Walking Walter By David J Horn
Monday, September 22, 2008
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
A troubled man and a dying dog.
I soon found out there was a lot I didn’t know about Jenny.To start with, she had a dog – a decrepit poodley sort of dog with white fluffy fur and impossibly short legs. When I moved in, Jenny introduced me to the mutt. “Jack, this is Walter,” Jenny beamed.
Walter looked stiff.
“Is he dead?”
“Of course not,” Jenny huffed. But the dog didn’t seem to be breathing.I nudged him with my foot.He cocked his head, made an effort to look around, and then collapsed.
After I moved in, I seldom saw Walter in motion. He was probably a real yappy, bouncy son of a bitch in his prime, but now his yapping and bouncing days were long gone.During the day, Walter had as much energy as a pillow.He just lay around farting. But at night, Walter was an ass licking maniac.He would slurp and snort about his asshole from to dawn.It was the type of noise that made me dream of driving my car off a cliff. It was horrifying.
I had gotten used to Walter’s patterns.He slept all day and slurped his ass night.But then one night, Walter surprised me.He came racing into the living room.He was possessed by some crazy energy and he bounded into the living room like a whacked out Lassie and tried to dig a hole in the floor.
“Look,” I told Jenny, “Walter’s digging his grave.”Jenny didn’t like me joking about Walter like that.
After that night, Walter pulled this little stunt every now and again.He would race into the living room, dig and dig and dig, and then slowly come to his senses.Walter was dying, but he wasn’t stupid.He would quickly understand the impossibility of the hole and he would limp away and collapse somewhere.Defeated, until the next shock of life would send him digging.Whenever Walter had one of these “panic attacks,” (that’s what Jenny called them) Jenny never tried to stop him - even when he ripped the carpet.She never said a word.She just watched him, her eyes heavy with tears.
I found it ironic that Walter was digging his grave in the living room.
I was not a pet person, and Walter really gave me the creeps.I had trouble with the name.What kind of person names a dog Walter?I couldn’t understand why he had a person name.What was wrong with Spuds or Rover?A good old fashioned dog name.Did Jenny think he was a human?Was she that stupid?Maybe she thought Walter was a cute name?What did the Walters’ around the world think about their name being used for dogs?Damned Walter. Whenever we talked about Walter, I couldn’t remember if we were talking about a dog or some subnormal friend of Jenny’s.
“Walter tried to dig a hole in the living room again.”
-- or --
“Walter ate his own poop again.”
-- or --
“Walter hasn’t farted in the last hour.”
I did a little detective work and soon found out the secret behind the name.Jenny’s father’s name was Jason W. Pressbird. Good old double-u.Jason Walter Pressbird, I learned from Jenny, was a bit eccentric.He ran around saying things like, “I can hear goldfish farting.”He was a real gem of a man.He died in his armchair when Jenny was 18.His last words were, “Don’t gouge the god damned ice-cream.”
The fact that Jenny named him after her dead father was a clear sign that she needed a shrink.Maybe someday she’d want to name me Walter.The whole pet/dead father thing was giving off a Psycho vibe.Then it got worst.
One day, Jenny told me, “Since you’re home all day, why don’t you take Walter for a walk in the afternoon.”
“Darling, just because I don’t have a job doesn’t mean I’m not busy.”
“You’ll need these,” Jenny wasn’t listening.She handed me some surgical gloves.She had a box stuffed with surgical gloves.
“What the hell are these for?”
“So you can pick up his business.”
I didn’t know what to say.
“This way you can get to know Walter better.”
“But he’s just a dog!” Jenny had flipped out completely.What did she think, me and Walter would go to the park and mull over the meaning of life?
I looked at Walter.He was lying in the corner of the room like a sack of potatoes.
But Jenny wasn’t kidding.She kissed me and whispered, “If you wanna get some, you gotta give some.”Like everything in life, it all came down to sex. My will was weak.If sex meant surgical gloves and dog shit, so be it.
So, me and Walter went for walks.
Walter wasn’t much of a walker anymore.He would hobble down the stairs of the apartment building and then would sort of stall.I would have to pick up the little bastard and carry him outside.I would plop him down in the grass and he would just stand there.His little dog brain was busy chasing its own tail.
I would drag him around the block, and he would try to piss on everything.He was marking his territory, and Walter believed that everything belonged to him.He would run out of piss pretty quick, though.But that didn’t matter to Walter.Not Walter.He would go around pretending to piss on car tires. He would raise one of his tiny hind legs and try to squeeze out a drop or two.He really enjoyed pissing on car tires.
Sometimes he would piss on a car tire and then waddle into his own puddle and stick his nose in it and get a good nose full.I was convinced that he could stand there sniffing his piss for hours.Sometimes cars would come down the street and Walter would be wading in his own puddle of piss in the road.I would let out his leash a little. Give him a little running room.Walter never budged and the cars always missed him.They would swerve at the last minute and the drivers would scream out, “HEY ASSHOLE, GET YOUR DOG OUTA THE ROAD.”These walks with Walter convinced me that the world was crammed full of idiots and assholes.
Every afternoon we did the same route.And every afternoon our five minute walk was like a stroll through hell.I would yank Walter this way and that way, watch him stagger around in his puddles of piss, pick up little piles of poop, and the walk always ended with me rabid and cursing, carrying him home.
After a couple weeks of walking Walter, the whole ordeal was killing me.Plus, Jenny had been less than sincere in her offer of “getting some.”At night, she was always too tired, or her head hurt, or she had cramps, or she just wanted to watch TV, or she needed to do some work, or she wasn’t in the mood, or her feet ached. There was always something wrong.
Whenever she would give me one of her lackluster excuses, I would moan, “But I’m walking Walter.”
“I know. You’re a good boy.” She talked to me like I was a dog.“Tomorrow, OK?” then she would yawn, roll over and fall asleep.
On the last day I walked Walter, we were returning home and Walter made a stop in our neighbor's yard.Walter liked to shit in our neighbor’s yard.Every afternoon he took a shit in that yard.And me, I would be there with my surgical gloves and a plastic bag, like some two-bit detective collecting evidence.
On that particular day, the neighbor was out.He was an old, unhappy guy, with a white t-shirt, baggy blue shorts and black socks that he had pulled up to his thighs.He had a sour pucker of a face.He was standing in the middle of his yard with his hose, watering some dead plants.He saw me and Walter, and hobbled over with the hose.“Hey you.”
“How come you bring your dog to my yard all the time?”
“I always pick up his business,” I held up my hands so he could see my surgical gloves.
“Why don’t you take him across the street?Will you get lost if you cross the street?”
“Why don’t you go back inside and die, you old bag of shit.”
The old geezer didn’t say anything. He pointed his hose at me and squeezed the trigger.
I was soaked, and Walter was pushing out a fresh one.I picked it up and threw it at the old man’s house.
“FUCK YOU,” I yelled
The old man squirted me in the face, my glasses went flying.I bent over to pick them up, and he squirted me in the ass.He was having a good time with his hose.
“I’m gonna shove that hose up your…” He squirted me again and I ran off dragging Walter all the way home, up the stairs and into the apartment.
I was done walking Walter.“Either Walter goes or I go,” I howled but there was no one there to hear it.I was wet and paced back and forth with crazy energy.I cursed Walter.I cursed Jenny.I cursed my mother and father, I cursed their procreating urge, I cursed my floundering existence.
After all my cursing and pacing, I dried myself off and waited for Jenny.“Either Walter goes or I go,” I decreed again, with a little less passion.The storm of my fury was weakening.I knew that given the choice of me or Walter, she would choose the damn dog.So, I needed to come up with plan-b.
Later, when Jenny came home from work, I greeted her at the door.
“How was your day, honey?”
“Crappy,” she kicked off her shoes.
“Mine too.I was attacked by the neighbor.”
“No big deal, but maybe we should talk about Walter.”I tried to be as euphemistic as possible, “Do you think that it might be a good idea to put Walter down?”
“Maybe it’s the humane thing to do, I mean look at him.”
Walter was inert as usual.
Jenny went inside the bedroom and slammed the door.
I knocked.“Jenny, sweetheart. I’m just thinking of Walter.He seems to be suffering so much.”
Jenny didn’t say anything.She was too busy pitching my clothes out the bedroom window.