“We’re friends aren’t we Joe?” Billy said just before he stole my girl. That was when I began to think that my dad was right when he said, “The only friend a man has is the money in his pocket.”
My problem has always been not having any friends, in or out of my pocket. There were plenty like Billy who’d pretend to be my friend, but they always revealed their true intent when the time came. In search of a true friend, I went to the pound and found a dog that I thought would stick by me no matter what.
I paid the fee and got the dog as my own. It turned out he used me like all my other friends. He had an agenda of his own and ran away from home the first chance he got. I tried to befriend a cat, to no avail. I went to the Beehive bar and drank a lot of beer. I began to tell any who would listen how even my unfaithful dog had abandoned me.
A voice I didn’t know came from The End of the bar. “Hold on there Joe. Don’t you dare go around badmouthing dogs. Did you ever think that dog you got from the pound may have had a reason to run away?”
“No, because I gave him everything a dog needs,” I hollered down the bar.
A monster of a man with a shaved head, tattooed neck and muscular arms stood up and lumbered from The End of the bar up to where I sat by the door. I was tempted to run out the door before he reached me. But my beer muscles had grown, so I convinced myself I could match his strength if it came to a fight.
I stood and grabbed my empty beer bottle by the neck, ready to smash it onto his bald head. He strode up to me. We stood toe-to-toe, eye to eye, and he said in a growling voice, “Its people like you that require a dog to do things that aren’t natural.”
“Hold on there, King Kong, exactly what are you saying?” I eyed the door. If I hit him, I could probably make it to the door before he could respond.
“I’m saying that the dog that ran away from you only did what any true friend would do.”
“I’m not following you. If he was a true friend, why’d he run off?”
“I didn’t say he was your friend.” He stepped closer and our bellies touched. “I’m saying before he was put in the pound, he had a friend. In the dog’s mind, it was his duty to go and find the friend he already had not to make a new one and forget the old.”
I sat on my stool. I never thought of it that way. So a dog really was a true friend. “You’re right,” I said. “Let me buy you a drink?”
“Before you do, you’ve got to know, when I imagine a dog, I see one designed by Giacometti and then I see one designed by god. Both are assigned to a man. A dog is intended to be desired and designated as a friend to be loved. Instead they’re forced to fight, forced to kill, forced to breed.”
“That’s not always true,” I said, but knew it was true, and I didn’t like to think about it.
“We’ve messed up the world and the lives of many dogs too.” The big man went back to the end of the bar and I watched him for a while.
I drank five more beers and kept my mouth shut while thinking about the lives of dogs. I noticed the big guy had grown hair all over his head. Even his tattoos were covered with thick black hair. I looked out the door and the full moon had risen.
I looked back in time to see he now had a beard and his mouth started to turn into a snout. “Give him a drink,” I told the bartender. He gave him a beer and poured it into a bowl. I watched in horror as the hairy guy lapped the bowl clean with his tongue without ever touching it with his hands. I wasn’t surprised when I looked and saw his hands had become paws.
“Bartender, give me a shot of Jack Daniels to clear my head. I’m seeing a man turning into a dog.”
“Pay Rufus no mind. It’s that time of the month.” He gave me a beer on the house.
“Just a cotton picking minute, you mean to say this guy,” I pointed to the now hairy guy, “turns into a dog every month?”
“Only when the moon is full. If you notice, everyone but you has left.” He swept his arm and for the first time I noticed, every bar stool was empty.
“Why did they leave?”
“Nobody wants to be his friend when he changes like that. In fact you may stay, but I’ve got to go upstairs.” He went from behind the bar to the door leading upstairs.
Once he went through it, I heard locks snapping shut. It was just me and a two hundred pound dog sitting in the bar now. I looked into the dogs round brown eyes and I felt love. I walked down the bar and ran my hand over his hairy head in a friendly pat. He laid on the bar and shook his leg as a signal for me to pat his hairy back. I did. A doggy smile lit his face.
He jumped up and licked my face. I finally found a friend. I scratched his neck and he rubbed up against me. Then he sniffed my hand in a friendly manner, then my crotch and butt. Before I knew it, he was humping away. No wonder he didn’t have any friends.