For those wanting to get straight to Chapter 1, 2, or 3 – scroll down. For all those new, please read on.
I am excited to announce the release of two books over the next month. The first book, which is free to download from Amazon starting Friday until Sunday (Click any hyperlink in this blog to reach the download), is titled We’re All Chihuahuas: A Shaky Dog on a Human Journey by yours truly. Below you can read the description.
“This is the story of Max the Chihuahua. It is the harrowing adventure of pleasure and pain – a journey that mirrors the winding road of our own life. It is a tale of interchange between the brain of a shaky 6-pound beast and the soul of an unsuspecting human. An epic with a most peculiar cast of characters and a most peculiar climax – which will leave you thinking – ‘We’re all Chihuahuas.'”
The second book is Tackle the Library: Plato which is the second installment in the series. As a special perk to all my loyal readers, I am going to post the first three chapters of each book on this blog over the weekend (this weekend will be We’re all Chihuahuas with Plato coming in a couple of weeks). It would mean a great deal to me if you would download the book for free at this link and leave me a review. Writing is only worth doing if it helps others – I hope this book brings you insight, smiles, and happiness.
And without further adieu…
Chapter 1 – The Reciprocity of the pound
The concrete floor was chilly and damp. Almost like walking barefoot on a sidewalk after the first frost of the season. The coldness of the ground was, however, warmer than the barks heard echoing throughout the chambers. Howls that sounded ethereal and forced – the noise of desperation. It wasn’t a place one would want to be or for that matter smell. Smell is such a personal experience that it is almost impossible to translate the horrible odor that saturated every surface of this lost place. The effervescence was a mixture of wet hair garnished with fermented feces and pooling urine. Ammonia was the main ingredient permeating the air – a continual assault on the molecular bays of the noise.
If one could surmise, they may guess that this place was a men’s bathroom at a Cub’s game after a bad batch of $1 chili cheese dogs; or maybe a more macabre setting like a gas chamber after a quick cleaning. No, it was neither of these humanoid places. It was a place further down the evolutionary ladder. A place where man and beast come to stare at each other in a manner not akin to preservation like a zoo – but rather a sight similar to used merchandise – like a decaying thrift store. It was the dog pound. More specifically the Flint, Michigan dog pound built in 1949 on the very same day the Russian’s tested their first nuke – perhaps a sign that there would be many hardships to come. The founding of the “pound” – as we will call it – is not our primary focus. Our focus is its inhabitants, with one inhabitant in particular. This is the story of Max the Chihuahua; a story not about saving dogs from pounds or even canine adoption. It is a story of how one small Chihuahua changed forever in that scary place. It is the story of all of us. It is the story of interchange between the brain of a shaky 6-pound beast and the soul of an unsuspecting human.
Chapter 2 – Old School Swat
The infant years of Max are not entirely known. He was born somewhere in the hillbilly outskirts of Flint where poor whites make their nests in the hope that their 1 mile move no longer categorizes them as living in the ghetto. It almost goes without saying that Max was born in the white Juggalo region of Flint because no sane black Flintoid would want a 6-pound rat-dog to protect their home. In this district of America, there are two choices of a pet – guard dog or toy dog. The former is the choice of those who need to compensate for some Freudian love of the father and the latter is the choice of those who can’t decide on the taxonomy of their pet – should it be of the canine or ferret genus? We must assume that Max was born in a 1920’s cut-out GM working-class home which now has Craigslist furniture, a 500 lb plasma TV, and a kitchen pantry stocked with every variety of Hamburger Helper (not store brand of course). This little puppy begins his life in the heart of America and Americana – Faygo pop and failed dreams.
Little Max was loved with the utmost care and affection. His Flintbilly owners had little money to spare, but they nevertheless showered him with toys, food, and name brand Chihuahua accessories: a bone-shaped bed, Superman t-shirt, and elf costume for Christmas to name a few. He was spoiled like an only child – the beezneez of all the dogs in the neighborhood. As with all cute babies, however, there was a slight problem with his trachea. Max was a barker. His bark brought about a mild pain in the ear and was more infuriating than a toddler singing a catchy tune on the radio. Max barked because he was excited about the world and all that it had to offer. He wanted to explore. He wanted to learn. He wanted to play. Everything that Max saw he barked at because his brain thought it was a fellow friend. Someone is at the door – let me celebrate! Someone is walking around the room – let me celebrate! Someone is giving me food – let me celebrate! Max’s brain computed everything as a proverbial birthday party – a never-ending waterfall of stimulus that mimicked a baby’s first taste of chocolate cake. BARK! BARK! BARK! BARK! All day and all night long.
As one could guess, Max’s barking got old real fast. His owners could never focus on reading the instructions on the box of Hamburger Helper or watch YouTube videos about Game of Thrones conspiracy theories. They were invariably trying to correct little Max’s birthday party brain. Max would actually think the yelling was a good thing as if his frustrated owners were exploding verbal streamers. Slowly but surely, Max’s owners lost patience and began to threaten him with punishments of all sorts. They would put Max in his cage; this led to more barks of excitement because it was a game of hide-and-seek. They would spray water at him every time he made a peep; this led to more yelps of excitement because it was a water park experience! They would call Max a “bad boy” and shake their finger at him; this led to more barks of excitement because his owners seemed to be dancing the Charlie Chaplin. Finally, all came to a head one day when Grandma visited. Grandma was old school and believed in corporeal punishment – the likes not seen since the firing squads of the Wild West. Granny quickly took a rolled up newspaper and swatted little Max on his skinny flank.
The second that hard paper hit Max he felt what it was like to be a supernova in the throes of morphing into a black hole. Pain shot through his small body as if it were a drug injected by an addict itching for a fix. He squealed and bolted for the safety of his once “hide and seek” haven. His demeanor was timid for the first time. His composure was broken. His soul was shaken. This swat was no mere swat; it was a jolt that taught Max that the world is full of pain. The cosmos was no longer an endless river of sparkling stimulus born from the stars to flow directly into his heart. The world was, in reality, like a boulder which one attempts to climb – all the time risking cuts, bruises, and fatal falls. As these thoughts were going through Max’s head, his body began to convert the neural impulses of anxiety into psychosomatic tremors of fear. These earthquakes manifested themselves into a phenotype most common among small dogs – constant shaking. Max couldn’t control the shaking and with each new shiver, Max was reminded of the scary experience of the swat – an experience that set his life on a whole new trajectory.
Chapter 3 – Cries of a Former Life
Grandma’s brief visit, unfortunately, turned into a permanent stay. She was losing her mind and could no longer take care of herself; often one could find her folding toilet paper or pretending to understand the plot of an M. Night Shyamalan movie. Her dementia came with auditory hallucinations and sensitivity to the slightest noise. Max soon learned that he was never safe around Granny because any peep he made would send her into terrors. The newspaper regularly met his hide for no particular reason. Sometimes Max would be quietly dreaming about something until a bolt of lightning woke him – his tired eyes beholding Granny with her newspaper. Of course, Max sometimes did deserve a swat because he began to bark as a form of revenge. He would carefully plan an escape route – gauging whether his cockroach-like body could squeeze through a space – and bark purposefully to upset Grandma. He would jolt into a crevice while curse words were hurled at him – the black and white of the paper skimming the darkness in search of flesh. It was a game of cat and mouse. Sometimes Max won, and sometimes Grandma won.
Max was testing the limits of his environment and climbing further up the craggy boulder of life. He still found enjoyment in things but his rose-tinted glasses were now binoculars – continually searching the horizon for potential danger – and possible mischief. One day this game all came crashing down. Max’s owners went out to celebrate their anniversary via breakfast at a cheap Greek diner. It was only Max and Granny at home, which meant Max had to be on his guard. Now around three years old, Max was more agile and faster than his former puppy self. It was much harder for Grandma to attack him and Max was beginning to flex his teenage ego. Like all teenagers, Max felt invincible and wanted to push barriers. Each Friday, Grandma ate two powdered donuts in remembrance of her husband who died of diabetes 20 years ago. Max knew this routine and knew that Grandma would always get up after her first powdered donut to get more coffee. With a sly position under the table, Max jumped up on the chair and sneakily grabbed the stout donut – hurriedly running behind the couch. The donut catapulted Max into a nirvana hitherto unknown. It was like the feeling one gets after not having sex for some time – the sensation almost virgin.
While Max was experiencing his pseudo-erotic moment, Grandma was coming back to the table and questioning where her donut went. Her dementia was making her question whether she had already partaken in the nostalgic treat. As if fate meant it to be, Grandma experienced a brief moment of lucidness. She knew for a fact that she had not eaten the donut and quickly spotted a trail of powdered sugar progressing towards the couch. At that very moment of following the sugar line to its terminus, Max exited his home of ecstasy looking like Rick James after a night out at the club. Both eyes met, and Max knew he only had one option – bolt to the haven of his cage. Time seemed to slow down at that instant. All sensations became piqued: The worn walls revealed new stains, the molding carpet felt extra sticky, the stale air whispered cigarette smoke and Axe Body Spray. Grandma, in a state of sheer madness, chased Max across the room and attempted to scoop him up before he escaped into the steel fortress.
Flying across the room, the two bodies synchronized with each other – Max was dumbfounded by the geriatric speed exuding from Grandma’s varicose legs. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four feet left until safety. What seemed a sure bet of escape took a turn for the worse when Max realized his blanket had been removed that morning for its weekly cleaning. Without his coverage the cage was like a fortress with no roof. At that very moment of misgiving, his owners opened the door with a large box of leftover gyro meat and a bouquet of Wal-Mart roses. The two-love birds witnessed the pursuit which was awkwardly climaxing. Max had to decide whether it was wise to enter a cage without a blanket or risk crawling into some crevice to wait out the storm. What to do? What to do? All seemed like a tangled cord of lights in Max’s brain until one knot loosened and the whole strand illuminated in tandem. The plan was to bolt through his laconic owner’s legs and catapult himself outside via the still open door. All was decided in a split second. Max weaved in between their legs and saw for the first time in his life the front yard – a small overlooked detail being that he always did his business on indoor puppy pads or his favorite spot on the shag carpet. The world was his oyster and exploration his aphrodisiac – without looking back, the cries of his former life faded in the distance.
Stay tuned for Tackle the Library – Plato later this month. Thanks again for your support.