A loud bang filled the air as Courage leaped from his place on the edge of the bed, his scared howl echoing through the empty hall of the upper floor of the farmhouse. He came to his senses and slowly crept towards the bedroom door and opened it slightly to see what was going on outside.
“Muriel, where is that stupid dog?” a familiar man's voice shouted.
Courage groaned to himself, knowing full well who's voice he heard. It was the farmer Eustace, a man who is as angry as he is bald. Courage had no idea what he was being blamed for, but he knew exactly why. Ever since Courage was first adopted by the farmer's wife, he felt animosity from the Eustace; it turns out he was not a man who liked sharing his wife's affection, especially with another male. This led to Eustace regularly and sometimes violently lashing out against Courage, even if Courage had done nothing more than walk into the same room as him.
Courage knew that had not done anything to the farmer this time either, but nevertheless was going to face his wrath.
“There's only one thing I can do,” Courage thought as he opened the door further.
Courage ran down out of the room and down the steps and quickly made his way to the kitchen to confront Eustace, who just so happened to be standing near his wife, Muriel.
Muriel was a lovely older woman, a little on the heavier side with poofy white hair and sweet demeanor that could calm even the angriest of souls, well save for one. She was Courage's guardian angel and even though Courage had saved her life more times than he could remember, he always knew that he could count on her to be in his corner when he needed her.
Courage slid to a halt behind Muriel, with his hand-like paws clutching her blouse.
“There you are, you stupid dog!” Eustace shouted as he pointed his long bony finger at Courage, who flinched away as though he was about to be smacked.
Muriel looked down at Courage with a gentle smile as she closed the oven door.
“Ahh Courage, there ya are,” she exclaimed happily, her thick Scottish accent adding an extra level of warmth to every word.
In her hands, she held a steaming pie tin,
“I made us a boysenberry pie, Courage,” she continued, “We'll have to let it cool off on the window for a wee while before we can have some, though,”
Courage smiled up at Muriel, she always made the best pies, and he could not wait to get a slice, but there were more pressing matters to attend to first. Eustace was making his way across the kitchen, with one hand behind his back, his beady eyes flickered with a sinister glare from behind his thick glasses. His mouth was turned into a nasty snarl showing off his empty gums, where at one time a full row of teeth once had been.
“You think you can hide from me, you stupid dog! He snapped, keeping ever closer, “Look at what you've gone and done to my garden!”
Eustace pointed with his free hand out the window, and Courage's gaze followed. Outside of the window was only dirt, hot, cracked, barren earth without a single plant in sight. Courage had not seen any garden outside, in fact in all the years he lived with the Baggs, he had not seen Eustace plant a single thing. However, that did not matter, Courage knew that Eustace was only making up an excuse to abuse him, and just like every time before, Courage was going to have to sit back at and take it.
“Yeah, that's right dog, You ruined my garden!” Eustace said, getting seemingly angrier with each time he told the lie.
Courage could feel his stomach sink as Eustace's bony fingers slowly wrapped around his neck,
Courage felt himself being lifted off the ground as Eustace began to laugh. His horrible soft pitched snickering would soon turn into a deep bellowing laughter, and he felt Courage slowly become overwhelmed with fear. However, in that the laughter suddenly stopped in a calm voice Eustace said,
“Look outside at what you've done, dog.”
Courage's eyes darted back to the window; he tried to find a reason for what was going on even though he knew it was pointless. Every day was the same, and every time Courage attempted to find a reason for Eustace's anger. Surely it could not be jealously alone, could it?”
Unable to find the garden that he supposedly ruined outside the window, Courage turned his gaze once again to the old man, but instead of seeing the gaunt face of a failed farmer, Courage was greeted by a large green face, with a bulbous pink nose and miscolored eyes that seemed to stare in different directions. Courage felt his heart skip several beats as he opened his mouth to scream.
Eustace he had him where he wanted him and could have left the punishment there, but he didn't. Eustace had one finally step in his ploy, a catchphrase almost, that would add a nice garnish to the whole experience
“OOGA BOOGA BOOGA!” He shouted as he shook Courage by the neck violently.
Courage screamed as loud as he could, praying that Muriel would intervene. Eustace dropped him on the ground and lifted the mask from his face. He had tears in his eyes he was laughing so hard at him. Courage felt a wave of embarrassment wash over him, he knew about the mask; he saw it at least twice a week, but he could not help be-be scared of it. He looked for Muriel and found her standing behind Eustace, with a rolling pin held high over her head.
Courage cracked a smile, he knew what was going to happen next and could only hope that the blow would be robust enough to knock the old man out for a few hours. Muriel brought the rolling pin down onto Eustace's head with such force that Courage could feel the shockwave rippling through the ground. The blow was so strong that it cracked through the ugly green mask and made contact with Eustace's shiny, bald cranium.
Eustace staggered forward but maintained his balance. He definitely wasn't as frail as he looked. The green mask fell to the floor in several pieces. Eustace grabbed his head with both hands and hollered in pain.
“Yee-ouch! What'd I do?” he exclaimed, a small trickle of blood began to pour past his left ear.
Muriel wasn't going to allow Eustace to play dumb, she raised the rolling pin above her head once again,
“Eustace, how many times do I have to tell you to leave poor Courage alone?”
She waved the pin menacingly at Eustace, who was staring down at his broken mask on the kitchen floor.
“You broke my mask...” he whispered reaching down and picking up a large piece in his hands.
Muriel lowered her arm and nodded,
“And it's a good thing too, I've been asking you to get rid of that thing for years now,” Muriel scolded.
Eustace dropped the piece of the mask onto the floor and grumbled to himself before walking into the living room to grab his coat. Muriel and Courage followed him.
“Eustace, where do you think you're going?” Muriel asked, her tone made the question almost seem like a command to stay. Eustace opened the screen door and walked out to his truck continuing to grumble to himself. Muriel just shook her head and walked back to the kitchen humming to herself.
Courage watched through the window as Eustace's large pickup truck pulled past the house. Eustace was glaring back at Courage from the driver's seat. He pointed at Courage before doing a neck cutting gesture with his thumb. Courage swallowed hard and let out another low groan as the truck drove away from the property.
“I hope he gets a flat tire,” Courage thought to himself
Courage hopped off the windowsill and went back to the kitchen to be with Muriel.