“OK, Buddha, it’s me Grayson. Get off that dog!”

“It’s not a dog, Grayson, it’s a lion.”

“What’s a lion?”

“A lion is a big cat. Bigger than you.”

“Why would a big honcho like you sit on a cat?”

“Years ago someone thought I looked good sitting on a cat, or lion, wielding my sword, a little diamond in my forehead, that kind of thing. Before I died I told them not to make images of me, not to pray to me, not to fuss fuss fuss. But did they listen?”

“If you’re sitting on a lion you must be some big-game hunter.”

“As a matter of fact, Grayson, I am a hunter after big game, the biggest game in town.”

“Catch? Tug-of-war? Flying Squirrel Toy?”

“Much bigger than that, Grayson. I hunt minds, Grayson. I hunt souls.”

“Oh man oh man, that’s exciting. Where do you find them? I know! In the woods!”

“In the woods, in the desert, in the ocean, in the air—I find them everywhere, Grayson.”

“And what do you do when you find them? Eat them, right?”

“I hit them with my sword.”

“And then eat them?”

“It’s a very special sword, Grayson. When they get struck by that sword they suddenly realize who they are.”

“And who are they, Buddha?”

“I’m not telling. You have to find that out for yourself.”

“Okay, I’m ready. Hit me with it, Buddha.”

“Oh Grayson, hit a nice big lab like you with this little tchotchke?”

“What’s a tchotchke?”

“A tchotchke is some tacky little knick-knack or trinket that people like to keep in their homes—like your rope toys and squeakies and stuffed animals by your bed, silly things like that.”

“There’s nothing silly about PawPaw the Barking Puppy and Shep the Sheep. Slinky’s kind of ratty, have to admit.”

“It’s all tchotchkes, Grayson.”

“You mean, they’re not any good?”

“Depends what you mean by good, Grayson. When you’re outside and you sniff some little critter, what do you do?”

“I go after it.”

“Do you stop to put on a sweater or get a lasso or build a cage or do a dance or blow a bugle?”

“Of course not, Buddha, I run like the wind—till the fence stops me. I wish I could jump over that fence like Aussie does. Nobody jumps fences better than Aussie.”

“Humans get stopped a lot quicker than you. They get sidetracked, they get distracted, they run in circles, a little like you in the back yard, Grayson. That’s why they need tchotchkes. They look at the sword, or the many hands of compassion, or the auras and the stupas and the robes and the books, and they remember to get on with it. See?”

“Not really. Gotta go, Buddha, Sancho and Lola the Ethical Pet Toys are waiting for me. Just one more question for you, Buddha.”

“What’s that, my son?”

“Are you a tchotchke?”