BADER • by John L Malone

Although it is wet and windy, Bader drives along the highway, window wound down, head poking into the gust, tongue lolling out, soaking it all in. It is one of the disadvantages of being a dog in his previous life. Road traffic police have spoken to him about this on a number of occasions, taking down his details and warning him next time there’d be a fine. But it makes no difference. Bader just can’t help himself.

He sort of misses being a dog and wonders how it came to pass that he ended up a human. There is a continual series of readjustments. Some are more successful than others. Defecating in public is a pleasure he sorely misses. He doesn’t know what all the fuss is about. After all, he does carry with him a little dustpan and brush and a plastic bag to deposit the waste in. But people just can’t get used to a grown man suddenly dropping his pants while walking along the footpath and…

Bader does not handle loneliness or celibacy well. One randy afternoon he met up with Janet. They went back to her place for sex. It was fast and furious, over in seconds. You’re rather impetuous, she said. I haven’t done it for a while, he explained. Can we do it again?

They do it often. In all sorts of positions but he is always the active partner. Janet has never known a man with such sexual appetite. He is a human dynamo. But he does not satisfy her. He does not even try to satisfy her. In fact, the concept seems beyond him. When they go for long afternoon walks together on weekends, it is all Bader can do to avoid following young nubile females, especially if scantily dressed. Janet is not blind to this. But when they get home, Bader does not think of sex. He is exhausted. He sits down alongside Janet and happily watches tv. He is a loyal companion. But he is not good on talk.

Say something, she’d say.

What do you want me to say? he’d ask.

He can’t think of anything to say.

You never talk to me, she says.

I do, he’d say, knowing she was right.

But at night and first thing in the morning…

You’re only after one thing, she says. And you want it all the time. There’s only one way to deal with you.

Bader does not like the sound of that. He can vaguely remember in his former life as a dog that his owner quite early on, seeing what he was getting up to, threatened to take him to the vet and by various gestures indicated what would be done to him if he did not settle down.

Is that what she means? Surely not. It would be frowned upon if not downright criminal.

After that they take to sleeping in separate beds. It is a mutual arrangement though Janet can never quite understand what has gotten into him.

Still they argue. Well, it is more her arguing and him meekly receiving it, quite a change from the roles which until quite recently they had performed sexually.

You don’t even speak to me anymore and you call this a relationship?

I’ve tried to change, he says weakly.

Oh really? I haven’t seen it. You hang around me all the time. You never do anything. You follow me around like a…

She doesn’t say it. She doesn’t need to.

There’s only one way to deal with you, she says. She says it again. What can she mean? What is she planning?

He knows he has to do something. Only he doesn’t know what. And anyway he can’t really be bothered. Bader finds himself in the doghouse on more than one occasion.

There is one afternoon they go for a drive in the hills, a location Bader doesn’t know but thinks it might be an occasion to make up so he happily goes along for the ride. Janet of course drives. Bader hangs his head outside the passenger window, tongue lolling out. Thankfully he doesn’t bark.

I need to get out for a pee, he says, and seeing they are at a rest stop she pulls over while he gets out. Suddenly the car pulls away and screams off down the highway. Bader when he realizes what has happened zips himself up then takes off after the car but it is too fast. Bader runs out of puff, squats by the side of the road as the car disappears in the distance.

John L Malone is a South Australian writer of short stories and poetry, and a retired English teacher. For years he wrote only poetry and has had five educational titles published. In the last five years, however, he has discovered his passion for short story writing.

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