story: The Dog
Their clothes are ironed on them in the shape of death. Soggy bread of a sky looking over, he gargles time release capsules. Not enough pills milled for the morning after. The frosted flakes expired; he flops between her shrubbery, bulge withering beneath a dress. “It’s no longer in style to be a bad lay,” she says. He vows to return her to the urn, drops her off for cognitive behaviorals instead. “Listen to a woman once and you become her therapy dog,” his mother always said, teeth gnawing through his skull like fly eggs, speaking through a bisection of his face in swarms. “We’re all Satan’s puppet, a populace atop the hoof.” He hears her talk to the shrink through walls so thin he wishes they were her clothes. He tends to end up overacting in the bear costume she makes him wear. They’ve been brining bite marks on each other. In utter silence their chalky mouths resemble apple seeds, if worms took the core. “What eats the worms after they eat us?” Entwined guts, reshuffling microbiomes a couple viruses at a time, they’re not worth the ekphrastic flesh of their penny masks.
Back at home, I watch them go at it on the floor, barking at their burnt knees, saying: “Chicken bone love, the farther my snout from fowl, the deeper my whine. Poor fools,” I continue, “evolution parted nose and genital, resulting in a much more basic bitch. When master approaches, I smell the slick lint in his pocket miles off. This upright pack, their security blankets took on a culture. Why hide from the sky while you romp? My talismanic flopping brings them its own toxoplasma. But the litter they have might come out crushed. I should be reading them their charts. Who swallowed a primordial tongue so deep they’ve forgotten what limps into us from the shadows? Are they paw-deep in an enemy? Are you still aware of yourselves?” I paw and pout at the door. Master fastens my harness, tightens the straps, turns the knob and pushes. We’re hit with a smell of fish sticks, grease, and garbage bags loosely tied. I close my eyes, leave the rest of the morning un-rendered.
David Kuhnlein’s writing is published or forthcoming in Tragickal, BathHouse, Cough Syrup, Nauseated Drive, Mirage/Period[ical], Rogue Agent, Abandoned Library, and others. He co-edited a witchcraft/ gothic romance novel his grandmother wrote in 1979, set in her home country — Trinidad. Follow along @olasgrandesnovel.