Blogger’s Note: Since we’re packing, I’m cheating a little. This was the beginning of a collective fiction exercise I tried to get rolling at my last job. Basically, a colleague submitted a photo of a little terrier on a pile of household junk in the back of a pickup. Another colleague suggested the opening line, “It was either Barney or me.” This is what I wrote next.
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It was either Barney or me.
Oh, I saw it coming. I was born in the doghouse and grew up on the streets, so when Luka picked me out of that line-up at the shelter, I had no illusions. The chew toys, the futon, the treats flavored with real bacon — I had it too good. Free and easy never lasts, and usually it’s some dame that derails it.
Sure enough, six months in I’m asleep on my end of the futon when Luka shows up with kung pao chicken and a Meg Ryan flick. Tells me to go lay down — as though I wasn’t already. Then she walks in, and hell if my ears didn’t perk up. Dark hair, dark eyes and long, lovely stems that belonged in a vase. An organic chemist, by the smell; beauty and brains so enthralling that I cocked my head despite myself, then scampered to the bedroom, embarrassed.
Wouldn’t you know it? Two hours later they ran me out of there, too, and a couple weeks ago, she moved in. Riley, Luka calls her, and her fat eunuch of a calico, Barney. He — and I use that pronoun loosely — pranced around the apartment like he owned the place, shedding like damn Sheltie, rubbing up against everything, crapping in a box in the corner instead of outside like a civilized animal, and generally suffering from delusions of grandeur.
When he went tomcat one night and curled up on my end of the futon, I hit the end of my leash. No declawed she-male was going alpha in my house. It was him or me, and that night, it was him.