Blaming the sesame chicken
The phone rang so hard it almost shook itself off my bedside table. I pulled the cobwebs apart (those that covered my unfocused eyes) and reached for the receiver. Before I remembered I had moved the phone to my wife’s side of the bed, the earpiece was against my head. A child’s voice–a young girl by the sound of it–was on the other end of the line.
“Uh-huh…” I wasn’t quite awake yet. I’d been in the middle of a particularly ugly dream about my little dog. She was sick and I couldn’t make her better. I hated dreams like that.
“I just wanted to warn you,” she said. She sounded tentative, as if she were afraid herself. “The man was outside your house again this morning.”
“What man?” A better question would’ve been: Who are you? But that’s not what I asked.
“The same man that’s been there every morning this week. He was trying to get your dog to come to the curb.” She was talking faster.
“My dog is right here next to me,” I said. Who was this little bitch and why was she waking me up at sunrise?
“I have to go. Bye.” She was gone with a click.
I reached down to pet Scoop when the madness began. Scoop ran out from underneath the covers and jumped to the floor, her ass dragging the floor like it always did when she ran fast from something that scared her. Her fear made a lot more sense when a dog that looked just like her (and I mean exactly like her) scrambled out behind her. Before I could focus, the dogs were fighting, chasing each other around the room in an ugly asymetrical dance. It didn’t take long for me to lose sight of which was the real Scoop.
Then she began to howl. I heard the noise off to my right (away from where the two dogs were fighting). I turned and she wasn’t there. The phone was where I had moved it. I was under the covers and thirsty.
Scoop was howling, though. Under the covers, a cute, plaintive howl, singing with the fire trucks that were headed up to Altamont Road to help out an overturned car. Scoop did scramble out from underneath the covers. Alone. She sat at the end of the bed and howled with the fire trucks until they were out of earshot.
She breaks my damned heart when she does that. It’s the sweetest thing you’ll ever watch. Her little mouth looks like Snoopy’s when he sings a sad song.
I don’t have nightmares very much. I’m blaming the one early this morning on last night’s Chinese meal and the fact that I left Scoop in a kennel for six days.
The subconscious is a vindictive little bitch.