The little dog was very happy now that he’d relieved himself. He was in the middle of marking his spot at the park by scratching the grass with his back legs, when he saw what his two-legger was up to and let out a peal of barks in protest. With his hand encased in a plastic grocery bag, the old man leaned over and picked up the dog’s freshly excreted poop which was no bigger than the green goose droppings surrounding it.
“Hey you! Yeah you!” the dog barked. “What do you think you’re doing? I spent a lot of time picking out that spot and got it just where I wanted it. You’re messing with my feng shui.” The little dog paused briefly to sniff a poop that must’ve been from a very big dog. “Alright, go ahead, put it in your shopping bag like you’re in the produce aisle at Safeway. For once, can’t you leave my poop where I put it? I wanted it next to that big dog’s poop—show him who’s boss. How’d you like it if I followed you around and whenever you pooped I moved it about the house willy-nilly. You wouldn’t like that at all. You’d get out your fly swatter and chase me around the room. Cranky old man. I’m going to start pooping in secret when you’re not looking, so my gems will be left undisturbed for other dogs to ponder over. They can sniff that boring diet kibble you feed me. I know lots of secret places at home. Remember that turd as a puppy that was under your bed for a week and a half before you figured out the smell wasn’t coming from your shoes? Ha! I can fit under the couch as well, you know, and get in the back of the closet. Or I can keep it simple and at night as you sleep I can squat over your shoes. A morning foot warmer would teach you to mess with me and what’s mine.”
The old man carried the bagged and tied poopette to the nearest garbage can. As the little dog followed him, his rant ran out of steam and he dawdled over the big dog’s poop again.
The old man dropped the bag in the garbage can, turned, and looked back at his dog. “Don’t you dare, Steven. Don’t even think about eating that. If you eat that I swear I’ll make you ride in the trunk. What kind of dog eats poop? A dirty dog, and I’m not sharing Betsy’s front seat with a dirty dog.”
But all the little dog heard was, “Blah blah blah, Steven, blah blah.” Followed be even more blah blahs that he tuned out and ignored.
* * *
The little dog’s breath was so rank inside the confined space of the classic Mini the old man might as well have had a poop-scented air freshener hanging from the rear view mirror instead of the pine-scented green cardboard tree. Steven sat next to him in the passenger seat, panting warmly and smiling contentedly. Looking at his dog, the old man shook his head and smiled back. He could never stay mad at the little fellow for long. Even when he chased him with the fly swatter it was just show, a game really. He didn’t want a dog that did everything he was told. A little rebellion said the dog was alive and not an automaton. He didn’t want a robotic dog that didn’t even poop, let alone disobey. The old man was the same way. He never did what his bosses told him to, instead doing what he thought was best, and for the most part it played out in his favor when his bosses saw that he’d done it better than what they had told him to do. The little dog had that same spirit, and he loved him for it.
“But why poop, Steven? Why always the poop? It is one of the grossest things I can think of,” he said as he rolled down the window an inch to get some air without letting the rain in, too.
Once again, all the dog heard was, “Blah blah, Steven, blah blah,” but he didn’t mind. He liked the old man’s voice. It held the sound of promised excitement.
The little dog started barking back at him. “Why do you keep calling me Steven? That’s not my name. My name is Rocky, a perfect name for a big strong dog like myself. Steven sounds like a guy who works at Intel, and with the way you say it, he probably wears a plastic pocket protector full of stale sandwich crumbs, black-frame glasses, and has sour coffee breath. Maybe I should start calling you Steven. How’d you like that, eh? Come along, Steven. Sit down, Steven. Go wee-wee, Steven. Make a poopie, Steven. Eh? Eh? Well go make a poopie yourself and spoil all that cool water. Dang, what kind of guy creates the perfect drinking bowl—it’s the right height, it’s made of thick porcelain to keep the water cool, and with the flick of a handle you can even fill it with fresh water—and then sits down on it and craps in that lovely cool water?”
The old man glanced over at the little dog, shook his head and kept driving.
Finally noticing the surroundings outside of the car, the little dog started barking again. “Hey, this is the road to the beach. Oh boy, the car is taking us to the beach.” He put his paws on the dashboard and gave it a wet nose bump. “I love you, car. You know all the fun places to go.”
The old man said some more blah blahs and yawned.
“Tired?” the dog said. “Get in back and take a nap. That’s what I do. You can really stretch out on that rear seat. Don’t worry, the car will get us there. It knows where it’s going.”
The old man glanced at the back seat that was the size of child’s stroller, then turned on the radio and tuned in a classical music station.
“Classical? That’s what you play when you leave me alone at home. I hate classical. Why do you think I chewed up your speakers? Cause I like it? Let’s listen to the voices. Find that guy with the deep voice who talks with his mouth full like the cartoon rabbit. I bet he talks about food a lot. I like talking about food. Don’t you? But eating it is even better. Ooo, look at that! There’s a drive-in just ahead. Fancy a burger? I need some fries. You can keep that milkshake thing. That cold stuff makes me sneeze. I wish the car ate fries, then we’d hit every drive-in from here to the beach.”
The old man looked at his watch, saw that it was nearing noon and turned into the drive-in. His doctor had told him to watch his cholesterol, but an occasional burger was going to hurt him less than the stress of worrying about it.
“Fries! Order me fries!” the little dog barked. “And I’m having half your burger.”
Putting his hand on the door handle, the old man said, “Blah blah, FRIES, blah blah.”
“What did I just say? Dang, you are dense. Now go get me some goddamn fries.”
The old man’s brow creased as he paused and stared at his dog.
“What? Why are you looking at me like that? I’m not a fry.”
The old man leaned toward the little dog, and then in a low, guttural growl, said without any blah blahs, “Only if you say, please, Rocky.”