Bathing dog was a fight.  Scratching, plunging, slipping.  Kneeling and squirming.  Attempts to escape or drown. After the fight the dog had run under the bed.  Hopefully he was dry enough.  Soaking wet and cold the man strips down, flips the toggle and warm water pours out from where the shower-head should be.  The head had been there yesterday; clogged, sputtering and crunchy with minerals–but there.  Having showered under a garden hose he wasn’t put off and he climbs in, ducks under stream and soaks himself from head to foot.  Stepping back he feels something under his foot and, as the dog barks in surprise he nearly falls on it.  Stumbling and naked he feels stupid and lucky as he manages not to grab the curtain and pull it down.

What the hell? He snaps at the dog.

Dog sits and wags his stubby little tail; please don’t be mad. Sitting there on the porcelain of the tub it looks like a tiny scrub-brush swishing away.  It’s impossible to stay angry.  Just wanted to be close by, says the dog.  This was true.  The dog had been alone a long time.  No scraps.  No warm spot to sit in when the person leaves or plates set on the floor to be cleaned.  All the good things of people had been gone.  All the bad was gone too.  No shouting or hitting or being thrown.  He had napped on a pillow.  A pillow and no one yelled or threw things.

And there was food.  Food had arrived and the only price tag was a frisky lap in the tub.  This could be good.  This is a set up was worth pursuing.  So he had jumped into the tub to keep an eye on his new benefactor.

Hey, says the man, my eyes are up here, quit staring at my junk.  Modestly he turn his back to the dog.  The man is careful as he soaps and rinses.  Bathing with a hose allowed you to move the water around to rinse all the tough to reach places.  With the fixed shower he had to move himself around to direct the water.  In a twisted limbo he tries not to step on the dog as he contorts to get the water to the right crease or fold.  Taking up space in the tub dog worries about getting smashed.  The man teeters and hops, using cupped hands to deflect and carry water to different parts of his body.

People are funny.   The water stops running and the man squeegees water off his arms and legs.  Why don’t people shake it off like dogs?  Dog shakes a shake that starts from his nose and ends with his tail.  Looks at the man.  Easy!  See?  The man just looks at dog. No clue.  Wagging his tail dog just looks at the man.  Seriously, says the man, quit looking at my junk.  He continues as he rubs himself dry with a towel, seriously, you’re creeping me out.

Dog follows the man into the room and watches him sit on the bed to get dressed.  Bored dog picks up a discarded sock, drops to the ground looking like sphinx and after pinning the sock under his front paws starts to pull on the sock with his teeth.  There is no malice.  He’s not practicing skinning a squirrel.  Pulling just feels good in his mouth.  His teeth like it.  The weave slips and grips the enamel and his teeth torque in their sockets.  Pull, chew, pull, chew, pull.

Hey, said the man.  Hey.  Knock that shit off.  Dog stares and his eyes say, why?  Pausing he waits for anger and seeing none he looks down and starts working on the sock again.

You know what? The man asks.  I’m going to give you a name.  Your name is Tug.  Got it?  Tug wasn’t listening and kept working on the sock.

A Trinket

The motel could have been a “resort motel” in it’s prior life, a destination, where you took the wife and kids.  Now it was a bit of a roach motel.  Not minding he locked the door and mounted up to head to the little town down the road a mile.  Languid, he thinks, it’s a river road and it’s simply relaxed and easy.  Languid.  With a weekly rental he could run the road both upstream and the downstream.  Take a look around, explore.  Dappled light strobes through the leaves on the windshield.  He felt hazy and safe with no agenda as he passed a raft rental, then a small white church (“Cliche,” his mother would have said).  Houses and businesses began to pop up and bunch together. A bicycle rental shop.  Vacation realty specialists. Dee’s Dairy Swirl. The Riverside Diner.

The Riverside Diner.  Breakfast all day.  Homemade cinnamon rolls and pies.  Gravel parking and an summer dining area off the side.  Throwing down a steel junction box cover he tips the bike and lands the kickstand in its center.  Swinging his leg over and stepping back he looks down at the steel plate to make sure everything is set.  Something glitters under the bike.  A step back and then to one knee he looks under to make sure it’s not a liquid from the bike.  A small Hello Kitty charm looks up at him.  Attached to a small silver bracelet there are two or three other trinkets he doesn’t recognize.  The front tire must have run right over it.  What are the odds?  It was the kind of thing a teen would wear to be cute and the sort of thing a cute person would pull at her mother’s sleeve and cry and miss.  Picking it up he pauses a moment to give the bike a quick once over.  Other than needing a bath things are looking sound.  Back on his feet he walks to the entrance.  The door is an actual two piece Dutch door; solid lower with a glass upper.  Blue checked curtains are tied back and swing with the motion of the door as a cluster of three brass bells chatters from the interior handle.

The layout is simple. Square tables that can seat 4 or be pushed together to accommodate more.  Table cloths match the curtain on the door.  Yellow paper sunflowers centerpiece each table, pinching menu specials between the vase and a stainless two sided napkin dispenser.  A voice from the pass through to the kitchen floats out over the register and it’s small counter, “Sit anywhere you want!”

Picking a table against the back window/wall he places himself to see everything but the emergency exit.