free hit counter

            I shit you not, when I get home, I find that sonofabitch trying to crawl back into my house through the doggy door. I know something’s wrong when I walk inside and little Marla’s still yapping out back, and I go to let her in but find him instead, halfway in the house and halfway out.

            I’ll give him this much: he’s done a pretty good job of getting himself stuck in there. His head and arms got through, but it looks like things got tricky around the middle. Caught a couple inches beneath his armpits. His face is all red and he’s squirming around trying to get out. 

             Well damn, I say. Wasn’t expecting visitors today.

            He starts cussing at me and keeps on wiggling like it’s actually gonna help any. I don’t do anything right away, just think about the last time I saw him, when he almost ran me over with a stolen motorcycle, and I try to savor the moment.

            You know the best part of this? I say to him. Spare key’s still under the front mat.  

            God damn you, he says, over and over.

            I grab a beer from the fridge and sit down at the kitchen table, making sure to angle my chair so I’m still facing him. Ain’t right, he says. Ain’t right to just watch a man suffer like this.

            Don’t really think you’re in any position to be telling me right and wrong, I say. You’ve done your fair share causing trouble, even before now.

            There was some good, he says. We had something good together.

            Bullshit, I say. You wanna know what I remember? The time you cut my hair in the middle of the night. I remember waking up the next morning to find you, sleeping like a child, clutching my eight-inch ponytail next to your face. Never even got so much as an apology.

             He looks away. Don’t know what you’re talking about, he says. There were good times. He doesn’t say anything for a few seconds, he only stares silently down at the cheap linoleum squares. One of the tiles in front of him is peeling at the corners, and he tugs on one of the free edges until it rips up some more. Ought to get this repaired, he says and tries smoothing the damage back to where it’d been before.

            Consider it added to my list of shit to do, I say.

            His face gets red. Are you gonna leave me this way?

            Well, how long have you been here? I say, kicking off my shoes. You might still have a ways to go.

            He tells me to quit being cruel, says he’s really in pain, but I’m still not sure if I believe him, and I say he did it to his own damn self. Just when it looks like he’s about to let out another wail, the sound seems to catch in his throat. He stops struggling, takes a deep breath. Then he says, I’m sorry, alright? Please, he says, help me get out of here. It hurts.

            There’s something about the look on his face now that kills all the fun. Even with all the pain he’s caused, I know I can’t keep this up. He wasn’t all wrong – there’d been some good times once, and there was no use pretending I’d forgotten all of them. As much as I want to teach him a lesson, it doesn’t seem worth this kind of trouble. So I finish my beer and tell him how it’s gonna work: if I get you out, you gotta leave me be. No more calls, no more breaking and entering. You get yourself gone, understand?

            He doesn’t look happy about this idea, not one bit. But he nods his head, and I bring in tools from the garage and get to work taking apart the bits and pieces holding him there. When I first get started, there’s a moment when I accidentally lean a little too much on him. He yelps about how the frame was really squeezing him, tells me to be careful. There’s small, dark red stains beginning to appear on his shirt near where he’s caught.

            I’m trying, I say.

            The screws aren’t all that hard to take out, but there’s still the matter of squeezing his fat ass through the hole. As I’m working, I don’t notice the bent edge of the dog door’s metal frame, until my hand slips and the metal slices through the flesh of my ring finger. I curse everything and scramble to the kitchen sink. After running some cold water over the cut, I wrap my finger up in some paper towels to stall the gushing blood.

            Are you all right? he says. He’s leaning to get a better look, but I’m afraid he’s gonna make his situation worse.

            I’m fine, I say. Be still.

            He quits moving, but as soon as I’m back kneeling beside him, he starts going on again about how sorry he is and all that. I tell him I’m almost done, to just hang in there. Truth is, I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do, but I don’t want to stop yet. My hands are shaking and my finger is throbbing and bleeding again, and he keeps talking but I ignore him. I keep on trying to concentrate, trying to get it all figured out quickly and save us both from the pain.