"...she's burying the dog's ashes with Dad's."\n\n"Like in the same coffin?"\n\n"Yup. Pretty weird."\n\n"Weird, but appropriate. I think he liked that dog more than he liked any person."\n\n"Maybe...I hate to say it."\n\n"Say it."\n\nThe second man laughs. "I mean, maybe that's why he finally went. He was doing okay after the stroke, but maybe he finally let go after the dog died. I think Mom told him while he was still in the hospital and doing better. Then he just stopped getting better. Or even trying to."\n\nThe third man tosses a tennis ball from the shed.\n\n"Another one?"\n\nFrom inside the shed: "That's got to be the last of them."\n\n"Straight to the trash. Mom had the kids running around the house collecting Pierre's old crap and said they found like twenty balls. They were so gross and torn up, she had them tossed. Brinny wanted to keep them."\n\n"Not in my house, she's not. Mom's dumped enough of Dad's crap on us."\n\n"Mike, you find that [[shovel|Garden]] yet? Mom's got a treasure hunt for us."\n
If there were a karma meter, the needle would be pointing to "unimpressed."\n
The doorbell ring can be heard in the distance. Around the corner of the house, cars can be seen pulling up to the curb. The cars are lining the streets and down the block, people in crisp Sunday blacks meandering to the house of the Old Man. The digging man brushes the grime from his hands and gets to his feet, leaving the treasure in the ground.\n\n"Looks like they're here. Let's get this wake started."\n\n\n\n\n- For Grandpa Thorn - \n\n
"...and all this crap is coming out about him now, and he was a different person to everyone, so who knows who he was? I mean, who was Grandpa to you?"\n\n"I don't know," the woman says. "He was Grandpa. He was the one with candy and cool computer games. But now they tell me he's also the guy who was in prison when I was born because of some under the counter prescription drug dealing thing. So I don't know what to think. Apparently, he was kind of an asshole."\n\nThe girl gasps.\n\n"Apparently."\n\n"Sorry, Brinny. I meant he wasn't a nice guy. Not to everyone, just to some people. Like his dog. He was kind of like the Grinch."\n\n"The Grinch was actually pretty mean to his dog...made him pull the sled up and down Mount Crumpit and whipped the poor guy."\n\nThe girl laughs. "He was nice to me." She wanders off, humming "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" out of tune. \n
- LIVING ROOM -\n\nYou are a dog.\n\nYou have four legs, four paws. Your [[tail]] wags when you're happy, you poop without wiping, and everyone's taller than you.\n\nYou wake from a nap on the sun-warmed [[carpet]]. Your spot is a patch of light that pours through a crack in the faded drapes, obscuring your view of the [[front yard]].\n\nWhere's the Old Man?\n\nThe TV is on: a flickering, incomprehensible image in a black box that blares [[football commentary]]. On the fireplace mantel, Jesus's plaster face watches you wherever you go. You follow your nose as cheap illusion Jesus eyeballs you with compassion. A row of fold-out [[tables]] is set along the wall. A long rope with chew marks hangs by the front door. A discarded [[newspaper]] lies crumpled on the couch.\n\n[[Knock over the Jesus statue]].\n\n[[Leave the statue be]].\n\nYou sniff the air. It smells like chicken pot pie and depression. Where's the Old Man?\n\nIf dogs could be psychologically diagnosed, you would have bipolar disorder and delusions of grandeur. A twinge of sadness descends. Colors are dim. So...\n\nNo change there.\n\nYou record the sudden anguish with a stream of urine, leg hiked indifferently against a gnawed coffee table leg.\n\n[[Uncover the mystery of your existential angst|Dining Room]].\n\n[[Get a tasty treat|Dining Room]]. \n
The intruders are trying to dig up the Old Man's secret treasure. Don't let them!\n\nTry to [[BARK|bark3]].\n
[img[http://i.imgur.com/OGqOJtu.jpg]]\n[[Start here.|Start1]]\n\n
- DINING ROOM -\n\nTwo humans sit at the dining room table. Both are female, one quite old, the other a generation younger. The Old Woman sips blond coffee, the younger plays hand held solitaire and only looks up to squint periodically at the wall [[clock]].\n\n[[Listen to their conversation]].\n\n[[Offer to trade the paper for a treat]].\n\n[[Bark for a treat]].\n\nUnderneath a dining table chair, you take a whiff of [[Yellow Spot Message #2]].\n
- SHED -\n\nThe front of the shed looks like the beginnings of an unmarked yard sale: couches, coffee tables, dining room chairs, children's toys, tennis rackets, a heavy bronze [[cash register]], unlabeled [[boxes]] and trunks, a small trampoline, empty CD racks, a bike, a cracked mirror, a deflated basketball.\n\nThe first man carries out a rocking chair, sets it on the grass, and takes a seat. He sighs, teeters for a moment, then calls out, "Hey, Jim, you gonna help us out here?"\n\nThe smoking man waves him off.\n\n"Guess not."\n\n[[Stop and listen]].\n\n[[Go to the garden|Garden]]. \n
- BACKYARD -\n\nYou leap through the pet door flap and onto a concrete patio. A man in a wrinkled button-up sits at a faded picnic table and smokes a cigarette, watching three men carrying furniture from a shed. The man spits, stomps a muddy shoe, and says under his breath:\n\n"Vultures."\n\nWet grass. Dead leaves. Rotten green apples littering the yard beneath a tree.\n\n[[Go to the shed]].\n
The intruders are trying to dig up the Old Man's secret treasure. Don't let them!\n\nTry to [[growl]].\n
Two men camp in the cold moonlight to the high hiss of crickets.\n\nThe first man says, "...wonder what the old man's doing now."\n\nThe second man, rocking out of coldness or nerves, answers, "Eating a meal of roast turkey and drinking a bottle of tequila probably."\n\n"This is the first day we've had to handle everything without his help. Once we get the hang of it, it'll be a lot easier."\n\n"How far away do you 'spose the railroad is?"\n\n"Oh, not so far as the crow flies."\n\n"Only we had crows."\n\n"I figure we can reach the high pass in two days more. After that, it'll be three or four days to the railroad. That's figurin' no hard luck on the trail, of course."\n\nThe second man begins to laugh the way old actors will when they know the world is about to burn and there's nothing to be done.\n\n"What's the joke, Dobbsy? Aren't you gonna let me in on it?"\n\n"In on it? Sure I will...sure." He laughs again.\n
Littered with decades of letter writing and personal diaries in the form of Yellow Spot Messages. Sniff one.
May 17th, 2006\n\nThe Old Woman has been gone for a few days. The Old Man let me sleep in the big bed. It's squishy and hard to walk on. He held a book up to his face late into the night, throwing me gummy candy whenever I asked politely.When the Old Woman is back, I'll have to sleep on the floor again.\n\nI got a new tennis ball today. Maybe we'll play with it later.\n\n- Pierre.\n
Cheese and cracker plates, jello, a vegetable platter. Crock pots and warm soda. A bowl of [[chocolates]].\n\nUnderneath the soda table, you find [[Yellow Spot Message #1]].\n
March 4th, 2001\n\nAn intruder came in today wearing brown shorts and carrying a fiendish package. I gave her the rounds of bark-and-growl and eventually she backed down so I didn't have to resort to killing her. I would have too. It was her lucky day. I was in a beneficent mood. I marked the table leg to record my triumph and later marked the basement closet as well. History will not forget this day.\n\nSaw myself in the mirror for the first time. There are two little bows in my hair just behind the ears. Soon, home invaders everywhere will learn to fear these bows.\n\n- Pierre\n
September 2nd, 2013\n\nWe spent the day in the garden planting new flowers over our little burial site from the day before. "Our secret, eh?" he told me.\n\nIt was hot. The Old Man sat down in the dirt and got his good slacks dirty.\n\nHe sat there for a long time while the Old Woman called and called from inside the house. He kept trying to smile at me, but it wasn't working. He looked very tired.\n\n- Pierre\n
- MASTER BEDROOM -\n\nA man in a sweater rifles through a dim closet. A woman dressed in all black organizes cardboard boxes on the water bed. The bed sags in the middle from the weight.\n\nThey hold up various objects to each other while they talk--a film camera, a box of slides, old legal documents, a leather jacket. [[Yellow Spot Message #4]] graces the corner of the room. Beside the stain and partly tucked beneath the bed frame is the [[secret stash]].\n\n[[Listen in]].\n\n[[Terrify the invaders]].\n\n[[Stash the newspaper]].\n
January 3rd, 2003\n\nWoke up today to short humans screaming, "Pierre! Come here, puppy!" and trying to tug at my hair bows. I ran to the backyard to evade them. They had to stop to put on jackets and snow boots and it slowed them down, so I got a head start and hid in the garden by the hay bale. The flowers are dead so there was nothing to snack on. The Old Man called me back inside. We napped on the couch to the marathon of A Christmas Story on TV.\n\n- Pierre\n
February 16th, 1999\n\nThey call me puppy, but that's not my name.\n\nSomeone left a chair untucked from the dining room table today. I stole a box of Russell Stover's and got most of it down before the old woman caught me.\n\nThen I got all of it up and onto the carpet.\n\nIt smelled nice.\n\nThen she took that from me too.\n\nI have nothing now.\n\n- Pierre\n
The clock reads 2:15. A calender beneath it is set to October 2013 and shows a picture of Fall bleached trees.\n
The intruders are trying to dig up the Old Man's secret treasure. Don't let them!\n\nTry to [[scratch out their eyes]].\n
You find that low tickle in your throat and let out an earth shaking growl.\n\nSweater man glances at the floor with what can only be a look of absolute fear and says, "...everyone in this town thought he was such a great guy, because he was such a great actor, well, he fooled them all. They all liked him because he spent all this money on them, buying them stuff. They're all going to come in here and say, 'So sorry for your loss," and we'll just have to nod, and be like, "Yeah. Mmhmm."\n\n"I can do that," the woman in black says. "I can fake it. I mean it is sad, isn't it? We shouldn't have to fake it. Not just because...but, you know, because no one really cares. No one that really knew him, anyway. No one that knew what he was like really cares."\n\nSweater man climbs a short step ladder and pulls another box from the closet. "What are we going to do with all this junk?"\n\n"What'd you tell the kids to do?"\n\n"They're organizing Dad's basement stuff so we can go through it later. That was his man cave, I guess, so that'll be the worst of it. It's all junk, probably. I'm sure Goodwill could use it." \n
You try to snatch the paper, but the complexities of biting elude you. A hypothetical paper will have to do for now. \n \n\n
Around the TV are a dozen ceramic cowboys, lassoing, riding, staring stoically into the screen that plays a black and white [[film]] at low volume.\n
You twist your neck to observe your hind quarters. A soft and manicured ball of black fur at the end of a short tail.\n\n[[Bite it]]?\n
The intruders are trying to dig up the Old Man's secret treasure. Don't let them!\n\nTry to [[gnaw their ankle]].\n
You sit at the Old Woman's feet, the hypothetical newspaper on offer. She doesn't seem interested. Maybe she didn't see you.\n\n"Quit looking at the clock," she says. "They'll get here, it's not even three yet."\n\nThe second woman puts down the solitaire game. "Mom, I wouldn't be surprised if no one showed."\n\nThe Old Woman shuffles cut-out cartoon strips in her hands and stuff them into an envelope. "If you're looking for something to busy yourself with," she says, "you can mash the potatoes."\n\nBeneath the Old Woman's feet you smell [[Yellow Spot Message #3]].\n\n[[Stash the newspaper for later|Master Bedroom]].\n
"What is it?" the woman says. She drapes the Cowboy's jacket over the box.\n\n"MORE LEATHER SHOES," the boy says, holding up a pair of brown loafers. \n\n"Funny."\n\n"Give em'!" the girl says and puts the new pair on her hands.\n\nThe boy dumps more shoes into the box, exposing [[Yellow Spot Message #6]] in the uncovered carpet. "What do you think he spent all on his money on then?"\n\nStraightening the shoes in the stack, the woman says, "Leather shoes apparently. And TV's and exercise equipment."\n\n"No, that's Grandma's. She said she picked them up at a garage sale for cheap."\n\n"Who's exercising around here?"\n\nThe girl takes the shoes off her hands and drops them into the pile. "Why wouldn't he eat? Grandma says he wouldn't eat."\n\n"Don't you have to use the bathroom, Brinny?"\n\n"No..." The girl kicks the cardboard box, her face scrunched up. "...yes."\n\nThe woman nods toward the bathroom down the hall and the girl shuffles away.\n\nGirl out of sight, the woman says, "It is weird that he stopped eating like that. It's sad."\n\n"He wanted to die, I guess."\n\n"Yeah and death shouldn't have to be sad, you know? Like he could have told us he wanted to die, he didn't like living in that way anymore. We could have brought him some Yanni CD's and a bottle of wine, and--I don't know--shot him up with a lethal dose of morphine at the stroke of midnight or something--"\n\n"--I think that's illegal."\n\n"At least death wouldn't have to be something to fight for. At least he'd be--"\n\nThe girl comes back from the bathroom. She's wearing a sick smile and holding up silk underwear. "Found this."\n\nShe tosses it on the floor and the other two step back.\n\n[[Confirm the underwear's identity]].\n\n[[Are they still talking]]?\n
You Are a Dog\n
You sniff closely. The Old Man's.\n
"...He was in the facility--rest home, whatever you call it--for long enough, she was going to give the dog up," the sweatered man says.\n\nThe woman in black sifts through photographic slides, holding them up to the light one by one, squinting. "Why didn't you take it?"\n\n"I didn't want the dog. It's was Dad's dog. He's the only one that loved the thing."\n\n"Right. And he's the only one the thing loved too."\n\n"Besides, do you know what it takes to bring a pet out of state? I would have had to renew health certificates and buy it a fricken' plane ticket for god's sake. I just told her, yeah, no. You keep it, Mom."\n\nThe woman in black laughs. "You remember when they got him after the last one died?"\n\n"Pierre the first? Yeah. Or was it the second?"\n\n"Same little black toy poodle. Same name. Kind of messed up."\n\n"That's what Mom told me when he got it. I said, 'It's not a new dog, Mom. Pierre's just reincarnated.' She just looked at me, like...what?"\n
"...I would have made him eat. I would have sat there, and you know, forced him to eat with a spoon like a toddler, because that's what he acted like, a baby. Fussy. You know?"\n\n"Honey, you can't make a man eat. Not Charles. He's stubborn. You can't make him do anything he's set his mind not to do."\n\n"They should have put him on, one of those, ah. Those IV's, then. Why didn't they--"\n\n"He was on an IV."\n\n"Then why--"\n\n"Because he kept ripping it out, Barb."\n\n"No. Mom, that's the stupidest...why would he do that?"\n\n"Oh, hell. Don't ask me that. Your father has always done only what he wants. He wants a cruise, he gets a cruise. He wants to ship everyone we know some overpriced holiday candy nonsense and rack up the credit cards, he does it. He don't want to eat..."\n\n"Mom."\n\n"You know...I think he took off with some of my jewelry too."\n\n"What do you mean?"\n
The intruders are trying to dig up the Old Man's secret treasure. Don't let them!\n\nTry to [[howl]].\n
The intruders are trying to dig up the Old Man's secret treasure. Don't let them!\n\nTry to [[nip their elbow]].\n
September 1st, 2013\n\nThe Old Man stepped in my accident getting out of bed this morning. We covered it with my bed and then ate breakfast.\n\nWe played fetch in the backyard until the Old Man got tired. We watched TV until it was dark and then we buried a wooden box in the garden by the flowers. The lights came on in the upstairs window, so we went back inside.\n\nThe small bushy flowers are the best to eat.\n\n- Pierre\n
In the doggie bed, you drop the newspaper. Something's missing. You look all around, nuzzling the folds of the bed and peeking into the shadows under a chest of drawers. Nothing but dust and carpet.\n\nWhere are your tennis balls?\n\nCould this be the reason for your existential dread? Is there something sinister lurking in the corner of your consciousness? Are you just hungry again?\n\n[[Check the basement for your tennis balls]].\n
Jesus is out of reach. That's not a metaphor. He's high up on the mantel.\n
The intruders are trying to dig up the Old Man's secret treasure. Don't let them!\n\nTry to [[bite]].\n
The intruders are trying to dig up the Old Man's secret treasure. Don't let them!\n\nTry to [[kill them]].\n
You look inside the open ones. No tennis balls anywhere.\n
"...and again, the second team offense, struggling. Again, Kierkegaard is picked off, this time Marqueston Huff makes it count, returns it for 54 yards and a touchdown. The pick-six makes it 42-30 and just before half, number one offense now cruising..."\n\nAnd it goes on like that into eternity. The sound is white noise and familiar. You've sat beside the Old Man as he watched football for somewhere in the vicinity of half your life. There's a lot of jargon and none of it sounds like the word "treat."\n
A sudden temper gets the best of you and you lash out at the nearest victim: yourself. The psychology of the situation eludes you, because you're a dog.\n
A second man leans over the cash register, plucking buttons at random, trying to jar it open. "You know, I asked Mom about this years ago when we were hunting for her old wedding china. She said right before Dad took over the pharmacy from his parents, he got real mad at Grandpa and threw the cash register at him from across the store room. Gave him a big old gash across the nose. I think he intimidated them into giving him the store."\n\n"Wow, I knew he had anger issues, but...how come this is the first time we're hearing this stuff?"\n\n"Mom didn't tell us a lot. You can't blame her. Who would want to know that kind of thing about their dad?"\n\nA third man comes from the shed with a handful of baseball cards. "Think these are worth anything? ...Is that the register he threw? That thing has to weigh forty pounds."\n\n"It probably had money in it at the time, so more even."\n\n"Crazy."\n\n"Let me see the baseball cards."\n
The intruders are trying to dig up the Old Man's secret treasure. Don't let them!\n\nTry to [[bark]].\n
- GARDEN -\n\nThe first man wipes his brow and walks to the garden, shovel swung over his shoulder.\n\nA few quick stabs and the flowers are knocked aside. The soil is soft and churned.\n\n"What do you mean treasure hunt?"\n\nThe digging man stops. "You know how she's been complaining about missing jewelry and how that money just disappeared from their account a while ago?"\n\n"Right, I thought the money thing was a bank error or she's senile or--"\n\n"Well, she thinks Dad took off with it. Said she saw him fiddling around in the garden weeks ago, burying something."\n\n"Yeah?"\n\n"Time to find out what."\n\n[[STOP THEM]].\n
You peer over the cardboard flaps. No tennis balls.\n
"RrrrrrARRRF!" (Hey! I haven't eaten in thirty minutes!)\n\nThey ignore you.\n\n[[Go to your secret stash|Master Bedroom]].\n
[[Yellow Spot Message #5]], more recent than the others.\n
The intruders are trying to dig up the Old Man's secret treasure. Don't let them!\n\nTry to [[bark|bark2]].\n
A forbidden place. A square of unkempt grass serving as the doorstep to the open world. Fenceless and free.\n
The intruders are trying to dig up the Old Man's secret treasure. Don't let them!\n\nTry to [[run in circles]].\n
The message, you know, is not your own. This stain is much older than any of yours, and carries the distinct smell of experience, sophistication, and urinary tract infection.\n\nJuly 4th, 1986\n\nThe town is falling down around me. BOOM! CRACK! Noises like distant thunder. I can only wait here, in the shelter of the dining room table, peeing the desperate words of my last will and testament and hoping I've lived a good life. I'm nearly 15. The Old Man is nowhere to be found. I fear he's been stopped by the growing apocalypse outside. It's only a matter of time before the ceiling comes down. A small dish rag is my only comfort in this dark hour. Wait for the morning light, I keep telling myself. Pierre, you toothless coward. Wait for the light. It'll all be better then.\n\nI don't want to die.\n\n- Pierre\n
The intruders are trying to dig up the Old Man's secret treasure. Don't let them!\n\nTry to [[BARK!|bark4]].\n
The intruders are trying to dig up the Old Man's secret treasure. Don't let them!\n\nTry to [[hurt them]].\n
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- BASEMENT -\n\nAt the bottom of the steps is a young girl, a high school aged boy, and a woman in her early twenties. The girl is wearing a pair of ill-fitting leather shoes that flop like a clown's and a man's Wyoming Cowboy jacket. The woman tugs the jacket from the girl and places it back on its oak hanger. The boy tosses shoes into a cardboard box labeled "GIVE AWAY."\n\n"Oh my god," he exclaims, crouched in the hall closet. "You'll never guess what's in here."\n\n[[Listen to the words coming from their mouth holes]].\n\nMud tracks on the carpet lead inside and out. Down the hall, a bath and empty rooms with the lights on. The low ceiling tiles are water stained.\n\nIn the den, a ratty couch is centered on a [[flat screen]] mounted on an upright piano. Two older TV's lie in the corner, blocking an unused fireplace. Cabinet bookshelves loom above in the darkness, bloated with years of National Geographic, Reader's Digest, John Grisham novels, and countless Bibles.\n\nOn the desk: an outdated computer, a plastic bin of candy, bags of Gummy Bears, Beethoven, Schubert, and [[Yanni]] CD's, a stack of computer games already stored away in a shoe box.\n\nMore boxes are packed and taped, stacked half way up the back wall, bulging with the pressure of their contents. One [[box]] lies open on the floor.\n\nAt the foot of the computer chair, [[Yellow Spot Message #7]].\n\nLow chatter comes from beyond the back door and out in the yard.\n\n[[Go outside]].\n
A Greek musician with a mustache, long wavy hair, and a smoldering gaze. He's in front of twelve keyboards, fingers dancing and hips thrusting to the erotic beat of world music and contemporary instrumental.
The newspaper is local, dated September 29th, 2013. Wheatland, Wyoming. The comic section is out and two neat rectangles have been cut from the page.\n\n[[Take the paper]].\n
Gabriel Costantino
A small, cluttered doggie bed. Various contraband hidden in the folds.\n\nLook underneath the [[doggie bed]].\n
The intruders are trying to dig up the Old Man's secret treasure. Don't let them!\n\nTry to [[whimper]].\n