He sat in his recliner watching television; feet up, eating popcorn and drinking beer. An overfilled ashtray was by his side. He pulled out butts every once in awhile just to get a final drag; too lazy to go to the gas station. Too broke to afford another pack.

There was a dog barking outside. Chained up next door. He heard the neighbor yell at him now and then to shut up. The pitt bull kept on barking. The old man turned the sound up on the TV. Tom Snyder was on. Smoking cigarettes and talking to attorneys about the Charles Manson case. The old man watched and popped open another Old Style. Soon he’d reach for the whiskey.

Evan Williams was on the counter. He made his way over to the bottle. Poured in three fingers. Sipped on it while Tom continued talking to his guests. That damn dog kept barking. The old man walked over to the window and opened it. Be quiet, he yelled. Shut that dog up, or, I’ll shut it up…permanently. The dog continued to bark.

The old man got his shot gun from the closet and made sure there was a bullet inside. He pulled up a chair by the window and pointed the rifle at the dog. Shut up you mutt, he said. I’m warning you, he spoke louder. I know you’re of the devil, the dog began pacing, dragging his chain on the frozen ground. You son of a bitch…shut up now, the old man’s hands were shaking. The dog growled. I’ll show you, he fired the gun, missing by a counrty mile. He could hear the bullet hit the window in the trailer next to his. Glass shattered and lights came on. The old man retreated back to his recliner. There was a knock at the door.

You shooting at my house old man? the young neighbor asked. It’s two o’clock in the morning God damn it. What’re you? Crazy? Drunk? Both? You’re gonna replace that window. I ain’t paying for that, the kid said, his blonde wife came over in a short robe with slippers on.

What the hell is going on here? she asked.

The old man’s gone crazy. Shooting holes in our home.

What the hell? she lit up a smoke, folded her skinny arms.

Can I have one of those? the old man asked.

You tried killing us. I ain’t giving you no cigarette, she said. Her husband laughed. I’m calling the cops. Get a police report on this. They’re gonna haul you in old man, she said. That’ll show you.

The dog kept barking in the background. Shush now, the blonde said. And the dog stopped. The three of them stood there waiting on the cops. Waiting to tell their sides of the story.

Now the dog sat there in silence. They all did. Waiting. Just waiting.


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