Ten

"You can't hide from me," said Brian as he rummaged through the neighborhood trash cans. "Oh, yes, talking circus dog. I know the carrion beguiles you."

"Little boy?" said a miniature woman with gossamer wings who stepped into view. "Little boy? Are you here to look for coupons, too? Because if you are, we was here first."

"What?" said Brian. "Who's we?"

"Well we don't mean you, silly," said another fairy.

"Who are you?" said Brian.

"Why, we're coupon fairies, of course," she said.

"Coupon fairies?" said Brian. "There's no such thing as coupon fairies. So what are coupon fairies?"

"We're like tooth fairies," said the other one. "But instead of your teeth, we harvest the coupons your folks throw out."

"Then we redeem them for the tiny amounts of money their tiny print claim in value," said the fairy. "Hundreds of coupons all for a penny."

"Which is why if you don't run along," said the other fairy, "you can't say we're to blame if we got to hurt you."

"I'm not here for coupons," said Brian. "I'm here to look for a dog."

"A dog?" said the fairy. "Who would throw out a dog in the trash?"

"With all our coupons?" said the other fairy.

"No, no," said Brian. "I'm looking in the trash for a dog not because someone threw him out. I'm looking in the trash for a dog because of the baby diapers."

"Wait," said the fairy. "So you're here to look for a baby then?"

"Well, why didn't you say you was here to look for a baby?" said the other fairy.

"Little boy," said the fairy. "Do you know the baby that lives here?"

"You mean the Bannisters' baby?" said Brian.

"Bannister?" said the fairy. "That's the name you're telling us? Of the mama, the papa, and the baby?"

"Now if you're here to look for babies," said the other fairy, "we was here first."

"Which is why if you don't run along," said the fairy, "you can't say we're to blame."

"...if we got to hurt you," said the other fairy.

"I'm here," said Brian, "to look for a dog."

"Your dog?" said the fairy.

"Yes," said Brian. "Spot. Have you seen him?"

"A little spotted dog?" said the fairy.

"Wearing a spot like an eye patch?" said the other fairy.

"Yes," said Brian. "Spot. You've seen him?"

"Why no," said the fairy.

"Not at all," said the other fairy.