Country Swan Song

From Today’s Author: It was then that he realized his luck was about to turn.

First, his beloved dog of twelve years died. She had a seizure while he was out on a date with a girl who cringed at cowboy hats and swallowed her vomit at the word ‘yeehaw’. He wasted his time exaggerating his knowledge of microbreweries just to impress her, while his dog was seizing at home. She would flail her legs like she was running for her well-loved tennis ball and then roll over on her back, legs straight up in the air, eventually coming-to by gently rolling on to her side and letting out a few heavy breaths. Afterward, she would attempt to walk, but only bumped her petite, black nose into the nearest object for the first few minutes. Imagine one of those vacuum robots trapped in a corner, cleaning the same spot over and over – that was his dog, adorable and sad.

But that girl, that he was sitting across from for the sixth or seventh time, watching him shovel fork-full after fork-full of Shepard’s Pie into his mouth, was also adorable. He really liked her. She could potentially be his future wife. She could potentially learn to like new country music. She hated country music and didn’t believe in marriage, but he could change all that, right?

Just as they were debating on ordering another beer, his roommate called to tell him that his dog was gone.

“Gone? What do you mean gone?” he said, giving up another chug of Smithwicks to focus on the conversation.

“I mean gone as in she took off running down the street.” his roommate replied. “I’m going to do look for her.”

“Alright, we’re going to leave now.” Feeling a sense of urgency, he poured the rest of his mostly full beer down his gullet, pounded the glass on the table and looked at his date. “We have to go. Macy’s disappeared.” The check came and went, his date left about half her dinner on her plate, (such a waste of some delicious fish and chips) but they HAD to go.

His luck would continue to take a turn farther down into a proverbial ditch, tires becoming further engulfed by mud and without a working flashlight to assess the damage. All that would be missing would be Michael Meyers hiding in the bed of his truck, ready to spill some blood. That’s how his night was about to go, minus the murder and what-not. Inconveniently, his truck died on the way back home. It stalled-out on the side of the freeway while they were still ten miles away from rescuing Macy. No murderous psycho lurking in the shadows, but the moment might as well have been equally suspenseful. He smashed his fist into the dash.

“It’s okay, I’m sure it’s just your battery.” his date said, casual and calm.

“No, it was making a weird sound.” He forcefully got out of the truck, flashlight in hand, and went to open the hood. He peered in for a few sections, scanning aimlessly around the engine block and mesh of tubes and electrical wiring. His date appeared a few seconds later, a virtually unused roll of electrical tape in hand. “Great, I could some of that.”

She handed him the tape and his put it around his wrist, continuing to scan the mechanical life-force of his truck.

“Do you even know what you are looking at?”

“Of course I do. I work on motorcycles for a living, so I think I’m very mechanically inclined.” How dare she question his technical skills!

“Not trying to emasculate your manhood or anything, but if you want to get home faster, I could just tell you what’s wrong.”

“You don’t know anything about cars.” Not realizing he initiated a challenge, she snatched the electrical tape from his wrist, tore off a few small pieces, and patched some exposed wiring to the battery.

“Start the engine.”

“That’s not the problem. That’s not going to fix anything.”

“Your battery wires were loose. Start the engine.”

Begrudgingly, he climbed back into the driver’s seat and started the engine. He sat there for a moment, dumbfounded and slightly annoyed. His date got back into the truck, and they sat in silence for a few moments, listening to the roar of of a V-8.

“You’re welcome.” She said. Her sarcasm and slight amusement was lost to him, though. He put the truck in gear and shotgunned into the fast lane.

***

After spending close to an hour scouring the neighborhood for his dog, the three of them ended up back at his house. He left his roommate in the living room, sunken into their overused green couch, socked feet up on the coffee table, and a beer in hand (one of those beers that taste piss water) to start drafting a “MISSING” flyer at the kitchen table. He brought along a bottle of his favorite whiskey – medicine without a spoon. After completely loosing track of the time, his date wandered into the kitchen. She stood over him for a minute, just watching him stare at the “MISSING” poster while clutching a half-empty whiskey bottle with both callused hands.

“I’m going to take off.”

He jerked his head up. “Huh? Oh, okay.”

“Sorry about Macy.”

He grumbled something unintelligible, then lead the way to the front door, whiskey taking precedence over opening it. His date saw herself to the front porch.

“Hey!” He called, leaning against the door frame. “When do you want to get together again?”

“Um…you know, I’m not sure. Actually, I think we shouldn’t see each other anymore.”

“What?” His face and mouth sloped downward with uncontrollable drunken numbness.

“I think you heard me.”

He had, but he didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of showing more sadness, so he scoffed, “Well, fine then. Your loss!”

“By the way, there is something else wrong with your truck.” And one pivot later, she was completely off the porch. He watched her get into her little economy car and drive away from the door frame, the drunken fool in him trying to antagonize a few tears.

***

The next morning, his luck really did take a turn for the worst. He remembered that his almost-girlfriend left him on his own porch, and if that wasn’t bad enough, he got a call from an animal shelter; animal control brought Macy in with severe injuries and she, unfortunately, did not make it through the night. But wait…when he got into his truck to go claim his dog’s body, his truck wouldn’t start. His date was right; there really was something else wrong.

His life became a cliché country song.

He finally cried.

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