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Saturday, September 29, 2012

     The second hand anxiety medicine sat on his kitchen table like a siren calling to passing ships. It tempted him with the promise of peaceful silence, and the opportunity to claim back the rectory parlor, and the big screen T.V.  He knew he should have flushed those things days ago, along with any goofy ideas brewing in the back of his head.  But as he watched the dog stretched out across the sofa, contentedly chewing on the last of the French bread, he had reached the point of no return.

     It had been an exhausting schedule of morning Masses, manic meetings, a drawn out funeral, and a handful of thoroughly depressing, home-bound visits.  The latte and doughnut he had gulped down earlier in the day was long gone, and by 3:00 PM, his 6 foot frame was running on empty.  On the way home, he had stopped at Carmen's Deli on 3rd and Sinclair, and ordered up an Italian sub.  Although not as remarkable as those he craved from Varano's in Boston's North End, it was a decidedly close second, and a suitable reward for his day long endeavors.

    Kevin kicked off his shoes, loosened his collar, and popped open a bottle of Guinness.  He left his dinner on the kitchen table, and went in search of the notes for Sunday's homily, figuring he would look those over while he enjoyed his meal.  It had taken longer than planned to locate the legal pad, and upon his return to the kitchen, he was greeted with the sight of the little nightmare gobbling down his sandwich, a slice of prosciutto hanging from between his teeth.

     He shooed the dog off the table with a fly swatter, the only thing within reach, and the animal reluctantly leaped to the floor, dragging the last length of bread into the parlor.  All that remained of the feast were a few slices of tomato, and several rings of purple onion.  Even the Guinness looked as if it had been sampled, and found wanting.  In disgust, Kevin threw the remnants of the sub in the trash, but saved the remaining ale and poured it into another glass.  There was no use wasting everything.

       A man was entitled to a little peace and quiet, even if he was in the service of the Lord, and some things were simply too much to bear.  Reaching across the table, he grabbed the pile of meds, and turned on his laptop.  A quick Google search directed him to a pharmaceutical website, and he quickly surmised that Irwin had been prescribed 2 mgs of lorazepam twice a day.  Figuring the kid weighed some where in the range of 70 lbs or so, he deducted that the dog would probably require a quarter of one pill, both at morning, and at night, to guarantee the quiet cooperation he so desperately sought.  The key objective was to calm the dog down a bit, make him more manageable, and not to over dose him to the point of being comatose.  To get this right, he needed to be sure of the exact weight of the dog, or at least do better than just a good guess.

      If this were any normal dog, Kevin could have scooped him up, gone upstairs to the bathroom, and weighed the two of them together on the digital scale.  Then he would have put the dog down, weighed himself alone, and figured out the difference.  But Basil Rathbone III was no ordinary dog.  He was a mean, awful beastie, and it would require logical thinking and commando strategy to get his fat little body up the stairs to the level bathroom floor, and onto the scale long enough to get an accurate reading.

      What he surely needed was some sort of bait, but as he didn't keep a very well stocked pantry, he was going to have to get creative.  Pushing things around the cupboard, he found an old can of Vienna sausages, and the last of the peanut butter, and figured the two would work nicely.  He opened the can of sausages and laid a trail from the doorway of the parlor, up the stairs, and right to the scale in the bathroom.  Then, using two fingers, he scooped out a glob of peanut butter and smeared it over the glass dial.  That finished, he sat back on the edge of the tub to wait for his prey.

      It didn't take long for the greedy little bastard to make his way up to the bathroom, stopping only long enough to gobble down the next sausage.  He growled at Kevin, and began to yap, until his sensitive nose caught scent of the peanut butter across the room.  He cautiously waddled over, and stepping on the scale, began to diligently lap off the treat in long-tongue swipes, grunting and smacking as he progressed.

       From his perch on the tub, Fr. Kevin had an impossible time seeing the numbers on the dial.  He changed positions to perch over the toilet, and moved in nearer to the scale.  The dog growled, but didn't stop his attack on the peanut butter.  Despite kneeling on the tank, and leaning in as close as he dared, the glass was too smeary to view well.  Did it read 18 lbs, or 28?  Figuring this was the best he was going to do, he climbed down from the toilet tank, and made his way downstairs.

      He took one of the small pills, and using a small paring knife, cut the circle into equal quarters.  Or at least as near even, equal quarters as he could get using a dull paring knife with a cracked handle.  It was such a small amount.  How much of a difference could it make?  Besides, this was an extremely hyper dog.  A little bigger dose was sure to cause very little harm.  Cutting up the rest of the sausages, and mixing it with the remaining peanut butter, he crushed the piece of pill into the food with the back of a spoon, and plopped the mess onto a paper plate he placed on the floor.  He crossed his fingers, and hoped that the Tessa Pepper's nasty dog still had room in it's belly for a few extra bites.

       Done cleaning the scale of it's sticky paint job, the Westie meandered down the stairs to the kitchen to seek out a drink of water.  He quickly noticed the concoction on the paper plate, and after a few judging sniffs, cleaned the mess in a few large gulps.  With a belch and a grunt, the dog took itself to the parlor, and curled in a sunny, warm spot near the windows, for what the priest hoped was a long evening nap.

Copyright 2012 Victoria Rocus


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