Gerald’s Talking Dog
By AnnMarie Rowland
Gerald’s talking dog likes cherries. It’s all he ever talks about. Gerald, that is, not the dog. “My talking dog,” Gerald says to anyone who will listen, “likes cherries. I mean, he really likes cherries.”
Gerald came in last week and he was going on about his dog to everybody in Stormcloud. You never know what you’ll hear in there on a Tuesday night when it’s mostly just locals, but it’s always entertaining. I couldn’t resist asking, “How do you know?”
“How do I know what?” he asked, as though I’d insulted him somehow; as though if I’d been paying attention I’d know already.
I sucked suds off the top of my beer, and ran my finger up the side of the cold glass to catch a drip. “How do you know he likes cherries?”
“He told me.” Gerald rolled his eyes. “Maybe you missed the part where I said my talking dog likes cherries.
“Your talking dog.”
“You heard me.” Gerald glared back, draining his glass and slapping the bar impatiently for another.
“This talking dog,” I pressed. “What’s his name?”
“I call him Buster, and he hasn’t told me that I’m wrong, so there it is. But cherries! God, how he loves them. And that he did tell me. I was sittin’ on the back stoop one day last week, watching the wife pull weeds out of the little garden, and I had a box of them cherries they sell from the stand down on the corner. I was eatin’ cherries, and spittin’ pits, and next thing I know, ole Buster, he’s lookin’ at me with those eyes. ‘I like cherries,’ he says.”
“I had a dog once who liked grapes, if I bit them in half first,” Walter, two stools down cut in. “If I gave him a whole one he just rolled it along the floor with his nose until it was up against the toe of my shoe. Then he’d look up at me as if to say, ‘Would you bite this thing in half for me?’, and I would, and then he’d eat it. He loved grapes.”
“Nobody wants to hear about your dog and grapes,” Gerald shot back. “We’re talking about my dog here. My talking dog, for the love of God. My talking dog that likes cherries! I was saying, before you opened your yap, that my talking dog told me he likes cherries. He didn’t just look at me, he said it.”
Gerald guzzled his beer, and slurred, “So, I gave him one. I gave him about ten of ‘em. You never saw a happier dog than Buster.”
Walter interrupted again. “You’ll kill him, you know, feeding him cherries. If the cyanide in the pits don’t get him, well, they’ll plug him up, if you know what I mean, and he’ll die from being full of pits.”
“Liar!” Gerald clenched his fists. “My talking dog…”
“Truth,” said Walter. “My cat told me.”