The Long Drink

Every night, like clockwork, the dog would approach his bowl. And every night, he would lap up the water for about five minutes straight. And every night, Jerry considered reaching for his rifle by the door and putting a bullet right in the back of Salinger’s head. That’s what Tabitha had named him. When she told Jerry, after he moved in, that she named the spaniel in honor of her favorite author, he was disgusted. Something in him completely snapped. Who the fuck did she think she was? Some kind of pretentious readin’ sort of folk? That wasn’t the woman he “fell in love” with. Or at least not the woman’s pussy he entered most regularly.

He felt betrayed when he took a closer look at the home he had just moved into. The bookshelf was filled with curious titles, a lot of them about loving yourself and other liberal mumbo jumbo. Catcher in the Rye seemed extraordinarily out of place within such a context. Jerry vaguely remembered that even though it was a short book, he couldn’t be bothered to read any of it in high school. He just knew it was about some whiny faggot who ended up being institutionalized for being a faggot. What was so interesting about that? What made it worth examining the “prose” in such depth? He kept these thoughts to himself that first night, when they shared an inaugural dinner as a couple who lived together. Or rather, their inaugural dinner of Jerry taking full advantage of the benefits of Tabitha believing she was in love with him.

So in love, in fact, that she had “allowed” him to bring his gun collection into the house. Including the muzzleloader that now rested comfortably near the door. Despite how uneasy it made Tabitha, she knew they lived in a conservative county, where guns were just part of one’s day-to-day norm. That she shouldn’t think too much of it. Jerry took advantage of that “love haze.” He was no stranger to the perks of getting a woman to become enamored of him. It was how he managed to stay unemployed for so long, pretending all the while that he had simply “fallen on hard times.” The more accurate assessment was that these women foolishly fell on his hard dick, and saw something in him that made them want to take care of Jerry.

He reckoned he was always looking for a mother figure, and this was the result. Along with being saddled with women who tended be, well, annoying as all get-out. He didn’t share a common interest with a one of them–and certainly not Tabitha’s newly unearthed “literary” predilections. If Jerry himself had any knowledge of literature, he might know that J. D. Salinger was no grand maestro. But to someone like Jer, that’s how it came across. He also hadn’t bargained on this fucking dog. For some reason, it never occurred to him that she had one. They were always meeting up at the local saloon and then fucking in the parking lot in his car afterward. He should’ve thought to ask, he supposed. But for some reason, she struck him as just another cat lady.

Oh how wrong he was. For upon entering the tastelessly decorated home, he could see there were framed portraits of dogs everywhere. Just random dogs. Not even Salinger. Magnets on the refrigerator. “This house is a happy home because a dog lives here” needlepoint pillows. And then, lo and behold, there was the dog himself. A black spaniel. A specter of dominion and control over the household. So long as he was around, Jerry would forever play second fiddle. If his very presence alone wasn’t vexing, the long drink he took each night was bound to drive Jerry to despise the offending canine.

Lap, lap, lap, lap. Ad nauseam, it seemed. The sound made him bristle almost as much as Tabitha’s horrendous cuisine. Tonight was an especially foul meal. Some kind of attempt at a spinach casserole… that looked more like a faulty soup with uncooked bread crumbs sprinkled all over it. He wanted to hurl. His irritation was reaching a crescendo when the time came for Salinger to perform his nightly ritual. The long fucking drink. That’s when he realized he had no idea what the hell he had been waiting for. Now that he was “in like Flynn” (to use a grotesque Errol reference), what was the point of putting on this charade? This ruse that he gave one single damn about Tabitha or her fucking dog. And that’s when the bluebeard’s urge came over him, as he made a beeline for the gun, intending to shoot Tabitha in the head first, and then the dog as it was distracted with its precious water bowl.

But Jerry didn’t bank on Salinger being so quick and alert. Didn’t think he could ever be torn away from taking that damned drink. He never anticipated that Salinger would go completely Cujo, lunging across the room, suspended in midair like one of those Cirque du Soleil “freaks.” He reached Jerry with plenty of time to keep him from pulling the trigger, gnawing his face off until Tabitha finally shouted, “Salinger, that’s enough!” Salinger backed down immediately, ever the obedient pup to his master.

Jerry lay on the floor, utterly decimated. He was still alive, but that wouldn’t last. Not if Tabitha had anything to say about it. Having been made a fool of, the love spell he had cast over her was now broken, and all she wanted was for Salinger to finish him off. But there was just one final touch required. She went over to the water bowl, picked it up and placed it right beside Jerry’s head.

She then sweetly instructed Salinger to drink, which he proceeded to do for as long as was necessary, until Jerry’s ears seemingly exploded (they were dripping blood, after all) and the entire ordeal sent him into a kind of cardiac arrest–Tabitha didn’t know for sure. But apparently she didn’t even need Salinger to continue his attack. The long drink soundtracked right next to his cochlea–whereupon the organ of Corti could handle no more–was all it took.

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