Hood tossed and turned throughout the night, tortured by dreams fueled from the events
of the day.
Dream after dream slid across his subconsciousness, waking him abruptly, then leading him off on
an even more bizarre
In one dream, Drumstick became the perpetrator of crime, even though he dressed
Batman. That was followed by another in which Sparky tried to hold all of Woodlawn under
arrest for working together
to steal each others' produce. Some dreams had odd-looking creatures from other planets, always
away but never really bothering anyone. His mind even cast William as the villain in a particularly
sequence which caused Hood to awaken in a cold sweat, only to pass out again to endure more
Morning light was pouring in his bedroom window by the time Hood sat up and wiped
from his eyes. He swung his legs out of bed and resisted the urge to just collapse under the
covers again. As tired as he
was after his weird dreams, he didn't want to face any more of them. Besides, he argued with
himself, he had to go
grocery shopping today. He was already out of milk and eggs, and he needed a head of
Unlike most of the inhabitants of Woodlawn who raised their fruits and vegetables in
garden plots, Hood, from his many years living in Grayton-- one of the largest cities in Ponyland--
accustomed to the less hooves-on method of garnering the fruits of the land: He shopped the
produce department at the
local grocery store. Why get your hooves dirty when Mazy Daze Market carried everything a
pony could need or desire
in the culinary line?
Hood washed up and, foregoing breakfast due to the emptiness of his kitchen
cupboards, headed straight
to the market just three blocks from his brick home on Shady Lane. This was one thing that
endeared Woodlawn to
him-- the fact that he was within easy walking distance of all the important places in town. He
took time to literally
smell the roses as he strolled down the maple-lined streets; flower beds competed with one
another for the brightest
array of colors. It was a far cry from the hectic streets of Grayton, a city as dingy and drab as its
name suggested. Hood
grimaced as he remembered that he once thought his life there had been fulfilling and exciting.
Looking back, he could
see only drudgery and routine.
He breathed deeply of the fresh, clean air of Woodlawn, and waved to friends and
neighbors that were
out and about.
"Hood, wait up!" rang out a shrill voice behind him. Hood turned to see Buttercup with
foal, Sweety, in her forelegs. "Are you headed for Mazy Daze?"
"Could be," said Hood noncommittally. He suspected that Buttercup timed her
shopping trips to his
passing, and had been hoodwinked into packing many a bag of groceries home for her.
"Oh, please, help me!" she pleaded, flashing her great, round eyes at him. "I'm going to
need help with
the baby and all."
Hood's resolve disappeared. Who could ignore a mother in distress, especially one with
The foal in Buttercup's forelegs was a perfect cross between her parents-- Homestead's
green body and
Buttercup's purple mane and tail... and her mother's big eyes, too. Sweety smiled at him and
cooed when Hood made
the expected remark about how cute she was.
"You will help me home, won't you, Hood?" Buttercup pressed him. "I'm not buying
too much, just
diapers and formula."
"I'll have to open the shop at eleven o'clock, so I'll help if you don't take too
"No problem," she declared as she lifted Sweety to her shoulder where the foal could
better see her
surroundings. The movement produced a very loud burp.
Buttercup giggled and patted Sweety lovingly. Hood felt a tiny twinge of jealousy.
He'd missed his
nieces and nephews in their newborn stage, and looked forward to Moonglow's new arrival. He
could play the
protective uncle from day one.
Arriving at the grocery store, Hood and Buttercup went their separate ways. Hood
headed for the dairy
department to pick up the eggs and milk. He stopped short when he turned the corner past the
Standing next to the dairy case was a vision from his early years, and he hesitated as he
retreating, or facing Dreamy bravely. He waited a second too long, as the peach-colored pony
looked up from her cart.
She, too, saw a bittersweet flashback.
"Hood. It's really you." Dreamy spoke with reserve.
"Why, Dreamy, it's been a long time!" Hood stuttered. He wished now that Moonglow
hadn't told him
about Dreamy's crush on him; it would have made this reunion less embarrassing. "What are you
"I just moved here to take a job at the newspaper office," Dreamy explained. "I didn't
know you lived
her," she added, sounding as if she had known, she would have accepted a position a million miles
"Neither did I," blundered Hood. "I mean, I didn't know you'd moved here."
"Strange, isn't it?" Dreamy mused. "All the towns in Ponyland, and we both end up
It struck Hood that the scatterbrained annoyance that he remembered from high school
had grown up to
become a very pretty pony. She wore her orange mane and tail in a cascade of curls; her voice
was soft and
"You've changed!" he said abruptly, his eyes revealing that he approved.
"Yes. I'm older!" she quipped as she continued to add items to her shopping
"That's not all bad."
Dreamy stopped and looked at Hood as if for the first time. "You've changed, too,
He grinned. "We have a lot of catching up to do. How about dinner some evening?
night be okay for you?"
Dreamy looked rather amused by this sudden rush of words. She couldn't resist a gentle
jab. "How I
yearned to hear that invitation back in high school." She breathed an exaggerated sigh.
"It's not too late for me to make it up to you," Hood grinned. "There are a couple of
clubs in Woodlawn. How about I set up a reservation, and give you a call?"
"I might enjoy that, Hood, even if you were mean and rude to me back in the old
Hood feigned surprise. "Not I, surely!"
"Against my better judgement, I'll give you my number." She tore a corner off her
shopping list and
began jotting her telephone number down when Buttercup's voice came echoing from the far end
of the aisle.
"Hood! Hood, come hold the baby while I pay for the groceries!"
Hood turned in exasperation to where Buttercup stood holding Sweety, and waved a
hoof in her
direction in the hopes of quieting her down; then he turned back to Dreamy.
"This isn't what it looks..." His voice trailed off as Dreamy, sparks shooting from her
the piece of paper with her number on it.
"Some things never change," she spat out as she turned and marched away from Hood
into the canned goods aisle.
By this time, Buttercup stood by his side. "Here!" she said as she placed Sweety in his
Hood unconsciously accepted the foal, torn between following after Dreamy, or giving
Buttercup a piece
of his mind.
A gurgly little giggle served to sooth the savage beast. Sweety was waving her forelegs
back and forth
in an effort to touch his face. "Well, little one, you can't be blamed for your mother's ineptness."
He smiled as her little
hooves brushed his cheek. And he set off down the aisle to catch up to Buttercup.
As Buttercup paid for her groceries, Hood realized that he hadn't had a chance to do his
But after seeing the bags of groceries Buttercup had waiting, he knew he wouldn't have been able
to handle hers and his
"Just diapers and formula?" he quizzed her.
"Oh, I picked up a few other things while I was here," Buttercup grinned as she
Hood grimaced as Mazy Daze lifted the grocery bags into his forelegs. It felt like
purchased the heaviest items in the store.
"You'd make a great pack-horse," Mazy Daze teased.
"Thanks a lot," was all Hood could think to say.
Once he had dropped off Buttercup's groceries, he hurried back to the market, hoping to
still at her shopping. But a quick check of the aisles turned up no trace of her. Hood sullenly
picked up the groceries he
needed and proceeded to the checkout counter.
"You seem unusually quiet, Hood," Mazy Daze said. "What's on your mind?"
"Got a couple of hours?" Hood frowned.
"Ahh! You and me and a chocolate shake between us!" she purred, winking
coquettishly. Then getting
serious, she continued, "It's the thievery going on, isn't it? It's gotten everyone a little
That brought Hood back to reality. His run-ins with Buttercup and Dreamy had pushed
problems to the back of his mind.