The Hydrant

When Arthur arrived at the cafe, the hostess seated him outside on the sidewalk patio at his favorite table right in the midst of the diners where the people watching was best. He ordered a glass of wine, not because he liked it but because he didn’t. It would last a long time and he didn’t want to get drunk, not tonight, not with what he’d learned this morning.

The middle-aged couple on his right were discussing current events. He eavesdropped for a bit but they were just boringly parroting talking points they’d picked up from television news like something they’d tracked in on their shoes. Besides, Arthur knew all that was just lies fed to the public to keep them engaged enough to be complacent but not so engaged that they started digging for the truth and got mad. You see, Arthur had found the perfect source for news, one that never lied and was honest to a fault.

A month or so ago at the beginning of spring, he had been weeding around the fire hydrant in his front yard by the curb when he was struck by an odd smell. As he sniffed the air trying to identify it, he started to hear voices in his head and see images in his mind’s eye, as if he was watching other people’s memories, but then he started hearing even stranger voices commenting on what he was hearing and seeing. There he was on all fours, sniffing the air next to the fire hydrant, and he felt like he was watching a show next to someone who was giving a running commentary on what they were watching.

Continue reading “The Hydrant”

Negotiating with Cookies – Crumbs

The sound of Fleegle howling in the backyard gets me up on my feet and outside. “What’s all the howling about, Fleegle?”

“Excuse me, but I’m singing a song to the neighborhood.”

“Sorry.” I clear my throat. “You have a very nice singing voice.”

“I’m the Sinatra of the howled ballad. When I sing, the girl dogs throw their collars at me.”

“I’m sure they do. What were you singing about just now?”

“I was singing one of the canine classics. It doesn’t translate well into human speak because it’s so emotive, but it’s a song about how much I love the universe and the tiny speck where I live.”

“Our house?”

“No, our planet. But if you want, I can sing you a song about our house.” He widens his rear legs, taking up good stance for howling. “This song starts out about how much I love the squirrels in the yard and works its way inside the house to my love of the hunt for crumbs on the kitchen floor.”

“Am I in this song?”

“Of course you are. You’re referred to as the Crumb Maker, a very noble position.”

And the howling begins.


Next Negotiating with Cookies – The Egg

Previous Negotiating with Cookies – Stinky Big

Negotiating with Cookies – Osmosis

After reading in bed for a while, I adjust my pillow and get ready to turn out the light, but first I slide the book I was reading under my pillow.

Curled up on the bed next to me, Fleegle asks, “Why are you putting that book under your pillow and not on top of the stack on the nightstand?”

Slightly embarrassed, I dodge answering. “You don’t miss a thing, do you?”


“You’re so observant.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” I say and reach to turn out the light.

“I used to chew on books when I was a puppy.”

“You specialized in removing the covers.”

“And if you want me to sleep next to one, I want an answer, please.”

“Oh, alright. I don’t want to read the book because it’s so wordy. The author uses a paragraph where a sentence would do, but it has a few gems of wisdom I don’t want to miss, so I thought I’d try osmosis.”

“What’s that?”

“Well, the theory is that if you sleep on something then whatever knowledge it has magically transfers to your head while you sleep.”

“So from sleeping on the feathers in this comforter is why I know so much about birds?”

“Um, yes, that’s right.” I turn off the light. “Goodnight, Fleegle.”

“Goodnight, Raud, don’t let the bed bugs bite.”

“That’s not very comforting coming from you.”

He answers by scratching himself and shaking the bed, but then settles down. Moments later he gets up and repositions himself with his head resting on my forehead.

“What are you doing?” I ask.

“Well, I don’t want to listen to you all the time, but you do say the occasional gem.”


Next: Negotiating with Cookies – Sabotage

Previous: Negotiating with Cookies – Chips & Salsa

Negotiating with Cookies – Chips & Salsa

While comfortably ensconced on the couch, I use the corn chip to shovel salsa into my mouth.

Fleegle supervises, sitting as near to me as he can without being me. “Raud, you’re going to get fat if you don’t share. Or should I say, fatter.”

I pause to look at him, the chip in my hand frozen between the tub of salsa and my mouth. “You have it all wrong, Fleegle. You’re going to get fatter if I do share. Think of me eating this chip as a favor to you. I’m saving you from yourself, from your Labrador food obsession.”

“I’ll drool to death and die of dehydration before I ever get fat. Between Buck’s calorie free biscuits and your selfishness, I’m wasting away to skin and bones.”

I pop the chip in my mouth. I few bits drop to the floor. “Look, Fleegle, chips,” I say, pointing at them.

He ignores them, his eyes on the bag. “Those are crumbs, and I’m not your floor-cleaner.”

“But I thought you liked crumbs.”

“I do, but if I leave them there maybe they’ll attract mice, and I can eat mice.”

“You wouldn’t?”

“Desperate measures for desperate times.”

I stand up and head for the kitchen utility closet.

“Where are you going?”

“To get the broom and dust pan.”

“But what about the mice?”

I pull a chip out of the bag and offer it to him. “Here, have one.”

He looks at it, not taking it until he gets it the way he wants. “With salsa too, please.”

And Fleegle’s sloppy sit-stays made me think he lacked impulse control.


Next: Negotiating with Cookies – Osmosis

Previous: Negotiating with Cookies – Healthcare

Hearing Voices

Ray heard voices when he meditated. They sounded like muffled snippets of conversation coming from another room. Not much more than gibberish, really, but twice he’d heard complete sentences, soft and intimate, spoken in the space between his thoughts and they seemed meant for him and him alone.

The first was: “You’re going to die soon.” Continue reading “Hearing Voices”


"Are you awake yet?"
“Are you awake yet?”

When Hank fell asleep to the sound of Goober, his dog, snoring next to him, he dreamed Goober had become a man and he was now his dog. Goober was a particularly good dog owner because he still remembered what it was like to be a dog even though he was now a man. Hank looked up to him like he was the greatest being on earth, especially since he was feeding him the most delicious snacks he’d ever tasted, even tastier than the ribs at his favorite barbeque joint.

When Hank woke from the dream, Goober was laying next to him, waiting for his eyes to open, and when they did, his tail went thump-thump against the bedspread. It always made Hank smile at how Goober would wag his tail at the smallest things, but this morning it made him take him for a run along the river where there were countless stinky things for Goober to stick his snout in, and afterward he planned to cook up a big breakfast of bacon and eggs for both of them. Goober would love that. Continue reading “Bacon”