Louie talks. In his own canine way, naturally. I’m not saying he’s one of those Letterman dogs. I noticed it when I was still with the Ex, usually the three of us laying in bed. The Ex and I would talk and watch movies and read the newspaper and I’d like to think that Louie just wanted to be part of the pack. So he’d sigh and groan between us, his nose buried in the covers, and when we’d mimic him he’d respond in kind; creating a conversation of sorts that was ridiculous and gratifying. He did not talk like that as a puppy; it was an acquired trait. Our conversations have become common to the point that I take them for granted, and strangers and co-workers will laugh at his world-weary sighs and groans.
“Is he growling at me?” they ask.
“No, just talking,” I say.
They laugh some more and scratch his chest and he groans some more; a sound of both comfort and plaintive worry, a call awaiting the response.
Home’s getting worse. When I need it for sanctuary, it’s instead a hostile amusement park. I no longer pretend. Asking for peace is turned to treason. Wanted: a little place for an earnest boy and his talking dog. Will trade poems for hardwood floors.