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

Chapter 18
"The Briar Patch Reverse Psychology Trick" and a Trip to the Other Side

I bump into Richard just after I decide that it's safe to begin picking the rest of the dog remains from my nostril. "Where are you going?" Richard asks, his condescending attitude firmly in place. "I just have to use the bathroom, I gotta piss," I answer, while squeezing my penis through my change-apron, for dramatic effect. "You have to urinate, you mean?" I roll my eyes and hope to end the conversation by telling Richard I’ll see him on the floor. I begin to walk back down the stairs.

I get three steps before Richard comes at me, eyes red and lips curled into a sneer. "Don't you walk away from me!" Richard loses his wicked composure as his typical hiss of a voice turns into a violent scream. "When you walk away, you degrade me. You make me look bad in front of the other employees. I'm going to have to write you up!" Oh great, now Rich is seeing invisible employees. Instead of begging Richard to let me off, I decide to use the "Briar Patch Reverse Psychology Trick" instead.

I take in a deep breath, sucking a chunk of dog flesh into my lungs, and begin to loudly declare. "GO AHEAD AND WRITE ME UP THEN!!!" next, I whisper nervously, under my breath, "just don't send me back to the office." Richard looks like a confused orangutan, scratching his head and trying to figure out how to climb up a tree and eat all the bananas. I can see the "Briar Patch Reverse Psychology Trick" begin working its magic.

If all goes accordingly, Richard will think that I subconsciously whispered my fear of the office under my breath. He may also think that I'm naive enough to consider him a man of mercy and that he may feel sympathy toward my quiet plea. Either way, he'll consider sending me to the office as the ultimate show of power. What Richard hopefully won't know is that I get along rather well with Paul Conner, the slot-office manager and that the office is really my "Briar Patch." Richard huffs and puffs a few more times, as though, he too, enjoys playing a bull, and begins to walk away.

I bow my head down and stare at the floor. Just before leaving the basement, Richard turns back to me. "I nearly forgot to ask, why are you wearing your apron downstairs?" My chin begins to tremble. I hear the familiar wheeze of a laugh coming from the deceased Dalmatian.

It is against company policy to wear your change-apron when not on the gaming floor. Failure to abide by this rule results in an automatic half-point deduction. Richard shakes his head as though this disobedience really hurts him . . . he's a "company man," you know. I can’t tell him I’m using the apron to transport my dead dog, so I remain silent. "I'm going to have to write you up for this, too." Richard has trouble concealing his grin. "Did I give you permission to use the bathrooms? Richard grins snidely, as he asks. There goes another point.

After telling me that he expects me back on the floor within five minutes, Richard leaves me alone, and I begin walking through the winding corridors to the locker room, angered and depressed that the "Briar Patch Reverse Psychology Trick" didn’t work on him. For a second I think I see Sue, the girl I would choose to have with me in my Dream Tree, then realize it is only some ugly looking locker room lady.

I push Sue from my mind, get my locker room bag form the attendant, and head into the men's room. The dead Dalmatian is making me far more nervous than I dare to admit. He hasn't said a word since he asked me to take him down here. Is he aware that I saw the miniature camera hidden in his eye-socket? I throw the dog in the bag, without either of us saying a word.

Immediately after putting the dog inside, and zipping up the bag, I decide to unzip it again, and see if the dead Dalmatian has really disappeared into Limbo. My fingers are trembling so hard that I can hardly get a grip on the zipper. I cautiously unzip the five-foot tall bag, my heart racing as fast as it would if I was in bed with Sue.

The zipper finally reaches the bottom. I take both sweaty hands and slowly pull open the bag. I look inside and see nothing but an old pair of jeans and some musty, green socks. The dead dog has left his familiar scent, but there are no other signs of him.

I stick my head inside of the bag, trying to see if I can get a quick glimpse of limbo. I look to the left, the right and into the back of the bag and see nothing. I run my hand up and down the bag's vinyl interior, still nothing. I pull both hands out of the bag and look around the locker room. I stroll down each aisle and look into the stalls, making sure that I'm alone. I break a sign off of the wall and wedge it under the door. This should give me ample warning if someone arrives. I walk back to my locker bag and decide to crawl inside of it.

I lie the bag on the floor and open the entrance as wide as I can. I begin casually whistling, eyes continually scanning the room, as I sit down. I position my buttocks in the center of the bag. I listen to two females talking outside of the locker-room door. I make sure I don't hear any males, about to enter the room, and then stick my right foot into the bag. I insert my left foot and reach down to pull the zipper up to my abdomen.

I lie down, inside the bag, moldy sucks tickling my feet. I lay there for a while, arms at my side and moronic grin on my face. Nothing happens. I twist my right arm into a compromising position and start pulling the zipper up over my head. My arm bends awkwardly and a jolt of pain shoots down from my shoulder and into my elbow.

Zippered inside the bag, I start getting hot. The warmth of my breath hitting the vinyl is creating an uncomfortable humidity. I still lie with an expectant grin on my face, my body becoming drenched in sweat. For a second, it feels as though the back of the bag is opening. I start believing that I'm about to fall into the afterlife. I lay around for another one or two minutes, without any magical results, not even a sprinkle of fairy dust. I start wondering if the dog was feeding me a line.

I'm just about to get out of the bag when I notice that someone else is in the locker room. How did they get in? How was the sign that I placed under the door moved without scraping the floor? Whoever is inside the locker room with me must have been here since I arrived. Did someone know I was coming?

A lump develops in my throat as I suck in my stomach and flatten myself toward the ground. My pulse quickens, probably to a level unattainable even by the beautiful Sue. My ears follow the footsteps into the bathroom. I hear a toilet seat rise against its porcelain cover. The man begins to urinate, reminding me of how bad I have to go myself. I hear the toilet seat clank back down and the man walking to the sinks. The water turns on. I hear the man cursing when the water shuts back off. I hear the water turn back on again. Then back off. I laugh in spite of myself when I imagine the pop-up sink handles doing their dirty work. The man heaves a heavy sigh and turns the sink back on one more time. It turns off almost as quick. "Fuck it," the man roars, I hear him grab a towel.

The footsteps leave the bathroom. I pray the man walks straight out the locker room door, without noticing my bag, and me inside it. The footsteps walk toward my row of lockers, they turn and begin thumping down the aisle. The butterflies in my stomach begin fluttering their wings so rapidly that I nearly throw-up. How would I explain myself? What excuse can you come up with for zipping yourself up into your own locker room bag? I can't really tell him that I was looking for Limbo.

The feet thud past me, I realize that he's in the next aisle. I hear another locker bag unzipping. There is some rustling and I hear the bag zip back up. I feel something poking me in the side. I feel somebody's hot breath on my neck. I turn around and there is a man lying beside me.

"Stay OUT of this gateway," the man's eyes glow yellow and I see flames in the back of his throat. I try to swallow, but my own throat is too constricted. The two of us lie side by side, not making a sound. I start wondering what people would say about two men caught together in a locker-room bag.

I begin listening and notice that the man doesn't breathe. He only waits, as though wanting me to speak. I break the uncomfortable silence with what must be the most idiotic comment ever made to some magic guy with flames in the back of his throat. "What?" I ask, "Are you gay or somethin'?" I get no answer from this strange man, he just squeezes my butt. The man waits a few more moments and opens his mouth once again, I feel heat emanating from it. "If you ever attempt to enter the otherworld again, you will be destroyed." After the words of warning, the man disappears.

I hear the locker bag in the aisle next to me unzip. One foot step. Another. I hear the man zip his locker room bag back up and walk out of the room.

Go to: Chapter 19

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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