There once was a man who thought he was a dog. He went from house to
house, begging for scraps.
When he came to my house, I took him in and fed him. I rubbed his
belly. I asked him why he thought he was a dog.
"I don't think I am a dog," he said. "I am a dog. Bark."
"But you look like a man," I said.
"Bark," he said. "Bark bark bark. More food, please."
I fed him and sent him on his way.
The next night, when I heard the man's distinctive scratching at my
kitchen door, I went to the door and opened it. The man who thought he
was a dog trotted in.
"Are you hungry?" I asked, opening a can of dog food I had bought
specifically with the man who thought he was a dog in mind.
"Yes," he said. "Bark bark."
I emptied the dog food into a soup bowl and put it on the table for the
man who thought he was a dog.
"Bark bark, floor please," the man who thought he was a dog said.
Sighing, I put the soup bowl full of dog food on the floor. He gulped
it down in minutes. Then, he flipped over.
"Belly rub please," he said.
I crouched down next to the man who thought he was a dog and obligingly
rubbed his belly, while he cooed and stretched his legs and panted.
"Thank you," he said, "bark bark," and ran out the still open door,
almost as quickly as he had come in.
The next night, I was ready. I had bought the man who thought he was a
dog a squeaky bone from the pet store. I had bought him his very own
bowl, with the name REX painted in bright red on the side. I had bought
him some dog bed sheets, and a dog bed, which I had placed solicitously
in an unobtrusive corner of the kitchen.
"Bark bark, what's all this?" the man who thought he was a dog asked,
when he saw everything I had bought him.
"It's for you," I said, to the man who thought he was a dog.
The man who thought he was a dog began to cry soft, pallid tears.
"Bark bark, thank you," he said, and licked my outstretched hand.
And now, he lives with me.
Bezalel Stern is a 2013 Emerging Writer Fellow at The Center for Fiction. He has work in or coming from
McSweeney's, Contrary, fwriction and others.
Read more of his work in the archive.
Detail of painting on main page courtesy
of Wasfi Akab.
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