The day was off to a good start. I had completed my morning bark, harassed Rover, peed on the mailperson, exercised Mrs. Angleton and then stolen her lunch. I yawned and checked my watch. Are you serious? Why would I need a watch? I'm a dog. As such, I have a superior time telling device. It's whatever time I say it is.
I had just plopped down on my rug and rested my head on my paws when a voice moaned, "Why did you dig me up?" I blinked open my eyes, peering at the unexpected visitor sitting on the stoop. The flesh on the guy's arms dangled, his jowls drooped, and one of his ears flopped onto the porch. I tasted it.
"Yuck. Hey, you look like the guy in the photos Einstein showed me."
"What? Why would Albert Einstein have pictures of me?"
"What? Ah, I understand your confusion. I’m referring to Einstein Angleton, my human. He found a camera in the woods yesterday. I’m Meat Head, the best dog in the world."
"My name is Hubert Pines. I used to sell cars," he stuck out his hand to shake. I slapped down a paw. "Now, I'm a zombie."
A butterfly landed on the porch post and flexed its wings.
"Aren't you a pretty girl," the zombie cooed.
"I happen to be male. Females of my species are brown," the butterfly said in a deep baritone. It fluttered to my nose. "Are you Meat Head?"
"A turtle told me that a rabbit told him that the owl said to tell you, 'don’t talk to the ghost or the zombie or bad things will happen.' Goodbye now." It fluttered away.
"I bite people for a living." Hubert continued, staring after our scaly friend. (If you're a dog, you know that butterflies have scales on their wings.)
"They're trying to shoot you for a little thing like that?" I barked.
"I know, right? Brains are delicious. I could really go for a brain sandwich, brain à la mode—that's brains and ice cream—brain soufflé, brains N' cheese, brains N' bacon, brain soup, brain spaghetti, brain pudding, brain burger, brain fries… Hey, that woman's going to cut that dog's head off. People are sick I tell you, sick."
While we had been talking, Mrs. Dover had come home and retrieved a handsaw from the garage. Now she stomped angrily toward Rover.
"She does look mad enough, doesn't she? Unfortunately, she's just going to cut him out of the porch." Even as I barked she began cutting into a railing spindle. "So, how'd you end up in that hole?"
"I was chasing this giant through the woods," the zombie said. "She wasn't fat or anything, just slow and I can't run anymore. I lurch and stumble which leaves me with two options: One, hang around crowded areas. Biting people is much easier, but crowds are risky. People either shoot you or trample you when you try to eat their brains. Or both. The other option is waiting in the woods for someone slow to walk by."
"You couldn't think of a third option?"
"Never mind, go on."
"Yeah, so, I had just sunk my teeth into her arm when, BAM! Three bursts of light. My life flashed before my eyes. I knew my time had come."
"You saw bursts of light? Were they like a camera flash?"
"Hey, yeah, they were. How did you know?"
"My human found the camera with your picture, remember?"
"Oh, yeah. Anyway, I even lost two teeth, see." He grinned at me.
I didn't want to say anything, (because I'm socially conscientious) but he was missing more than two teeth. "So what happened next? How did you get in the hole? How did you get all that dirt back on top?"
In the distance I heard the steady hum of Einstein's car. I closed my mouth over his hand and tugged the zombie to his feet. "You've got to go because my human is coming home."
"I don't have anywhere to go!"
"Ivana Tinkle lives next door," I barked. "You can stay behind her house."
"She won't mind. She loves zombie movies. Follow me, I'll show you where you can sleep."
After leaving the zombie on a pile of leaves in the woods behind Ivana's house, I dashed home. Zombies are slow, so I was bounding up the porch as Einstein parked. Tradition requires I knock him over after work, but I needed to wash zombie flavor out of my mouth first. I crashed through the screen door and raced up the stairs, freshening up in the toilet. Two seconds later, I scampered back down the stairs, through the living room and across the porch, leaping onto Einstein as he climbed the steps.
"You've been gone an eternity," I howled. (An eternity is eight hours give or take forever.)
My human landed on the walkway with a loud, bone crunching thud. As he lay there groaning, I licked the sweat from his face.
"Mom!" he called. "I think Meat Head broke my back."
Inside, I heard Mrs. Angleton scurry up from the basement into the kitchen. She shouted, "He broke my screen door!"
After forever times three, Einstein sat up and pushed me off. He pinched his nose and said, "What have you been in?"
"Good question. Let's see… Mrs. Dover's begonias and then I loped over to Seymour Butt's vegetable garden. Did you know he uses cow manure for fertilizer? I rolled in it. And then I sat next to a zombie. A real zombie. My mind is blown." I licked him one last time before getting my ball, which I dropped in his lap. "It's time for some exercise. Not me of course. I've been running around all day. You, however, have been working which is code for doing nothing. "
"I always end up chasing this thing," he said. "If I throw this, are you going to go get it?"
I wagged my tail and barked. He threw the ball. I took two steps, sat down and whined. Sighing, Einstein rose and walked across the lawn to get the ball. I jumped in the air pretending to want it. He threw it again. I sat down and whined.
"You're crazy," he said, jogging across the yard after the ball.
We played fetch for forever times four, but then Mrs. Angleton came out of the house. I smelled vegetables, pork and spices wafting from her hands. That meant she put a pot roast in the oven.
"I love pot roast," I barked.
She glared at us from the porch. "I thought you broke your back? Well, if you're not hurt, you can do some chores."
"Don't 'Mom' me, mister. Stop playing with that beast and take out the trash like I asked you to do yesterday. Then you can rub my feet."
Mumbling under his breath, Einstein dropped the ball and returned to the house. As he crossed the yard, I helped him by running under his feet. He landed face first in the grass. I sat on his back.
"He's getting exercised," I barked at Mrs. Angleton. "The trash can wait."
"Ugh, that dog is awful," she said. "I don't know why you like him."
Einstein sat up, spilling me into the grass. "Ben Dover's mom called him at work today. She said Rover pooped in the garden, broke his doggy door, ate a box of donuts, peed on the couch, chewed holes in the cushions and jumped through a window. And he got his head stuck in the porch railing. She had to cut him out with a handsaw. Compared to Rover, Meat Head is a saint."
"Maybe the Dover's dog trainer can make him more saintly."
"She hasn't fixed Rover yet," Einstein replied and ruffled my ears. "Who's a good doggy? Who's a good doggy?"
"Me!" I barked.
"Just get the trash and stop playing with that mutt. When you're done, I need you to go upstairs to my room and get my foot cream. And close the interior door. I don't want him eating the roast again!"
"He can't eat it out of the oven, Mom." Einstein tramped after her, looking constipated.
"Eat more fiber!" I howled after him.
This joke was short lived because Einstein came thundering downstairs. "Meaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat Heaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad! Mom is going to be so angry!"
"Why am I going to be angry?" Mrs. Angleton asked.
What followed was a lot of unpleasantness, because my human told his mother what he had found in her bedroom instead of trying to hide it. After I had been tortured with "Bad dog, bad dog!" for forever, I was tossed out of the house. Sighing, I settled myself on my porch rug and recommenced my nap. If you're a dog, you know that recommenced means I went back to sleep. After enduring unfair blame and punishment, I deserved a beauty rest.
A while after I had started to get beautiful again (five or ten forevers later), a damp, ozone smell permeated the air and sent me into a sneezing fit. The Nuisance seized my left ear with two cold ghost-hands.
"Boo!" He shouted and then stuck his finger up my nose, chasing away every ounce of lingering sleepiness.
"Hey!" I snarled. "Didn’t you hear the butterfly? The owl said I can’t talk to you. Now, move on."
"Oh, so you listen to owls, do you?"
"Most days, I only listen selectively. Furthermore, the owl just started sending me critter mail yesterday. I can't determine if I’ll do anything he says. But in your case, the answer will always be yes."
Einstein exited the house carrying two bags of trash. He walked through the Nuisance and sat down beside me, putting the trash bags to the side. The ghost disappeared in a huff.
"Did you feel that? It's gone now. Strange. Meat Head, you can't make messes like that." Einstein gave me a scratch. I sniffed the trash. "First of all, I had to clean up Mom's room. Secondly, she said that I might have to choose between you and living here. I can't stand to lose you. You're my best friend…" He put his head in his hands. "Though, with you for a friend, it's a good thing I don't have any enemies."
I put my head on his lap. "I didn't do it, I swear. All this is making me sad. Hey, I’ve got an idea. Leave the kitchen trash with me. I need a snack."
"Look at that." Einstein chuckled. "Old Man Sanderson is playing a game of chase with his nephew. They're a bit old for that, aren't they?"
"I have four words for you: live action role playing." I barked as I glanced up the street.
Old Man Sanderson hurried down the road as fast as his walker would let him: shuffle scoot, shuffle scoot, shuffle scoot. The zombie hobbled after him, arms out-stretched and moaning.
"Hubert, you can't even catch an old man with a walker!" I howled with laughter.
My jest egged the zombie on. He staggered faster and began gaining on Old Man Sanderson. Suddenly, I had a terrible thought. What if this is the misfortune the owl had foreseen? Old Man Sanderson is one of my favorite people. He only eats take-out, so his trash is always greasy and delicious, and he smells great because he's old and poops in his pants. If he became a zombie, he wouldn't need to eat and thus wouldn't produce garbage worthy of my admiration. Realizing that a tragedy was about to take place, I rocketed off the porch, across the yard and into the street barking madly.
"MEAT HEAD," Einstein yelled, "come back here!"
On the fifteenth try, I crashed into the Dover's living room. Revenge works up an appetite, so I went into the kitchen first and ate a box of donuts that someone had left on the counter. Next, I bounded upstairs and drank out of the toilet. Outside, Rover barked and snarled. While in the bathroom, I chewed up some toothbrushes, a tube of toothpaste and some towels. After returning downstairs, I peed on the couch and chewed a few designer holes in the cushions. Then I leaped against the walls, knocking family pictures to the floor, and I pulled all the curtains down.
Finally, I exited the Dover's house through a window screen and trotted around the corner, stopping at the bottom of the porch steps.
"Don't worry," I barked, "your humans will get you out."
"How did you—"
"The window of course. I left a surprise on the couch. Tell the dog trainer I barked hello."
"Why did you do this to me?" Rover's ears sagged.
An inkling of guilt swept through me, followed by an iota of doubt. What if Rover hadn't destroyed Mrs. Angleton's bedroom?
Had I known how things would turn out… well, dogs know it's best not to dwell on matters that might make you feel bad for longer than a fiftieth of forever. Also, I had other pressing business—peeing on doorsteps, neighborhood flowers and the mailman. Excuse me, I mean postal service worker. Many of them are woman, you know.
Meat Head the Worst Dog in the World will be posted here in easy to read increments. Read for oldest to newest if you haven't been following along.
Can't Wait to find out what happens next?