Caution: The following post contains strong language.
Nobody warned me about the hazards of a writing fellowship. Consequently, I contracted a painful case of “Writer’s Neck.” While colleagues insisted suffering breeds creativity, I sought relief from Ms. V, the Main Street masseuse. Talk about relief! My Vermont muscle-rubber kneaded me like sourdough.
Stretched out on the slab and slathered in sandalwood oil, I submitted to Ms. V. Randy shed vicarious muscle tension and fell to dozing. Gas Music from Venus wafted from the digital boom box. Then the sandalwood oil bottle hit the floor. Randy retrieved. “Good boy,” said Ms. V.
But in Randy, the scent and taste had triggered the call of the wild. He licked the oil off my foot. He licked the floor where the bottle fell. “There’s nothing there,” said Ms. V.
“That won’t stop him,” I said. “Not once he’s got the taste.”
“But there’s nothing there,” repeated Ms. V.
“I hope you’re right,” I said. “I’ve borne witness to Randy’s gastrointestinal misadventures and they rival Vesuvius.” Randy licked my other foot. I shooed him away.
“Don’t worry,” said Ms. V. “Those slurping noises are just from the little bit in his mouth. Oil doesn’t dissolve, you know. It lingers. He’ll be OK.”
I formed my response carefully. Too strident was whining. Too casual was ineffectual. I said, “He’ll shit like a goose.”
The phrase hung like a southbound gander, then plopped to the floor along with the sandalwood oil bottle. “Oops, slippery” said Ms. V, then hastily added, “Don’t worry. Nothing spilled. Everything’s all right.”
Hours later now, I’m hunched over my keyboard, undoing all the good work of Ms. V. Randy is sacked out. He twitches in sleep. Chasing rabbits by the river? Closing on that solitary gander winging south? Someone’s stomach rumbles. I massage my writer’s neck. The skin is slick, the scent is sandalwood.