Monday, September 19, 2016

Vignettes by Me, on Themes Picked Randomly: Day 19

Theme 241: Cynicism

The affectionate russet-gold Lancashire Heeler, named Diogenes by his late classics professor master, nuzzled the upheld palms of Enodia, the veterinary intern in the animal shelter’s intake vestibule, upon bounding from the wire trap he had been brought in, once Eugene, the animal control officer, released the trap’s door. Diogenes ducked and laid his head upon Enodia’s lap. She was crouching on the celadon tiles before the swinging aluminum door that lead to Dog Control One and the procedure labs. The gleaming marbles of Diogenes’ eyes looking up into Enodia’s own made her smile, even though the wet bib of his coat had dampened her slacks.

When Enodia noticed that Eugene was staring grimly at the floor, however, leaning against the frame of the roll door opening out onto his truck and thumbing the handle of the taser on his belt, she turned her attention to the clipboard, which held forms to be signed by the lead veterinarian, left atop the trap by Eugene. She immediately saw the words TERMINATE WITHOUT DELAY printed in block letters near the top of the first form.

“What did he do? He seems so friendly,” Enodia inquired, a quiver breaking into her voice. Her smile had vanished, and her face had drained of blood.

“You don’t want to know,” Eugene croaked, planting his stare in the ground, stiffly avoiding glancing in the dog’s direction.

“I don’t?” Enodia asked in a high, precatory tone.

This question triggered a flash of the dreaded image in Eugene’s mind again: after meeting the neighbor who had put in the call outside, Eugene had pushed open the front door of the professor’s condo with his bite stick to reveal Diogenes the dog standing on the arm of the sofa where his owner had died, looking up at Eugene with stringy, moist strips of tendons from his master’s brachioradalis muscle dangling from his chops, greeting him with the same friendly, eager eyes. Diogenes had devoured large chucks of the professor’s right forearm, leaving tooth holes in the tattered skin around the professor’s wrist and drenching the dogs fury bib and chin with congealing deep crimson blood. Medics later determined that the professor had been dead for less than two hours when Diogenes decided to start eating him.

“His owner—he died of an aneurysm, but the corpse—the arm stripped to the bone—like leg of lamb …” Eugene trailed off and turned away, looking out to his truck and holding his hand over his mouth.

“Oh,” Enodia said. She looked down at Diogenes, and it dawned on her why his coat was wet: he had been hosed down to rinse the human gore from his fur. Growing algid, she pushed Diogenes away slowly, took a leash down from the wall, and carefully attached it to Diogenes’ collar without touching his hide. She took up the clipboard and led Diogenes through the swinging metal door, beyond which he would soon be anesthetized in a procedure lab. Eugene was visibly relieved when the dog left his presence. 

Diogenes, for his part, was still happily wagging his tail and looking all around with his shining eyes, eager to meet new people and make new friends.

Explanatory Postscript: When I say “picked randomly,” I mean picked from a Master List that I’ve compiled of 999 themes intended to serve as creative writing prompts (from the following sources: 501 Writing Prompts; 25 Creative Writing Prompts; Examples of Themes; List of Themes; 365 Creative Writing Prompts; 100 Themes Challenge Writing Prompts; List of Journal Ideas; and Top 10 Types of Story Themes). To pick a theme at random, I roll three ten-sided dice (the first for the hundreds place digit, the second for the tens, and the third for the singles) and find the theme under the number I have rolled. If I hit a theme I have already written on, I roll again. If I ever roll 000, I make up a theme. The Master List is a secret, so don’t ask for it.

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