie",then we'll be back in a jiffy."

Charlie walked towards the entrance, followed be Gracie. Bess whispered something at her as she passed by.
"You're wasting your time",whispered Bess, but Gracie didn't pay attention.

Sasha and Bess stayed at the Cafe, while Charlie took Gracie to check the stucco house. Gracie had succeeded in the first part of her plan. And now, the difficult part was coming. You'll see that next.

San Francisco Streets
10:00 AM

Charlie walked at an energic pace, and Gracie managed to stay beside him. Gracie was never know for her stamina, and soon asks Charlie if they can stop and rest.
"Mr. Barkin",said Gracie",do you think we can stop for a while and catch our breaths?"
"Hmm",said Charlie who was not the least bit tired,",I guess it's okay."

Charlie lead her to a small, grassy sitting place meant for humans, it was like a little park with a few benches and a grassy playground for the human children. Charlie sat down on a patch of grass. Gracie's plan had gone well up to now. The second part was to smoother Charlie with flirts. Gracie sat down right beside Charlie, moving towards him until their thighs touched. Charlie felt Gracie's thigh against his own, and moved away. Gracie resented this.
"So, Charlie",said Gracie",are you a shy guy?"

Charlie was a little annoyed.
"What happened with 'Mr. Barkin'?",asked Charlie.
"Oh, we're friends now, aren't we?",asked Gracie",that formal stuff like calling you 'Mr. Barkin' is history."
"Friendship is one thing, respect is another",said Charlie, very annoyed by now.
"Oh, you're such a philosophical guy",said Gracie.

Charlie didn't like the sound of her voice. It was very different, slightly pushy. Gracie came closer and leaned against Charlie. Charlie found this even more annoying, and quickly got up.
"Cut that out!",said Charlie sternly.
"I can't help it. I like you, Charlie",said Gracie with a flirty tone",you're so cute. I can't imagine how you can go along the world without a proper girlfriend."

Charlie was offended by now.
"You know",said Gracie",I think you and I should, you know, get to meet each other a lil' better..."
"Listen!",said Charlie sharply",Ms. Gracie, I already have a girlfriend, and you know that very well..."
"You mean Sasha?",asked Gracie in disgust.
"Yes, I mean Sasha, and it's Ms. Sasha for you",said Charlie.
"Oh, get serious, Charlie",said Gracie",forget Sasha. Try someone different for a change. I can be a very interesting gal if you give me a chance..."
"Ms. Gracie",said Charlie",stop that! You're acting like a little spoiled child!."

Gracie was not going to give up.
"Oh, come on Charlie",said Gracie",don't be difficult. What would you know about a girl's feelings anyway. Can't you understand when a girl loves you..."

Charlie lost his patience.
"That's enough!",said Charlie",I'm not going to stand this any longer. I'm going back with Sasha and Bess."

Charlie started walking back home. Gracie shot off behind him.
"Come on, Charlie, hon",said Gracie",have a heart."
"Get away from me",said Charlie.

A pair of dogs passed by them, and Gracie leaned against Charlie.
"We're on a date!",she called out at the other two dogs.
"Uh, great, I guess",said the confused couple.

Charlie was furious by now.
"Stop that, Ms. Gracie",said Charlie, pushing her away.
"But I can't",said Gracie",I like you!"

Then, Charlie exploded.
"STOP THAT RIGHT NOW!!!",shouted Charlie, pushing her away.

Gracie was shocked. She had never thought Charlie would lose his temper and react that way. She pulled herself together, but looked at him a little nervously. Charlie felt a bit upset about shouting at her, and tried to reson with her.
"Look, Ms. Gracie",said Charlie",I'm sorry I shouted at you, but you must understand that I don't feel the same for you and I never will. I'm helping you find your home because I want to help people that need me. I know it hurts, Ms. Gracie, and I feel sorry to say this to you, but you must try to understand. Sasha is my girlfriend, and I love her."

Gracie was very upset.
"But, I also love you, Charlie",said Gracie.
"Ms. Gracie",said Charlie",if you truly love me, then you must try to understand that I can't feel the same for you."
"No! That's not true",said Gracie",I want to be with you! You make me happy."
"Ms. Gracie",said Charlie",loving someone is wishing that someone to be happy, even if you don't form part of that person's happiness. What makes me happy is being with Sasha. She makes me happy. If you truly love me, you must understand that Sasha is my happiness".
"But Charlie",said Gracie",it's not fair. I can be a better girl than Sasha. I can be a better girlfriend".
"Ms. Gracie",said Charlie",maybe you can be better than Sasha to the eyes of other people, but to my eyes, no one is so special as Sasha. I know it hurts a lot now, but you will overcome it and forget your sadness in time, and you'll realise that I wasn't the guy you truly loved. It happens to everyone. Please, be brave, understand."

Tears filled Gracie's eyes, and she couldn't help dripping them.
"It's not fair",said Gracie behind her tears",I want to be with you. There is no one else like you in the world, Charlie. You're everything a girl could ask for."
"I know it hurts, Ms. Gracie",said Charlie",but you and only you can make it fade. You'll be alright. I promise".

Gracie gave up. She wasn't getting anywere.
"Well",said Gracie, wiping her tears",I guess you're right."

Charlie tried to cheer her up.
"Don't worry, I'll keep it between us",said Charlie",please don't cry. Let me see a smile."

Gracie managed a sickly smile.
"That's better",said Charlie",you are very brave, Ms. Gracie. Let's go home, and we'll search for your house tomorrow. Okay?."

Gracie agreed.
Charlie started walking back towards the Cafe. Gracie walked by his side, still very upset about being turned down. But Charlie wasn't very happy either. He was upset too; it's not easy to tell a girl that you don't feel the same for her. These things are very painful for both, and especially for the one that is turned down. But time fades even the deepest of sorrows, and a true love will banish those memories forever. That's the way life goes.

However, Gracie wasn't like all the other girls. In her past, she had never been turned down because she always flirted and made herself irresistable for the males she had a crush on. One must come to note that the males she seduced weren't the very kind type, most of them being rude, low lived and mean, just wanting a girl to use and dump when she had served his desires. But Charlie was different. Charlie was very kind, unselfish, caring and handsome. It was almost impossible not to fall in love with him. But alas, he was not available. He already found the true love of his life. And that's where Sasha comes in. But Sasha was a very special girl too. Her spirit was almost identical to Charlie's. She was also a caring and lovely girl, and on top of that, she was very beautiful, with emerald green eyes, silky golden brown fur and a sweet voice.
But, did Charlie really love Sasha that much? How did he demonstrate it to her? And how did she demonstrate to him that she truly loved him? How was their life as a couple? Did they go out together, and what kind of places did they go to? All these questions filled Gracie's mind, and this gave her another idea. She would secretly follow Charlie and Sasha when they went out, and that way she would find out the answers to her questions.
Charlie turned into a well known alley, and in a few minutes they arrived at the Flea Bite Cafe.

Flea Bite Cafe
11:00 AM

There were only two customers at the tables. Sasha and Bess handled them quite well while Charlie was gone. As Charlie and Gracie entered the place, he greeted Sasha and Bess.
"Hi girls",said Charlie.
"Hi Charlie!",said Sasha.
"How did it go?",asked Bess.
"Not well",said Charlie",we'll continue the search tomorrow."

Bess understood his expression. Charlie had found out about Gracie's crush, and he had personally told her that he was not available. Sasha didn't know about anything of this, but Charlie would tell her later on. There were no secrets between them, and Charlie had no intention of hiding this truth from Sasha. He had told Gracie that he would keep it between them, but only until Gracie left them and went home. Gracie knew somehow that Sasha would hear all about it, and this made her hatred towards the setter grow even more.
"You goody-goody, sloppy old frump",thought Gracie hatefully",you stole Charlie away from me. I'd be a lot better than you. I deserve him more than you".

Yes, Gracie was not giving up, yet. She wouldn't lose this chance. Charlie was far too good to loose to this sappy setter, and Gracie was going to do anything to take him away from her. Yup, she was obsessed. And the real trouble would be starting soon.

The rest of the day passed by without anything worth mentioning. At the end, Charlie, Sasha, Bess and Gracie went back to their alley house, had one of Charlie's delicious dinners, and went to sleep.
The next day was Sunday, and the Cafe was closed. Gracie had plans for tomorrow, and by gum, she would put them in action.

Canine's Household
9:00 AM

Sasha and Charlie had just gotten up from their sleep. Everyone was up already, and the sun was hidden behind a thin veil of clouds. Gracie was outside on the front steps with Bess, talking. Bess had already found out of yesterday's happenings. She wasn't surpised at all. Gracie hadn't gotten much sleep, but she was ready to put her plan in action right away.
Sasha and Charlie came outside and said good morning to Bess and Gracie. It was a Sunday morning, and Charlie, Sasha and Bess invited Gracie to go to church. Gracie was not a very religious dog, but she accepted just because she didn't want them to suspect anything. There was a small chapel closeby, they arrived very quickly and sat down outside at one of the low windowsills and listened to the human priest from there. There were other dogs as well, all sitting at the windows and listening. When the human stood, do did the canines. It was quite an unusual sight, but the fact is that no one actually noticed the dogs outside. They were all concentrating in listening to the evangelium and singing along with the chorus. Charlie placed a few coins in the collection plate, which were used to cover the necessities of the priests and the chapel's mantainence staff. Of course the coins that dogs gave were changed for human currency before they were secretly left to the priests.
After the ceremony, our friends and Gracie went back home.
"We should show you around the town",said Sasha",there are many places to go and lots to see. We can enjoy a nice Sunday tour."

Gracie had other things in mind.
"Thank you very much",said Gracie",but I don't feel like touring today. I think I'll just stay."
"Do you feel unwell?",asked Charlie.
"No",said Gracie",but, I'm just not in the mood for going out. But why don't you and Sasha go out and have a nice time? You should make the best of your Sunday."

Charlie wasn't sure. Leave their guest unattended wasn't a good idea, and it wasn't right. Bess read his thoughts.
"Don't worry Charlie",said Bess",I'll stay with her and see that she's alright. You two should go and have some fun."

Charlie looked at Sasha.
"What do you think, Sasha?",asked Charlie.
"I think it's okay",said Sasha",Bess can take care of Ms. Gracie while we're gone."
"Relax. I'll be in charge",said Bess.
"Please, don't worry about me, Mr. Barkin",said Gracie",I'll be fine. Go ahead, and have a nice time".
"Well, alright. I guess it's fine",said Charlie.

He and Sasha said good bye to Bess and Gracie, and they left.
Gracie's plan was working. Now, she had to follow them somehow. Bess would be no obstacle, for she had probably guessed Gracie's intentions.
"Oh, well",said Gracie",here we go. My plan worked so far."

Gracie got ready to leave, following Charlie and Sasha in disguise. She had seen a hat store not far from the park the other day, and a nice, big hat would do just fine to conceal her identity. Of course she would have to steal one, but that was nothing she haven't done before.
Gracie was just stepping out the door, when Bess came up to her.
"You'll never give up, will you?",asked Bess.
"You're right! I'm not giving up!",said Gracie",Charlie is to good to loose to that setter, and you know it!"
"I can't really stop you",said Bess",but I'm just going to tell you that you're wasting your time. Charlie will never come to like you, and you'd best make peace with that. Sasha will always be his girlfriend, his true love, and no one else. That's all. Now, do as you wish."

Gracie didn't pay any heed to Bess. She just left, more determined than ever. She would get Charlie away from Sasha, no matter the cost. Or at least, so she thought.

San Francisco Streets
11:00 AM

Gracie was about a block behind Charlie and Sasha, keeping herself unseen around the corner until she had gotten a proper disguise. Sasha and Charlie were talking and laughing happily, Gracie could see it in their faces. At last, they went to the park. Gracie saw the hat shop closeby, and decided to steal a hat. She took her eyes off the lovely pair for just a few seconds to make a dash for the hat shop. Once there, she quietly snatched a big hat that covered her entire body like an umbrella, and tipped it forward to conceal her face.
"Ok",thought Gracie",now to follow those two."

Gracie looked back in direction of the park and saw our friends just entering the main gate and heading towards the artificial lake. Gracie followed them, keeping her distance, but minding to stay close enough to listen to what they said. Most of their talk she couldn't understand, and the few things she heard were neutral things, like conversations about books, something about someone called Anabelle, and something about angels. Gracie didn't pay much heed to this.
At last, Charlie and Sasha sat down on a grassy patch beside the lake. There were little purple flowers blooming everywere, and especially close to the lake.
"Hmmm",thought Gracie",unusual place if you ask me."

There was a hedge of thick shrubs, and Gracie decided to sneak behing them and try to listen to their conversation. She silently crawled behind tall shrubs, which were about twenty feet away from the couple. Gracie thought she would hear their talk from there, but she thought wrong again. Well, at least she could see them clearly, and they would never suspect that they were being watched.
Gracie sat down and looked. It was quite irritating for her, because she saw them talking and laughing, and occasionally holding paws, and they seemed to be having a good time. Gracie was just sitting there, when someone secretly came up to her from the back.
"BOO!",said someone.

Gracie yelped. Turning around, she saw that it was Bess.
"Sorry",said Bess laughing",but I couldn't bare it".
"Oh, you are such a nosy, sticky old thing",said Gracie angrily.
"Cassually, I was walking around here with my friend, Flo",said Bess",and I saw you crouching behind those shrubs. I told her to wait a second, and here I am".
"You...you're so, so...you mind you own business and let me watch Charlie alone!",Gracie was really mad, and forgot about not telling what she was doing.
"Oh, I see. You're spying on my friends",said Bess",well, I'd better get going, I'm not the kind of girl that barges into other people's business, but just take this in mind: you're wasting your time."

Bess left Gracie and went back with Flo to continue their walk. Gracie, who had stopped looking at Charlie and Sasha for a while, went on spying. She now saw that Charlie had picked a little purple flower and placed it carefully in Sasha's hair. Sasha smiled sweetly and said something to Charlie, he smiled too, and they held paws, nuzzling their noses together. This made Gracie furious. After that, they left, who knows where they were heading. Gracie was furious, but she followed them out of the park. They headed towards an alley not far. It was 12:00 AM, and Gracie guessed they were heading for some lunch. And it turned out she was right.

Perry's Snack Corner
12:10 AM

Gracie followed them into an alley, and it turned out that they were heading towards a snack bar owned by a dog named Perry and his wife. Perry was a middle aged Manchester Terrier, and his place was neat and tidy, with a few tables shaded by blue umbrellas and a nice counter with high stools. He knew Charlie and Sasha, for they frequently came here and were also in the business of selling refreshments.
"Why, hello Mr. Barkin",said Perry",and Ms. La Fleur, how do you do?."

Since it was a warm day, Charlie and Sasha ordered glasses of iced lemon tea. Gracie found a hidding place behind some old boxes, and watched them from there.
Sasha and Charlie had lemon tea, and later on some good looking sandwiches. Afterwards, Charlie payed the bill and they left.
"Hmmm",thought Gracie",so far, nothing very grand."

She follows them out of the alley, keeping a safe distance. Charlie and Sasha's next destination would be once more the park. Gracie followed them, and saw that they were heading back towards the artificial lake. She saw them lay down on a grassy patch side by side under a shady tree, looking at the sparkling water and at each other. Gracie hid behind the bushes again to watch. Sasha hugged Charlie's big arm in both of hers, laying her head on his shoulder. Charlie stroked her hair with his chin. After a while, they fell asleep together cozily under that calm and shady tree. Gracie was filled with envy.
"That should have been me",she growled",I should be in that spot, not that stupid Setter."

Gracie grew bored, but she had to watch until Sasha and Charlie woke up again. After about an two hours, they wake up. Gracie then saw them walk back towards the main gates of the park, heading west, towards the bay. Gracie followed carefully until Sasha and Charlie arrived to their next destination.

San Francisco Bay
2:45 PM

There was a small touring ferry boat that took people around the bay and berthed at piers to let tourists buy things from some interesting craft markets along the coast. Charlie and Sasha loved boat rides, and the boat was secretly open for dogs as well as humans. In fact, some human tourists took their pets along with them, such as cats, parrots and even iguanas, so the boat was free for all species. Charlie bought two tickets from a dog that sold them and they got aboard. Gracie faced a problem. She had no money and therefore couldn't afford to buy a ticket.
"Hmmm",she thought",maybe I can sneak on board".

She looked around and saw the sailor's chain that kept the boat from drifting away, it was a big and wide chain and maybe she could use it to climb aboard.
"It's worth a try",she thought.

And, indeed after a lot of almost getting caught, she managed to climb on board and hide behind some deck benches to prevent being seen. She spotted Charlie and Sasha on the port (left) side of the ship, looking at the vast ocean beyond. They sat together and spoke, but Gracie didn't hear what they said.
The boat left docks and sailed not far from the shore. Gracie suffered from motion sickness during all the voyage and couldn't concentrate on her spying. But the few times she looked at Charlie and Sasha she saw that they laughed and smiled, talking and joking. Gracie felt her envy added to her sickness, and it was simply awful. At last, the wretched boat returned to it's pier, and Sasha and Charlie went down the gangplank and back to firm ground. Gracie followed them without stopping. And at last, they arrived at their next stop.

San Francisco Bay
5:30 PM

There was a very famous 'beside the sea' ice cream parlour, and Sasha and Charlie frequently went there. As you might have guessed, the place was a for humans, but dogs could also buy secretly. Gracie followed them until she saw them stop. There was a stack of crates closeby, and she hid behind them. Sasha and Charlie got themselves some tasty ice cream and sat down outside. Up to now, Gracie had been wrong about them. Normally, the couples she knew went to discos and nocturnal places, but this couple was different, prefering the daylight and the quiet places. She also noticed that they spoke a lot, which was also unusual for her. What did they say? Did they have a lot to say? She was curious about the way Sasha and Charlie sat down and talked, usually smiling or laughing. They seemed to enjoy just sitting down together and talk, just as much as other couples would enjoy going to dance at the night clubs.
At long last, Charlie and Sasha had finished their ice cream, and walked off to another spot closeby. Their next destination would be their last.
Gracie followed Sasha and Charlie until they got to were they went. It was a very curious place indeed. Just a lone wooden pier, bare as bare. What she didn't know was that this pier was a very special spot for them, for it was the same spot were they had fallen in love. Gracie hid behind a stack of lobster traps, and watched. Sasha and Charlie smiled and sat down side by side. They talked a while, although Gracie didn't hear what they said. Then suddenly, Charlie said something to Sasha and they turned their heads and looked at each other in the eyes. Gracie could see their faces and their expressions. Charlie had one paw behind his back, and he seemed to be holding something. Then he smiled, holding out what he had been hiding behind his back. It was a pure white rose, the most beautiful one that Gracie had seen in her life. It shined brightly against the lights of the setting sun. Gracie looked at Sasha, and saw that she was delighted by the beauty of the flower. Gracie heard her exclaimation.
"Oh, Charlie",were Sasha's words",it's so beautiful."

Charlie looked into her eyes smiling. Gracie saw him pronounce what she had feared most, the words she had dreaded most of all.
"I love you, Sasha",Charlie said.

Sasha went rosy in the cheeks, she was so happy. She didn't know what to say. But it wasn't necessary to utter a word. Instead of talking, she gave Charlie a soft and sweet kiss on his cheek, and they snuggled closely, looking at the sunset over the clear waters of the bay.

Now, Gracie was enraged. Her hatred had reached it's peak. Inside, she cursed and sweared, wishing only to make Sasha disappear from the face of the Earth. Then, right at that moment, a big and malevolant plot began to brew in Gracie's mind. She knew exactly what she would do. She gave one last glance and Charlie and Sasha and left the place. Returning to the city, she headed for the alley were she had been attacked. She hoped to find Klin and his gang there. Why? You'll see.

San Francisco Alleys
6:00 PM

Gracie arrived at the alley were she had been chased by the dog punks.
"Klin!",she shouted",were are you, Klin."

Surely enough, he was somewhere near. He stepped out from behind some garbage containers and his gang followed him.
"Hey! It's that lil' chick we almost got the other day",said one of the gang members.
"Let's get 'er now!",said another, walking towards Gracie.
"Me first, boys",said Klin, walking ahead.
"Hey Klin!",said Gracie",take it easy. I'm here to strike a bargain with you."
"What would a lil' chick like you want wit' me, king o' the scum alleys",cooed Klin, getting nearer.
"Well",said Gracie, a little nervous",you wanna get even with Barkin for that blinded eye, don't ya?"

Klin stopped. So did his gang. His face suddenly went serious.
"Ok, girl",said Klin",what's it you got in mind."
"Hehe,"said Gracie",we'll strike a bargain, and forget about all the stuff the other day. What do you say?"
"Get on with it",said Klin",what's your price?"
"Hehehe",said Gracie",I want you t' help me get rid of Barkin's girlfriend, and then I'll help you get even with him, how's that?"
"Hmmm",said Klin",sound's interesting. What's yer plan?"
"I'll tell ya",said Gracie.

Ahh, you see? Gracie's infatuation had her more than merely obsessed. She would do anything to get Sasha away from Charlie, even team up with people that tried to harm her just days ago. Yup, the plot grows and becomes more malevolant. And with her bargain settled, she went to the house, just waiting for the next day to arrive.
Charlie and Sasha arrived to their house shortly after 6:15, and found everything in order. Gracie was in the living room, pretending to read a book. Bess was there too, sitting down and watching the news on a TV set that the humans had left behind.
"Hello everyone",said Sasha and Charlie.
"Hi guys",said Bess.
"Did you have fun?",asked Gracie, looking up from her book.
"Yes we did",said Sasha.
"Were you two all right?",asked Charlie.

The two answered that they were fine. Sasha and Charlie were glad. Bess did not know about Gracie's plot, because she had spent the day with Flo, talking and walking around the park and the city. Gracie pretended to not know anything about Sasha and Charlie's day, but she was planning her moves for the next day. After a nice time in the living room talking all together, Sasha and Charlie asked Bess to stay over to sleep because it was dark already, and Gracie excused herself to go to her room. Bess, Sasha and Charlie went to sleep after a while. And so, only the future happenings remained.

Flea Bite Cafe
9:00 AM

Monday morning came, and the Cafe was open again. Charlie and Sasha were ready to attend the first customers, all was set and ready. Bess would be coming at about 9:30. Unlike the day before, today there was an unusual chill in the air, there were big, grey clouds racing and covering the sky, making the air a bit heavy. Rain was almost sure to fall on that day.
Sasha and Charlie were sitting down at one of the tables and talking. Just then, Gracie arrived.
Gracie walked quickly to their table and said hello.
"Hi everyone",said Gracie.
"Good morning, Ms. Gracie",they answered.

Although Gracie looked normal, she was boiling with plotting inside. She was wearing a little hat she had stolen from the store yesterday (not the same one she used to follow Sasha and Charlie), and under it she had hidden a little bottle of something fluid, like some sort of medicine. Charlie asked her to sit down with them, and she did so.
"We must continue to search for your house today, Ms. Gracie",said Charlie.
"Uh, yeah",she answered",I guess. But we can do that in the afternoon."
"I wonder if it'll rain today",said Sasha",the clouds are getting very dense."
"It's very possible",said Charlie.

Just then, he remembered something.
"That reminds me, I left the umbrella at home",said Charlie",we shouldn't risk catching cold in case it rains in this weather. I'll go fetch it."

Charlie gets up and walks rapidly towards the gate.
"Be right back",he called as he left.

Gracie was left with Sasha, and this was the opportunity she had been waiting for.
"What time is it, Sasha?",asked Gracie, knowing that the only clock was in the store room.
"I'll go check",said Sasha, getting up.

As Sasha went to the store room, Gracie dashed silently to the fountains and filled two glasses with soda, placed them in a tray and went back to the table. Then, from under her hat, she took the little bottle of medicine and unscrewed the lid. She tipped the entire contents into one of the glasses, and stirred it a little to make the fluid and the soda mix up. Hidding the little bottle again, she sat down and took the other glass, just to make sure she didn't confuse them. What was she up to? Well, you might have guessed.

Sasha returned to the table, and sat down.
"It's 9:06",said Sasha.
"Good",said Gracie, keeping in mind that Charlie would take about twenty minutes to return, giving her enough time to put her plan in action",won't you have a glass of soda, Sasha?"
"Oh, thank you",said Sasha, taking the glass.

Gracie was about to watch her plan in action.
"By the way, Ms. Gracie",said Sasha",thank you for helping us out here at the Cafe. I can see that you are a kind person."
"Eh, you're welcome",said Gracie, impatiently waiting for her to drink the soda.
"I've really never met anyone like you before",said Sasha",some people would rather keep their distance at first, but you are quite friendly from the beginning."
"Well, I was always like that",said Gracie",since I was little."
"It's something that very few people have, and I admire you very much",said Sasha.

Now, Gracie had never heard words like these before. No one had ever told her these things before. For a second, Gracie viewed Sasha quite differently, and her envy seemed to cast away.
"Why does she say this to me? What have I done to deserve these words? And look at what I'm doing to her",thought Gracie, very confused indeed. It was like a new feeling she had never felt. She felt guilty for what she had done and was about to do.
"I bet Charlie thinks the same",said Sasha.

Now, just as fast as these strange feelings came, they vanished again. Gracie remembered Charlie, and how she wanted so fiercely for him to like her. She remembered how she hated Sasha and was willing to do anything to get her away from Charlie. Her envy returned, and the old Gracie was back.
"Well, cheers",said Sasha, taking the glass of soda.
"Hehehe",thought Gracie",won't she be surprised.

Sasha sipped some soda, but stopped suddenly. She smelt something strange in it, like some kind of chemical! Sasha dropped the glass immediatly, but unfortunately she had already swallowed some of the soda. Her eyes went wide, and she stared outraged at Gracie.
"What's the matter, Sasha?",asked Gracie with a vile grin",can't you tolerate a little methadone in your soda?!
"METHADONE!!",Sasha gasped.

Yes, Sasha knew exactly what methadone was, for she had read about it with Charlie in the Merck Manual. It was an anesthetic that human medical doctors used. It was very effective to make to individual who took it go numb for 4 to 6 hours. And now, Gracie had mixed it in her soda.
"Hehehe",said Gracie",I think we'll be having some fun, eh, Sasha?"
"But why?",gasped Sasha",what have I done to you?"
"Let's just say, you've got something I want",said Gracie.
"What is it!",Sasha gasped",what do I have that you want?"

Gracie smiled a vile and evil smile.
"Charlie",said Gracie",Charlie is what I want."

Sasha was feeling a bit drowsy. A little late, she remembered she had a tag she could use. She took it in her paw and tried to use it, but her paw didn't respond to her.
"Charlie, help!",Sasha tried to yell, but she didn't find her voice. Then, it all went dark.
"Hehehe",said Gracie",sweet dreams, you filthy old maggot. Hey guys!"

Gracie called out, and Klin and his gang appeared out of no where.
"Ok",said Gracie",let's go! Well take her to the warehouse close to the docks, and we must leave a trail so Barkin can follow."
"Mmmm",said one of Klin's sidekicks",this chick here sure looks good, huh? C'mon, boss. Let's have some fun".
"Don't even think about it!",said Gracie",you are not to harm her until I tell you to."
"Awww, come on",said the dog",chances like this don't show up every day..."
"If you harm her, I'll tell Barkin and you're never going to get your revenge on him",said Gracie",how's that?"

Klin told the dog to calm down.
"You'll get your share when Barkin is dead",said Klin",but if you harm her before it's time, I'll kill you first! Understood?"
"Sure, boss",said the dog.
"Now, we gotta get her away",said Gracie",Barkin'll be back any moment. I'll leave this note beside the cash register, he's sure to find it."

And so, Gracie and Klin's gang took Sasha away. What will happen to her now? Only God knows.

Flea Bite Cafe
9:26 AM

Charlie returned to the Cafe with an umbrella in his mouth. He carefully placed it in the umbrella holder they had at the entrance, and went in.
"Sasha",called out Charlie",Ms. Gracie, I'm back."

No response. Charlie walked to where he had left them, and there as no one. He looked in the kitchen and at the counter, but none of them were anywhere to be seen.
"Maybe in the store room",he thought, walking to the door and going down the stairs.
"Sasha!",Charlie called out. But not a single sound was heard.
"Where is she? It's not like Sasha to leave without telling me anything",thought Charlie, getting a little worried.

Suddenly, he heard someone outside.
"Hello? Anyone here?",said the voice. It was Bess.

Charlie went back up the stairs and found Bess.
"Bess, have you seen Sasha?",asked Charlie.
"No, Charlie, I just got here, and I was about to ask you the same",said Bess.
"Where is she?",said Charlie",I left her here with Ms. Gracie, and..."

Suddenly, Charlie realised something. Gracie was nowhere to be found either. Something was definately not right.
Just then, he caught sight of a small shiny thing in the corner of his eye from under the table. He looked, and saw what it was. His heart skipped a beat.
"It's Sasha's miraculous tag!",cried Charlie aghast, taking the tag in his paw.

Bess looked at him, and he looked back. There was definately something wrong in all this.
"Hey, Charlie",said Bess, pointing towards the counter",what's that?!"

Charlie looked in the direction Bess pointed, and saw a piece of paper beside the cash register. He dashed towards it and snatched it, reading it closely. Then, it was all clear.
"Oh, my God",said Charlie",no, please, NO!!!"

He ran back to where Bess was.
"Read it",he said. Bess took the note and read it out loud.

   "To Charlie B:
              When you find this note, I'll be far away. I've got Sasha with me, and I won't harm her if you do as I say. Follow my scent to the warehouse marked with a big 58 near the docks. I'll be waiting there for you. Be careful, Klin's gang is involved, so don't drop your guard. Come alone, and don't call anyone. Remember, it's Sasha's LIFE!!!
                             Your future girlfriend     
                                          Gracie

Bess finished reading, and glanced at Charlie. He was completely tooken aback. Tears dripped from his eyes, and his voice was terribly shooken.
"I shouldn't have left her alone!",said Charlie behind tears",I shouldn't have trusted in Ms. Gracie, ever! Now look what happened! She'll kill her."

Bess tried to calm him down.
"You didn't know, Charlie. How could you know",said Bess.
"I should have been more careful",said Charlie",but that can't be helped now; what's done is done."

Charlie looked up at Bess.
"Bess",said Charlie",I need your help. We have to save Sasha."
"Right",said Bess.

But just then, it started to rain very hard. The rain would be an obstacle for them, because the scent left by Gracie and Klin's gang would be more difficult to follow. But Charlie was determined to rescue Sasha, no matter what.
"Charlie?",asked Bess",do you think she'll hurt Sasha?"
"She'd better not",said Charlie, baring his teeth",because if she does, that's something I'll never forgive."

And so, Charlie and Bess set off to search for Sasha. The cold rain poured on their backs like a waterfall, but in these moment's they didn't care. To them, the only thing that mattered was Sasha's life. They searched for hours and hours, just hoping for the best.

Sea Side Warehouse
2:00 PM

Sasha opened her eyes uneasily. She was lying on her side on top of a crate or some sort of tall, hard surface. Everything looked blurry around her, and she heard the rain pattering on the low roof above her.
She tried to get up, but she couldn't. The effects of the methadone had not weared off completely yet, and she could only slightly move her paws to rub her eyes. When she focused them, she saw a lot around her. A big pile of crates, broken pieces of wood, and shattered windows that let cold and damp jets of air rush around the place. Suddenly she heard voices around her.
"Hey boss, she's awake",said one of these voices.

Warily, Sasha looked in the direction the voice came from, and saw the talker. It was a dog, an ugly punk dog.
"Hey, gal, you sure sleeped a lot",said the dog.

Sasha closed her eyes again, blocking the sight.
"Awww, did I scare you?",crooned the dog",well, maybe I should make up for what I did? Huh, gal?"

Just then, another voice was heard.
"Don't you dare touch her",said the voice",I told you not to touch her until I say you can. Now get out of here before I tell your boss."

It was Gracie. Sasha opened her eyes again and saw the Cocker Spaniel approaching her. She had an evil grin on her face, the same one Sasha had seen at the Cafe.
"So, the little blither is awake, huh?",said Gracie",well, how does it feel to be as useless as can be?"

Sasha tried to speak, and she found her voice. It was very weak, though.
"Why?",said Sasha weakly",Why are you doing this?"
"I already told you why",said Gracie",I want Charlie, and nothing else. You just happen to be the obstacle that is barring my path to get what I want, and now all I have to do is get rid of you and Charlie is mine. You stole him from me, and I'm gonna get him back."

Sasha realised that Gracie was not sane anymore. She had gone crazy, her infatuation had made her go out of her mind and she was willing to kill Sasha to obtain what she thought she would get. But worst of all, there was nothing Sasha could do to stop her.
Klin came into the room with one of his gang members with him. They were also willing to kill her and harm her to get what they thought they would get, revenge on Charlie.

Charlie already knew that Gracie had abducted Sasha, for Sasha faintly remembered hearing something about a note to him. It was all so confusing and blurry. Sasha was frightened by the shadowy figures that swirled around her. Gracie, Klin and his gang, all of them.

She couldn't take it anymore. Sasha started to cry, and this annoyed Gracie a lot.
"I never meant to hurt you",wept Sasha",I never meant to make you feel that bad. Why didn't you tell me, I would help you if I knew."

Gracie started feeling guilty again, but she shook it off instantly.
"Shut up!",said Gracie",Stop that!"
"Lemme silence her",said the dog that was with Klin.
"No, you are not to hurt her until I tell you to",said Gracie.
"No one called for your oppinion",said Klin to his sidekick",get outta here and stand guard outside."
"Sure, boss",said the dog, leaving.

Sasha was still crying. Would she ever see Charlie again? What would Gracie do to her? She could answer none of there tormenting questions. She just closed her eyes, and waited.

San Francisco Streets
2:10 PM

It started to hail, and the large hailstones crashed on the asphalt like meteors. Charlie and Bess had to seek shelter from the falling ice, and found a small bus stop with a roof not far away. They ran towards it. Once safely under the roof, they sat down on the bench and watched the rain fall.
"How much farther do you think they could take Sasha?",asked Bess.
"I have no idea",said Charlie",to say the truth, I've never been to this part of the city."

The hailstones banged against the roof of the little bus stop, making a loud noise.
"Charlie, did Gracie tell you about her feelings?",asked Bess.
"Yes, she did",said Charlie",and I had to turn her down. I tried to be as gentle as possible, but still she was very hurt."
"She told me about it the very first day she arrived. But she told me she would try to forget about it",said Bess",clearly she lied."
"But what can kidnapping Sasha bring to her?",Charlie said",it makes no sense at all."
"She's crazy",said Bess",her feelings drove her crazy, and she's willing to do anything to get you to like her."

Charlie was furious. He still couldn't believe that he left Sasha alone with Gracie at the Cafe. But back then he didn't know absolutely anything about her intentions. At any rate, there was no use crying over spilled milk. It was one mistake he would never make again.
The hail stopped, but the rain persisted. Charlie and Bess returned to their search, following the very faint scent trail that Gracie had left.

Sea Side Warehouse
2:30 PM

Sasha was still lying on he side, looking into the distance, into her thoughts. The effects of the anesthetic had worn off by now, but Sasha pretended to be paralyzed, thinking that if she moved they might force her to take more of the foul medicine. Gracie was sitting down closeby waiting for Charlie to arrive. Klin was growing impatient.
"Look, I'm startin' to believe that you're playing some sorta trick on us",Klin said to Gracie",why isn't Barkin here yet?"
"Be patient will ya",insisted Gracie",he'll be here any moment."
"You said that half'n hour ago",grumbled Klin",and he ain't here yet. If he don't get here in five minutes, I'm gonna pay him of with her."

Klin pointed malignantly at Sasha. Gracie was fed up with Klin's impatience.
"Look! You don't know Barkin",said Gracie",he'll be here in time, and you'll be able to pay him off. I swear it."
"You'd better be right",said Klin",or certain lil' gals are gonna be sorry."

Sasha just closed her eyes again. She couldn't bare to look at any of them.
Just then, one of Klin's sidekicks came into the room.
"Hey boss",said the dog",Barkin's coming, and he ain't alone. There's a lil' chick with him."
"Hmmm",said Klin, turning to Gracie",well, y' were right after all."
"I'll take charge from here",said Gracie", tell yer gang to wait in ambush between the boxes outside near the entrance. You stay here and guard the victim, but you don't touch her until I tell ya, or else".
"Got it",said Klin, looking at Sasha with an evil grin.

Gracie went outside, Klin's gang stay hidden among the boxes near the entrance, and Klin just sat there, glancing at Sasha now and then. Sasha prayed for the best, and waited.

Sea Side Warehouse
2:35 PM

Charlie and Bess saw a big 58 painted on the wall of one of the buildings by the docks. The rain had stopped, and the racing clouds loomed overhead.
"This is it",said Bess.
"It's definately the place",said Charlie",let's go."

They approached the entrance, and Charlie saw Gracie standing there, just a few paces away. Charlie told Bess to stay back, that he would deal with Gracie.
"Hello, Charlie dear...",said Gracie.
"Cut the corny dialogue, Ms. Gracie",growled Charlie",I know what you've done. Where's Sasha?"
"Let's say she's alright, for now",said Gracie.

Charlie was furious.
"You'd better not harm her, or Heaven help you!",Charlie barked",You had no right to do this! Can't you understand? It's not going to get you anywhere."
"You're the one that doesn't understand, Charlie",said Gracie, walking towards him",how could you understand? Sasha has you blinded, she blinds you so that you can't see that I'm truly the one you were looking for all your life. I truly am the one that loves you."
"Ms. Gracie",said Charlie",if you truly loved me, you would never do this to me. You would understand that Sasha means everything to me and would be happy."
"That's not true!",yelled Gracie",I want you, and you deserve better than Sasha. I could be a better girl than she is, if you just gave me a chance."

Charlie walked towards her, but he stopped suddenly. He had stepped on something that was lying around. He looked at it. It was a rope! A perfectly strong rope used for hoisting cargo on board of ships. Charlie got a fantastic idea.
"Okay, Ms. Gracie",said Charlie",I'll give you a chance. Come here."

Gracie approached him.
"Hmmm",said Charlie",maybe I was wrong about you. You do look like a nice girl."
"Really?",asked Gracie.
"Yup",said Charlie",in fact, I've got something for you. I'm sure you'll like it. Oh, but you'll have to close your eyes."
"Of course, Charlie hon",said Gracie, shutting her eyes tight.
"That's a nice girl",said Charlie",no peeking".

Gracie lifted her head expecting a kiss, but instead, she felt something around her neck. She opened her eyes. Quickly, Charlie had grabbed the rope and wrapped it around her neck, tightening it so that she could hardly breathe.
"Isn't that just lovely?",said Charlie behind his teeth",Now, tell me out straight, were's Sasha?!"
"That was dirty play! How could you?",said Gracie.
"Tell me where Sasha is,"growled Charlie",and I won't wring your neck!"
"Okay, she's inside",said Gracie",but Klin and his gang are guarding her. One yell, they kill her. That's my signal".
"Then I'll have to make sure you can't yell",said Charlie, tightening the rope so she could only breathe but neither speak of yell. Next, he binded her with the rest of the rope, making sure she could not escape.
"Bess",called out Charlie",keep an eye on her. I'm going to save Sasha."

Bess ran to where Gracie was, and stood guard. Charlie raced towards the building entrance, ready to clobber anyone in his path.

Klin was inside, waiting impatient. He looked at Sasha, and grinned.
"Well, it seems it's just you and me",crooned Klin.

Sasha looked away.
"Ooo, don't be difficult',said Klin",I can be a really interesting guy, you know what I mean."

Klin stepped towards Sasha.
"I guess you took to much of that drug",said Klin",most gals have fight in 'em. But you seem to like the idea..."

Right in the last moment, Sasha got up, slapped him hard across the face, and leaped away, surprising Klin, who though she was still paralyzed.
"You'd better get away from me",said Sasha.

Just then, she heard a loud barking outside. She instantly recognised it and her fears vanished! It was Charlie!
Klin looked out the window, and saw that Charlie was beating his gang near the front entrance. They had cut Charlie's path, but Charlie knocked them unconscious one after another, leaving them sprawled on the ground.
"Now you're in trouble",said Sasha, dashing towards the door that lead outside. But she stopped dead when she heard a loud bang behing her, and saw a black lump of metal crash on the wall near her. It was a bullet! Klin had a firearm with him. He dashed to where Sasha was and aimed the weapon at her head.
"Now you do as I say, or I'll blow your head off",said Klin.

Sasha had no choice. Klin forced her to walk across the room and up a stairway case that lead to the roof of the building.
Charlie heard the loud bang and knew it was a firearm. He quickly raced into the building. He saw no one inside, but heard a noise coming from above. He ran across the room, headed for the stairway, and he ran up. Once he was on the roof, he saw nothing either.
Klin was behind him, ready to shoot. He clapped his paw over Sasha's mouth so that she couldn't yell. He was just taking aim, when Sasha struggled loose and freed herself from his paw.
"CHARLIE!",yelled Sasha",BEHIND YOU!!"

Charlie flung around and saw them.
"SHUT UP!",yelled Klin, slapping Sasha loudly across the face. She fell to the floor, and held her cheek with her little paw.

Charlie saw this. And in one second, he wasn't Charlie anymore.
A terribly furious rage builded up inside him, he bared his teeth, showing the rows of sharp and murderous teeth ready to rip and ravage fiercely. Klin was in for it. He had harmed Sasha, and that was something Charlie would never forgive.
"YOU FILTHY SWINE!",roared Charlie, dashing straight at Klin.

Klin saw this, and aimed his weapon at Charlie, but before he could pull the trigger, Charlie was on him. Charlie pinned him down on the floor, hurling his pistol away, clawing him and and biting into his neck. Sasha looked up, and gasped. She had never seen Charlie so infuriated. He ripped bits of flesh from Klin's body with his claws and left large, bloody holes in his victim's body with his canine teeth, and nothing Klin did would ever free him from Charlie's fury.
"HOW DARE YOU, YOU ROTTEN SWINE! NO ONE HARMS SASHA, YOU UNDERSTAND, NO ONE!!!",Charlie seemed quite out of control.

After a while, Charlie lifted Klin clear off the ground in his teeth. He carried him to the edge of the building, which was quite high.
"P, please",bellowed Klin",don't do it. Spare me. If you kill me, you'll regret it for the rest of your life..."
"I can live with that",was Charlie's answer.

Sasha watched aghast. She knew Klin was a criminal, but she also knew that Charlie didn't really mean to kill him. Charlie was so infuriated that he didn't know what he was doing. Sasha had to stop him.
"Charlie",she tried to yell, but her voice quavered. Summoning all her might, she found her voice and yelled.
"Charlie!,"yelled Sasha.

Charlie looked back, and suddenly he was himself again. He realised what he was about to do, and dropped Klin back on the safe floor. Charlie looked at Sasha, and tears streamed down his cheeks. He ran to where Sasha was, crying.
"Oh, Sasha",Charlie bellowed behind tears.

Charlie hugged Sasha, and she hugged him back. It was all over.
"I, I was going to kill him",Charlie was very shooken. His fury had made him do things he didn't mean to do. But Sasha understood him.
"It's all over now, Charlie",she said soothingly,",everything's going to be okay."
"Thank you for stopping me, Sasha",Charlie said behind his fading tears.

After a while, Sasha and Charlie were theirselves again. Klin could scarcely drag himself around.
"What do we do about him?",asked Charlie.
"Leave him",said Sasha",his gang will take care of him."

Charlie looked at Sasha and realised that she needed medical attention. The methadone Gracie had given her might have secondary effects, and the best thing was to get Sasha to a doctor quick.
"Where's Ms. Gracie?",asked Sasha.
"Bess is taking care of her",said Charlie grinning",come on, we'd better go."

Sasha and Charlie went to where Bess was. Gracie was still there, all tied up.
"Sasha!",cried Bess, running towards her friend.
"Oh, Bessie",said Sasha",you're alright!"

They were all together once more. It was a happy moment.
"I just had a long and detailed chat with our friend, Ms. Gracie here",said Bess",and she told me everything. And you know, her house is the one you told us about, near Van Ness Av."
"Aha! So you've been faking all this time",said Charlie.
"Yeah, I have",said Gracie furiously.
"Well",said Sasha",I think it's time we returned you to the humbleness of your home."

Gracie protested fiercely, but she had nothing to do.
"Bess, would you mind taking her back to the Cafe?",asked Charlie",I need to take Sasha to a doctor."
"No problem",said Bess",leave it to me!"

Charlie smiled, and took Sasha's paw. Next, he placed his other paw on his angelic emblem, and instantly grew wings. Gracie saw this, and was spellbound.
"See you later Bess",said Sasha.
"See you",said Bess.

And away Charlie flew with Sasha in his arms. Gracie fainted at the sight. Bess was glad about this, because it would be easier to roll her home that way. And so, everything turned out fine.

San Francisco Streets
5:00 PM

Charlie had tooken Sasha to the doctor. The M.D. said that Sasha was fine, and there were no secondary effects in her to worry about. Charlie was glad. Afterwards, they met Bess at the Cafe, ready to return Gracie to her rightful owner. Charlie put the wrapped up Spaniel on the doorstep of her house, ringed the bell, and ran to hide with Sasha and Bess. A fat lady opened the door and looked at the bundle.
"Oooh, my little poochy pooh!",said the lady, untying Gracie and smoothering her with embraces.
"Where have you been, momma was worried about you. Naughty, naughty",the lady took her in and closed the door behind her. And that was the last they saw of Gracie.

Charlie, Sasha and Bess were tired, but happy. They started to walk back home.
"Well",said Bess",I'll be going home now, I could really use some sleep."

Bess said good bye to her friends and headed home to rest. Sasha and Charlie headed towards the Cafe to settle down.

Flea Bite Cafe
5:30 PM

Luckily there weren't any customers that day because of the rain. Sasha and Charlie arrived and sat down at one the tables. Charlie gave Sasha a glass full of grape soda, and she happily accepted it.
Although there was a lot to say, they just sat there, looking into the distance, as if they were looking past everything, including time itself.
Sasha looked at Charlie. She felt so happy to have him close. She snuggled close to him and closed her eyes.
"Oh, Charlie",said Sasha.

Charlie smiled and nuzzled her softly.
"Are you alright, Sasha",asked Charlie",did those thugs harm you?"
"I'm alright",said Sasha",they didn't harm me, but I've been thinking about Ms. Gracie. She really seemed to go quite crazy."

Charlie agreed. It did seem true that Gracie had gone out of her mind because of her infatuation.
"I really don't understand her",said Charlie",I tried to explain to her, but she didn't listen. Maybe she just couldn't accept the reality. I don't know."
"You know, Charlie",said Sasha",I kind of feel sorry for her."
"Really?",asked Charlie.
"Yeah,"said Sasha,"I guess I'd feel the same if I was in her place."
"But you wouldn't do what she did",said Charlie.
"No, I don't think I could",said Sasha.

It was all so strange from a point of view. None of them could see into the mind of a twisted person. Gracie was not sane, and that was almost sure.
"Well",said Sasha smiling",the most important thing is that we're together again."

Charlie smiled.
"You're right",said Charlie",and I've learned a valuable lesson."
"You have?",asked Sasha.
"Yes",said Charlie",I've learned to be more aware of strangers. None of this would have happened if I was more careful. I left you alone with her, and that was a mistake. I'll never make that mistake again."
"It's okay Charlie",said Sasha",we learn from our mistakes. I'll never drink something that a stranger offers me ever again, and that's a promise."

They smiled happily and snuggled closely together.
"I feel kind of unconfortable to be the reason of all this conmotion",said Charlie.
"Oh, don't feel bad, Charlie",said Sasha sweetly",all this situation proves just how special you are to everyone. And Charlie, you are very special."

Sasha smiles, and softly kisses Charlie's cheek.
"I love you, Charlie",Sasha says.

Charlie smiles happily, stroking Sasha's soft fur. And so, the day comes to an end. Now, the most important thing is that Sasha and Charlie were once more together and secure. And they will always remain together, in each other's company. In each other's love.

And that is the end of this strange situation, this infatuation situation.

                              THE END