Dead Dogs Don't Roll Over
Written by: Alex Sandell

Chapter 16
Stinky Redemption and a Startling Temper

After selling change to a few more customers, I notice how annoying having your hand brushing across a dog carcass really can be. The dog hasn’t spoken a word since I started selling, so I decide to ask him to leave. "You have to go now," I mumble down at the dead dog, "I can't take having you here anymore." A small Vietnamese girl notices me talking to my waist. I smile at her and keep right on talking, maybe I’ll start a trend.

"So, what are you gonna do about it?" Oh great, my dog’s a bully. I ignore the Dalmatian and sell two rolls of nickels to a man claiming he doesn't like gambling, he just comes for his wife. Funny that I see him here nearly every day, his wife must be really addicted. "Listen, you filthy mutt," I begin before being interrupted by the decomposing canine, "I’m a purebred," he says. "Anyway, listen, you filthy purebred. You come popping into my life anytime it feels right, can't you leave it the same way?"

The dog shakes his head in the same patronizing way an egotistical doctor would when you question his diagnoses. "Wayne, we need to talk, and you need a little bit of patience. Plus, I only have so many ‘pops’ before I run out." I give the rotting Dalmatian a gigantic "I don’t get it" type look.

The dog sighs, "here, let me make it simple. Simple, s . . . i . . . m . . . p . . . l . . . e . . . SIMPLE." I wipe my brow and wish the dog really would die. "Like a video game character – you do know what a character is, don’t you Wayne?" Rotting away must really make an animal condescending. The dog continues, without waiting for an answer. "Well, like a character in a video game, I only have a certain amount of energy. Each time I ‘pop’ into your life, a little of my energy is depleted. Before you know it, it will all be gone." I find myself smiling at the thought. "So, what are you saying then?" I ask the dog, "You're not planning on hanging out in my change apron for the rest of time, are you?"

The dog gives me a wicked glance. "No, there’s another way to leave you without using any of my ‘popping’ energy." "How?" I ask. The dog doesn’t respond for over a minute. "Sorry, had to switch sides. I talk with a record player, remember?" "Can’t they make like a 'corpse-upgrade' and install Compact Discs?" I inquire. "They already have," the dog returns, "I just chose records, Compact Discs sound fake."

"So," I ask, "how do you get away from me, without using up any more of your energy?" The dog’s half tongue wiggles around, looking like a large, decomposing worm, as he gives me his answer. "The only place I can enter, and leave through, without using energy up is your locker bag." I get an incredibly nave look on my face, without giving any response to the dog. The dog goes on with his end of the conversation. "Your locker-room bag is like a free-ride to limbo."

I can't help but laugh over the sheer absurdity of the canine's last comment. "So, you're saying that you didn't meet up with me to deliver some infinitely important message? The only reason we're even talking is because my locker-room bag is some sort of ‘free-ride’ to the afterlife?" I laugh again, making myself look like a big idiot in a public place. "If that's really all that you're here for, then, please, go away."

The dog wrinkles up the remaining flesh on his forehead, causing himself to look like Bob Dole. "That's not the reason I'm here. Your bag simply became a passageway to Limbo, so I could spend some time with you. You see, God works his magic in a really low-budget fantasy type way, like something out of some cheesy online serial-novel. I was sent here because I have to help you in your life, before I am allowed passage into the pearly gates. Why else do you think I would be here, getting smashed around inside of your change-belt? I sure as hell ain't doing it for my own good." I notice, disgustedly, that the dog is starting to sound like a redneck. I take enough time out of my workday to furrow my own sweaty forehead.

I pace back and forth answering change lights before getting back to the increasingly bizarre conversation I'm having with what could be a twisted figment of my already warped imagination. A hallucination derived from staring at roadkill everyday on my way to work.

"So, what are you 'sposed to help me change?" I find myself becoming genuinely excited over the prospect of having a guardian angel help plan my every step. It kinda sucks that my guardian angel is sort of a big, smelly jerk, but, with my luck, what else could I expect? The stinky angel gives me time to finish my thoughts, before he goes into his next garbled rant.

"That's the thing, I don't know what I'm supposed to help you with. You actually seem quite unhelpable . . ." I interrupt the Dalmatian, only to tell him that "unhelpable" isn't a word, and that he could prove it by running it through the spell-checker on any half-assed word processor. The dog looks at me, disgruntled, and continues telling me his difficulties.

"At first, I thought I was supposed to help you get a book published, or one of your scripts made into a movie. The only problem with that is, you haven't ever written a script or finished a book. It's almost as though you just like to hear yourself bitch about how lame your life is. You want to be an actor, but you're afraid to act. You want to write a novel, but you can't think of enough stuff to say. You want to pound out a screenplay, but you're too busy staring blankly at nudie pics on the Internet. I'd like to say you're a wash-up, but you haven't even been through the laundry machine." After this speech, I wonder if the dog is really sent to me from my mother, not God.

My voice is shaking when I ask the dog what I should do with my life. For a minute it seems he's catching his breath, only he doesn't breathe. His advice is less than terrific. "Go write a book. Welp, that oughta do it - bye."

I watch with mixed emotions as the dog squints his one eye really hard, over and over again. " . . . I guess that wasn't it." "What were you trying to do?" I ask. "Well, I thought I was done, and I could go to Heaven." "I thought all dogs went to Heaven," I respond, sarcastically. "Well, um, I would have, but I sort of had a thing for people’s legs." I chuckle, and walk back to my bank to stock up on nickels. The saintly, yet stinky, Dalmatian remains silent as I reload. Dead dogs don’t roll over, but they just might be able to blush.

After five minutes, the dog talks, once again. "Just take me back to your locker-bag." Although he tries to sound tough, I sense a slight tinge of apathy in his voice. "Sounds like your barks worse than your bite." I say, rather let down with myself over this predictable pun. The dog's not amused. "Let’s just go to the locker-room, alright? I need some time to figure this out. I don't know what I'm supposed to do with you. A few hours in limbo may open my mind to new ideas. Maybe I'll be able to come back with some answers." I begin doubting this whole setup. "What the hell's the deal here," I ask, "you have to come help me, but yet you're limited to only so many 'pops,' but yet, again, you can head back to Limbo, through my locker bag, without wasting a 'pop?' It doesn't make much sense." "Hey," the dog replies "I don't make the rules. If it was up to me, I'd already be humping the great leg in the sky, but I'm here helping you. I don't get it, you don't get it, I don't think anyone gets it. God likes it that way."

I ignore the dog's blasphemy and decide to call him on his betrayal of trust, reminding him of how he promised to never show his face around me again, if I let him ride along in my apron. "Hey, you just said you're gonna go to Limbo and think about this for a while, and then get back to me. You promised I'd never see you again, after we talked right now. So, getting back to me would be breaking your word." A frightening growl emanates from the Dalmatian's throat. His remaining eye turns as red as a blood-coated strawberry. "Take me back to the locker-room, NOW!"

I'm startled over the canine's quick change of temper. I'm not actually afraid of him until I notice a miniature security camera crawling back into the empty socket that once held his left-eye . . .

Go to: Chapter 17

1997 Alex Sandell but, if you're a book publisher and, you wanna get this puppy out, please get in touch with me, hand me a nice, big contract and, of course, a 12 pack of Grape Soda and maybe we can do lunch.

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