SHORT LEASH

Ruben’s gears seemed to follow a routine of their own. Every day by two o’clock in the afternoon, they were uncomfortably dry. No matter where or what he was up to. Even today, sitting in the veterinarian office, he found his gears to be parched. He pulled out his small bottle of oil and lathered himself up while waiting for the doctor.

Pickles was sprawled out on the floor, alternating between wincing in pain and losing consciousness. Ruben owned Pickles since he was a baby. A nursing infant. This moment was a long time coming and Ruben had prepared for such a thing. If Ruben had a heart, he’d have saved a spot for Pickles. But Ruben only had wires and steel, there was nothing else to offer.

There were, of course, the memories. Teaching Pickles about his bipedal ways, to defecate on his own and eating whole foods without clogging his gullet. Ruben smiled thinking of the joy and pains that had come along with the memories and now, the heartbreak.

“Ruben? Ruben?”

Ruben snapped out of his trip down memory lane and realized it was his turn to see the doctor.

“This way.” Dr. Oman was a blur of white coat as he disappeared down the hallway and into an office.

Ruben pulled Pickles’ collar prompting him into a sluggish movement on all fours to the office where he climbed up sloppily atop the observation area. Ever since the arthritis he’d been back to his early quadrupedal ways. That marked the beginning of the end for him.

“Okay, we’re still on the same page about everything we discussed over the phone? It’s the only option at this age. Trust me, I deal with this all day,” Dr. Oman reached his rubber coated fingertips up to his neck and tightened a loose hex nut. “Sorry, busy afternoon.”

Ruben nodded in understanding. “We’re all good, I know the deal.”

“And you’ve said your goodbyes?” Dr. Oman asked, the question being a box on his paperwork he had to check.

Ruben reached over and patted Pickles on the back, his spine was practically breaching the skin. “Yes, we’ve had our words.”

“Alright, then. I’ll take him back right now,” Dr. Oman said. He struggled to lift Pickles up but eventually held him firmly in his metal arms. “Heavy one, this guy.”

Ruben nodded again and watched the two head out the door.

“Wait!” Ruben yelled.

He ran through the doorway and caught up to the doctor.

“I forgot.” Ruben reached over and detached the collar from Pickles’ neck. “We’re going to get a baby this weekend. You know, to help with the grieving and what not.”

“Sure, most families do. I always recommend the pound on Fourth Street. Not only do they treat the humans well, but they’ve got the finest selection in the area,” the doctor said with a nod and continued down the hall, making a right into the door marked: CREMATORY.








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