(Started: 2:50pm. Ended: 3:06pm. Total time: 16 minutes)

D is for Dog Suit

Sam wanted to by fuzzy. Not furry, not like those crazy people who got dressed in bear outfits and fox costumes and rubbed noses (and worse, so much worse, tails and ears and mouths and long, lolling tongues) with each other at conventions. No, he was aiming for fuzzy. Like a well-worn blanket. Like a baby chicken under a heat lamp.

That was normal, wasn’t it? A want for fuzzies, soft warm fuzzies? Isn’t that what most people went when they said they wanted to find love? Or food? Or a house of their own? They wanted something that would make their heart grow moss, make their bones go to velvet and become pet-able. Touchable.

He’d found it in the garbage outside a 7-11. Stuffed in among a perfectly good half-eaten candy bar and and a Big Gulp, which miraculously, had not spilled. The suit was brown and white, spotted everywhere except along the belly and the zipper. The hood came up like a head, with dark brown ears and a couple of badly sewn eyes. The ears were ragged on the edges — the tail too, the end drooping — but it was mostly clean. And warm. And, despite where he’d found it, still mostly fuzzy.

Sam had a little trouble with the zipper. It was gummed up at the bottom with something. Probably why someone had thrown it away. He yanked at it a while, and made it work and then he put it on.

A bunch of boys in a big truck pulled into the parking lot. They spilled out of the high doors like viruses.

“Dude, you’ve got a dog suit on! What are you selling? Ooh, want a bone, boy? Here boy!”

He stayed where he was, watching. The suit looked like a dog, yes, but that wasn’t the point. It wasn’t what he was aiming for. Couldn’t they tell? He would have told them himself, but inside the suit, he was mute. Doglike. Even his paws — hands, his hands — wouldn’t curl into fists. They stayed straight, useless fabric nails, not even good for scratching himself.

“Bone, boy? Come on, we’ll give you a treat!”

The boy, the littlest, but the one who’d been driving, came over to him, a hand on the dark part of his jeans, the place where is hips joined. He slid his hips forward.

Obscene, thought Sam. Gross. This what was wrong with people. They had no fuzz, no moss, no velvet. Just the hard edges of broken bones and sharp teeth and edged words. Cutting. Gnawing.

He licked his lips. His own teeth felt flat and soft.

The boy, the little one, took his belt off. Growling, Sam fell back. No, he wouldn’t do that. He wasn’t a dog.

“Down,” the boy said.

His voice was soft, quiet. Not like the others. Sam tried to prick up his ears –it was hard to hear in the suit — but he couldn’t make them move.

Sam fell to his knees, still growling, saliva in his throat.

The boy looped his belt around Sam’s neck. “Good doggy,” he said. “Come here, boy.”

The boy began to whistle, strolling backwards, tugging the belt. Behind him, the other boys moved, grew loud. He crawled forward on his not-paws, his hind-end tilting with each movement. Someone grabbed his tail, ripped it off. The man in the dog suit could hear it go, felt the air enter where the suit split. Another tugged on his ear, laughing.

The boy with the belt leaned in, touched the dog’s cheek with the softest of fingers.

The dog whined, low in his throat, and bent his head toward the feathered touch.

***

PS — I think this story was probably inspired by something I read long ago (maybe from Amy Hemple? Something about a man in the dog suit at the end of the world? I don’t know — as soon as the D is for Dog Suit came to me, I had this flash from an old story).

PPS — Read the whole list of Quick Fiction: A to Z stories (as well as the premise) here.

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