2018-08-04 15:34 short-story elixir fiction Benjamin Brood

Doghouse

There was a man in the doghouse, in his doghouse.

It was a rainy morning, the lawn and shrubs in the backyard were a sort of drenched, satisfying green that only happens at the very height of summer. As he woke up, poured his coffee, and looked out the sliding glass door, he noticed a man climbing out of the doghouse, standing, stretching.

He took another sip of coffee and looked harder. Why was there a man in his doghouse? It was his doghouse, but it was built by the previous owner, he did not, in fact, own a dog. He'd always intended to dismantle the thing, but on several occasions when he was really determined to do it, he went back there with hammer in hand and then was reminded how insidiously solid it was, constructed to last — it would be hard to take down. It was large, and it had been for a large dog.

The man continued stretching for a few moments then sat back down on the edge of the entrance, his back slumped, and casually scratched his face which was covered with a few days of beard. The man seemed to be staring at nothing in particular.

After placing his coffee down he opened the sliding glass door. It was a large yard, long, with trees behind the property. He had to walk through the wet grass in his slippers before he could be close enough to the man to be heard.

"Excuse me," he said.

The man looked up, without any reaction, stopped his scratching. The man said nothing.

"Excuse me, you can't be here, this is private property," he said.

The man still said nothing, but stared at him, blinking.

"Do you understand? Do you need help? You can't stay here," he tried strengthening his tone. The man did and said nothing. "Why are you in my doghouse? Do you think you're a dog?" he said, becoming frustrated.

The man looked suddenly offended. "Of course I'm not a dog," the man said.

"Well good then, fine. You have to leave. If you don't leave, I'll call the police," he said.

The man shrugged, averting his eyes, looking back towards something indistinct. "Maybe you should," the man said.

He didn't know what to say. Why was the man being so difficult? He didn't appear like he was violent, or ill — simply that he didn't care. He stood there for a moment, jaw hanging open, then turned and went back into the house. He thought for a moment, drank some of his coffee. "I guess I have to call the police," he said to himself.

He dialed the local police number instead of 911. It wasn't an emergency, not a life threatening emergency anyway. He looked out the window as he dialed. The man was just sitting there. Someone at the police station picked up.

"Hello? I'd like to report a trespasser. A man, a man is sitting in my doghouse," he said.

"I see. A man is sitting in your doghouse," the voice said.

"Yes. And he won't leave," he said.

"Alright. And you want him to leave?" the voice said.

"Yes, yes of course I want him to leave," he said.

"I see. And may I ask sir, do you, at this time, own a dog?" the voice inquired.

"What?" he was becoming flustered.

"Just getting a better idea of the situation sir. Do you have a dog?" the voice said.

"I… Why, no, no, I don't have a dog. The man, he's sitting in my doghouse," he said, believing it might help if he restated the facts.

"I understand that, as you've said sir. But you don't have a dog? Why do you have a doghouse?" the voice said.

"I don't know, it was here when I bought the house. The previous owner must've had a dog," he said.

"Well, you know, these days, it's very hard to find a place, a good place to live I mean," the voice stated.

"Is it? I mean… so what?" he didn't know how to make the officer, or whoever was on the other end, understand that the man was sitting in his doghouse. "I mean — the man — he's in my doghouse!"

"And yet, you don't have a dog. It sounds like you don't even want a dog. The doghouse has been empty, is that correct? And now the man is in your doghouse. You see what I'm getting at here?" the voice said evenly.

"No! I absolutely don't see. I absolutely don't understand. You need to come get this man out of my doghouse — my doghouse!" he was becoming irate, these events were intolerable.

"Calm down sir. I think you need to calm down. Think about the man and the fact the doghouse was empty. Certainly there's some agreement that the doghouse wasn't being used or ever intended to be used. Why didn't you remove the doghouse? That would be the first thing I would think, honestly, if you were to ask me about it beforehand. But now the man is there? You see what I'm saying. The man, the man is in the doghouse. Now what I'd like you to do…" the voice said.

"To do.. you want me to do…" he said, stupefied.

The voice continued, "…is to put down the phone and just get back to your normal routine. Everything will be fine. Keep an eye on the man, in your doghouse, for any unusual behavior, or signs of sickness. If that's the case, then by all means call us back. But for the moment, the man is in your doghouse. Do I make myself clear?"

"I don't…" he said, trying to think about what was being said.

"Have I made myself clear? Yes, I think I have. Well, I'm glad we could resolve the issue. Have a good day sir. Goodbye," the voice said. Then he heard a click and dial tone, the voice had hung up. He put the handset back into the cradle.

He stared at the phone for some time. It didn't make any sense, did it? I mean the officer is right, he thought, that the doghouse was empty and I have no dog. Is this the way things are dealt with these days? When was the last time I ever called the police? The more he thought about it all, the more unsure he was about the situation and his reaction. He sat at his table and drank his coffee and stared out the sliding glass door at the man in the doghouse. The man was scratching himself again, but otherwise not doing much of anything. I hope the man doesn't have fleas, he thought.

That afternoon he poured some milk into a large, round porcelain bowl and filled it with corn flakes. He walked out back across the lawn again to the doghouse where the man was sleeping. He quietly placed the bowl on the ground.