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Looks like a Ten, But Plays like a Seven
by KJ Hannah Greenberg



Withersmith, the wiener hound, curled his tail around his body until its tip touched his nose. He sighed audibly. Chet had not, in the end, baked cookies for Dorothy, Withersmith’s first friend, nor had Chet rolled dough for homemade pies. Rather, Withersmith’s new friend had introduced nasty smelling things such as shitake mushrooms and seaweed into the household. Even Nancy Lynn, their young neighbor, had taken to holding her nose when visiting.


Dorothy bought a fan and mounted it onto a kitchen wall so that stinks could blow from the stove to the window. Meanwhile, Mr. Henry, the cat, who liked neither noise nor pongs, remained scarce.


Dorothy’s new spouse had called after the cat; “come back! You may partake, with me, of this vegan curry. You, who talk to birds and mice, specifically, and to wildlife, more generally, ought to appreciate how I am transforming this home into one that is yoked to nature.”


Withersmith doubted that Mr. Henry sought any equipage; the doxie’s buddy was already sufficiently “holistic.” In fact, Mr. Henry’s response to Chet had been to show him his back end and then to jump out of the kitchen window.


Be that as it may, a racket roused the little canine. The sausage dog opened one eye. From the guestroom, Dorothy was repeating a mantra; “WTO Settlement System, MFN and regional trade arrangements, non-tariff measures, GATT Agreement, trade remedy measures….”


The pup sighed, ever grateful that the length of his external ears muffled many sounds. He again closed his eye. When he later awoke, he heard nothing issuing from Dorothy.


Instead, he heard Chet addressing Rudford, Dorothy’s dear hedgehog, “our home will flourish with gardens. All manner of creatures will consort with us. People will esteem us. We will be wealthy in environmental stewardship.”


Rudford curled up into a ball. The albino furze pig had been seeking food, not oratory.


Witherspoon looked from Chet to Rudford and then back again. Theirs was a standoff.


Yawning widely, he stretched and then jumped off of the sofa. The dog trotted into his companions’ bedroom. There, he stuck his snout under the bed. In the past, comparable explorations had yielded foodstuffs; he, too, was seeking comestibles. That day, though, there were no forgotten biscuits or pretzel pieces. The lone treasure that peeked out from among dust bunnies was a spliff.


Not much later, Dorothy, who was canting a new set of words, too, arrived at the bedroom. Before flinging herself, face down, on the bed, she exclaimed, “terrorism, torture, Afghanistan, Balkans, ethno-centric, skeptics and critics, interrogation, policy-makers…”


Chet’s entrance interrupted her, “ma Chérie, we’ve yet to grow our personal food forest. Surely, you …”


Dorothy threw a shoe at her groom and once more commenced crying. “My finals were postponed because of our nuptials. If I don’t pass the rescheduled ones, I can’t enroll in the BPTC. Little you care.”


“Dear One, I delight in you as much as I delight in words, and you, among all people, know that I never tire of applying whimsy to pastures where gelatinous wildebeests roam, or of applying solemnity to the soil where fey beings play. What’s more, my rhetoric tilts at social ills and encourages personal evolutions. How can I not care about you becoming a solicitor?”


Chet shook his head and then removed, from behind his back, the hand that he had held there. “Look, my Precious!” He held out a marijuana plant by its roots.


“Chet Aquino!” bellowed Withersmith’s primary attendant. “I don’t care if your father was a ‘spellbound prince’ and your mother was a ‘famous actress.’ It makes no difference to me that you divide your time between translating scientific texts and writing poetry. I have no investment, furthermore, in your vegan recipes and I never, ever, ever, want to see that sort of leaf again in my home.”


“I knew it! You’re part of the American boogaloo.”


“As a Mancunian? You’re a twit!”


Chet slammed the bedroom door as he exited.


Dorothy cried some more. She whimpered to herself, “Mother said I ought not to have married you.”


Later that night, Witherspoon watched Chet puff the ruffles on his shirt, adjust his collar stays, and fiddle with an ascot. He also heard the man wonder, out loud, whether he ought to be wearing an informal cravat or a more formal one to a neighborhood bar-be-que. Dorothy’s family, and, perhaps, his beloved, too, had long regarded him as hoi polloi. He knew he was not.


When Dorothy and Chet returned home, Chet was intoning a mantra in harmony with Dorothy, “war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, domestic adjudication, international adjudication, crimes of aggression, international immunities…”


Dorothy, who was slurring a few words, interrupted, “oh Chet, say ‘domestic adjudication’ again. You’re so sexy when…”


Witherspoon didn’t hear the end of that sentence as Chet pulled Dorothy onto the sofa and mashed his face into hers. The dachshund wagged his tail - his humans were in a good mood. He waited next to the sofa for an offer of cake or cookies. Nothing was forthcoming.


The dog waited for a very long time. It was not until something crashed in the kitchen that his humans got off of the sofa.


Mr. Henry, who had jumped back into their home through the kitchen window, had, bewilderingly, missteped and had tripped on Rudford. The prickly albino had been sniffing around the kitchen’s baseboard for pieces of treats gone astray.


Chet scooped up the shaken hedgehog, “life is precious. Creativity needs to reflect this verity. There exist a multitude of means by which we can evidence these values. As long as we remain curious about goings-on, we remain vital.” The man then reached for the cookie jar, which sat on the counter under a secure lid, and gave the hedgie a bit of a biscuit


After her tiny friend had finished chewing, Dorothy took Rudford and gently placed him in his box. She then took Chet’s hand and tenderly pulled him toward their bedroom. Thereafter, she yet again opened their bedroom door to scoot out Withersmith.


The sometime badger hunter trotted into the kitchen. Mr. Henry was eating from his bowl! Deprived of dog chow, Withersmith trotted, as fast as his short legs could carry him, back to the bedroom door. Alas, that door remained closed.




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