Right now, right as I’m lying in bed drinking coffee and watching “I Love Lucy,” the dog across the hall is crying. When I say crying I mean hollering in a desperate, currently-being-beaten sort of way.
I’m not concerned, really, because he hollers like this twice a day, everyday. And I know he’s not being beaten. The dog across the hall is just a cranky old fuck.
The neighbors call him Declan, presumably after Elvis Costello, although I’ve never known anyone so proud to be Goth to have such good taste in music. Declan is an eight-year-old pug who suffers from a skin disease that has a weird name like elephantism or elephantasma or something very elephantine. I suppose it might be characteristically Goth to own a dog so physically grotesque that all the tenants in the building call it The Ugly Little Shit.
Essentially, this disease causes Declan’s skin to wrinkle and dry-out much like the natural skin you’d find on an elephant. I think that the disease also causes Declan to think he’s actually an elephant, and not just because of the criminal wailing. I’ve also caught him pooping whole peanuts in the bushes at the back of the building.
For the first two months I lived in this apartment I could never remember Declan’s name. I’d see the Goths taking him out for his nightly poop, and I’d say, “How’s my little punkin?” and reach down to scratch the top of his wrinkled hind leg, to make up for the guilt I felt at blanking his real name.
Turned out that my little punkin’s wrinkled hind leg was also his purported G-spot, and whenever I’d start scratching away at the delicate flaky skin of his hindquarter, he’d collapse on his belly in a thud of orgasmic delight.
At first I felt somewhat repulsed, obviously. I didn’t want to be the neighbor known for sexually pleasuring The Ugly Little Shit. Who would? But over time the whole ritual has become relatively harmless and even a little special. If I can bring light and hope to a dreary canine-cum-elephantine existence, why not scratch a little chaffed hind leg? Who wouldn’t?