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12/18/99 The Merge Concept
11/19/99 Degrees of Sickness
10/24/99 The Finger Game
10/14/99 Learning Very Slowly
09/26/99 Serfs Up
09/04/99 Kindergarten
08/15/99 The Son Also Rises
08/06/99 Time to Listen

Satan's Hound

Once upon a time, there lived a ragged little dog that I called Satan's Hound. Right here in Agoura. Right next door to yours truly. It was one of those poodle-like dogs with bloodshot eyes and a curly-Q tail. It was just so big that it may as well have been a cat. Unlike a cat, however, this creature barked like there was no tomorrow. Two in the morning, four in the afternoon -- it didn't matter. Satan's Hound never ran out of breath. It wasn't a real bark, either. It was one of those piercing, toy-like barks that reverberate against your spine.

Not too long ago, I came home sick from work with the intent of taking a nap. The doctor said that I had better get some exercise or look forward to a lot of short days and long illnesses.

"I know, I know," I said, finishing my Snickers.

Arriving home, I slipped into my nakedness, into my bed, and finally into a blissful state of unconcern. Just as my eyelids began to twitch, there rose from that den next door a noise. A familiar noise. That tiny, shrill, I-will-never-run-out-of-air bark from Satan's Hound.

I sat up immediately with anger spasms. The injustice pulsed through the veins in my forehead.

I had to call my lady to vent, such was her lot in life. She knew very well how I felt about Satan's Hound, who tormented me not only on a practical level -- as in "I need some sleep, dammit" -- but on a principle level as well. Here was this annoying little beast that continually held the neighbors hostage with its brainless yapping. No one within 100 yards could sleep, read, talk, or, most important, watch t.v. In my not-so-humble opinion, it was unacceptable.

Done venting, I said, "There's always poisoning..."

To which my lady responded, "It's not the dog's fault. He's out there all alone and doesn't know any better. It's the owners' fault."

To which I responded, "I was talking about the owners..."

Yes, it was the owners' fault. I decided to get angry at them for a while. (I hadn't been angry in days, so it was time to binge.) The neighbors, I decided, were holding us hostage with their indecency and idiocy and, and, idiocy. The owners should pay for letting their dog bark its demonic little head off at all hours of the day.

It was also Nature's fault for giving vocal chords to a creature that had no brain. If evolution had functioned properly, this dog wouldn't be barking at a shadow on the fence outside. And if being mute put that dog at a disadvantage to survive in the world... that's the way the Milk-Bone crumbles.

So here's what I did. I modified my sleeping patterns by going to bed the moment I got home from work. That way, I was wide awake at three in the morning, which happened to be a perfect time to get that exercise I needed. Since there wasn't a lot of space inside my house, I decided to do calisthenics in the neighbors' yard.

Almost instantly, Satan's Hound was at the window barking in such a high-pitched tone that I thought the glass would shatter. When the light came on upstairs, I finished my calisthenics and bolted out for a jog.

Once the commotion subsided, I returned from my jog and began doing jumping jacks in the neighbors' yard. Again came the barking, again came the light upstairs, and away I ran. Rinse and repeat, and so it went for several weeks until one morning at three a.m., I noticed that I was jumping my jacks all alone. There was no barking. No excitement at all. It was, like, quiet.

It turns out that the neighbors had decided to get rid of their dog at long last. Their work had begun to suffer from lack of sleep. Perhaps they returned the dog to hell, its birthplace. And so my ruse came to an end, allowing me to return to a diurnal lifestyle.

Recently, the neighbors got a new pet. I was happy to see that it was a quiet little Calico cat. Until last night, when I heard this vexatious scratching at the window...

Once the commotion subsided, I returned from my jog and began doing jumping jacks in the neighbors' yard. Again, the light came on upstairs and away I jogged. Rinse and repeat, and so it went for several weeks until one morning at three AM, I noticed that I was jumping my jacks all alone. There was no barking. No excitement at all. It was, like, quiet. It turns out that the neighbors had decided to get rid of their dog at long last. Their work had begun to suffer from lack of sleep. Perhaps they returned the dog to hell, its rightful home. And so my little ruse came to an end, allowing me to return to a diurnal lifestyle.

Recently, the neighbors got a new pet. I was happy to see that it was a quiet little Calico cat. Until yesterday, when I heard this vexatious scratching at the window...

 



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