Yeah, she’s a bad dog. I know this much. There’s no way anyone could miss it.
Once, in Oak Mountain State Park, she stole a pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon and toothpicks. She snatched it right off a camper’s grill. I didn’t even know she’d escaped until I saw a man running through the park with a spatula over his head.
He shouted something I won’t repeat—my mother reads these things.
The campground security guard caught her, though I don’t know how—I’ve chased this coonhound across state lines before. Once she was captured, he tried to locate her owner.
No luck. The real owner never came forward.
Ellie Mae spent one night in campground prison, where I understand security guards became hypnotized by her brown eyes. They fed her two Hardee’s hamburgers, and marveled at how much she seemed to enjoy the taste of Budweiser.
The next morning: nobody had ever seen toothpicks exit a dog like that before.
And that’s nothing.
Once, I left her in the truck while I ran into Winn Dixie. I kept the AC running, and Willie Nelson playing. Inside, when I rounded the dairy aisle, I saw a familiar lump of black fur wandering down the frozen-food lane, carefree and light on her feet. I followed her all the way to the fresh produce, where I found her gnawing on a bottle of ketchup. It looked like a homicide.
The staff thought she was adorable.
Most people do. But she’s not. She’s trouble. I’ve seen her eat twenty-two jars of peanut butter, half a guitar, a laptop charger, and that was just lunch. For supper: a raincoat, a pair of underpants, and three bills. If there’s a worse dog out there, I’m hard-pressed to believe it.
But right now, the terrorist coonhound sleeps beneath my feet as we speak. She snores bad. Her head is resting on my foot. She’s warm. And I love her.
The truth is, I’ve always wanted kids, but God decided against it. Maybe it’s for the best—I understand babies don’t let you sleep. And when I run low on sleep I tend to sprout a tail and carry a pitchfork.
Even so, I’ve always wondered what it would look like to see my cheeks combined with my wife’s eyes. Would ours be a good kid? Would it have Jamie’s dark hair and my God-given talent for laziness? Would it be a girl? Would she behave, or raise cane?
Sometimes I lay in bed and feel sad about such things. I guess I’m only human. I’m curious to know what it would be like to have something small need you. To consider you hero of the universe, no matter how bad you fail, or how unimportant you are.
I feel a cold nose on my arm.