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The Present Tense © 2011, by Ellen Hecht, All Rights Reserved

A high pitched keening, growing in intensity, wakes Elmo up from napping on the recliner. He groans. What is that? He licks a finger, sticks it in his ear, jiggles it and pulls it out with a “pop.” The technique usually stops the occasional ringing in his right ear, but it persists and rises to a shriek.
“Ruby! Turn off the damn tea kettle!”
“Turn it off yourself!” she yells from the other end of their rusted, single-wide mobile home.
Shoving Ruby’s prize pit bull off his lap, Elmo struggles to his feet. Diego’s bloodshot eyes blaze. Without warning, the dog removes a three-inch area of flesh from Elmo’s calf.
Dr. Linda McBride, the local vet, checks the dog over and pronounces him fine. As an afterthought, she obligingly stitches up the hole in Elmo’s leg.
Earlene and Vern Heartstrong, who live next door to Ruby and Elmo, wait their turn. Their poodle, Barcelona, has a nasty rash on her rump. She shows her disdain by peeing strategically in the center of the waiting room floor.
Back home over tea, Ruby chats with Alison Kodiac, their neighbor on the other side. Ruby tells her about Diego attacking Elmo, and another area of concern, the dog’s libido. He constantly humps Barcelona, not to mention Ruby’s knee and various inanimate objects. It’s like he’s on sex pills or something. While on the topic, Ruby confides that Elmo is sexually indifferent. Alison promises to phone her brother, a proctologist in Duluth, to write him a prescription for Viagra.
At noon, while Elmo clips her toenails, Ruby sifts through the mail. There’s coupons addressed to “Occupant,” an ad from an adult bookstore, and an invitation to an open house celebrating McBride’s 10 years in practice.
Next door, Earlene makes lunch. She wipes the Miracle Whip off, and uses the knife to open her invitation from the vet.
Alison returns home to find her invitation, noting with pleasure that her Siamese is also invited.
On the appointed day Earlene phones Ruby to remind her, drags Vern from the sofa, scoops up Barcelona and leaves for McBride’s Veterinary Clinic.
Alison bikes over to McBride’s, arriving out of breath and sweating makeup. Her cat looks indignant stuffed into a pouch attached to the handlebars.
At this point, the author finds the story boring, the characters disagreeable and decides to quickly kill them off.
So, about midway through their consumption of the hors d’oerves, they hear an enormous rumble. Startled, Diego stops humping the leg of a chair. Beneath McBride’s Clinic, the earth heaves. A gigantic rift widens swallowing the whole building including the parking lot. There is a slight aftershock, then stillness.
Although it’s a shame to end a story with the waste of a perfectly good buffet, the author is certain that putting the characters out of their misery is an act of kindness. It must have been making them tense while forced by the writer to live constantly in the present.
The End.

Dear Reader: If you enjoyed this story, I invite you to visit my short story folder:

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More of a slice of life – a vignette if you will – than a story – it is the writer’s experiment in creating a sense of reality and snuffing it out.


dogs, vet, veterinarian, short story, pets, cats, humor, irony

I am a photographer and a writer. If you enjoy odd, short stories, I have a folder in my RB portfolio titled “Short Stories / Writing.”

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  • John Dicandia  ( JinnDoW )
    John Dicandia ...over 2 years ago

    So it ends with mother nature. The great leveler. Brilliant write Ellen.

  • Thank you for taking the time and for the virtual applause. Hope you got a little chuckle from it. I’m adding a few more recent pieces to the collection – I’ll send you the entire thing by email attachment over the weekend.
    Ellen ; D

    – waddleudo

  • Michael McCasland
    Michael McCaslandover 2 years ago

    You CRACK me up. LMAO.

  • Good!

    – waddleudo

  • Jen Wahl
    Jen Wahlover 2 years ago

    Lol…. :) love it.

  • So happy you liked it. May I invite you to read more of my short stories? I enjoy entertaining folks!!
    Cordially, Ellen

    – waddleudo

  • Joseph  Tillman
    Joseph Tillmanalmost 2 years ago

    I was anticipating a different ending, but this caught me off guard. Very nice Ellen:-)

  • Thank you, Joe. Its called a twist but I’m curious what ending you anticipated?

    – waddleudo

  • Corri Gryting Gutzman
    Corri Gryting ...almost 2 years ago

    Love it!

  • Hi Corri! Thank you so much for taking the time to read the story and leaving a nice comment. I went to your site and saw you are an avid reader. So, if you’d like to, I invite you to read some of my other stories. I sure would like to get your reaction!
    Cordially, Ellen
    Here you go.

    – waddleudo

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