Day 193: Darwin’s Huckleberry

Sometimes, when you want to just roll over and die, having someone plop their dog in your lap for a week is just the nuisance you need to pull you out of your slump. Other times it’s unsolicited chaos. Most times you can’t tell the difference.

Darwin Paddington’s nephew decided to go on a last minute bike ride across Nebraska when he found out the girl of his dreams had joined a biker team that was going to do it. On the way to borrow his friends bike, the nephew dropped off his little Bichon, Huckleberry, at Darwin’s apartment. The little beast smelled like carrion.

Left with a leash in his hand and a bag of dog food on his table, Darwin looked down at the little fellow. “I suppose we’re going to be buddies for a few days.”

After losing the best job he’d ever had at Baker Nanotech International, Darwin had been battling a funk for months, so his back was sore from too much TV and an expanded midsection, and the arthritis in his feet had flared up, so he spent a lot of time just sitting and trying to rest. Huckleberry would have none of it.

Every twenty minutes the varmint would whine and beg to go outside. Not the soft pathetic kind of whine that most dogs have, but a raspy quack that made Gollum seem like Katie Melua. It was impossible to ignore.

So every twenty minutes or so, Darwin took the mongrel outside, walking him along the grounds and picking up his kalinkers with plastic shopping bags he’d saved. By the second day, he’d really built up a fierce resentment for the creature, especially since Darwin had been trying to prepare for a job interview, a follow-up where he expected to receive an offer—which he would take in a second. He’d laid his suit out on the couch in the study days ago, and his company research was spread out on his dining room table.

“You’re really cramping my style, mutt.”

By the third day Huckleberry had turned destructive. Socks turned up with holes chewed through them. The trashcan lay on its side, the contents spread across the kitchen floor. Darwin spent more time cleaning up after the dog than he did walking him. Add to that the fact that the dog kept rolling and rubbing himself against the carpet, undoubtedly transferring the horrid smell of dead animal. Darwin was going to have to shampoo the entire rug once the dog was gone.

The morning of his interview, Darwin awoke to mayhem. All the clothes from his hamper were spread around the apartment, his plant was dumped, and dog food riddled the carpet.

Darwin cursed the dog. “I don’t have time for this, you horror hound.” He picked up what he could, showered, and put on his suit. “When I get back, we’re going to come to terms.”

All the way to the interview Darwin tried to calm himself and prevent thoughts of the dog from disrupting his head as he met the interviewers, but he kept picturing the mess, hearing that raspy whine, and smelling that rotting flesh.

It wasn’t until he sat in the conference room and saw the looks on the interviewers faces that Darwin realized the smell was still with him—and it wasn’t in his imagination. He sniffed his cuff, and sure enough, the smell of roadkill flooded his nostrils. “Crap,” he muttered.

Try as he may to close with the interviewers, they were noncommittal for any next steps, and Darwin knew it was blown. He seethed during his drive home, ready to confine the dog to his little crate for the rest of the week, or maybe even take him for a long, long walk from which he would never return.

Darwin grabbed his mail, then stormed up the stairs, fiddling with his key ring to find the one for the door. He inserted the key, then stopped when he noticed the top envelope was from Baker Nanotech. He ripped it open and pulled out a letter that offered his old position back with a raise.

He turned the key, and the little Bichon sat waiting for him, wagging his tail.

Darwin sputtered and shook his head. “Looks like you’re going to live another day, Huckleberry.”


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