chapter 3


Colosseum Prisoner

The taxi moves, the garment bag bounces and TT and I need air.

TT here. Now that we are in Rome I’ve decided to change my name to Terrific Tummy. I hate your Terrible Tummy name. It makes me feel sad.

A Terrific Tummy would never scream, cry, boss and overeat. I hope you can change.

Mrs. Prance mumbles, “Whew it’s as hot as peppers here in Rome.”

Look out. Here comes the dishtowel. Mrs. Prance soaks up the sweat under her double chin. I love her dishtowels. She uses them as handkerchiefs, weapons or security blankets.

Mrs. Prance cracks the driver on the shoulder with her towel, “Hey pal, take me to Piazza Spagna. I must see the famous Spanish Steps and get a bite to eat.”

Mrs. Prance taps her guidebook. “I read that there are 138 steps up to the beautiful Trinita`del Monti Church. I doubt if my legs can handle climbing those steps in this heat.”

I disagree. Her Big Time Yummy forever legs can do anything.

The driver pulls up in front of Babington’s Tea Room. “It’s an English restaurant that’s been here for years. It’s a great place to eat. Scones and cream are one of their specialties.”

I’ll just have a quick look around and then nibble on some scones in that Tea Room,” says Mrs. Prance. “Buddy, put my luggage by the tearoom. A big grazie mille for your help.”

I think Mrs. Prance just gave the cab driver a big thank you.

Time to unzip and escape. Ciao, Mrs. Prance. I’m hungry. I’ll follow this laughing family into Babington’s Tea Room.

I creep in and hide behind a bushy potted plant. Everyone’s busy pouring tea out of silver teapots, eating and talking. I slip under the table, lift the cloth and look around the room. It’s filled with flowers, golden mirrors and polished wood.

I flatten myself on the floor and listen the family order their food. “We’ll try your famous blueberry scones and cream,” says the father. “Bring enough for the four of us. My wife and I will have the English breakfast tea. The boys want milk.”

I’d rather be sitting at the table, but dogs are forced under tables. I have dirty loafers and sandals in my face. In my face means by my nose and my nose smells sweaty feet.

The father kicks off his shoes. Yuck! Time to cover my nose with my paws. I can’t take this.

The dad complains and wiggles his toes. “What a relief. My feet hurt.”

TT here. Pew alert. Stubber, food and feet don’t mix. It’s disgusting. Give the guy a nip and grab some scones. That’s an order.

“Good idea. It’s nip, eat and run time.”

The odor attacks me! Here comes the scones and cream. It’s time to act.

 The dad jumps up. “Ouch! Something bit me.”

The table crashes on its side. I know dogs don’t laugh, but I giggle.

 The boys yell, “Our scones and cream fell on the floor.” They look down and lift the tablecloth. “There’s a dog eating our blueberry scones and cream.”

Lick, smack, smack and gobble, gobble.

TT in charge here. Escape! Get movin out the door. If you’re too slow you’ll get caught. Get movin!

 I race out the door. I must escape. I’ll find Mrs. Prance later. I see a horse and carriage and hide underneath. The carriage moves slowly ahead.

I grab the bars and hang by all fours. I can’t believe I’m riding upside down under this carriage. It beats walking on cobblestone streets, especially when I’m full of scones and cream.

I wonder where Ben is. He’s here and I’ll find him. Anything can happen in Rome.

I peek through a hole in the carriage floor. There’s a girl with straight brown hair. She pushes her glasses up on her nose. “Aunt Grim, I saw a white dog run under our carriage and he didn’t come out. He has short legs, a fat tummy, and cream all over his muzzle.”

“Be quiet, Iris Marshal, I don’t believe you. I don’t want to hear any more silly stories about dogs,” yells her aunt.

This lady is thin as a stick with a beak nose. Double scary, she’s digging her long yellow fingernails into the girl’s arm.

“Aunt Grim, that hurts. I don’t care if you don’t believe me. I did see a dog.”

My tail quivers and I’m shaking. I don’t want to tangle with those fingernails.

 “Iris, since your Father died your Mother is too busy to bother with you.

She paid me to bring you on this holiday to Rome. I’m doing her a favor, because we’re sisters.” She points a finger at Iris “I’d rather be home in California, but I’m supposed to cheer you up.”

 “But Auntie Grim, I’m glad to be here. Please, don’t be mad at me.”

I think I picked the wrong carriage. I’ll hang on tighter and hope Aunt Grim or Gruesome doesn’t hear my heart pounding. Please, don’t hear, smell, or see me.

TT alert! Stay clear of those horrible fingernails.

“Iris, you wanted to see the Colosseum and here we are. Don’t get lost because I might be forced to leave you here.” Aunt Grim smiles. Her smile slides across her face and her eyes are slits! Yuck! She looks like a witch!

“The gates will close in about an hour,” announces the driver.

 “Auntie Grim, don’t worry, I won’t get lost. But what is the Colosseum?”

She steps out of the carriage. “Stop asking questions. I need some alone time.”

The carriage driver smiles at her. “Ciao, Ragazza”

He must mean hello little girl. Hmm, I’m a brilliant dog. I understand two languages; Italian and English.

The driver begins. “The Colosseum is the most famous monument in Rome. It was built in 79 BC around two thousand years ago. The Colosseum was used for entertainment. Gladiators fought battles here. Wild animal shows were held for the Roman people.

“What did the wild animals do?” asked Iris.

“They fought to the death. The animal shows were blood and guts. As many as 1000 animals were slaughtered, while the audience cheered.”

This guy is talking about a thousand animals fighting and dying. Blood and guts, I prefer gelato.

“TT, it looks like we’re in the wrong place again.”

Iris stands up. “Thanks. There must be lots of ghosts hanging around. I’d better hurry an hour goes by pretty fast. Grazie mille.”

“Wait. There’s one last thing.” The driver frowns. “Watch out for the Colosseum cats. They live here and they’re mean and hungry.”

I follow Iris. There’s a crowd of tourists lining up to go through the iron gates to see the famous Colosseum.

The tour guide announces, “Leave your snacks on the bus?”

TT here. Happiness is a bus gobbler. Get movin!

“TT, I’m here to find Ben. Forget the bus gobbler. What about your new name?”

He’s crying. Please Stubb, I hate this empty feeling.

“Okay you win.”

The tourists leave and I squish plop to the bus. The front door is open just a crack and I squeeze in and start eating.

I gobble a whole cheese and pepperoni pizza. I finish four carrots and an orange.

TT screams and cries. No more carrots! I want more pizza.

I can’t resist a ham and cheese sandwich.

TT whispers, Stop Eating! Burp Blast! I’m gurgling. The punch is coming!!!!!!

Suddenly my mouth flies open, Burrrrrrrrrrrp!

TT yells, Ouch, stop eating!!!!!!!

“TT your name change to Terrific Tummy won’t be easy.”

I squish plop to the door. I push my head through the crack. My bottom half almost makes it.

“TT, you’re stuck!”

Remember, we’ve been stuck before.

I wiggle, twist and stretch now a bump and a pop. We made it! We’re off to see the famous Colosseum.

I bet there’s a good view of Rome at the top of the Colosseum. Maybe I’ll see Benjamin. I start to climb up the steps. What’s that noise? Thud-squish plop plop, thud-squish-plop plop”

“Terrible Tummy it’s you. You’re bouncing off the steps.”

TERRIBLE TUMMY is an awful name.

He’s crying again. I’m a TERRIFIC TUMMY. You hurt my feelings. I’m a nice tummy.

“Sorry, TT.”

We’re almost to the second level. The view of Rome is great. Crowds of people are leaving. There goes the bus full of hungry tourists. They’re yelling at the guide.

I wonder what time it is. I hope the gates will still be open. I start to hurry down the steps. “Get moving legs and hurry up paws.”

“Squish-ploppity plop, thud, thud, thud.” We’re almost there.

“Squish-ploppity plop, thud, thud, thud.”

The gates are locked with a chain and padlock! I’m trapped.

I try again and again to push my fat TT through the iron bars. I don’t want to die in here. My Think small Feel small, Be small, trick might work.

TT here. Don’t say DIE! I hate that word. Stand on your hind legs and turn sideways. You should slip right through. Get movin.

Here I go. Hooray! I’m half out of here.

“Ready, TT, you must slip through the bars.”

I take a deep breath. Push with my legs. Everything moves except TT. We’re stuck.

“We’ll starve here and I’ll never find Ben.”

If you’re really Super Stubb, you’ll save us. .

I feel dizzy. I’ll never see Mrs. Prance and her Puffers again.

“TT, I don’t think I can make it. I failed. I’ll never find Ben.”

 “Hey Fat Boy, forget about starving. You’re going to die.”

TT screams, Don’t let those snarling cats touch me. Pull a Super Stubb.

A devil cat with one eye, a missing ear, and broken tail climbs on my back. He reaches around and claws my nose.

“ Stop that! Mr. Furless Face, I don’t like your claws, or your pus eye staring at me.”

I smell garbage breath and feel claws digging into my neck.

“Back off and take your garbage breath with you. Forgive me, but you stink.”

More howling cats slink toward me. I shut my eyes. Please, not my eyes. Mrs. Prance where are you?

TT order alert. Do something NOW! If you’re blind we can’t see our food.

Ouch! My nose! Blood runs down my nose. My eyes are next.