Sneaky here with another pawsome interview of a pet character. Today, it’s my pleasure to be cat chatting with a little cozy mystery chichauhau doggy whose currrent book is on tour with Escape with Dollycas Into a Good Book.
Meow there. What is your name and your author’s name?
Howdy. My name is Lenny Eisner Callahan; but most folks just call me Lenny. My author’s name is Rebecca Adler.
Pawsome to meet you.
What book(s) have you appeared in?
My human Josie and I appear for the first time in the cozy mystery, Here Today, Gone Tamale, followed by The Good, the Bad, and the Guacamole. The third book in the series is Cinco de Murder.
My Taste of Texas Mystery Series is set in Far West Texas in the small town of Broken Boot, Texas. It’s gorgeous, nestled at the foot of the Chisos and Davis Mountains at the edge of the Chihuahua Desert—a high plains vista. The series is all about my family, the Martinez’ clan, our Tex-Mex restaurant—Milagro—and how I help Josie stay out of trouble once she goes off on one of her well-intentioned escapades.
Are you based on a real animal such as your author’s? If so, please give further details.
Nah. I ain’t like any pet she owns. The little I’ve ascertained makes me think the things we have in common don’t amount to a hill of beans. Having said that, my author and I both love the Davis Mountains and the rugged beauty of the high plains desert. I prefer the great outdoors from the safety of my leash, Josie’s arms, or the front seat of her Prius. I find it’s the best way to stay clear off all coyotes and mountain lions.
I would say that’s a good practice.
Can you share an excerpt from one of your books that features you in an important scene? If so, please include it.
From Cinco De Murder
The mariachi band played, the crowd clapped, and we swished our skirts from side to side and played leapfrog with the presents the quarter horses left behind. It was a beautiful morning; the sun warm and bright on the hills that lay just beyond the railroad track. Flowers bloomed in window boxes along the parade route and on balconies above Main Street. Everywhere the Mexican flag blew proudly in the breeze along with bright-colored paper banners. We passed Coach Ryan. Up to this point, Lenny had been tucked in the crook of my left arm, which made it doubly dangerous to jump over the obstacles in our path. Each time I hopped, he yipped.
With a quick glance over my shoulder to make sure Mrs. Cogburn didn’t see me, I hurried over to Ryan. “Here, take him. I think he needs to do his doggie duty.”
Ryan chuckled and took him in his arms. “When a guy’s gotta go—”
“Listen.” I pulled Ryan along the route as we went. “He’s in the dance. You’ll need to catch up with us before we hit the gazebo.”
“You got it, boss.”
“Yip, yip, yip.” Lenny reared up and licked Ryan’s chin.
I fished it from my skirt pocket and handed it over. “Hurry. Run, don’t walk, or I’m dead meat.”
“Are you kidding? If we don’t make it back and Senora Mari blames me, I’ll have to pay at Milagro’s from now on for screwing up this sideshow.”
With that, he slipped through the crowd and down the alley, disappearing from view as a family of tourists stepped up. I assumed they were a family—it was hard to make out their faces as they all held their phones and iPads aloft to film the procession.
As we marched, my new black character shoes, or pumps, as Mrs. Cogburn preferred to call them, began to pinch my feet. I was hopping over fewer obstacles from the Junior Rodeo horses, but just when I thought all that nastiness was behind us, I had to hop again.
I marched. I twirled my skirt. I smiled at friends, tourists, and their kids along the parade route until my cheeks hurt.
Finally the parade ground to a halt as the drum corps exploded into an intricate performance of beats, rim shots, and funky cadences that set the crowd to dancing. There was no sign of Ryan and Lenny, but the crowd on this last stretch of the parade was three- and four-people deep. Vendors had set up their carts and booths along the sidewalk behind the crowd, making it hard to maneuver. Ryan would have no difficulty running a play through these obstacles, seeing as how he was a football coach. But what was the holdup?
I glanced at my fellow dancers and exchanged weary smiles with Aunt Linda and Cindy. Anthony’s band took a breather and we continued to dance in time to the faster cadence played by the drum corps. Skirts twitched in time; tired smiles remained pasted in place, just a little lower than before.
“Where’s Lenny?” Senora Mari turned from her place of honor at the front, a furrow of worry crossing her forehead. For someone who didn’t care for dogs, she was showing every sign of concern for my four-legged pal.
“Potty break,” I called back through smiling teeth. “He should be here any second.”
“No potty breaks, we’re almost there.” Mrs. Cogburn’s stage whisper carried to two twin girls, seven or eight years old, standing at the edge of the crowd. They stared at each other wide-eyed. “No potty breaks,” I saw them mouth to each other in horror. As the parade stopped, I overheard their worried complaints. The smaller one pointed to me. “She says, there’s no potty breaks.”
The mother dressed in celebratory white, green, and red followed the girl’s finger to me. She glared.
The drum corps sprang into another rousing cadence and the little girls forgot the horrors of having no access to a potty. They began to dance, grasping each other’s hands and twisting back and forth—à la Chubby Checker. A few of the horses blew through their nostrils and pulled against their reins. The young rider in front of me allowed her charge to take a few steps to the right before she led him back into formation. Two or three others on the other side of the Junior Rodeo group did the same. A large, black quarter horse in the middle stamped and snorted in frustration.
“I’ve heard enough drumming to last until next Fourth of July,” one of the club sponsors called, walking his horse closer.
“Are the horses okay?”
“Fine.” He patted the strong neck of his charge. “Bored. Ready to move.”
Mrs. Cogburn pranced over without missing a beat, still twitching her skirt in time to the drum line. “Each group is given a strict time limit for their performance.” She glanced to her left and right. “At least that’s what I was led to believe.”
Suddenly the drum line stopped, and after a few seconds of silence, they changed to rim shots only, and the parade proceeded.
A middle-aged gent on horseback tipped his hat. “That’s our cue.”
“Oh!” Mrs. Mayor marched quickly back to her place, careful to keep her feet moving in time to the beat.
We surged forward and my heart fell. Lenny was going to miss his big moment. Cindy had sewn his costume to match the ballet folklórico theme. He’d had fittings, which he hated, to make sure nothing would fall off during his performance. I tried to smile, hating the fact my eyes were full of tears. What was that about? It was just an old parade.
“Hey, Josie! Josie Callahan!”
It was Ryan. He pushed carefully through the crowd ten feet in front of me. He walked toward us as we marched forward. “Didn’t you hear me hollering your name?” He thrust Lenny into my arms.
He gave Lenny a frustrated look. “Took his sweet time about it. Geez.”
“Where’s his hat?” Cindy had worked hard on the silk number, adding elastic that wasn’t too tight.
“You’ve got to find it.”
The twin girls ran up with the miniature sombrero. “Does this belong to him?”
“Score.” Ryan gave them each a high five as Lenny and I continued to march slowly toward the gazebo and our big performance.
I cupped his chin and placed the elastic underneath, then I adjusted his hat. A careful look told me there was no need to check for horse hockey—apparently the handsome animals had given it a rest.
When we reached the gazebo, the mayor and the town council stood on a metal portable platform. Hanging from the side of the white planking hung a green, white, and red sign: cinco de mayo celebration. let the fun begin!
The crowd here was at least six deep, with children sitting on the shoulders of their parents and older brothers. The businesses nearby had festooned their rooftops and balconies with Mexican flags and streamers.
My new shoes felt like shackles on my swollen feet. Lenny’s hair was sticking to my arms in several places. And I was so thirsty I began to envision running into Elaine’s Pies, grabbing a pitcher of ice water from the waiter station, and upending it over my head. I longed desperately to move to the back of our formation where no one could see me, but Mrs. Cogburn was already motioning for us to take our positions.
Anthony and his band formed two lines, one along each side of the crowd. Uncle Eddie had preset a large, red, wooden box to one side of the gazebo. Now Ryan carried it over his head like a deckhand on a pirate ship. He set it down on the pavement in front of Senora Mari and the first line of dancers and bowed.
The crowd whistled and cheered. “Great job, Coach!”
Lily blew a single clear note into the air. The crowd silenced. With true swagger, she played the familiar opening phrase of jarabe tapatío in perfect pitch. The band joined in and we were off. We danced, we smiled, we twirled, and we danced some more until our teeth hurt.
The crowd clapped along with the music, which was invigorating until they began to clap offbeat. I was counting steps in my head. A glance at my buddy Patti told me she was counting out loud. Then the crowd roared. As I twirled into my original place, I found the source of the crowd’s delight. Lenny was standing on his back legs pawing at the air. He lowered his legs, turned to the left and panted, turned to the right and panted, turned to me and panted. For a finale, he turned back to the crowd, stood on his back legs again, pawed the air, and then sat down—the better to show off his white silk suit and sombrero. The musicians played their final notes with a flourish, we hit our final marks, colorful skirts on full display, and the crowd erupted as if we’d scored the game-winning touchdown at a Dallas Cowboys playoff game.
“Lenny, Lenny, Lenny!” Locals began to shout.
When the final notes blew and the guitars strummed a finale, I raced to Lenny’s side.
“Dance,” I ordered.
Again Lenny raised up on his back legs. I took one of his extended paws and pretended to dance with him. Then ever so slowly I walked behind the wooden block, turning him slowly in a circle while he remained on his back legs.
Lenny might not be a poodle, but he loved an adoring crowd.
As the parade organizers hurried us off the street, Anthony and his mariachi band broke into another song, and Ryan hauled the wooden box out of the way. Now Hillary Sloan Rawlings and the other beauty queens could advance into the spotlight. Except that Lenny had stolen their thunder. Too bad, so sad.
We made our way through the crowd, down a side alley, and into a lot filled with horse trailers, riders, a school bus, and excited drummers.
Senora Mari’s eyes danced with merriment. “¡Ay, caramba!”
“Yip, yip, yip.” Lenny licked my chin.
I hugged his tiny body close and kissed his furry head. “You were fabulously awesome!”
My fellow dancers gathered around, tired smiles replaced with wide grins. “Lenny, you did it!” Mrs. Cogburn sounded surprised, though I don’t know why.
Aunt Linda and Patti gave us a hug sandwich.
“Sorry, Lenny.” Aunt Linda kissed his nose and in return he graciously licked her chin.
“Lenster.” Patti held out a hand. He dutifully gave her his paw and allowed her to give him a knuckle bump.
“Did everyone remember their steps?” Mrs. Cogburn wore a hopeful smile.
“From my point of view, we killed it.” Gretchen Cruz’s breathing was surprisingly a bit labored, her skin damp with perspiration. Months earlier, Patti had done time in county jail until the lamebrains in the sheriff’s office realized they arrested the wrong woman. During Gretchen’s stint as Patti’s defense attorney, I’d never once seen a hair out of place or an issue she couldn’t handle.
“How do you know?” Lily walked up, her trumpet tucked under her arm. “You were in the back.
“I object. The witness is accusing counsel of giving false testimony.”
Patti delivered a playful punch to Lily’s shoulder. “Watch out, shrimp.”
When Anthony gave Cindy a brief kiss, his bandmates broke into “Amor Eterno.” Tired feet be hanged, we began to twirl our skirts and prance around the embracing couple.
“Bravo.” Ryan appeared at the back of our happy group.
The dancing halted as we shook our heads in bemusement at Ryan’s poor attempt to speak Spanish. Immediately the other dancers broke into smaller groups to revisit each stretch of the parade and their performance.
“What did I say?” Ryan asked.
I said, breaking into exhausted and satisfied laughter. “Try estupendo or increíble next time.”
“Thanks, Miss Know It All.” He gathered Lenny and me into a bear hug. “Way to charm the crowd, Lenster.”
“Couldn’t have done it without you manhandling that box, Coach.”
“Nice try. You’d have made it work without me, senorita.” He gave one of my braids a tug.
In return, I knocked his West Texas baseball cap from his head.
“Josie!” Aunt Linda called from the far side of the lot. “We’re heading back.” Her way of reminding me that Milagro’s customers would flood through the door any minute. She and Senora Mari hurried over to where Uncle Eddie’s white F150, bearing the familiar Two Boots dance hall logo, waited.
“Duty calls.” It was our busiest day of the year, not a day to stand around soaking up the celebration with good friends.
I was holding Lenny, but Ryan gently tapped one of my hands with his forefinger.
“Yip.” My Chi responded, licking his finger.
“Let’s get together later.” Ryan kept his gaze on Lenny’s ablutions.
I shot a glance at my family, feeling their impatience for us to leave. “Sure, but we don’t close until nine o’clock.”
His smile was warm and easy. “The band is playing at the gazebo all afternoon. if you put that sharp mind of yours to it.” He clasped his hands together and laid them over his heart. “If you need inspiration, think of me waiting, spurs on, hair combed, hands clapping.”
I laughed, remembering his two left feet. “Can’t wait to see you in spurs. Have you been taking lessons?”
“Come along this afternoon and find out.” He winked. “Later, Lenster.”
“Yip.” Lenny raised his paw, and the two friends shook.
You are quite a talented character for a dog.
What do you like most about your role in your authors’ books?
I love the opportunity to take a bite out of crime. That’s a little dog humor. Get it. Little. Dog. Humor. Uh, yeah. Of course, like everyone else in my family I love Tex-Mex. Guess it’s a good thing, we own a Tex-Mex restaurant named Milagro, right?
MOL (meow out loud).
Are you a talking dog in your books or just a silent pet like I am?
Uh, no ma’am. Not a talking dog but one with intuition. I’m smaller than some other dogs; but I am six pounds of muscle and one pound of gorgeous fur.
A psychic chichauchau, how pawsome! My six-senses are quite attuned as well.
What advice would you give other cat character?
1. Protect your human family. 2. If one human refuses to give you a tamale, try, try, again.
You are a funny doggy, but I like your style. I would only want a tamale if it had catnip on it.
Do you have any new books coming out? Please give dates and details.
My newest book in this series comes out on April 3rd, 2018 from Berkley Prime Crime.
Are you and/or your author on social media? If so, please list your links.
It was doggone good to have you here, Lenny. I wish you and Rebeca best tail wags on your book, series, and blog tour. Below is a link to your tour page and rafflecopter.