Categories
Short Fiction

Pete, Jr.

June 2019.

Pete, Jr.

The tranquilizing effect of a dog’s eyes, colloquially “puppy-dog eyes,” is well known. The forty-five-degree downward slant, the assuring dirt-brown hue, the occasional whitish goop in the corners of said eyes, goop to which the dog is so adorably, un-vainly oblivious—all dog-owners and -patrons are unimmunized to these.

An extra-lethal glassy and dubious pair of puppy eyes belonged to one Pete, Jr., whose coffee eyes and Mini-Moo-extra-rich-coffee-creamer fur made for an especially sedative and vaguely palatable ambiance.

Pete was one to roll around on the kitchen floor like an Olympic figure-skater when he was dreaming in an absolute sleep complete with tail-wagging and an inch of pink tongue hanging limply and obliquely from his mouth. He was one to heave his enormous bovine body through a delicate and thoroughly designed Tudor at great speeds, nearly but might I emphasize never once damaging anything, whenever he heard the faint tinkly ringing sound of dollar-store PetAgree kibble being poured into and thus resounding in his engraved ceramic bowl. The dog would sometimes chew rocks from the garden in blank amusement.

Pete would spot a squirrel or other rodentlike Scurrier climbing freakishly upside-down on a tree limb, with only its sunflower-seed claws clutching the limb, spindly tail all ablaze, looking like dinner and triggering every deeply-buried predatory instinct in Pete’s genetic code, and Pete would get all excited and let out a ripping bark, I mean every rodent within five miles must have heard it and thousands of squirrel-pellets must have fallen simultaneously from trees and/or telephone lines and hit the suburban floor with a collective thud, just a ripping bark, and Pete would look directly at the squirrel and then back at his owner, and every monstrous muscle in his body would grip the dirt and refuse to leave and potentially subject his owner to even half a minute of danger or loneliness, and then Pete’d turn back and look at the squirrel, the ugly, gray, sparse, coniferous tail and the beady eyes and the claws still piercing the tree, not even running and hiding, just waiting to be preyed upon, dominated, and Pete he could not go, so he killed the squirrel with his sound; he ripped it to shreds in his bark and tore its insides like the squeaky toys he loved so much and which would not sate him until he had extricated their inner squeak-maker and had ripped that, too, to pieces.

But he would not and could not leave his owner. Looking up at him, there was not a force in the world, no matter how delectable the little weasel, that could ever remove him, Pete, Jr., from his righteous owner’s side.

How could he describe his love? How could he explain to you the gnawing, paralyzing passion he felt for this man with golden hair and a smile as straight and white as the picket fence in the pruned and groomed backyard? Lo, suffice it to say that Pete, Jr, would die for this man. He would starve, feel the stony cheek of the face of death, fight any creature, man, or god to the end to ensure his owner’s life and mirth. And what did he want in return? Just the slow, sleepy graze of the man’s hand’s back in performance of the ritual Tummy Rub over Pete’s taut pink stomach at night on the couch while he watched the man watch Frasier on the Hallmark channel on television. And also he did desire the accidental dropping of a little hamburger meat on the kitchen tile now and then, whenever the man wasn’t too busy and decided to stay home and dust off the old Black&Decker grill in the backyard in the soft, gauzy August-evening light.