“COME GET YOUR FUCKING DOG” by Chris Drabick

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The thing I miss about landlines is being able to angrily slam the receiver as punctuation in an argument. It’s impossible to emphatically press the hang-up button on an iPhone without looking foolish. I know I looked foolish doing it.

The last words I assume she heard me shouting are the title. I didn’t mean to say that about the dog. Or shout it. Snoopy was the tether. As long as I had her (yeah, I know, Snoopy is supposed to be a male dog name), then Jennifer had to talk to me. Had to deal with me. Maybe, subconsciously, somewhere deep inside, I’d even agreed to adopt Snoopy knowing full well she’d eventually have this use. This purpose. I don’t mean to sound sinister.

On cue, she whimpered. The shouting had spooked her a little. She’d not been herself since Jennifer had gone; she was doing a lot of pacing, waiting by the door, the whimpering. The waiting, of course, was for Jennifer. The whimpering was for me. She seemed to be telling me, what the fuck did you do?

Snoopy told me what the fuck did you do?

I shrugged. I still had the phone in my hand. I resisted the urge to call back, knowing Jennifer would still be in fight-continuation mode even though I may have shifted to fight-conciliatory mode. My modes were often wrong. I needed to be more multi-modal.

Snoopy asked me do you want her to come back?

I shrugged again. I nodded. I told Snoopy, “Yes. I fucked up. This is a mistake. But Jennifer is angry.”

Snoopy appeared to shake her head. Snoopy told me you’re a dumb motherfucker, aren’t you?

I didn’t say anything.

Snoopy asked again you’re a dumb motherfucker, aren’t you?

I didn’t say anything.

Snoopy told me listen, asshole. Answer me. You’re a dumb motherfucker, aren’t you?

I remembered a dream I had, a very vivid one, in which I was best friends with LeBron James. We bonded over having bad dads. I guess I became more like a therapist, in the dream, but I felt like I was getting something out of it too, seeing as how I got to hang around with LeBron James, even if he spent most of his time crying with me about our bad dads.

I told Snoopy, “Yes, I suppose I am a dumb motherfucker.”

Snoopy told me that’s right, you are a dumb motherfucker. Got yourself stuck, didn’t you? I’m a dog and I know not to shit where I eat. What are you going to do about it?

If I knew, I wouldn’t tell the dog, but I didn’t know what I was going to do. My impulse was to try and win her back, but she was angry. I was never good at diffusing Jennifer’s anger. I’d usually throw an aerosol can on the fire and let that shit explode all over me, like the time we were in Chicago and got into it and I got super drunk at the House of Blues and left her behind without a hotel key.

The walls in LeBron James’ house were all exposed brick. In the dream. He didn’t appear to have a family.

I looked at Snoopy. I asked her, “What does she want?”

Snoopy told me we all want the same thing.

I was confused. “’We’ meaning dogs?”

Snoopy looked at me with the same expression she’d have when she was given an alternate food due to Jennifer’s and/or my combined laziness and/or forgetfulness. She told me women, you dumb motherfucker. All women want the same thing.

I don’t know why, but I assumed Snoopy to be woker than this.

There was a basketball hoop in LeBron James’ living room. In the dream. That’s not all that strange, of course, but he would pick me up so I could dunk. He was like twice my size, in the dream.

“Okay,” I said to Snoopy. “I’ll bite.” (The pun was intended.) “What is this same thing you’re speaking of?”

We want to know we’re the center of your world.

The center of LeBron James’ world is basketball. Isn’t it? It’d have to be, right?

“And if she’s not?” I asked Snoopy

Snoopy looked at me with the sadness of a twice-jilted Cavaliers fan. Cavs fan. Snoopy told me if she’s not, then you have to let her go. Let us go. I’m her dog, you dumb motherfucker.

I shrugged. I grinned a little. My modes were always at war with one another. I can’t dunk a basketball.

“I already told her to come pick you up. Didn’t you hear me?”

 

Chris Drabick is a former rock music journalist whose fiction has appeared in “Cease, Cows”, “Midwestern Gothic”, “After the Pause” and “Great Lakes Review”, and non-fiction in “BULL” and “Stoneboat”, among others. His first novel, “The Way We Get By”, is due from Unsolicited Press in November 2019. He teaches English at the University of Akron in Ohio, where he lives with his wife Alison and their sons, Augie and Elliott.

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