This morning when Dustin was out walking his beagle Princess, the darned little thing started to talk bad about Dustin's wife. One minute she was tugging on the leash and rooting in the dirt and pooping on the sidewalk like a normal dog, and the next she turned around and glared up at him and started ranting.
"I've got something to say, and you just better listen, mister," she growled in her throaty dog voice. "Just yesterday she neglected to give me a treat when I did that retarded trick she's always begging for. And she hasn't taken me for a walk in weeks. Can she get off her big butt and cut the web surfing down to five hours a day? And I'm not even going to mention the blanket in my crate. Pee-yew! Doesn't she know how the washing machine works? I gotta tell you man, how you put up with her, I have no idea."
"Hey, that's not fair, and you know it!" Dustin shouted, caught off guard by this tirade.
But by then Princess was pretending to be fascinated by a squirrel scampering up a nearby tree. A young couple pushing a baby carriage gave Dustin a strange look and hurried by, keeping as much of the sidewalk between themselves and Dusting as they could.
Dustin yanked the leash, pulling Princess away from the squirrel, and they resumed walking, but the walk was no longer fun for either of them. A great deal of unspoken tension hung in the air all the way home.
When they arrived at the back door, they could hear Dustin's wife moving around in the living room. As Dustin was unhooked the leash from Princess's collar, he bent close to Princess's big stupid floppy ears and whispered with as much dignity as he could project, "We'll discuss this later."
Copyright: © 2011 John Sheirer
John Sheirer lives in Northampton, MA, and teaches at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, CT. His most recent book is the memoir Loop Year: 365 Days on the Trail, winner of the Connecticut Green Circle Award. Forthcoming in 2011 are a collection of flash fiction (One Bite) and a creative writing guidebook (What's the Story?). He can be found here: www.johnsheirer.com