The Dentist and Colonel Bogie

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Replacement Lieutenant Mike Mose had a weekday off from his hated FDNY light duty assignment, cane, and all, when a phone call interrupted his early morning breakfast resulting in a stare down with wife, Mary. After the fifth ring, she gave in, as Mike made sure he had enough egg yolk on his bacon, before putting it away into his food-friendly throat.

Close up of dentist holding angled mirror and hook while examining patient. Young woman is with mouth open getting dental checkup in hospital.

The tone of the conversation, he did not like. All she kept saying, was, “Oh he’ll do it, oh it’ll be all right with him, and sorry I can’t do it – I this hair appointment.”

She finally hung up, and a forced silence prevailed. Mike broke it with, “What’s gonna be all right wit’ me lady?”

She nervously answered, “Tom and Judy [her sister] have to go to a funeral today, it’s his boss’s mother, and Burt has a dentist appointment, they can’t be put off.  It’s his molar; it’s bothering him something awful.  He eats a lot of those sticky caramel chocolates, there really bad for the…”

“ENOUGH WIT’ THE FULIBUST’A, WHAT THE HELL DO I GOTTA DO WIT’ IT?”

 “You’re takin him.”

“IM WHAT?”

“You’re takin’ him, I can’t, I have this appointment I made two weeks ago.  My hairs a mess, I can’t go another day with it; it’s all knotted up and I…”

“STOP! ENUFF!  D’ERE YOUR FAIMILY, HOW’D I GET STUCK WIT’ D’IS CRAP?”

“They’re your family too, ya know.” She knew this was a poor response even before the last word left her mouth.

 “Oh no, only your family could produce a Burt.”  Mike countered sarcastically.

“So, he’s a little slow,” was her defensive reply.                                                                   

 “SLOW? HE MAKES ERNIE LOMBARDI LOOK LIKE JESSIE OWENS!” Mike shouted.

            The wife returned the shout with, “WHO THE HELL IS ERNIE LOMBARDI?” (An extremely slow, lumbering major league catcher, considered the slowest ballplayer in the history of baseball. Some third basemen played short left field when he batted).

“NEVER MIND.  I’M JUS’ NOT GOIN’.”

“Then you tell ‘em,” Mary countered.

A whole minute of silence passed, and Mike came back with a cowardly, “D’is is the last time you volunteer me for anytin’, ya hear – an’ where is d’is dentist anyhow?”

Mary now, backing towards the kitchen door, whispered, “Central Park West.”

 “CENTRAL PARK WEST; WHAT’S WRONG WIT’ THE BRONX. NOW I GOTTA LOOK FOR A PARKING LOT. YOUR PAYIN’ FOR THE PARKIN’, YA HEAR!”

“OK, OK, I’ll pay, keep your voice down.” (They had strange money arrangement).

Burt was dropped off to his favorite uncle, and their journey began and as they road his vintage 70’s, drab grey Nova, with a blue-black plume of exhaust smoke trailing them, Mike could sense little Burt was going to be a problem, welcomed as a polar bear in an igloo.

He started, “Uncle Mike, my friends said they give you a long needle. Is that true?”

 “D’ey might have’ta, I don’t know,” answered an exasperated Mike.

Burt continued, “And they said sometimes the dentist picks out the adult needle by mistake, and it could go up into your brain, and it could be numb forever.”

Mike could not resist with, “Ya got nutten to worry ‘bout d’ere kid.”

The little guy did not catch on to Uncle Mike’s bad joke, and still had that: God what’s going to happen to me look.  Trying to console his frightened nephew (by marriage of course), the gruff Mike managed, “Hey don’t worry Burt, d’ere only tryin’ to tease ya.”

Burt continued, “And how about the drill Uncle Mike – does that hurt?”

 “Didn’t ya ever go to a dentist before?” Mike interrupted.

Burt, “No.”

Mike, “Great.”

As Mike drove across Central Park, from the east side of town, his square rooter instincts came into play.  Thinking, “I’m keepin’ the parking’ money. I’ll Park at the firehouse of about eight blocks from the dentist, d’ere might be a spot open.  I’ll sweet talk the guy on house watch, an’, keep the parkin’ money.”

This accomplished, as the house watch was an easygoing chap, who did not mind a bit, and Rooter parked his smoky bomb in a designated fire department parking spot.  While they limped and walked towards the office, Mike thought about his own experience with the dentist, and the apprehensions concerning needles and drills. The needle he hated most. His doctor had what Mike thought must have been the original patent model, cold steel gray and seemed about a foot long, with a large loop for the thumb. He could picture Igor plunging it into the growling monster, to sedate, and keep him from terrorizing the happy little German town, where men ran around with chubby legs sticking out of cute little lederhosen shorts.

His dentist, a Dr. Kurlander wore thick Coca Cola bottle specs, and Mike was never sure this did not affect his aim. He had a technique, taught in dental school: After loading it for action, Kerlander brought the needle nonchalantly to the side of his hip, so that the nervous Mike would not see it. Then he would approach at an angle and performed the following distraction.

The doc calmly opened, “How about those Yankees, they’re playing some ball Mike.  I think it’s the middle relief that’s doing it.  It keeps them in the game, so if there behind, they could catch up and if they’re ahead they stay ah…” JAB! Right in mid-sentence, in it goes, as Mike squeezed both arms of the chair.

Like Mike says: “The only t’ing I want put in my mouth is – FOOD!”

Nearing the office, Burt became even more nervous. The building finally reached, the lobby board checked out: “DDS Robert Meyers, Suite 402”, and they finally took the lift to the fourth floor, where they entered the dentist’s office.

It was a dentist’s office not unlike any other, except some structural work done in a closed off room.  Mike figured expansion. The medical profession was always adding wings, buildings, or rooms.

Like Mike says: “Fact’ries close – hospitals an’ cemeteries expand.” 

They passed muster with the receptionist and told to take a seat. In the waiting room were another couple, a man and women.                 

Burt started again with the needle, the drill, and the pain, the needle, the drill, and the pain. It was worse now, since he was now in the dentist office, and Burt’s head spun with thoughts – all of them involved pain centering in his mouth. The other couple were getting a small chuckle out of their conversation, when suddenly the door to the work area swung open and the noise from the power equipment increased tenfold.

Then through the door came an enormous worker wearing a white jump suit, dust mask, and carrying a large power drill with a two-foot bit; with the construction drop light hanging behind, creating an eerie eclipse like image.

Mike erroneously, now figures it was a good time to relieve the tension, so he gave Burt a nudge and announced, “LOOK, HERE COMES THE DOCTOR NOW!!”

The man and women began to laugh causing Mike to turn and start a small conversation with them. Meanwhile a terrified look froze Burt’s little face. By the time Mike turned his head back, Burt was GONE! All Mike could see was the door to the main hall closing, as the self-closing hinge spring tugged it closed. Burt was thinking of doing a Geronimo as soon as he entered the dentist’s office and Mike provided the final push with his poor joke. 

 “COME BACK, IT’S A JOKE.  COME BACK!” Mike screamed.  Following out to the hall, he headed for the elevator lobby – NO BURT!

Now what? He remembered passing an exit. Burt must have taken it. He swung the door open and paused; the echo of Burt’s feet heard vibrating up the cinder block stairway walls.  Mike figured Burt was now at the first floor. From the neck down, Burt could move well, especially when frighten.  Mike also realized he was holding a coat, and the youngster was running into a cool December d’ey with just a Yankee hooded sweatshirt.

Finally, he limped down to the main lobby door, opened it, and spotted the door man.

Gasping and wheezing, he yelped, “DID YA…gasp…SEE…gasp…A KID WIT’A…gasp…YANKEE…gasp…SHIRT?”

 “Yeah man, he passed me like a bat outa hell, hit da door, an’ did a Lynn Swan [a Hall of Fame NFL receiver] hook right. He looked scared shit, wa’ hoppen man?”

 “Tell ya later,” Mike managed to blurt out, as he pursued the reluctant little patient. In the street, no sign of him.  Poking and sliding to the corner with his cane, Mike spotted a newsstand guy, peering out of the stand opening.  He stammered a shout, “DID YA…gasp…SEE A…gasp…KID, WIT’A …gasp…YANKEE SHIRT…gasp…PASS BY?”

 “I’m blind buddy, but I heard a car just hit the brakes, and somebody say, ‘that kid’s gonna get squashed,’ so he must a crossed against the light.  My bet he’s in the park across the street.” This sounded plausible to Mike, so he took the man’s suggestion, and headed for , at the entrance.  It was the blind leading the —–.

Trees, bushes, small paths, and it ran for over fifty blocks.  Where would he start?  The leg and knee were throbbing; almost pleading for a time out. How in the world did he get into this mess? He almost yelled out, “MARY!”

Those who passed asked the same question he had asked the doorman and the blind news guy – NO DICE.  He was now starting to sweat. Would he have to report it to the local police station?  They would have one fun time teasing a fireman (there is a small rivalry w.  The dumb joke would be reveled, with Mary, Tom, and Judy piling on big time; never hearing the end of it, but on top of it all –don’t tell anybody – he was worried about poor Burt.

The very next person he stopped was a tiny yuppie type lady, walking two dogs.  One was a Border Collie, and the other a Blood Hound.  They looked like the odd couple of dogdom.  Mike asked the question of the day.  Again, a negative, but this perky little girl seemed to want to help the beleaguered Mike.

“If he’s here in the park, Bogie will find him,” was her reply.

A puzzled Mike asked, “Who the hell is Bogie?”

 “Colonel Bogie, my bloodhound.”

Mike looked at the four-legged, dopey looking Sherlock, with his skin hanging in folds, and his tongue and loppy ears swinging loose, responded annoyingly, “Are you kidding, he couldn’t find a plunger in a bathroom.”

A perturbed Miss Perky took the offensive immediately.  Without a word, she grabbed the coat, quickly surmising by its size belonged to Burt, and darted to the park entrance.  There she shoved the coat at Bogies nose.  Saliva now tripled as he slobbered all over Burt’s J.C.  Penny discount jacket.  She had him concentrate mostly on the armpit area and kept shouting, “FIND BOGIE, FIND. FIND BOGIE, FIND!”

Mike went through all this in a stupor, figuring, what he had to lose. The strange quartet then weaved their way through main and secondary paths. Bogie and Bernie the Border strained, howled and were just having the time of their lives, as the yuppy, with her arms straight out, and her legs a chugging, strained to keep her grip.

The limping Mike, a full forty yards behind hollered, “SLOW…gasp…DOWN, SLOW…gasp…DOWN,” as his fast-food belly and poking cane lead the way.

Soon they started to approach a group of elderly bird watches, since the park is an oasis for migrating birds.  Most of the migratory were gone, but this group of fanatics still came to catch the residue, and the permanent avian occupants. This day local newspaper photographer, George Howard, assigned a special interest photo op covering this dedicated group. Bored silly, he guessed his piece would not even make the distant pages of the Daily News. If there was nothing else happening, a photo shot with a short caption was possible. It was all up to the editor.

George after hearing and pretending to be interested in golden crowned kinglets, and barn swallows, that skimmed the boathouse lake surface too fast for him to get a good shot, caught sight of the frantic quartet.  Instinctively he sensed something unusual was happening, and quickly excused himself from Mr. Halpern, the self-proclaimed world’s most renowned ornithologist, according to Mr. Halpern.

Since he was young, in shape, and a resolute runner, he caught up with Burt’s pursuers, passing Mike as if the portly smoke eater was a still life.

Reaching Miss Perky he inquired, “What’s this all about?”

He was filled in, and a delightful story now pushed the bird thing completely out of the picture: The Blood Hound, the missing boy, Central Park, possible abduction; the story was getting better and better, as he ran along, exaggerating in his mind, just a bit.

Bogie howled and pulled. Bernie followed with encouraging, high-pitched yelps. Miss Perky’s hair was a flying, as the news guy, with his camera at the ready, broke into a laugh, and Mike brought up the rear, with deep gasps.  Bogie was now taking them through isolated, rarely used paths. Now on to something big, his saliva was hitting the ground. Then at a turn in a narrow road, he stopped suddenly. The team froze, and all eyes zeroed in on Bogie, whose eyes stared straight ahead at a row of bushes. Mike ran his eyes across the lower branches where two legs with worn jeans came into focus – he knew it was Burt. Mike was now like a Brooks Robinson; slow, but remarkedly quick for the first few steps, taking a quick sidestep around the bush, and catching Burt’s sweatshirt’s hanging hood, with his cane handle, as Howard snapped away.  Bogie and Bernie joined in with happy howls, while the yuppy lady finished with a joyous clapping of hands. 

The >> became > again, and Mike now tried to talk a little sense to the news photog, “Listen pal, do ya have ta go int’a great detail about all d’is”?

To Howard this was a delightful story, but he made two concessions to Mike: he promised not to mention the drill joke, and if he could, he would not mention his name, or publish his picture.  Mike felt relieved, and figured it would make page thirty-three, and people would get a little chuckle about the funny looking mutt, with a small caption below the photo, and quickly turn the page.  Mike hoped this would all escape the notice of Mary, Tom, and Judy.  His instincts told him it might not make the paper in the first place. Again, it was the editor’s call.

Mike also swore Burt to secrecy.  Three Clarke Bars helped, but of course, this was a big gamble.  Speaking of Burt, Mike finally got him back to the dentist that day; after several appointments jockeyed, and a good tongue-lashing administered by Dr. Meyers. The doc used gas, and one tooth, Burt did simply fine.

The next morning, Mike came down to the kitchen, alone. Although the anxiety of the dentist episode made it difficult to sleep, he forgot the traumatic events the next morning. The only thought was a cup of coffee, and the usual breakfast that went straight to his waist. Then as an afterthought, he went to the front door to pick up the Daily News and check the back pages for picture of Colonel Bogie, if any.

Mike removed the newspaper from its protective cover and hit with a headline that knocked the wind out of him:

HOUND COLONEL BOGIE FINDS MISSIING BOY.

HUMANITARIAN SOCIETY AWARD

Story on Pages 2 & 3 

There was also a large photo of Bogie on the front page.

            He told Mary, “I think the paper boy got a flat tire on his bike, no paper ta’they babe.”

            Too bad for Mike, Tom and Judy’s paper boy’s bike was operating just fine.

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