Left hands are always evil, aren't they?

The dirigible -- dirigibles, I should say, because Brigitte's dad was pretty wealthy and had a couple of them -- were around back.

When I first saw a dirigible, on the walk from New York City down to here, I asked Doc what they were.

That is a dirigible, he told me. It is a lighter-than-air vehicle used for personal transportation over short distances. It is held in the air by helium and powered by solar power and personal effort.

I saw a lot more of them over the 7 day walk here. I wished I'd had one. Now I had four to choose from. Brigitte walked among them in the shed that was in back of her father's house. Rex paced her, whining and sniffling, and she spoke to him in low tones. "I'll call Daddy and tell him, Rex. You won't get in any trouble." Pause. Whimper. Growl. "I promise. It's not like when I was a kid. Daddy will understand." Pause, sniffle, look at me, whine. "She's my lover," Brigitte said. "And the mother of my baby." Pause, whimper. Growl. "She's good." Rex came walking over to me and Doc whispered in my ear

Hold out your hand. Dogs see that as a friendly gesture. Palm up. I did so, putting my right hand out. Rex sniffed my hand.

Brigitte was looking inside the cockpit of the red dirigible. It looked fast. It was already pumped up, tethered to the ground, with the seats hanging below it. It didn't have a canopy, but I was not in a position to be picky. It had four seats and three propellers on the back, plus two little engines along the side. Doc had explained those to me: The side engines are for the more wealthy. They store solar energy and can then use it to power jet engines to move the dirigible more quickly than pedal power can alone. When I'd asked if you have to pedal them constantly, he'd said No. The pedaling is done intermittently to recharge the batteries that keep the propellers going, and can be done to provide a power boost. The balloon portion absorbs solar energy to provide the basic power.

So they had three gears: standard, powered by the sun alone; medium, powered by the sun plus pedaling, and jet, which was only for short distances.

Dirigibles became popular when oil reserves were nationalized and stockpiled solely for military use, Doc told me. I didn't care about history.

Rex had finished sniffing my hand and licked it. He wurffled. That's a word I learned from Brigitte, later. Wurffling is a dog-type-of noise that means about what a friendly shrug means in people. I patted him on the head and stepped to the dirigible.

"Is it okay if we take this?" I asked. Rex moved alongside me and I absently lifted my left hand to scratch his head, as I'd seen Brigitte do.

Rex sniffed, then licked my hand, then began barking and backed away from me. He hunched and crouched and bared his fangs as Brigitte moved in between us.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"He says your left hand is evil," said Brigitte.

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