International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Stories
A MUTTS WORLD
in all," the mutt Itso pondered as he scratched his bald
pink belly with his back paw, "pickles only create unnecessary
complications. " He was lying on the bank of a puddle, musing
the stars, cheerfully tipsy from licking beer bottles at the local
pub. Itso, of course, was not his birth name. His mother had given
him the respectable title Vladimir, Vladi in moments of kindness.
she had died and he had started hanging around the pub, the bartender
who ran the establishment out of his garage and took great pride in
his impossible collection of one thousand four hundred and eleven beer
brands - including a prehistoric one from the island of Madagascar
had started calling him Itso, after the soccer star with an identical
set of chipped front teeth.
On this day, the bartender had called the plumbing company on numerous
occasions because the sink, which in fact was a basin built for the
garage hose to drip in, was clogged. Sour vapors from the pool of brimming
alcohol had started to hypnotize the customers, including those who
had showed up not to drink but to enroll in a competition of rat-shooting.
They had intended to use Itso to scare the rats so they can ambush them
but instead had ended up twirling drunk across the sticky floor, improvising
a flamenco beat by breaking hard pretzels and clapping ashtrays together.
Realizing that everybody was getting wasted on vapors and nobody was
buying any drinks, the bartender turned on the old ceiling fan. This
caused an even bigger pandemonium as the merry crowd took on hanging
from the spinning blades and pulling one-anothers pants down.
At this moment, Itso came to the bartenders rescue, his ears grizzled
and his nose drooling and stinking of fermented pickles. The bartender,
seeing that the mutt needed a drink, was blessed with the idea of dumping
the leftover alcohol from the bottles of Pilsner and Corsendonk inside
the overflowing basin and asked Itso to lick it dry.
Itsos presence in the pub was due entirely to the disillusionment
that gnawed his chest after the fiasco he experienced for helping Monas
brothers against a gang of marauding weasels and the subsequent realization
that, even though her Chickens Majesty had occasionally let him
chew on her tail feathers in the most platonic way, she had only been
using him for her own exploration into foreign species. He had met Mona
a few weeks before and was immediately struck by the hospital paleness
of her feathers which she wore like an aristocratic coat of arms. The
fluffy upper limbs which she haughtily called wings even though she
had never set flight hugged her body like a mummys shroud and
in-between them, God Almighty, her cleavage burst ahead like the front
bumper of an eighteen-ton truck. The first time Itso set bedazzled eyes
on her soft breast, a vision of the juicy white meat underneath sent
a spasm across his intestines, and he called himself a skunky animal
for thinking of food when all he wanted to do was make sweet love to
this self-absorbed chicken.
One day, three roosters showed up at the pub. He heard their feet crunching
over the crumby floor while he was taking a leak under the table of
a particularly annoying customer, a shrew who wouldnt stop doing
cross-word puzzles even when the place was rocking. With the fur on
his back bristling from the invisible danger, Itso halted his piss and
spun around. The roosters were squinting at him suspiciously and crunching
their necks as if getting ready to start trouble. He noticed that one
of them had dragged along a four-leafed clover which he clutched behind
his back like a totem against bad luck. At this moment, the rooster
with a string of hair dangling over his eyes reached out and lifted
the dogs jaw.
"In the game of life," the rooster declared, "being a
dog offers unexpected opportunities."
Then they gathered around Itso and explained to him how for the past
two weeks their coup had been harassed by a gang of weasels on a hunt
for the famous eggs produced by the chicken of the county; even when
rotting those eggs whiffed of apples. It would be a lost cause, kaput,
stick-a-fork-in-us-were-done brother, for the chickens to fight
the rodents alone, but now that Itso was so enamored with their kind,
they felt they were ready to face the furry menace. Thats when
it dawned on Itso that these were Monas brothers, whom she lovingly
called the Three Teners after they had developed such an operatic routine
for announcing the break of dawn that their owner had sworn she wont
put them to the knife until they reached the combined age of ten years.
At first, Mona had been skeptical of Itsos potential for knightly
heroics against the intruders because she had noticed, while he was
munching her tail-feathers, that his bite was too gentle and it caressed
more then it injured. "Those vagabonds need a set of molars crunched
into their rears." she said. "Not some exotic massage."
Her brothers promised Itso glory, their approval of him as a suitor
of their sister, and an opened jar of ancient pickles which lay to waste
by the fence of the coup. This last incentive cost them their lives.
Suddenly feeling important, Itso mustered the courage to ask for an
advance on his services and they pointed him to the pickles. By this
time, the acidic water in the jar had fermented to a state of pure alcohol
and, after only a few licks, Itso dropped in happy unconsciousness.
He dreamt that he joined a pack of wolves as only a half-breed but soon
fought his way up their ranks to the position of alpha male. Instead
of abusing his power in the manner of his predecessors, he initiated
changes, negotiating peace with their natural prey and trained the other
wolves to eat flower petals and drink the water of a bubbly brook through
straws they made out of oak leaves. In his sleep, Itso felt mysteriously
content, as if the open wound of love, passion, and jealousy he felt
for Mona had closed under the treatment of quack gypsy ointments.
He woke up in a pool of crimson and for a moment he sank in disappointment,
thinking that the wolves had gone back to their beastly ways. The truth
became evident when a fleet of feathers, and among them one as white
as a nurses outfit, eased past him and drained away into the water
ditch, mixing with the apple-scented soap-water the owner of the chickens
gave them to drink after she took a bath. This is how Itso unveiled
the secret of the eternal fragrance of the local eggs, but it did not
make up for the murder of his friends and his girlfriend.
A blunt cocktail of shame and guilt lumped in his lungs and squeezed
its acid through veins and arteries and down his trachea until it contracted
like an alchemists concoction into his loins. Before the foreign
substance could put a wrench in his vital organs, he drank some more
of the pickled water and passed out again. He repeated this ritual twenty
one times, dreaming of wolves and waking up to a tribe of giggling weasels
munching on his beloved and her kin, until dream and reality fused into
one. When he awoke for the twenty-first time, the world was free of
wolves and chickens and his guilt lay in a puddle of regurgitated pickles.
A sense of freedom overcame him, wrapped in the incoherent suspicion
that the world had undergone a violent transformation while he had slept,
and that every living being he would meet from then on would seem like
With these and similar fatalistic thoughts levitating in his mind, Itso
dipped his foot in the puddle by the pub and flapped his tongue a few
times, trying to get rid of the beer taste.
"Real Job arent you!" a voice beside him croaked. "Ogling
like somebody ate your dessert, brooding, boats all sunk to hell, the
whole melodramatic enchilada."
A frog grinned at him with her swampy, periscope eyes. Itso wiggled
his dripping toes and sprung up, marveling at the green radiance of
the face without make up, her graceful legs concealed by the unflattering
pose, the sensuous curve of her drooling mouth.
"Not on my birthday, mister!" she continued. "You can
muddy my pool with your unwashed feet or we can stretch our joints,
have a smoke and get to know each other. Good mood is a gift, I say.
Cup half-full, etc."
Itso bit on the offered Camel cigarette, took a drag and contemplated
the starry skies. A treacherous revelation struck him, stripping him
of his delicious self-pity like a shark forcing a drowning suicidal
to race for the shore: that in this demented world of dogs suffering
amorous pains over chickens, you inevitably stumble upon some annoying
optimist to whom pickles have brought nothing but eternal bliss.
© Nickolay Todorov May 2006
& The Mummies
Nickolay Todorov in Mexico
Fiction from Across the world
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