Tuesday, October 12, 2004

My Old Dog Really Dug The King

My friend Stan and I have a sense of adventure, and we’re always up for any sort of activity or behavior that stands out from ordinary experience. Loud arguments, crunchy hippie rhetoric, whacked out conspiracy theories, large-breasted women with damaged emotional mechanisms, we’d soak it all in. Especially when drinking. But we used to sit down and talk too, about our lives and the paths they where taking, the people we knew and worked with, the way we felt about the world we live in.

So this one night seemed to be shaping up like the latter: a quiet night in a nicely appointed Spanish café drinking rioja and munching topas. We where going over some things Dan’s future wife had mentioned to him, trying to figure out exactly what she meant. Just about in the middle of it, this completely screwed down bleary eyed drunken coke freak turns to us and blazes into this wild tale about a dog he found in his neighborhood. He didn’t bother waiting for some kind of indication that we where engaged in the story, he just launched into it. Needless to say, Stan and I where riveted.

Before I recount it for you, I want to preface the story with a little annotation, one which you may interpret as advice if you so desire. Stan and I where sitting in what we like to refer to as The Bleachers. In every bar, and believe me, I’ve been in a few, there is the part of its construction that runs the length of it, and then, at one end, there is the small jaunt that completes its circuit back to the wall forming the bottom part ot the “L” shape. This end part, I have found, is invariably where the weird and wild hang. One can either participate or, as we where doing on this particular evening, spectate from the other side of the 90 degree bend. From there we heard the story just as I will recount it below:

“so that was the first time that animal got me kicked out of an apartment, after only three weeks!!! Three weeks. I just had a weakness for the guy though, abandoned, roughed up, tough as shit. He reminded me of me. Anyway, the second time I decided to keep him in the house, out of trouble. I come home from work and there he is, sitting in the driveway with his mouth open and that ham of a tongue dripping, smiling and waggin’ his tail all happy to see me. He lunged right through the living room bay window and there was glass and splinters all over the shrubs and yard. Like that scene in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. That landlord just left the news on my answering machine. I fixed the window before we left though.

So I’m sitting in my truck on the way to the new place trying to explain to the dog that we’ve got to behave or they’re going to banish us to an Indian reservation or something, and he’s just busy trying to bite his way through the window or nuzzling his bloody 50 pound muzzle into my face the whole time. So we get there and this time I got a place in a slightly crappier neighborhood with a slightly bigger lawn. And the first thing I did was pick and shovel out a five foot deep hole that I set rebar, cement and a five inch steel pipe into. And this time when I went to work bubba is chained well and good there for the day.

And hell yeah, he’s there when I get home too! Believe that? Of course, there’s a four inch perfect circle worn down into the ground where he dug and strutted around as far as the leash’d let him go. The whole damn area worn down about four inches just like that. And every day when I get home it’s deeper and deeper, until one day I come home and there that dern dog is wagin’ his tail in the driveway with some ratty old pelt in his mouth, dragging behind him on the chain ALL THE CEMENT AND STEEL I’D LAID. Then the screamin’ starts.

The next-door neighbor is out on her stoop wailing away, “my rabbit is gone, Elvis is gone”. The dog and I look at each other then make a bee-line for the door with the cement monstrosity bouncing right behind us, and when we get inside I unhook the leash and he drops that ragged fleece down on the carpet and looks with his grimy, drool encrusted smile all innocent at me. Well, I ain’t no brain surgeon, but I know sure as shit I’m lookin’ at Elvis. It’s not like I didn’t see his hutch right there in the backyard next door.

2 O’clock in the morning I get up, take the mangled, bloodied filthy remains of Elvis and plop him in the sink, wash him with soap and water real good, get him all cleaned up good, then take the hair dryer and fluff him nice all around, undercarriage, high-beams, the works. Then I sneak over next door and place him back in his hutch all curled in the corner. ‘Missed home and went back in ‘is hutch, then dead of natural causes, right?

The screaming from next door that morning was un-fucking believable. Like someone lit the old bitty on fire or something. I mean, I was expecting a reaction, but she sounded completely unhinged. I go running out in my drawers and her eyes come at me wide as moon pies, then she just falls dead weight into my arms. “Elvis, Elvis, Elvis” and she’s shakin’ and going on. So I pretend to survey the situation and then say “he has passed on, I’ll bet he had a good life though” I mean, what the F am I goin’ ta say, right? She goes on and on and on and on and on with me trying to think of every stupid thing I’ve ever heard on TV to console her.

And then she turns to me and says “you don’t understand Mister, Elvis died two days ago, I buried him myself in the yard”.

Interspersed throughout where a few shots of Mescal, but even then Stan and I wouldn’t have put a dime on any two words of that story being true. The funny thing was that he just turned to his drink when he was done. He kind of looked like the kind of guy who may have been a plumber or carpenter five or six years ago, but did really well for himself soon afterwards. He may have made millions selling condos in the Taj Majal, or he could have just been really bummed that his dog had died that day.

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