Dean watched his dog dream of chasing footloose dollar drive-thru burgers across the backyard. They were dropping from the gray sky like the 82nd Airborne, hundreds of them, no, thousands of them, invading the whole neighborhood, no, all of Portland, no, the entire planet. The budget burgers were here to conquer the world and the only thing preventing them from drowning all two-leggers in watered downed ketchup and shooting their arteries with grease bullets, was Dean’s dog, Pickles.
Dean didn’t know Pickles was dreaming this scenario exactly, but he figured the twitching paws and mouth suckles were signs that he wasn’t far off the mark. He enjoyed imagining what his dog’s dreams must be like, a chubby chocolate Lab that hadn’t missed a meal since being born, and wondered what he was really dreaming. Maybe he actually was dreaming of chasing burgers that fell from the sky.
Having just woke from his nap, he stretched, easing the dull pain of overuse in his leg muscles. Dean had just dreamt of a tidal wave so big it was knocking jets out of the sky and they were crashing down Main St., USA, like bowling balls and he and Pickles were dodging them as if they were bowling pins with legs. He had end-of-the-world dreams on a regular basis. At first they freaked him out and he’d spend days worrying they would come true, especially earthquake dreams, avoiding elevators and bridges, but when none of them did, he relaxed and learned to take them in stride. Tidal wave, shmidal wave, last week’s asteroid impact was bigger.
Ugh, he thought, I walk too much. He was a dog walker, something he never imagined himself being. He grew up watching westerns and war movies. Every day after school he would fill a big bowl with chocolate ice cream and settle down in front of the television to watch the iconic brave man save the world, and he always expected that when he grew up he’d be something heroic, like Pickles in his dream, ridding the world of invading burgers. Boy, he thought, it was good Pickles’ dreams didn’t come true. All that warm trans fat was sure to melt the polar caps and raise sea levels.
But it was good that he was a dog walker. Pickles loved Dean’s job and walked the client dogs with him, and occasionally he took over and let Dean rest his weary legs while he played chase games with the client dog in their backyard. Dean would watch the dogs play, wishing he had four legs like them. If Dean hadn’t been a dog walker, Pickles would be morbidly obese and have to be put on low cal kibble full of filler because Dean wouldn’t have the heart to cut back on Pickles’ portions.
Dean’s stretch woke Pickles. He rolled over so his paws landed on Dean’s head and proceeded to push the side of Dean’s face as he stretched his front legs. The walks bonded Dean and Pickles, but the naps seemed to even more so. When they got home from work, Dean would eat something heavy, like a couple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and Pickles would get his kibble snack, and then the two of them would get up on the bed, Dean to read and Pickles to snore, but Dean rarely made it through a whole page before closing his eyes.
Pickles was a spooner. He liked to curl into a ball with his back pressed against Dean’s hip and go to sleep. Any movement on Dean’s part and his eyelids would lift sleepily to make sure Dean wasn’t going anywhere without him. The clock said 4:00 in the afternoon. Dean stretched again and Pickles thumped his thick tail against the comforter–Dean always fed him again soon after waking from their nap–but then Pickles’ ears perked forward when something outside the bedroom window got his attention.
Dean caught Pickles’ excitement and looked where he was looking. “What is it, boy?”
There were several thumps on the roof, like wet snowballs going splat on the shingles. Pickles jumped up on all fours to get a better look out the window. Dean sat up and looked too, but he couldn’t believe his eyes. The burgers had landed. The 82nd Airborne, Burger Division, were invading. Mini burgers were falling everywhere like greasy snow flurries.
Pickles turned and looked at him, the whites around his eyes wide with glee, and with a single bark, he bolted for his dog door that led to the yard. Dean leaped off the bed and chased after him. As he ran through the kitchen, grabbing the barbeque spatula as a weapon, he thought, we’re going to be heroes.
Dean and Pickles were going to save the world.