When Kutzen read in the science section of The Times that in some cases owning a dog lowered the blood pressure and eased bouts of arrhythmia in those with heart problems, he insisted, despite his wife's misgivings that caring for the dog would fall solely into her lap, that they drive up to a breeder in upstate New York and pick out the spunky, cuddly chocolate toy male poodle that Kutzen had pictured in his mind.

Kutzen threw himself into caring for Benjie as he did few other things in his 74 year long life, getting up early and staying up late to walk it, shredding chicken and brewing gravy to give it its favorite meal. The rewards were great, for at those times when Kutzen felt himself slip into atrial fibrillation, he would place Benjie on his chest where it would curl up and fall asleep, as if it knew what was needed. Kutzen would fall asleep, too, and when he woke discover his heart had returned to normal sinus rhythm. Kutzen would have been convinced there was a special, almost magical, connection between him and Benjie but for the fact that when the Kutzens returned from the movies, the dog would fly toward Kutzen's wife, leaping at her and whimpering till she picked him up and cradled him. When she was through, Benjie would turn to Kutzen, offering a much more peremptory greeting, one you might give to a neighbor you didn't much want to get in conversation with.

Kutzen could have lived with this for years, even a decade, if the doctor hadn't explained to him that his heart condition had metamorphosed into what was now full blown congestive heart failure and he might want to get his affairs in order.

So when Kutzen returned from the cardiologists's office, he did what he always knew he would do in this situation, luring Benjie close and cradling his head in his hands, gently stroking the little dog's head as if washing a tennis ball or some other round object. Then, with a sick feeling in his stomach, Kutzen began applying pressure, steadily but with unmistakeable strength till Benjie began to thrash and yelp. It was harder than Kutzen had anticipated, for even at 7 pounds, the dog was strangely powerful and bit down fiercely on Kutzen's fingers, drawing copious amounts of blood, so badly did it want to stay alive. But Kutzen was resolute, his hands big and calloused and strong from golf; after a minute or two he actually felt the dog's skull give way in his hands.

He sat on the Bentwood rocker in the living room, Benjie on his lap, picturing the curiosity on Eileen's face as she came in through the front door, wondering why Benjie wasn't springing off his lap to greet her.
Yesterday this story was 18 sentences, double the number I'm aiming for. Today it's only 10, and all the better for it. But the goal is 9, and I'm going to work at it till I master the form. Send your short, short stories in as well, and if I like them, I'll publish them along with mine. They got to be good. e.


At 11:57 PM, Blogger EM_C said...

“Where did all of these things come from? How neat really; the batteries are something special, the interactions are fantastically intricate, and the circuits are beyond complex.”

“These things have been here since we came, I know that for sure. I heard that there used to be different kinds and that they complimented each other, like puzzle pieces.”

“Well I can’t tell any differences and these pieces keep falling apart. I feel lucky when I get one of these contraptions hodge-podged together and damn lucky when they do the work we tell them to do without making a mess.”

“They must have had a purpose, long before we encountered them. You know, things without a purpose die out and things of this nature aren’t just made by random design.”

“You’re getting to philosophical mate, throw me a wrench and some of the silly glue and we'll have these things working for sure this time.”


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