The Return of Barry
Return of the Living Dread
(Once again the good people @ HubPages have barred me from including crude drawings of my crude dog, Barry. You would have loved them too! But they said my illustrations promoted dog abuse and would "upset children" so...use your imagination to create your own graphics.)
The air outside was eerie and foreboding. I should have sensed that something sinister was afoot. The nice lady and her son from the posh suburb that had banned aluminum siding who had previous taken Barry had just pulled into my driveway. I had a pretty good idea what they we here for and it wasn’t to play Trivial Pursuit. God knows how I’d gotten these naïve fools to take Barry off my hands in the first place, but clearly the shine was off the apple now and they’d returned sadder but wiser. This didn’t auger well.
In the months since Barry had vanished from my life, things had improved markedly. The house smelled better. Barry was a scroungy mutt. He smelled bad, as he was too much trouble to bathe, with his considerable girth and rubbery texture. The house had been dog urine free for weeks. Barry had previously left puddles, trails and stains all over the place. His bladder seemed limitless. And here the mother and son were, bringing back the bane of my existence.
They groped around the back seat for the confused orange dog who clearly was not “man’s best friend.” I had pawned Barry off on this mom and son duo, fair and square and now they were trying to dump him back on my doorstep. However, I had a strict “no return” policy on defective dachshunds.
“Can I help you?” I asked opening the door before they could ring the doorbell. A pre-emptive strike seemed the best strategy in what was emerging as “The Barry War.”
“Oh, hello. I’m sorry but we have to bring Barry back. It’s just not working out,” the mother said in worried tones.
“Is there a problem? Perhaps you need to discipline him more,” I said, remembering the generous beatings that I adhered to Barry regularly. These people hadn’t trained him properly, that was all.
“He whimpers all night and pees all over our apartment.”
That was the Barry I knew all right. He may have had a prostate problem, because he whizzed like a leaky pipe all day long. Sometimes he peed when he walked, multi-tasking, leaving a trail. The crying at night was a new twist, though. The Barry I knew snored loudly, like a broken muffler.
“And he won’t eat. I think he misses you,” the mom added.
My mouth was agape at these laughable assertions. I was almost certain that Barry’s feeble brain couldn’t even recall who I was by this point. What did he miss? His ritual beatdowns? My unveiled contempt and disdain? Spuds (my other slightly less stupid dachshund) chomping on his neck? And if Barry had skipped any meals, I couldn’t see it. His ample gut wobbled left and right as he walked. He remained decidedly overweight, bordering on morbidly obese.
“You’ve only had him a few months,” I countered, scrambling for any device to keep this confused mess from once again becoming mine. “I’m sure he’ll warm to your ways. And he only pees around people he likes.” I would have admitted to being the Zodiac killer or masterminding the 9/11 attacks at that point if meant remaining free of Barry. I was desperate, but spoke with great conviction and enthusiasm. I felt like a used car salesman must feel in the heat of battle, trying to dissuade a dissatisfied customer from returning a lemon. Barry was indeed a lemon, so I jumped back into fray. “He must really like you two! And food – he mostly likes pizza rolls and cheeseburgers. Try that.”
Sadly, inevitably, my verbal barrage had failed to inspire much enthusiasm for retaining Barry among either the weary mom or her mute son.
“Oh, no,” she said. “I really think he belongs with you.” The son nodded in agreement. Perhaps he had seen too much and did not dare speak of his experiences. He had clearly been traumatized by Barry in some fashion, and his eyes held “the thousand yard stare,” common to war veterans who’ve faced too much duty.
The mother sat Barry down and he scrambled spastically to get his footing. His eyes were as badly crossed and glazed as ever. He scampered across the hardwood floor, hitting the kitchen tile with his stubby legs and sliding out of control. My daughter yelled, “Barry’s back! He looks kind of funny.” She and her brother ran to tell the neighborhood. I doubted this news would be well received.
So that was it. The mother and son had reneged on their agreement. Their word meant nothing. They were just going to cut and run. They mumbled an awkward goodbye, I said yeah, yeah, and they beat a hasty retreat back to their suburban cocoon. Having dodged this bullet, they would not soon take in another wayward dachshund, I imagined.
Once again, Barry was my cross to bear. I gazed at him. He looked worried, uncertain, bloated, and was panting heavily from his previous ten-yard gallop.
“Hello, Barry,” I said, in exasperated tones. I now understood why my step-father sometimes went to bed at 6 pm. Some things just need to be slept off.