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Some Men Are Dogs

by Victoria Sosa


I started following her a few weeks ago. It’s been weeks because the chicken is still there. The bones have turned brown like the leaves and the shoe color she wears. Her concrete-flavored sneakers have been replaced with a furry suede that sticks to my tongue. I hate how the pieces of fake fluff melt in my mouth, but it makes her laugh.

I noticed her laugh first. The sound was sharp and withering; so much like a wounded animal that I pounced from my hiding spot underneath the broken stairs of an abandoned store.

She looked at me, mouth still open, clutching a box of chicken. She bared her teeth.

“Are you hungry, boy?” She threw her last pieces of chicken at me. I caught one midair, satisfied by the crack. I ran up to her for more, licking at her feet.

“Hmm, what should I call you?”

I sniffed up her legs, up her thighs.

“Maybe I should tell you what I’m called first?”

Bitch, I yapped.

She said her name was Doris.

I padded alongside her. She leaned down every few minutes to pat my head. When we arrived at a yellow brick heap with white doors and windows, she squatted. One hand scratched a spot behind my ear while the other held up a picture of a dirty, sand-colored dog. I whined as the hand moved.

She rested the tip of her finger on my nose. “That’s you.”

Before I could decide whether to lick her finger or the screen (both smelled like chicken), she moved them away. I watched her disappear inside the mouth of that wide and windowed monster.

The next day I nipped at Doris’s ankles as she squealed, “I don’t have anything to give you, Goofy.” She let out a high-pitched squeak. “That’s perfect! I’ll call you Goofy.”

When we arrived at her heap, she met the grass again. This time poking it. “Stay.”

After she disappeared, I dug at the spot she’d been poking, hoping to find whatever she might have buried. The hole was empty.

My attention was grabbed by a chunk of ham falling from the sky. I devoured all but a single piece. This I placed into the hole and covered with dirt for her to have later.

He started following her a few days ago. I was used to the confusing smells of many people on one street, but his scent remained as we made our way through the back roads, never any closer or any further.

It smelled like the kennel. No, it smelled like the last cage in the kennel’s corner. That no one walked towards except the man with metal keys and metal boots. It smelled like that man, but it wasn’t him. The smell just gave me the same sensation as the bottom of the man’s boots crashing down on my face.

I ignored it. Men often smell like violence. But it was there the next night, and the next night, and the next—always accompanied by the rise and fall of feet, the rustle of a jacket, and the breathing. I might have imagined the breathing, a nasally huff that wouldn’t mingle with the wind. Maybe I thought I felt hot breath on my scruff because of the chill down my spine.





 

The first night he followed, I walked closer to Doris. The second night, I stopped. She slowed down before stopping as well. We all stood in silence. I turned to look at the silhouette behind us. It was darker than the empty black air, a sign of something in the nothingness that can reach out and touch you. I watched until it may have been a pole or a strange bush.

Then the silhouette stepped out of my vision, and there was no doubt.

The third night, I stopped again. Doris paused without hesitation. I waited for the silence. Heavy footfalls continued to penetrate the quiet. The man-shaped hole in the night became clearer. The scent grew thick. I growled.

“What’s wrong?” Doris asked.

I barked. Your small ears and pale eyes make you unfit to survive in the darkness. Your big chest heaves with fear because you are prey in the wild of this city. I have seen women like you rotting. I have tasted the flesh of women like you. I stand between you and all the other dogs.

“Goofy boy,” she muttered, and we walked on.

It was getting colder, so Doris let me inside. Her home felt warm, having gentle blue walls, but she never let me past the first square and cluttered room. I laid on a dusty but soft blanket in the corner and listened to her patter around the place while talking to no one.

“I’ll see him again. He works in the office next to mine. Apparently, we get off at the same time. Isn’t that funny?”

When her aimless chatter ended, and the rooms filled with silence, I slept.

I walked out with Doris onto the porch, my eyes tracking the large bag of dog food in her arms. She poured some into a metal bowl. GOOFY was drawn on the side in big, black letters. My bowl.

She walked away while I ate, disappearing into the cloudless day. After licking up the chalky crumbs, I started my prowl. My hunts were no longer a scavenge but a curious walk around town as I slowly made my way back to my hiding spot. There, I escaped the beating of the afternoon sun and napped on cool, moist dirt. A streetlight flooded through the cracks in the stairway, waking me up and letting me know Doris was on her way. But Doris hadn’t come. Though the metal beasts had stopped rolling down the roads, and the moon had traveled across the sky.

I whimpered. Alone.

My nose perked up. Alcohol and wildflowers. I darted onto the sidewalk and sprinted towards her. A husky sour scent crawled, reaching me before I reached her. I froze.

“Goofy!”

Doris hurried up to me, a clumsy, pathetic waddle. The man strode on even feet, covering more distance. She turned towards him.

“This is my dog. Well… kind of… he comes over and we hang out.”

She dragged a mittened hand over my head. I didn’t wag or nuzzle or stick out my tongue. I looked at him.

“I guess you could say he’s a friend.”

The man didn’t pet me, but I knew his rough hands would’ve pushed down on my skull.

“Are you sure that’s a good idea? He could have fleas or a disease.”

His voice was skateboard wheels on pavement, scraping and erratic.

She opened her mouth wide, her pink gums showing. “I’ve always been the type of girl to let in strays.”



 

Victoria Sosa studied English at the Loyola University in New Orleans and pens fiction, poetry, and screenplays. She wants her writing to “confront the establishment and question the powerful,” while investigating societal problems with her reading audience. 

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