The Goldfish

She kissed the back of my neck, but I kept thinking about that picture in her living room. How could anyone find that 'artistic'? I decided that it was too much for me, that I couldn't let it go. So I drew back. "What's wrong?" she said. I said that I just have to get up early, blah blah, you know the drill. She knew the drill too. Probably as well as me, so she just stood up and let me collect my coat, without any any further attempt at seduction.

I walked out of her bedroom, and into the living room. I took one last look at that picture, a blown up photograph of the top of a man's skull where the bullet had perforated it. It was a very famous work of art, she had said. I had nearly vomited. I left that house for what I knew would be the last time.

As I got home, I went into the kitchen. That morning I had hung up a recipe for grilled salmon that I found in a magazine. It was on the corkboard next to the fish bowl. I took it down and fed my goldfish.

The Dog

It's almost always the same: the little girl wants to get a puppy. The father says that they will get one as long as the girl takes care of it. And that means feeding it twice a day, and walking it three times. Except in the morning, when the father will take it out, because the girl has to go to school. And the girl agrees and says of course she will feed and walk the puppy. But the very next day, the mother comes home and asks the girl if she fed the dog, and the girl says she forgot, and the mother tells her to do feed it now, but after several days, the mother begins to just feed the dog when she comes home from work. And soon the child has all but forgotten about the feeding and walks the dog only once a day (if she's home). And then once in a while the parents use that as an argument against the child. Usually it's during arguments when the girl's irresponsibility is the topic. "Remember how you said you'd take care of the dog?" "How will you ever be a mother, you couldn't even take care of the dog," And they threaten to give the dog away (it's no longer a puppy). But by now they've grown attached to it, and they won't give it away anyway. And then years later they all remember how the girl didn't take care of the dog, and they share the stories with their friends, and the friends went through the exact same thing. It's almost always the same.

But I know of a family where the child forgot to feed the dog and the dog died.

The Cat

Mr. P came home at 5 o'clock as usual, and was surprised to find, yet again, a little 'present' on his bed. It was a rat, freshly killed, smack in the middle of the bed. He had heard of cats leaving dead rats as presents, but never two days in a row. He called the cat over to tell it his thought on the subject, but there was no response. "I have to ask Jeff about this," he thought. Jeff was his friend, and a vet.

Mr. P called Jeff, and discussed the matter with him. Jeff said not to worry. Cats often left little presents when they wanted more affection. Mr. P had brought home a cocker spaniel the week before, and the cat was probably like an only child who suddenly has to share the parents' attention with a sibling. Fair enough, thought Mr. P, and disposed of the rat.

The next day and the next, again Mr. P returned home to find a fresh gift on his bed. He called Jeff again. He told Jeff he had been giving the cat more affection, but it hasn't helped. Jeff said that this might mean the cat had a neural problem, and if it persisted they might have to give it a shot, as this kind of aggressive behavior is unpredictable.

Mr. P hoped it wouldn't come to that, but after a week of finding a dead rat on his bed, he felt he had no choice and had the cat put to sleep.

The dog watched him return through the living room window. She ran to the bedroom, took the dead rat off the bed and buried it in the back yard. By the time he opened the door, she was already waiting for him, wagging her tail.

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