At midnight, Charlie woke the only human in his life, the one who fed him, kept him in water, and let him lead them on an romp past the marigolds on the corner every day at three, with a long howl. It bubbled up from below his belly somewhere near his tail and felt more like an itch in a space he couldn’t reach with his nose. A long, frightful howl, which made even Charlie jump off the foot of the bed.
The man raised quickly in the bed and searched for his glasses.
“Charlie, you okay? Did you hear something?”
Charlie cocked his head to one side and then decided to just say it.
“It seems as though you as wasting your life.”
The statement was so frank and direct, it surprised Charlie as much as the man who stared at him with an odd grin, as if the dog appeared in a dream. The man rubbed his eyes and fumbled with his glasses. Charlie took the gestures as as a sign to continue.
“And I think I can help.” Charlie paused to make sure the man continued to listen. The oddness of the hour, combined with the sudden unusual ability to speak, left the man without words. He reached over to rub Charlie’s ears.
“That feels real nice, but we shouldn’t pause. I don’t have a lot of time. You see, every morning you wake up, fill my bowl with crunchy beef, fill my other bowl with water, and let me run outside. It’s all great. But you then vanish for a long time, and I get lonely. Then you come home all uptight, feed and water me again, let me out, and then fall asleep on the couch. This happens every day and you don’t seem very happy.”
The man listened to the talking dog in silence, unsure how to proceed, or how to process what he had just heard. He rubbed his eyes and looked at the clock, which showed one minute past midnight.