Chapter 27- Tramp’s Troubled Past
Tramp looked down at the dirt. He smiled nervously at Lady, who gave him an insistent look. Pongo and Perdita stood there, waiting for him to speak. The puppies meanwhile, crouched under the couch, and gave him suspicious looks.
“Okay, okay,” Tramp conceded at last. “I’ll talk. Look, I…I’m sorry I lied to you!”
“No you’re not!” Scamp shouted. “You’d stop if you were.”
“Hey, just listen to me,” Tramp told Scamp. He then looked sadly at Lady, and then toward the exit. Lady then gave him a fierce look, and Tramp started.
“I had a rough life. I… didn’t have anybody in my life. I never had any parents to guide me. They got caught by the dogcatcher when I was a week old. I can sort of remember my dad trying to fight the dogcatcher, and my mom hiding me in some bushes. But they got caught, and they never got out. They were put down. I had to do everything on my own. I had to find my own food every day, and face the dogcatchers too. There were some close shaves… but eventually, I outfoxed the dogcatchers and made better and better escapes with practice.”
Lady looked confusedly at Tramp. She then whispered to Tramp, “Weren’t you…”
“I’ll get to it, Pigeon,” Tramp answered. He continued, but his tone became more nervous. “As I grew older, I became famous. I heard other streetdogs talk about the grey, scruffy young fella who escaped every time. I didn’t want other dogs to end up like my parents, so I started freeing them myself. Most thanked me and ran off. But then one day, I met a puppy who was different. He followed me down the streets. I was confused. I didn’t know what he wanted. He told me he that he needed help. He told me that I was his role model, and he wanted me to show him how to steal from meat carts and how to escape from the pound. I spent a week with him, trying to teach him the tricks,” Tramp told them guiltily. “And once he got good enough, well, I walked off on him. I didn’t tell him, because I… well, I uh, just needed to go. And I don’t like mushy goodbyes. I needed my own space. I wanted to be free and independent.”
“Who was the puppy?” Danielle asked.
Tramp then answered, “Ask your brother. He’d know.”
Then Scamp and Angel gasped. “You mean… that was…” Angel began.
“Buster?” Scamp finished.
Tramp nodded. “But I forgot about Buster when, uh… I met,” Tramp paused. He smiled weakly at Lady, who gave him another nudge. Then, he looked downward, and said, “I met a girl. The prettiest girl I ever saw. Her name was Trixie.”
“You mean… you broke more hearts?” Angel asked, horrified.
Tramp nervously scratched himself, and began. “Well, I loved her. I walked up to her doorstep, and asked her to be my girlfriend. She snarled at me at first, but after I continued to flirt, she fell for me. I took her out to Tony’s. Tony was a friend of mine, and he was happy to see that I found a date,” he began. “Trixie loved the romantic dinner. But that next day, I met… little Lulu.”
“Another one?” Scamp gasped.
Tramp frowned. “Yes,” he explained. “And I… I couldn’t help it. I started to fall in love again too. I didn’t even realize it. But then, I couldn’t help it. I walked up to Lulu, and asked if we could date. Trixie was furious, and she stormed off back to her home. But… I didn’t care, I hate to say it,” Tramp explained awkwardly. “Because I was now with a girl I loved even more. And I thought that Trixie was just a mistake… Lulu and I would settle down. So I took her to Tony’s that next day. Tony smiled at me just like the prior day. He was always happy to see me. But I could tell he was suspicious. Lulu wasn’t though. We dated, ate dinner, and then, we spent the night. We had a few days together. But then, Lulu got carted off to the pound. I was heartsick. But then, I forgot about her when I met Fifi. She walked right up to me and asked me for a date. I just had to say yes! For the third time that week, I went to Tony’s, and now, with a third girlfriend.”
“You could just stop dating them!” Angel shouted to Tramp. “Why didn’t you stop!”
“Because… well, I just kept on falling in love,” Tramp explained, flinching slightly. “It’s hard to…”
“No, it’s not!” Angel shouted.
“Okay, okay,” Tramp told Angel. “Maybe it shouldn't be. But it was hard for me to stop. So Fifi and I were settling down… we had a nice, romantic evening. But then, Lulu found me. She escaped the pound, and said that she broke out only for me. But Fifi was with me then. When Lulu saw Fifi, she told Lulu to get out. They got into a fight, and then demanded which girl was I in love with. I… I, uh, couldn’t choose. I told them I was in love with both. So both my relationships ended.”
“Yes,” Angel told Tramp. “Nothing like dating two girls at once, is there?”
Tramp sighed. He felt very stressed and strained. Then he continued, “I was beginning to get a reputation then.”
“Big surprise,” Angel muttered.
Tramp paced as he continued. “Lulu returned to the pound, and the gossip spread about me breaking hearts. That limited my pool big time. But I couldn’t refuse when Rosita Chiquita asked me. She couldn’t find anyone to date. I took her. I wanted someone. But… we got into fights. She was scrappy and wanted me to do everything for her. So, I dumped her. There went girl number four.”
Tramp sat down and frowned, before saying, “I was down on my luck. In two weeks, I went through four girlfriends. But then, I saw Buster again. He was growing up. He smiled at me when he saw me. He told me he was forming a gang. He offered me to co-lead his group.”
“So what did you do?” Scamp asked.
Tramp shook his head. “I… it hurt. But I refused him. I didn’t want to be chained to a gang. I wanted to be completely free. And I still wanted to find a girlfriend. It was hard for me to find one as it was. I couldn’t find a girlfriend if I was with Buster all the time. So I walked out on him.”
“Buster didn’t make it sound like that,” Angel told Tramp. “And so did the other junkyard dogs. They said you were one of them.”
“Well,” Tramp began. “Buster didn’t like my rejection much. He decided to spread rumors that I was part of his gang. It was really clever, actually. He already knew I had a reputation for dumping girls, so he could claim that I betrayed him. And since I was a part of the gang under his story, my legendary status allowed him to recruit some members who wanted protection. After all, to be with a co-leader of the Tramp’s own gang…that got the others excited. They wanted to join in on the glory too.”
Tramp looked sadly at Lady, who gave him another nudge. Then, Tramp sighed, and, avoiding Angel’s eyes, continued, “But I didn’t care. For right across the street, there was another girl. The prettiest one yet,” Tramp sighed nervously. He continued in a pained voice, “She was flashy, suave, stylish, and charming all in one juicy package. She told me she came from the dog and pony follies.”
“Are you talking about...” Angel began worriedly.
“Yes,” Tramp hurriedly answered. “Your mom. Since she came from the dog and pony follies, that meant she didn’t live on the streets before, and she wouldn’t have known about my past. I had another opportunity. And wow, what a good one I had! I helped her live on the streets for a couple weeks. I fell in love with her. We didn't show it at first. She flirted with me, but I didn’t know if she was serious.”
“Then one day though, Peg was caught by the dogcatcher. I needed to free her. I couldn’t let her go to the pound! So I saved her as quick as I could, I tried to bite the dogcatcher’s leg off, and then escaped. He began to chase me. I ran away so he’d get away from Peg. So I wound up at Snob Hill.”
“Your house,” Scamp muttered.
“Hold on, son,” Tramp continued. “The dogcatchers would never look for me there. Just when I thought I’d leave though, I was stopped. My eyes laid upon… the most gorgeous girl I could ever feast my eyes on. She was worrying about a baby.”
“Yes,” Lady continued. “He came in and told me how dangerous babies were, and then walked off.”
“Then though, as I left, I knew I hurt her feelings. I had to say I was bummed,” Tramp commented. “I didn’t know why. I told others hard truths before. But then, as I went back to the street…” Tramp paused nervously. “I was cornered by Peg. And uh…” Tramp looked like he was about to faint in guilt. “She asked me to go on a date,” Tramp spat out very fast.
“And what did you say?” Angel asked suspiciously.
“I thought, why not? After all, any dog from Snob Hill would be out of reach. And Peg and I would fit together better anyway. So hey, I was back at Tony’s again. Your mom and I built a lot of memories,” Tramp told Angel. “But…” And now, Tramp took a few steps backward, breathing heavily. Lady gave him a hard look. Then, Tramp spluttered “I… I uh, wasn’t in love with her anymore.”
“You filthy, dirty cad!” Angel shouted.
Tramp recoiled slightly. But then he continued, “I was before… but I couldn’t, well… I couldn’t stop… I couldn’t stop,”
“Thinking of me?” Lady asked gently.
“Yeah,” Tramp spat out. “I told myself to stop it. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t help but to pass that house with that beauty in it. I couldn’t help it. I passed by it more and more. Peg grew suspicious. She figured out something was up. And then she saw Lady herself. I couldn’t help it. I ditched her then.”
“I can’t believe you,” Angel muttered fiercely. “You… filthy, lying heartbreaker! I hate you so much!”
“Hey, I made some mistakes,” Tramp sighed defensively, as Angel continued to glare at him. “But…I made sure that I wouldn’t dump any more girls. When I really met Pidge that spring, I told myself that no matter what, she’d be the final girl I’d ever be with. And she was. I’ve been with her ever since. And no girl can take her place. I’ve learned.”
“Yes, you’ve learned…” Angel told Tramp sarcastically.
“Angel?” Lady added gently. “I… I know exactly how you feel.”
“No you don’t!” Angel shouted. “Your mom didn’t have her heart broken!”
“No,” Lady admitted. “But… well, I knew your mom before,” Lady confessed. “We shared a cell in the pound.”
“You did?” Angel asked. “But why didn’t you tell me before?”
“Going to the pound was a very traumatic experience for me,” Lady told Angel sadly. “I didn’t want to talk about it at all... it was horrible for me. The pound dogs bullied and embarrassed me. But she was different. She stood up to stop the other pound dogs from teasing me. But then she told me about Tramp’s past too,” she explained. “And like you, I didn’t believe him either, I was really angry at him. I thought he betrayed me. But I was wrong. He has never left my side since we fell in love on that bella notte.”
Tramp confessed, “Look, I didn’t want you kids to leave because… I just didn’t want you to know about my past.”
“Yes,” Angel scoffed. “Covering it all up like that. That sounds just like you.”
“Look Angel, I wasn’t at my best. And I understand why you might never forgive me.” Tramp told her. “But…”
But before Tramp could say another word, someone slipped through the gate. Her hair was even less tidy than usual, now covered with dirt. But there was no mistaking who it was. She hurried over to the couch. Tramp looked back, and then stopped.
“But what?” Scamp asked.
“But just listen,” Tramp told the puppies simply. Then, Peg crawled under the couch.
“Hiya sweetie,” Peg told Angel.
Angel turned, saw her mother, and gasped, “Mama…but what are you doing here?”
“You weren’t thinking of running off on them, were you?” Peg asked.
“I was!” Angel shouted. “He broke your heart! And mine!”
Peg sighed and then bent down closely to Angel. “Look, Angel. He’s a real handsome fella…he was the most charming guy in town… but I see that he’s hers now,” she explained to Angel. “I saw them on the journey up to find you. And sweetie, he’s changed. You can never find a couple more firmly in love. And I’m fine with that, really. I got over it. I found myself my own boyfriend...the only one I’d really ever be in love with. And then we had you.”
“But… Daddy’s dead,” Angel muttered.
“Yes, he is,” Peg told her sadly. “But you have an adopted father who cares about you as much as your Daddy would’ve…” Peg cried slightly as she spoke. “Come on sweetie… I think you and your boyfriend should go home. I wanted you to find a home for ages…and you’ll be loved there.”
“Mama…” Angel gasped. “You mean…”
“Trust in him,” Peg told Angel intensely. “And always remember I told you to do so.”
“I do,” Danielle stated abruptly. She walked out from under the couch and joined the parents.
Angel sighed. She and Scamp looked at Patch.
“So” Patch asked the parents. “You really love us?”
“Yes,” Perdita answered. “We’ll promise to pay more attention to you. It’s hard work parenting a hundred and one…”
“But we’ll always pay attention to you,” Pongo finished.
“And we know that you two can manage yourselves,” Lady told Scamp and Angel. “We’ll not worry you and let you have adventures when you wish.”
“And… I’ve told you guys everything,” Tramp added. “Right Pidge?”
Lady nodded. “He doesn’t have any more secrets,” she explained. “Just remember that we’re not like Buster… we’re your family, and we’ll always be there for you.”
* Angel, Patch, and Scamp looked at each other, and at once, they agreed.
“Could you parents leave us alone for a bit?” Patch asked gently. “We need to talk things over.”
“Okay son,” Pongo answered, and the parents and Danielle walked off.