Boss the pug keeps his owner on the routine. But a space agency who needs a dog to send to space abducts the dog.
Now it is up to Neil to build a space ship to rescue Boss.
This is a middle grade level book with pencil illustrations written with the 50’s pulp science fiction in mind.
Neil clipped the leash to Boss and let the dog lead him out the door. Boss sat impatiently as Neil carefully locked the door. It was the routine. Boss’s cold nose woke Neil at eight in the morning, then again at eight-thirty, sometimes at nine too.
Getting up was hard when he had nothing to get up for. Well, nothing except one annoying, exuberant, farting pug. It was enough, for now. The walk came before breakfast, Boss’s reward for his alarm clock act.
They walked along the sidewalk to the crosswalk. Boss peed on the fire-hydrant, then they crossed the street and walked back along the sidewalk to the park gates across the road from Neil’s basement studio apartment. A fancy name for a grubby hole in the ground; it suited him.
They walked the path through the park, taking the one to the left. Always the left since meeting that dog on the right-hand path once. Boss had taken a liking to a large, unmannered beast that looked like a cross between a Rottweiler and a leopard seal. They had played for what felt like hours while the dog’s owner attempted to engage Neil in small talk, he had never taken that way again. In the far corner of the park the juncture of the fence and a line of willow tree gave him a sufficient illusion of privacy to let Boss off the leash, so the dog could choose a stick to bring to Neil.
Neil tossed the stick and Boss took off like a shot to pounce on the stick and give it vigorous shake before returning it tooth-marked and covered with slobber. Neil threw the stick harder and they repeated the game until the stick disintegrated beyond any hope of Neil sending it soaring for Boss to fetch.
“Time to go home, boy.” Neil clipped the leash back on the dog and they retraced their steps exactly to their home. The dog got his high quality dog-food, guaranteed to have all the nutrients Boss needed. Neil got his oatmeal, not guaranteed to do anything but temporarily fill the void within him. To be honest, it didn’t look as good as Boss’s food.
The dog always finished first, walked to the couch, turned around three times, kneaded the cushion into shape, then dropped with a thump to watch Neil through his enormous eyes. Boss would stay there through the day snoring, belching and farting. Neil imagined if Boss were a person, he’d wear an old undershirt and sit with a beer and the button on his pants unbuttoned.
“Too bad I don’t do anything interesting for you to watch.” Neil finished his breakfast, washed his bowl and spoon, then filled his water bottle with water and a bit of lemon juice – apparently a way to avoid kidney stones. The doctor had never suggested Neil was in any danger of kidney stones, but they were reportedly painful enough to warrant some bitterness in the water.
Neil sat in his chair, long since conformed to his shape. Doing so little, he should have been big, overflowing his clothes, making the chair creak. His short, spare frame didn’t elicit the slightest sound. He picked up the newspaper and read it through, examining each article and column before pulling out his typewriter, and word by word, constructing a missive defining the general malaise facing the world.
Today it was a response to an advice column suggesting a woman stop frantically looking for a mate and wait for her soul mate to appear.
There is no such thing as a soul mate. He rattled the words, stark black on the white paper, like the truth standing against the frivolous belief that the world could have meaning. That would require a soul, and anyone with the slightest ability to observe reality will see humans are soulless sinks of selfishness.
He carefully pulled the completed letter from the typewriter and laid it on his desk.
After a lunch of peanut butter and jam, Boss enjoying the crusts of bread, they went on another walk. This walk they followed the sidewalk, Neil kept his head down, eyes averted. He’d long since given up imagining what he’d say if someone talked to him. So few people ever did. As he turned the corner to return home, he eyed the lunching people in the park, couples laughing and joking with each other, none of them aware of the nature of the world around them. But Neil could never find the courage to disabuse people of their illusions face to face.
After lunch he patiently checked and re-checked his letter before sealing it and setting it by the door to be mailed as part of the evening’s walk. No newspaper had ever printed so much as a word of his letters. They clearly were afraid to publish such unvarnished truth.
Be careful, don’t let your dog out of sight. Scientists pay people to grab dogs, so they can be experimented on. The little ones are in the worst danger.
The warning came in a letter to the editor. Neil would have thought it mad, but the paper printed it, so surely it had some merit?
Buy the book here or order with this ISBN 978-1-989092-22-4 at your bookstore or library.