-Humor – 5 Pages –
Mary Beth awoke with a start.
“What the fu…,” she said, groggily.
She looked around and realized immediately that it had been a dream. But what a strange dream it was. Stranger than most, to be sure. Not necessarily a nightmare; more of a disturbance. After all, it’s not often you hear a voice in your head telling you to, “Eat Pete”. Least that’s what Mary Beth thought she heard. It did sound like that, but the message was coming in faintly like a low howl. “Eeeeaaat Peeeete,” it repeated in her addled brain, almost too silently too hear. Unfortunately, not silently enough. She heard it all right, and the thought put an unease in her, the likes of which she had never felt before.
Pete was her neighbor Mrs. O’Reilly’s dog. And no, Mary Beth didn’t exactly care for Pete, but she didn’t want him dead either. “Do I?” she asked herself. “Well, I definitely don’t want to eat him, that’s for sure. Yuck.” Still, the thought stuck with her throughout the day; kind of like a toothache that kept pounding ever so slightly in her head. Just barely discernable, but there nonetheless.
When she returned home, she was exhausted and rattled. Voices, she had read and heard about, usually came from either: God, Satan, a spirit, or a soon-to-be demented brain. She didn’t like the thought of hearing from any of them.
“Maybe it was just a dream,” she tried to convince herself, as she quickly downed two consecutive shots of Bailey’s Irish Cream. “Though it sure did sound like something or someone outside my own head.” Mary Beth shook the thought from her mind and stared out her kitchen window.
Pete was staring back at her from the lawn next to her driveway. He was an all black Pug. Black as deep, dark night. And drooling, as was his habit. Drooling and snorting. “Gross,” Mary Beth uttered. “Why couldn’t there be a nice Lab over there? They don’t snort, do they?” But what she was thinking was that it would be harder to cook a Lab, or eat one, for that matter. Pete the Pug would easily fit into one of her large cooking pots. Just like a medium-sized chicken. Would probably taste like chicken too, Mary Beth thought. “Doesn’t everything?”
Again, she shook the idea out of her head and walked away from the window and over to the freezer to remove some meat for dinner. She took out some hamburger patties, carefully avoiding the chicken. “I just need a vacation,” she said, as she started to prepare her dinner. “Or a good night’s sleep.” Though by then the thought of sleep fairly terrified her.
Yet, three shots later, and with her stomach full of beef, she warily drifted off into slumber. She dreamt that she was running though a kennel with a meat cleaver in her hand and a possessed look on her face. But no voices. Least not in the dream. The voice didn’t come until just before she woke up. It moaned across her synaptic nerves and rattled her to the quick. “Eeeeaaat Peeeete. Eeeeaaat Peeeete. Eeeeaaat Peeeete.” The sound echoed in an otherwise blank state of post-sleep/pre-wakedom.
“Godamnit!” she yelled as she consciously realized she was hearing the voice again.
Mary Beth threw herself out of bed and rushed to the kitchen for some coffee. “What the fuck is going on?” she asked, as she poured the java into a cup that she grasped with her shaking hands. Just then, she looked up and out her window. Pete was standing on the lawn staring back at her. Just standing and staring. Standing, staring, drooling, and snorting. Snorting like the little devil he was.
“I hate you, Pete,” Mary Beth said, and Pete let off with a series of yapping barks. “Fuck you, Pete,” Mary Beth responded and walked away from the window.
The rest of the day went by in a blur. “Eeeeaaat Peeeete,” frequently reverberated in her brain, but it was her own voice she was hearing this time. Mary Beth knew that couldn’t be a good sign.
She finished her day in a befuddled haze and returned home. She bypassed the kitchen, the kitchen and its large pots, and headed instead for the bathroom, with its medicine cabinet and sleeping pills. “Maybe I can medicate the noise out,” she said as she downed three little, blue tablets. At least that’s what she prayed for.
Then she got undressed and climbed into bed. She tried to think of good, clean thoughts. Of pretty flowers and white sand beaches. No dogs, no kennels, no cleavers, and no drool. But those thoughts managed to whittle their way in. The beach was soon overrun with jet-black pugs, which promptly either ate or pissed on all the flowers. Mary Beth twitched in her sleep as her hand involuntarily whacked at the air above her body. The only drool came from the saliva that trickled from her mouth and ran down her chin.
But again the dream ended and her mind went blank. Sadly, she once again heard the now familiar “Eeeeaaat Peeeete” just before she awoke. Mary Beth was mightily angry as she wiped her chin and hopped out of bed. She stormed into the kitchen and glared out the window. As expected, Pete was glaring back at her. He yapped upon seeing her and pulled at his chain. “Fuck you, Pete. Fuck you,” Mary Beth shouted and ran from the window.
Luckily, it was Saturday, so no work. Mary Beth didn’t think she had it in her to even contemplate working. Instead, she returned to her bedroom and flung herself on the bed. She was exhausted, but petrified at the thought of falling back to sleep. Still, her lids quickly grew heavy and her body sank into the mattress. The last words she said before drifting off were, “Damn dog.”
This time the dream occurred in her kitchen. A huge black pot filled all four burners on her stove and bubbled over with black ooze. Strangely, the dream-state Mary Beth felt a feeling of inner peace and satisfaction at whatever it was she was creating in her kitchen. The sleeping Mary Beth felt it too and woke a short while later on her own accord. No “Eeeeaaat Peeeete” filled her head this time, just a nice, relaxing, “Aaahhh”.
Mary Beth got up and went back to the kitchen. She was starving and wanted to fix herself a huge meal. But just as she was about to retrieve the necessary ingredients, she spotted the large pot on her stove. A pot she hadn’t left there before she went to bed. “Uh oh,” she muttered. She had heard of sleepwalking before, but sleepcooking was a new one. She tentatively inched in closer to the pot and touched the lid. It was hot. And the pot was heavy. Something was cooking inside of it. Something, she had a feeling, was a dog called Pete. With her stomach in knots, she edged towards the window and slowly raised her eyes to look outside. But there was no Pete to be seen. No little, black Pug with its forever-drooling mouth and snorting nose. No yapping, devil-spawned dog anywhere at all. Only a calming peace now pervaded the neighborhood.
Mary Beth looked back towards the pot and grinned and shrugged. “Oh well. What’s done is done,” she said, as she put her oven mitts on and lifted the pot from the stove. “No use crying over spilt…mutt.” She laughed at her little, inside joke. Still, she had no intention of eating the damn thing. She did, however, want it out of her house and her life, forever.
She crept outside and made her way to the garbage can that sat on the sidewalk. Looking away, she pushed the lid off and prepared to dump the pot’s belongings inside. But just before she started to pour, she heard a familiar voice. “Yoo-hoo, Mary Beth.” It was her neighbor, Mrs. O’Reilly. Mrs. O’Reilly, the owner of Pete. Mary Beth gulped and turned to face her neighbor, who was walking up to her even as she repeated her yoo-hooing.
“Morning, Mrs. O’Reilly,” Mary Beth said, forcing a smile on her face.
“Why, it’s just past twelve, dear,” Mrs. O’Reilly replied, grinning from ear to ear.
“Oh, yes. I meant good afternoon.” Mary Beth’s heart wrenched at the thought that she was holding Mrs. O’Reilly’s cooked, dead dog in her sweating, oven-mitted hands. She had nothing against Mrs. O’Reilly, after all, just her dog: Satan’s minion, the evil dog, Pete.
“What do you have there?” she asked Mary Beth. “Smells heavenly.”
Mary Beth felt the twinges of guilt coursing though her veins as Mrs. O’Reilly stood there smiling at her. Poor Mrs. O’Reilly, she thought. But now what was she to do? How could she explain the need to toss away a pot of food all the way outside and not in her own kitchen? That was an odd thing to do, Mary Beth imagined. But before she could think of a suitable explanation, Mrs. O’Reilly added, “Did you cook that for me? You certainly didn’t have to go through all that trouble, dear. But it sure is sweet of you.”
Mary Beth just stood there in shock and nodded. “Um, yeah, for you,” she managed to say in utter horror.
“Well, you’re too kind. And I accept. Bring it on into the house, dear. I was just about to start lunch, so your timing is perfect.”
Mary Beth was thinking just the opposite, but followed Mrs. O’Reilly through her house and into her kitchen. She winced each time she past one of Pete’s toys scattered about. “No more play time for Pete,” she mumbled to herself.
“What’s that dear?” Mrs. O’Reilly asked, as she took the pot and set it down on the stove.
“Oh, um, I asked where that playful Pete was.”
“Pete? Don’t know, dear. Guess he’s sleeping somewhere.”
Closer than you know, Mary Beth thought to herself. But said instead, “Okay then, well, enjoy your lunch.” And then turned to go back to her own home.
“Nonsense, dear. You went through all this trouble. It would be an insult on my part if I didn’t insist that you sit down and share this wonderful meal with me.” Again, Mrs. O’Reilly lit up with a smile and crossed her arms over her ample bosom. Mary Beth felt the beads of sweat forming on her forehead as she nodded a yes and sat down at the kitchen table.
“Sure,” Mary Beth said. “Of course.”
Mrs. O’Reilly gave a motherly chuckle and set the table. Then she asked, “And what are we having today?”
“Secret family recipe. If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”
Mrs. O’Reilly stared at Mary Beth and then broke out in a howl of laughter. “Oh dear, that would be a shame. Okay then, your secret is safe.”
Mary Beth hoped as much. One murder a day was plenty. Still, she thought, if need be…
But before she could finish the notion, Mrs. O’Reilly set two bowls of steaming hot soup down on the table. “Looks divine,” she said, before sitting down to join Mary Beth, who was thinking that it looked more like hell; which was where she pictured little Pete now romping and snorting to his evil little heart’s content.
Mary Beth watched as Mrs. O’Reilly spooned a hearty mouthful down her gullet. “Mmm, tastes like chicken,” she practically purred.
“It would,” Mary Beth whispered.
“What’s that, dear?”
“I said it should, that’s what it is. Chicken.” Again, Mary Beth watched as Mrs. O’Reilly pigged out on Pug.
“Eat up, dear. It’s getting cold,” Mrs. O’Reilly admonished as she devoured her meal.
Mary Beth sat there and stared down at the gruel. Chunks of grizzled meat floated to the oily surface, intermingling with the carrots and potatoes. She nearly tossed her cookies as she ladled the soup onto her spoon. In her head, she heard her own voice saying, “Eeeeaaat Peeeete. Eeeeaaat Peeeete. Eeeeaaat Peeeete.” To which she then did.
The feeling of tender meat to teeth instantly filled her with an insatiable appetite, and she eagerly downed spoonful after heaping spoonful. That is until Mrs. O’Reilly broke the silence with, “Pete would love this. Chicken’s his favorite.”
Mary Beth nearly choked on her mouthful as she watched Mrs. O’Reilly stand up and shout for her dog. But there was no reply. How could there be, she thought. Mary Beth set the spoon in her bowl and felt the pangs of guilt join the broth in her stomach.
Mrs. O’Reilly sat back down and turned to Mary Beth. “Pete’s been somewhat ill lately. Bladder problems. Guess it comes with age. Poor dear can’t seem go to the bathroom. I’ve been keeping him out on the lawn a lot in the hopes that between his medicine and the grass, he’ll go, but it just seems to build up and stay within him.”
Just then, Mary Beth had a terrifying thought that bolted through her brain and out her lips. “Um, Mrs. O’Reilly, have you been standing out there in the morning encouraging him?”
“Why yes dear, I have. I hope I didn’t disturb you with my singing. I thought that by crooning ‘Peeeee Peeet’ to him it might help. Guess I’m just a foolish old woman who loves her doggie.”
Mary Beth felt the meat inside her stomach start to churn and gurgle. “Pee Pete” sure did sound a lot like “Eat Pete”, she thought, trying to assuage her guilt. But her remorse just kept on building and building, burning her stomach like an acid fire, until the dam finally broke and a torrent of tears came pouring out of her eyes.
“I’m so sorry, Mrs. O’Reilly. I’m so, so sorry,” she kept blubbering.
“My goodness, dear. I didn’t know you were so fond of my little Pete. But it’s just a little bladder problem. Nothing that should eat you up inside.” At hearing that, Mary Beth moaned even louder, sending her lament out throughout Mrs. O’Reilly’s house and right into a certain dog’s ears.
Pete came bounding in a short while later and looked up at the sobbing Mary Beth in bewilderment. He snorted, drooled, and leapt up onto her lap. Mary Beth looked up and her heart filled with unbridled joy. “Oh, Pete, you’re alive. You’re alive!” she shouted into the dog’s face as she smothered him with kisses. With all the excitement, Pete promptly peed all over Mary Beth’s lap.
Mrs. O’Reilly looked on in stunned amazement at Mary Beth’s reaction, but then gave a relieved smile at finally seeing her pet go pee-pee. Upon feeling the warmth of Pete’s emission streaming down her leg, Mary Beth looked the dog square in the face and watched as he sat there snorting and drooling in amusement at his achievement. A sinister thought raced to her head and perched in the forefront of her mind.
“Well, Mrs. O’Reilly, I better go home and change. Glad you enjoyed the lunch. Mind if I take little Pete here for a walk later? Maybe it will help him go some more.”
“That would be lovely, dear,” Mrs. O’Reilly said, and smiled her big, motherly smile. “And thank you again for the soup. It was delicious. Here, I’ll just give you the pot back and you can get going.”
“Oh no, Mrs. O’Reilly, you keep it for now. I have a much bigger one at home. A muuuuch bigger one.”
Mrs. O’Reilly nodded and looked down at her dog lovingly. Pete, at the time, was once again peeing, this time with good reason.