Thursday, May 2, 2013

Rexless in Seattle

Rex whined a little.  He scratched at the bottom of his doghouse door, his nose pressed against the crack.  It was still locked from the outside.  He lay down dejectedly, his snout between his paws.  A long sigh filled the inside of his little chamber.

There was a female on the other side of the door, so close he could smell her, but his human had locked Rex up so long ago that it seemed he'd forgotten about him!  Rex, sadly under-leveraged, was left to loll about in exasperation as his human attempted to master the art of social interaction without him -- "Rexless," if you will.

She was 23 ("almost 24", she had added, helpfully).  They were at a party at someone's house, an event Rex's human rarely got invited to since moving back to the hometown he had thought would welcome him with open arms.  Having lived abroad for so long, any network connections and friendships he'd once had had long ago evaporated, or morphed into 'married with children', allowing no latitude for welcoming a mature single guy into their impenetrable little cliques.

He'd ridden up the elevator with her and her friend, making small talk about the host and hostess, then once inside they'd parted as he made the rounds greeting friends of long-estranged friends.  With her comment she was merely confirming what he already had discerned riding up the elevator: far too young to have any interest in him. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Rex Meets Regina

Rex was restless.  He hadn’t been allowed out in a very long time.  His brain was simmering from the overload of sensory input, especially given the circumstances.  Bodies pressed in on him from all sides, a panting, slavering pack of male hounds, all shouldering and chuffing at each other in an instinctive display of dominance and bravado.  Rex wasn’t much bothered by them — he wasn’t so much ‘above all that’ as simply unperturbed by their nervous, ego-driven compulsions.  

His snout raised above their heads and he sniffed, seeking out Little Red in the crowd of dogs, looking out for the sole member of his own pack who’d come with him, a petite red-haired terrier.  He wanted to give her room to meet the other males, but remain at-the-ready to intervene should he sense she needed him to 'run defense.'  Across the bar could see her being sandwiched between a German Shepherd and a Corgi, both pressing their muzzles close to hers to win ALL of her attention -- but she seemed to be holding her own, her eyes sparkling coquettishly at the attention.

Rex’s human had gradually, over time, become the Master of Low Expectations, so Rex was on a long lead.  Having been out to a lot of these events, his human assumed nothing much would come of this long-avoided foray into the real world of adult singles in a basement bar downtown.  (Nothing had ever come of previous forays for a couple of years, though, to be honest with himself, he didn’t ‘work it very hard.')

His human was checking his phone, so Rex's portion of their brain relaxed, scanning the room for females, eyeing a few: a Chow with interesting curves, a Spaniel with a nervous, “don’t invade my personal space” glare, a Golden Retriever who looked like she had some Fox Terrier bred into her bloodline some time back.  None caught his fancy.

Another alpha male pushed his way past Rex to the bar, a silver-haired Weimaraner.  Rex made room so he could order a drink.  Rex’s human said, “More men than women tonight.  That’s never good.

You can smell the testosterone in the air.  We’ll have to ‘man-up’!  My name’s Stan.”  He held out his paw and Rex’s human shook it, shared his name and they chatted for a few moments before Stan said, “I’m going to cruise around.  Maybe Ms. Right is here!” 
 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Rex Quits Dogging It

(This is Part Two of "Rex Backs Off" immediately below.)

The bar was still in low gear.  He had sent Rex back into his dog house and gestured  to Winston, asking him to bring her a beer.  He chatted with the Golden Retriever about how she came to choose his town for her exchange program, how long she'd be studying here, how much she liked sailing, what her favourite colour was, if she got stranded on a desert island what book she'd want with her, did she really want to spend her spare time working in a bar like this one...

She wasn't your average female canis familiaris, this one already knew she had the job.  He thought he was being engaging; she was just killing time, waiting.

She wasn't egotistical, far from it, it was just that she could figure things out fast and her brain had processed the incoming information: free beers, intense eye contact, earnest engagement, his role in the business and the way he kept touching her upper arm and 2 + 2 had added up to 4.6.  With the part-time job secured, her brain moved on to more interesting things.

"So what's your pay amount and the number of hours I must work?" she asked in her 'English-as-a-second-language'.  He stopped, his mouth closing and his head pulling back.  "I, ah, well, IF you got the job..." he said and rattled off the basics, sweetening the deal by offering what he was paying his longest-serving employees.  She nodded, a demure look on her face as she looked around at the gradually growing crowd.  She met his eye.  "I like it here, I will take your job.  Should I start now?"

Rattled was the only word that came to mind.

He cocked his head and looked behind the bar to where Winston was now frantically trying to manipulate a martini shaker while a glass overflowed under an open draught tap.  A crowd two people deep thronged the bar trying to get Winston's attention, his white apron was already looking like Joseph's technicolour dream coat.  He looked back at her.  She smiled.  He smiled too, wryly.  He took her hand and helped her off the bar stool.  She looked quizzical.  "Come with me and I'll show you around."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rex Backs Off

It was a Tuesday and things were quiet, inauspicious.  The bar was empty save himself.  Jazz music played softly, the water fountain trickled, glasses clinked inside the dishwasher amid the whoosh of the jets.  A low hum came from the refrigerators.

He was cutting limes, having filled the trays with cherries, olives and pickled onions.  The small tables had been lined up just so, candles lit, the floors mopped, the toilets checked for supplies.  Laughter drifted up the staircase from some of the early diners in the restaurant downstairs.  He could just make out the sounds of some traffic on the street out front.

He'd done many things, and would go on to do many more, but his skill set was particularly well-suited to running this "quiet little jazz-age cocktail salon".  His intense attention to detail served well in dressing the place nightly, in ensuring supplies were backed up, the decor constantly refreshed and the surfaces spotless.  His photographic memory worked well in remembering who ordered what no matter where their incessant mingling took them (and in collecting from them if they headed for the door).  His deep-rooted empathy meant the tellers of tales of heartbreak left knowing he'd remember their plight and would be looking out for their interests upon their next visit.  His gift of the gab kept the girls entertained and hopeful, the lads knowing they had a place to 'shoot the shit'.

His partners were better at leading the parade, at being the ringmasters, wearing the lampshades and joining the teeming throngs of 20-something lasses gyrating atop the pool table and bar-top late at night.  He was good at staying in constant contact with Adamo at the front door, minding the backed-up toilets, keeping an eye on the back door traffic and ensuring that no one did themselves grievous injury.

Truth be told, this was the most satisfying job he'd ever had.  The years working his way up as a corporate exec, the media business he continued to run, haltingly, with another partner during the daytime, the low-pressure unionized grocery clerk work that had put him through university, a myriad of jobs on the global road plus many summer jobs, none compared to making people happy, helping them both let loose and connect snugly -- facilitated by the various ways and means he and his bar partners had devised to ensure mayhem ensued, their special concoctions lubricating the slide to frivolity.  They were broke, but they certainly were having a good time! 

Still, there was something profound missing.  A platform, a base.  Roots beneath this tree of current complacent contentment.  Not money (though that would have helped), but a feeling of being needed, of 'mattering' outside of being a key-master in their little world of drunken bliss.  He discounted it when asked, waxing philosophical about being the lone wolf destined to roam alone (the black hole left by "The One's" check-out still sapping him, though Maltese-snippets plagued his waking thoughts less and less), but Rex had tired of the years of innumerable conquests and longed for a mate, a puppy-producer, a companion to share the long winter nights with, holed up in his cozy den.

Winston, one of their regulars, popped in for a quick martini classic with a twist on his way out of the office, still in uniform: a slick suit and patent leather shoes.  As usual, Winston wanted a sober recounting of hi-jink highlights from the weekend prior (the most unlikely couplings and most ribald mash-ups) and a prediction of what his fate may hold in the evenings ahead.  As always -- though Winston never tired of hearing it repeated -- he told him with sincerity and conviction that THIS would be the week it would happen for Winston.  Love was coming down the pipeline and Winston would assuredly be at the gushing end of that tube, finding himself awash in a potent shower of unrestrained feminine lust and deep emotional neediness.

Winston patted his moist brow with with a bar napkin (thoughts of women made him sweat), set his jaw and nodded earnestly, as he always did.  "OK, I think you're right!  I'm going to approach things with a positive attitude this week," he announced with obvious determination.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Life's a Rex! (NOT...)

She turned and ran away from him, gradually picking up speed in her graceful, easy lope, her pony-tail bobbing, her mind already on what she'd be doing next, the taste of good coffee and bitter regret lingering in his mouth.

He watched her familiar shape getting smaller as she put more distance between them, literally and figuratively, her body as untouched by childbearing or age as he'd always known it would be.  She was a lean, lanky Golden Retriever built for distance, not sprints; for action, not sedentary introspection.

Rex let out a mournful howl that echoed painfully inside his human's head.  A short, vigorous shake couldn't cut off the internal dissonance.  "Let it go, Rex!" blurted his human, "We're all better off this way."

Rex called bullshit, but there was nothing he could do about the situation.  He knew (as his human didn't want to acknowledge), that she wasn't running away, she was running back.  Back to the litter of pups that were supposed to have been sired and nurtured by Rex et al, back to a life that was meant to have been theirs (with a wistful nod to Mr. Keith...).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rex in Reserve

Rex's human was giving him the talking to.  Rex's ears were perked up and his head was cocked to one side because he knew that this guy sometimes brought him treats, but it was unclear who was really in charge between the two of them.   Rex's alpha dog personality made it hard for him to really take his human side too seriously -- when he sniffed an opportunity, he generally just took over.  THIS time, however, the guy seemed so earnest that Rex was struggling to understand just what was being asked of him.
"Rex, stay!  Lie down there and stay!  You can't come out of your dog house unless I call you, OK, Rex?"
Rex couldn't read Gary Larson cartoons, but all he heard was:
"Rex, stay!  Lie down blah blah stay!   Blah blah come blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah, Rex?"
Net-net, he was unclear on whether he was meant to come or stay, but the human's tone made him decide to retreat into his dog house for a lie-down of an unspecified duration.  (Dogs aren't good with the concept of time.)


Rex's alter-ego had a date, and the one thing he's learned about online dating dates was "low expectations", as in: imagine you are going to meet the older, heavier-set sister of the object of your desire (as defined by the photos on her dating profile), then imagine that the sister had just had electric shock therapy and couldn't understand your dry wit and conceptual nuances (despite the fact that the profile had made her sound kind of clever).

He was walking along the sidewalk in front of the bar, past the plate glass windows with the throng of people writhing on the other side, wondering just how bad this one would turn out to be.  In his past nine dates, not one woman had looked even close to her profile shots.  Lots of significantly more mature, plumper, not-so-engaging siblings, with rather off-putting senses of style, standing in. 

Pushing through the chattering masses along the outer edge of the bar he spotted two likely candidates sitting side-by-side up ahead on the right, each with an empty stool next to them, their faces blocked from his view by the people around them.  With "excuse me's" and gentle but firm palm pressure applied to the barrier of backs between him and his destination, he pressed forward, getting to about two arm's lengths away before discounting the first woman.

She looked younger than her stated age, was quite adorable and had just the kind of compact, slim-in-all-the-right-places figure that drove Rex to distraction -- like THAT was going to happen!  Ha...  With renewed 'low expectations' he brushed past the back of her chair and, still partially restrained by the crowd around him, reached out with his right hand and rested it gently on the back of the second of the two women to get her attention.  He had to press a bit further along to get past the back of her seat and introduce himself, but as he did so his gaze fell on the space between the two women and onto the cellphone of the first.  She was reading his last text to her, warning her he'd be a couple of minutes late.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rex's "Human Rights"

Rex's human writes a love letter to the wife he has yet to meet:

Being canine, Rex isn't particularly good with words.  He gets his message across in other ways.  He does, however, pine for a pack, a companion, a 'litter' one day.  Rex rolls over in his doggy bed most mornings and thrust out a paw, still in slumber, and expects to find his mate there beside him.  She isn't, of course, she only exists in his dreams at the moment as he awaits her to brave it out through more than a couple of dates...

Most often Rex is gone by the time his human wakes up, but sometimes he lingers long enough to cause his human side to dream with his eyes wide open, and sometimes even with his fingers hovering over a keyboard...
Looking Forward, Love of My Life:  You Make Me a Better Me
I want to tell you something I didn't the other day, Love.  We were in the car, you turned your head and did that thing you do with the set of your jaw when you're thinking about something and I fell in love with you again.  I wanted to tell you, but I didn't want to interrupt your train of thought and I was feeling so off-balance in that moment, I wasn't sure I'd get it right.  I guess getting it right wouldn't have been much of an issue, now that I think about it.
While I'm catching up on telling you some things, I want to thank you.  Thank you for being you.  We're all guilty of projecting, seeing our partner through our vision of the way we want them to be, not the way they are, but you have that gentle, insistent way of deflecting my attempts to do so.  I love you for that, Sweetheart.  Don't change, and don't change the way you stop me from trying to change you.  None of us are perfect, Love, but you're perfect just the way you are, imperfectly perfect.
You looked so worried the other night when we were getting ready to go out and you changed skirts three times (or was it six?) and I wanted to find a way to tell you what I see: that you walking around in nothing but heels and a pullover was causing me no end of trouble keeping myself contained; that you don't understand that you make men's knees quake and women inexplicably see red even if you're just wearing a lab coat...  But I wasn't sure you were in the mood to hear any of that.  You should know, though, that while neither of us are 10's, when I catch sight of our reflection walking towards ourselves in a storefront window I find myself wondering who that babe is beside me!  It makes me think "Sometimes we look good, but sometimes we look freaking GREAT" and it's you that makes that true, my Perfect Package.  I adore you.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Rex to the Rescue!

She was after a job and if that meant flirting with a guy to land it, she had no problem with side-stepping moral issues should it get her what she wanted.  Her older boyfriend was a bit overbearing, anyway.  She felt kind of entitled to keep her options open.  And it wasn't like anything was going to happen on this date, she wouldn't let it -- she hadn't made it all the way through university with her knees clamped tightly together by being a push-over.

He wasn't sure what he wanted from the encounter.  A piece of tail wasn't really the thing (Rex ensured he was rarely in dire need in that regard).  It was something ethereal.  Something in the air that eluded him when she was near.  A sense more than a feeling.  A blink more than a wink.  A stirring, not in his loins (though that was certainly a near constant around her), but in his heart.  A leaf in the breeze.  A twinge.  Not something he was too familiar with, but craved nonetheless.

He'd been assured she was probably still a virgin, popular opinion being that many had tried and none had been able to pry that door open even a crack.  He doubted she still was.  There were signs, signals, cues.  Rex knew things other males didn't.  Rex could smell things like that, and Rex had already met the Maltese.  Rex wasn't out on this date, however, he was in his dog house, sound asleep, dreaming doggie dreams.

Her voice was high-pitched, not nails-on-chalkboard, but songbird-like.  Her hands and arms fluttered like a female pigeon ruffling her feathers in the presence of a covey of suitors.  She had the short-legged strut of a best-in-show lapdog, her long locks flowing, shining in the arena lights.  They'd been to his place so he could change clothes, then out for pasta and now were at some charity cocktail thing she'd been keen to make an appearance at.

She'd tittered and preened at dinner.  He was his usual attentive self, answering queries with questions, deflecting, keeping the subject of the conversation her, her past, her dreams, her aspirations.  She'd attempted the young adventurist persona, but had been called out -- yet she wasn't what she appeared to be, a lovely little tart trying to play the older man like a virtuoso.  She was vastly inexperienced, but was able to match parry with thrust intellectually.  Poorly read, but a quick study.  She had little interest in anything that did not please her in the moment, or had a role to play in building her future, yet could pick up on things at a depth unusual for someone just out of college.

There had been no physical contact outside of his hand on the small of her back going through a doorway.  She felt in charge, safe, but she didn't know him very well and was unaware she'd already met Rex.  She flitted about at the resto-bar venue, the social butterfly, alighting on one group of people, laughing merrily, air-kissing, then touching down elsewhere, entertaining some girls she knew with a dollop of gossip, then snaking through the crowd to bat her eyes at some young studs hovering near the bar.

He watched her, bemused.  She seemed so enthusiastic about this mindless activity, so fully engaged, getting off on the attention, yet there was something else.  Her sidelong glances his way as he took in the crowd and chatted with some strangers standing at his elbow, the way she monitored where he was and what he was doing, all suggested there was something else going on with her, subliminally.  She was doing what she thought was the thing to do at the event, but seemed to relish knowing she had a man stashed away on the periphery of the crowd, a secret weapon of sorts, a safety net, another source of entertainment to return to.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Something in the Air

The air in the office was cool and dry, odourless. It was quiet. Snippets of some chatter drifted down the hall from the reception area. He was deep into a bunch of numbers, his brain flicking through obscure connections between bits and pieces of apparently unconnected information stored here and there in the folds and convolutions of his grey matter.

Two voices approached his door, male and female.  The other side of him, instinctual, deep inside his skull, Rex, stirred, nudging the rest of his brain off-focus a bit...  The female’s voice was high-pitched, girly. He was struggling to capture an insight that was eluding him while flipping through several articles on-screen. The voices stopped outside his door, his back to them.

A scent swirled in the air and suddenly Rex came awake, fully alert.  His gaze went up to the dim reflection of the window in front of him. In it he could make out, against the bright streetscape outside, one of his direct-reports, a cocky Labrador Retriever, standing in the doorway next to a much shorter, blond, female Maltese.

Hello, Roger” he said to the reflection, his attention still on the computer screen.  She tittered and Rex spun his chair around, a non-committal look on his face, one eyebrow raised, his eyes holding hers. Her gaze dropped to the floor.

He used the opportunity to appraise her, ever the "best-in-show" judge. Handsome proportions, he observed, delicate ankles and rounded calves, pretty face with a turned-up nose, blue-blue eyes, very long, wavy locks.  A proud bearing, not that old, but not that young, no rings...  He sensed she was used to leading the flow of things upon meeting males unfamiliar to her.  There'd be no intimate snuffling going on until she chose to turn and proffer her shapely hindquarters.

She clasped her hands together, pressing towards an intimate spot, creating a Y under the dress, unconsciously covering, but inadvertently drawing attention to what her subconscious told her she'd be smart to protect in this moment, the fingers intertwined, twisting just a little nervously. Her eyes came back up, but her chin stayed tucked in. He half expected her to cock her head to one side like a dog hearing a curious sound.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Alpha Dogs and Pomeranians

There was a heavy male scent in the air that was making the hackles on the back of Rex's neck stand up.  It was redolent of sweat, aggression and a touch of desperation, testosterone and the faint metallic whiff of dogs pissing on fire hydrants, delineating territory, territory that wasn't theirs to mark.

The bitches in the vicinity were feigning interest in grooming, licking their paws, preening, sniffing each others ears and making soft snuffling noises to each other.  They knew better than to get involved, the risk of getting nipped in the process, maybe losing a piece of their ear, and for what?  To best some dog whose entire feeling of self-worth was based upon the outcome of a brief skirmish with a bunch of other dogs: loud barking, staring each other down, ritualistic humping.  The girls were above all that, wisely, although it might mean they were staring up at an invisible career ceiling.

Rex felt a growl coming up in the back of his throat.  He wasn't looking at the vain, hyperactive Schnauzer who was aggravating him, but he was monitoring him closely -- he bore watching, unpredictable little shit that he was.  Rex felt the nearly uncontrollable need to walk up behind him, lift his leg and wet him down -- but there was a bit too much of that going on in this boardroom filled with representatives from client and agency offices around the world.

Rex and his client sat silently, both leaning back, waiting.  Waiting for the opportunity that they'd make happen.  The unspoken agreement between them was that this was Rex's turf and his meeting.  The Schnauzer, mistakenly, thought it was his -- after all, he'd called the meeting.  He'd learn.  He was younger and, in experience terms (where you live and learn or you don't live long), had half of Rex's years fighting in the pit.  The Schnauzer's ego, however, filled the room.

Rex stretched out in his chair, fingers linked above and behind his head, his feet extended out under the table in front of him into the circle of tables, examining the ceiling tiles.  A couple of women from the Durban office were watching him, smiling and tittering to each other.  He didn't notice.  His colleague from the media department did and she fixed them with a stare that cut off their staring and tittering.  Territory was being marked out among the bitches in the room as well, it turned out.

The Schnauzer stood and cleared his throat.  The chatter died out.

What had transpired was that the Schnauzer and his client, a sullen looking, shaggy German Shepherd who contributed little vocally outside of whispered commiserations with the Schnauzer, had bungled a commercial shoot that was being paid for out of an international financial pool and were now trying to justify getting everyone in the room to pony-up to pay for their mistake.  They hadn't accepted blame, however, it was being positioned as an "add-on," a second shoot to improve upon the first, to contribute additional material to the "film clip library."  No one was buying it (well, Rex wasn't sure about the South African girls...).

"So, we revisited the numbers, talked to the production company and there's really nothing we can do to lower the cost of the second shoot, everyone is going to have to contribute their 'fair share'."

Unwittingly the Schnauzer had just sealed his fate.  He'd used the trigger word: "fair".  If there was anything that pushed Rex's buttons, it was aggressive people who ran roughshod over other's needs, feelings, or toes.  "Un-fairness" made Rex see red.  His head cocked and dipped slightly.

A series of grunts of derision, barks of protest and howls of disbelief went round the circle of tables like a wave in a football stadium....until it reached Rex.  There was a moment of quiet as he leaned well forward across the table on his elbows, his hands clasped in front of him, his cheek resting on them as he stared at the Schnauzer who was standing, fingertips on the table, a smug look of determination on his face as he looked back and forth at the assembled crowd, fancying himself quite the Ring Master.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rex Does the Bossa Nova

He was dreaming, and it wasn't your typical canine dream, his legs weren't running across an imaginary field, Rex was flying.  He'd learned that if he jumped high enough, using all the strength in his hind quarters, then clawed the air above him as hard as he could with his forepaws, he could get enough altitude to stay in the air then, like "UnderDog," he could point his paws and fly, twisting and spiraling to check out what was happening down on the ground just like an eagle.

Rex was flying through a cloud above a group of females, all of them looking quite delectable, their yips and yaps drifting up, their scents wafting in eddies and puffs of warm air.  He was a happy dog, doing what other dogs couldn't.  He smiled a toothy smile, panting, soaring, as the dog voices changed, morphed, became human -- annoying human voices, feminine, "...then the cute guy said...," "NO WAY!  She wasn't even there!  HE was the one..."

He realized he wasn't flying anymore.  He was lying back, napping.  He was jiggling, too.  It was kind of nice, the jiggling.  Relaxing.  He thought about going back to sleep.  He opened one eye, seeking the source of the human voices.  Some annoying teenagers.  Females.  He'd like to bite the high-pitched one, not to hurt her, just to let her know his kind didn't like her pitch, volume or incessant need to blather on.

His doggy senses tingled and his open eye shifted to the right.  A female sat looking at him curiously, her head tipped to one side.  He opened the other eye and looked away, suddenly concerned that perhaps he'd been drooling.  He straightened out a little, bringing up one forepaw to wipe his muzzle.  He looked back.  She was still staring at him, a bemused look on her face.  Ah, she was also listening to the girls -- or maybe she was amused at them AND him.

Rex felt his collar.  Bare.  Hm, he'd taken off the black bow tie, he recalled. and had stuffed it in the pocket of his tux jacket when he'd entered the subway car and sat down.  The formal function had been one notch past tedious and the last glass of wine had contributed to his having drifted off.  He sat up a bit straighter and lifted his head off the ad poster behind him, looked down at his shoes stretched out in front of him, took a look at his watch, wondered how many stops he'd slept through.  The girls' gossip was grating.

He snuck another glance up.  She was still eyeing him.  He chewed on the inside of one cheek.  There was a Nine West shoebox on the seat beside her.   She had a tight skirt on and had legs like a dancer's.  He stirred, cleared his throat, "What did you buy?" he ventured, his chin gesturing toward the box.  She looked surprised, then said in a strong accent "Ah... Shoes."  He smiled and held her eyes, his dancing,  "Yes, last time I checked, shoes come in boxes just like that one."  She smiled, embarrassed, and looked down at the box.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rex Likes Poodles

Tapping into what he was thinking as he sat out beside the sidewalk staring intently at a passing Poodle’s wagging hindquarters, scratching absently behind one ear, most people would say Rex was just a dog.  Most people would be misreading him.  Rex was more than met the eye.

The Poodle turned the corner and left little for him to remember her by other than strong whiff of some expensive shampoo.  She left his brain.  Rex tended to live in the moment, even while his brain was planning for the future.  He yawned, languorously, got up and stretched, drawing out the moment while waiting for an impulse to strike him. 

Other dogs fretted over where the next meal was going to come from, which female in the neighbourhood was in heat (and which ones they might stand a chance with), whether or not they were going to get in trouble for making a mess of the living room.  Rex wondered whether or not, if you told a girl dog you thought she smelled like warm honey, she'd let you have your evil way with her faster than if you told her you thought she was pretty. 

Rex was bored and thinking, as he often did, about why humans did what they did.  Such a fascinating species Homo sapiens sapiens.  So complicated versus Canis lupus familaris, the "domestic dog."  

Satisfying a sudden itch Rex rubbed the right side of his nose vigorously with the back of his right paw.  A few Bulldogs waddled by, several cougars slinking, a couple of sabre-toothed tigers, many of them casting him a sidelong glance, a tentative sniff in his direction, but there were no Poodles in sight.

He pulled out his iPhone, checked for news from his online dating accounts and put it back in his shirt pocket.  His jeans were pushing his ‘package’ to one side and he shoved his hands in his pockets to rearrange things as surreptitiously as he could while leaning against a wall on a busy street in the city's bustling business district.

Another Poodle approached from up the street, her teased-out mane framing an attractive, though not striking, set of features.  Her snout was a bit long for her face, he mused.  She looked at him as he started his assessment down at her clacking wedges and worked his way up the A-line skirt, the ringless left hand, narrow waist, smallish B-cups and long neck, sipping her like a iced cocktail in a tall glass.  She rewarded his attention with a frigid glare.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cave-Dog

It was dark, dark and dank in the back of the cave.  Rex was licking his wounds, metaphorically speaking.  He felt the wall behind him pressing against his tailbone.  It felt good, familiar.  He'd backed in and the walls closing tight around him felt cozy, in a way that probably wasn't healthy.

He laid his chin on his paws slowly, a long, slow release of breath escaping his nostrils.  There was light at the end of his tunnel, but he'd backed in, away from it.  He'd been there, in his sanctuary, for a long, long while.


Dogs didn't measure time like humans did, but still, he knew he'd been in there too long.   His flanks were still taught, well-muscled, but his jowls were showing the first signs of grey.

He craved release, but coveted the lone wolf's monastic solitude.  He cherished the tragic hero's fate.  He longed for so much more, but contented himself with so little.

In many ways he was used to, comfortable with, licking his wounds.  In many ways he didn't want to face the cold light of day.  In many ways (most?), Rex was a beaten dog.  Living in the past.  Defeated.  Too many years of being "woman's best friend" (and emotional doormat), too much "unconditional love," not enough "alpha male time." He had always been that guy, he'd been Rex....before. But that was then and this was now.

Inside his head another voice hummed a little tune, a Duke Ellington number...


Not quite Rex's taste, he preferred melancholy country ballads in his current state of mind. He blocked out the noise and it got mournfully quiet again.

The future smiled at him.  It winked, beckoned -- a swelling belly full of potential.  The past tugged, clung, heavy with portent, light on levity, void of promise, barren.  He'd been turning back, inward for so long, it had become habit.  It was nice and dark back there in the shadows...

She'd taken him from him.  Hadn't intended to do it, hadn't planned it, hadn't even willed it into being,  but there it was.  And it hadn't been 'surgical', it had involved a bludgeon.  All those years, all that love, that intensity, that hope, those dreams -- blip...

And that was all Rex had to say about that, Forrest.

Rex rose to his feet, yawned, gave himself a vigorous shake.  He looked out at the light.  He licked his chops, lifted his snout and sniffed. He looked back at the black cave wall, worn smooth by his hindquarters.  His gaze shifted outward again.  In the dead stillness he heard another voice, female.  In the silence she said "I love you".  He blinked.  Sound where there wasn't a pin-drop.

Inside his head, he realized it wasn't a voice from the past -- she'd never said it before -- he'd heard it in the present.

Something had just happened inside his insides, like a capillary bursting in his left ventricle, a small aneurysm going 'pop' in his right hemisphere.  No -- it took place deeper in his brain, in the 'reptilian' brain, a fundamental change.  Suddenly he felt, rather than reasoned, that there'd be a similar, but different, voice in the future who would say those words.

Another blink.  Rex realized he had things to do, dreams to give life to, stories to tell and people who needed him, he'd just forgotten for a time.  He'd thawed out and needed to step out of the puddle of melted ice he'd been soaking in.

He took a step, then another, then broke into a loping run.  He burst out of the cave's entrance and kept going.  The light was bright, near blinding after the darkness.  He didn't look back.  He didn't have to.

The cave didn't care.  It just was.  Silent, dark, empty, healing, restorative, somewhere on Mars, awaiting another beaten, broken dog...
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