He rose slowly from his doggy bed, his body creaking like an old staircase as he stretched. His fur was silver, almost translucent. The black in his face had long since faded to the color of a snowfield at dusk. And his facial hair -- a silvery beard that draped over his collar -- was unlike that of any pug I had ever seen. "You must be Mugsy," he said. "Welcome. My name is Hakeem. It is almost time for my prayers; would you care to join me?" He nodded toward an extra prayer mat in the corner. "No thanks," I said. "Religion ain’t my thing. I’m more into gangsta rap and panty raids."
I wasn’t interested in discussing it any further, but Hakeem had a way of making me open up to him. At his urging, I proceeded to tell him about my brief forays into religion. How I’d attended a Catholic church for a while, only to realize that the only thing I was getting out of it was the snack during Communion. I told him about my lone trip to an Episcopal church, where I had been told that animals had no souls. "No souls?" Hakeem said. "That is ludicrous." I went on to detail my short Hindu experiment. "The thought of being reincarnated as a cat was too much to bear," I said. Baptist? Methodist? Not for me. "And I thought the Pentecostal church was OK until they started speaking in tongues," I told him. "That really freaked me out -- worse than the vacuum cleaner."
"Mugsy," he said, slowly and deliberately. "I sense in you something special. I foresee great things for you, young pug. Great things. But you must realize that God has a plan for you. Your immense natural charisma is not enough; you must learn that there is a higher purpose for you than chewing on women’s underwear."
"Sure thing, old-timer," I said, dismissively. "I’ll tell you what; it’s been a long day, so I think I’m gonna take a nap."
And with that, Hakeem nodded and knelt down on his prayer mat.
To be continued