Sometimes when I’m on my walks with my two-legger and I see a Chihuahua, a little voice in my head will say, “There goes Pedro, stinking of beans.” It’s not my voice. It’s someone else’s because I like beans. Beans don’t stink, they smell good. Beans are food and I love food. All food. Even Costco biscuits. So it’s not even something I would think, let alone say.
Then I’ll see a Rottweiler and the little voice will say, “There goes Tyson, looking for a fight.” I’ve met plenty of friendly Rotties so I know it’s not me saying that, even if I’m the only one who hears it inside my head. Sometimes when I hear these words, I wonder if I’m sharing my head with a little racist dog, like a twin who never completely formed, except as maybe a pea-sized part of my brain.
Up till now I’ve only heard his voice when he’s got something crappy to say. He’s got a big problem with anyone who’s fat, dog or two-legger. Says they’re hogs, wasting the planet’s resources just so they can poop more. He gets pretty talkative at times, but talk is all. He’s yet to control my legs or paws or what I do. He’s still just a voice, though a rude one.
The other day I saw a crying two-legger kid on our walk and I wanted to go over and lick her face, and the voice started growling in my head. It doesn’t get much more primal than that. I’d like to ask someone about this, but I’m afraid they’d think I was weird, that the little voice was me instead of a separate entity I’m cursed with inside my head.
My two-legger talks a lot on our walks. It’s a sort of monotone mumbling that at first was a little weird, but I got used to it and now it’s mostly just background noise I can’t understand except for the occasional word like sit or stay or hurry up.
We live in a really rich neighborhood, full of diverse smells, especially the smell of cooking. The neighborhood is all brownstones broken into apartments, and in the summer when the kitchen windows are open it’s such a scent fest, I drool my way around the block. And the people are as richly diverse as the smell of what they eat. They come in all shades, and dog, does what they eat make them smell interesting. In the summer when they sweat, they trail these scent clouds behind them, and I play this game where I try to guess what they ate the day before. I love my walks, and I’m sure glad my two-legger loves them too.
* * *
The old man leashed his dog and the two of them left the apartment on their walk. The old man got sick of stewing on the couch in front of daytime television, nothing but whiny-ass babies complaining about not being breastfed long enough.
He’d lived in the same neighborhood all his life. It used to be full of hardworking, blue-collar Irish who had lived in the same brownstones for generations, but as their lot improved, they moved out to the suburbs where their kids could play stickball in the street without worrying about getting shot in a drive-by gang shooting.
It was getting to be a ghetto now, but the old man stood his ground against the changing world around him. He didn’t like the changes or the people who had moved in, not so much because he was a racist, but because he hated change. He wished it was still the 1950s of his boyhood, and the older he got, the more he wished it. He was the lone survivor. With no one from the old days left to talk about the old days with, he talked to himself and his dog.
So what if he mumbled. It was his way of venting, trying to stay sane. He’d show them. He’d never leave, and they’d find him dead in his bed. He hoped the dog wouldn’t have to eat him to survive until they found him, but if he did, that was okay with him. You did what you had to do, like him teaching the dog to flush the toilet when he needed more water. At least the dog wouldn’t die of thirst.
It was the first warm day of the season and everyone’s kitchen windows were open. He hated summer with the onslaught of the stink of foreign cooking. Whatever happened to shepherd’s pie?
As the old man and his dog walked down the sidewalk, they passed a couple of boys sitting on a stoop, one brown, one black.
“Can we pet your dog, mister?” they asked, nice and polite like they’d been taught to.
The old man growled at them, like a dog would. “Get lost, Pedro. And you, too, Tyson.”