Auuuuuuggghhhhh: A Play in One Act

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Kelley walks dogs into back yard for routine pee break, paying little attention to the grass until Karmann flops happily into a playful down and begins nose-poking something in the grass

KELLEY: Karmann–no–don’t . . . What are you . . . KARMANN!

KARMANN: gazes up, benignly

KELLEY: scrutinizes grass and discovers, with great horror, a small, pale, heaving feathered bosom OH MY GOD IS THAT A BIRD DID YOU HALF KILL A BIRD IN LIKE TWO SECONDS WHILE I WATCHED THE NEIGHBORS START A BONFIRE IN THEIR GRILL IS IT DEAD OH MY GOD!!!

KARMANN: blink

KELLEY: (to nobody) Uh . . . Oh god . . . Schmoopie! SCHMOOPIE! Um . . . Not equipped . . . I AM NOT EQUIPPED TO DEAL WITH THIS HELP? Great. Two murderers in the family. I cannot . . . SCHMOOPIE?!? (to dogs) do you need to–can you just pee? I have to . . . Do . . . Something.

dogs pee, KELLEY returns them to the house where SCHMOOPIE is busy preparing spaghetti

KELLEY: (letting Karmann through baby gate into kitchen) She has blood on her paws. BLOOD ON HER PAWS!!!

SCHMOOPIE: blink

KELLEY: there’s a bird–it’s belly up and breathing heavily, I think–I think it may have been pre-maimed! It’s just lying there and I don’t want to look. I don’t know what I’ll find but I have to go back out and what am I supposed to do with the bird?!?? What if it’s half dead?

SCHMOOPIE: just watch the pasta–where is it?

KELLEY: I have to come with you! You won’t find it! I don’t want to see! I’m coming with you!

SCHMOOPIE: watch. the. pasta.

Two minutes elapse. KELLEY paces and stares at pasta. She goes out onto the balcony to see what is happening, and discovers SCHMOOPIE exiting the basement wearing work gloves.

KELLEY: Oh no. Did you find it? Is it dead?

SCHMOOPIE: No. Just stunned. Leans over, picks up bird.

KELLEY: Aw. What kind of bird is it?

SCHMOOPIE: Chick-mumblemumble

KELLEY: A chicken?!

SCHMOOPIE: A chicken. A TINY CHICKEN WHERE WOULD A TINY CHICKEN COME FROM? I don’t know, it’s, like, a chickadee.

KELLEY: Oh they’re very cute. I like them–little fat birdies. (shouts to bird) I’m so sorry! I didn’t raise her to maim birds! (shouts to SCHMOOPIE) We have to keep him safe! Put him in the tomato planter! Or a box! Do you need a box?

SCHMOOPIE strides over toward small, shrubby tree

KELLEY: Yes! Put him in the brush! Is he looking around? Maybe he’ll sit on a branch!

SCHMOOPIE places bird in small tree. Bird immediately flips upside down while clinging to branch.

KELLEY: Is that bird upside down?

SCHMOOPIE: He’s hanging on.

KELLEY: IS THAT BIRD UPSIDE DOWN??!

SCHMOOPIE: Well, he’s hanging on! I don’t know what you want me to do!

KELLEY: Flip him right side up! He can’t hang upside down!

SCHMOOPIE: He’s hanging onto the branch! How should I detach him??

Bird falls from branch, Plinko-style, bounces off lower branches enroute to the ground. A small kerfuffle is seen at ground level

KELLEY: DID THAT BIRD JUST FALL OUT OF THE TREE?! HE FELL OUT OF THE TREE. IS HE OK???

SCHMOOPIE: (leans in for close look) I think–

KELLEY: IS HE RIGHT SIDE UP???

SCHMOOPIE: He’s–

KELLEY: IS THE BIRD RIGHT SIDE UP???!????

SCHMOOPIE: YES! He’s right side up! He’s on a branch. All of his bits are working HE IS FINE! Will you go deal with the pasta!

KELLEY: (under breath, to nobody) Bird is having a worse fucking day than me, anyway . . .

KELLEY proceeds into kitchen, directly to wine. She is joined by SCHMOOPIE after he makes his way up from the basement. They drink.

Fin.

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Snow Broke My Dog, Pt. 2

I was awakened this morning at 4am–NOT by the kittens, which is novel and possibly explains my current, uncharacteristic chipperness, but by police lights alerting me to a water main break upstreet from the house. Since it’s negative 32 quadrillion degrees (F) the water instantly froze into a thick sheet of ice. I currently live in a half-assed interpretation of Fallingwater.

And since I enjoy disastrous adventures, I think this is really super neat (though I do feel bad for anyone who lost water service.) So when Schmoop, who could not get to work on time, and I took the pups out we did potty time and then sallied forth to check out our own personal frozen waterfall.

Rewind:

Calvin is awesome and adorable, but he is terrified of most everything. Nevertheless, every morning he gets out of bed, tail wagging, puppyface happy, leaping and bounding to welcome the new day in that uniquely awesome way dogs have of, like, totally forgetting whatever perceived awful experiences they may have had the previous day. Selective doggie amnesia. And every day I celebrate his enthusiasm, and tell him how much I appreciate his optimism, and I smile and give him scritches and try in myriad futile ways to carry that optimism as far as possible. And then we go outside and there is maybe 30 seconds of bouncy puppy joy before he’s all, “Oh shit. I remember life. I REMEMBER LIFE AND IT’S SO AWFUL TAKE ME INSIDE!!!”

Today was no exception to this routine.

So. Now you have context.

It has been established that Cal does not like the snow and subzero temps. And at the point we headed up the driveway he was already clearly displeased with the situation. One foot was questionably functional, he was shivering despite his coat, and he tried desperately to pull me toward the door. I told him to suck it up, and we hobbled to the front of the house whereupon we were greeted . . . by a person . . . walking . . . on the other side of the street/waterfall.

I will pause here so you can all collect yourselves from the trauma of reading about that.

About the person. Across the street. Ambulating.

Everyone ok?

Yeah. Not Cal. He broke. But I mean, in his defense, there was a person. Walking slowly. Across the street. So, you know.

He has been super good lately. We’ve gotten his reactivity down to a pretty consistent loud bark when he sees people, which has been an improvement over his previous bark-snarl-lunge-pull-shake-bay/scream routine. Sometimes he even manages to maintain his composure and look to me without barking.

But that all flew out the window because cold, snow, malfunctioning feet, cold, he was so done with this little stroll before it even started why did I bring him out here do I hate him I must hate him what kind of monster would take a dog for a walk in this environment of cold and people and awful and cold and how could anyone expect him to carry on its best to just end it now.

So he basically started thrashing in a way that would scare even the most hardcore straight edgers at a Minor Threat show. The only thing is he can’t really windmill. Natch. And he thrashed out of his coat and he yelled and then paused as he saw that Schmoop had walked Karmann down the street.

Right now you just have to imagine the Hitchcockian Psycho stabbing REE! REE! REE! noise and tunnel vision zooming in and out as he gazes at Karmann all the way down the block.

And so he thrashed anew while also trying to eat snow from the plow pile–you know the crap that’s all full of salt and de-icer and motor oil and goddess knows what else–in a pretty obvious attempt at suicide. And y’all, I could not stop him. I mean, I physically dragged him away from the plow offal, but I was then basically standing there, using my happy voice, trying to distract him as he frantically lunged for the pile all, “Just one mouthful! One mouthful and I can be free! FREE!!!!”

But because I’m a hateful monster who derives pleasure imprisoning his soul on this mortal coil, I just dragged him back down the drive and into the house, whereupon he seemed to immediately forget his recent trauma as he ran up the steps like “Close call we had there. Breakfast?”