Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Clayton and Kristal: Bowser

Kristal left for work before Clayton woke up.

Clayton had a couple of shots of whiskey before turning in for the night, knowing Kristal would be coming in late.

He smelled the scent of her soap when she joined him in bed shortly after midnight. She had showered after her double-shift.

Mattie had awakened at 3:00AM which was unusual for her. Clayton woke up, changed her and fed her a bottle. He may have had another shot or two as well. Maybe two-or-three.

Clayton woke up with a headache. He drank a tumbler of tap-water before seeing to Mattie. Another change of diapers, another bottle, another change.

He was throwing a cup of water into the microwave to make a cup of coffee when he saw the note Kristal left. He had been a connoisseur of fine coffee before Mattie was born. Now he just made instant.

Bowser did not eat breakfast. PLEASE take him to the vet.

Clayton did not quite roll his eyes. Bowser had been Kristal’s dog since...forever. He was a pitbull cross and had to be at least eight years old. It would screw up his plans for the day...but Bowser counted as family.

It took Clayton twenty minutes to shoe-horn the trailer into its appointed slot and then unhitch it. Another twenty minutes to pack Mattie’s things for daycare.

After dropping Mattie at the daycare, he swung back by the house and picked up Bowser. He did look distressed.

The vet poked and prodded. Clayton agreed to foot the bill for “imaging”. The news was not good.

“Your dog was poisoned” vet said.

“What?” Clayton exclaimed.

The vet pulled an image up on the computer screen. “There is a sponge in his stomach” she said.

“How the hell did that get there?” Clayton asked. He could not recall any sponges in the house where Bowser could get to them.

“We are seeing a lot of this” the vet admitted. “It seems that people who want to poison dogs, usually guard-dogs like Bowser, soak a sponge in grease from fried hamburger. Then they compress the sponge to the shape of a hot-dog and wrap it with kite string. They cut the string after the grease cools.”

“How do you know that?” Clayton asked, angry.

“It is what we have been removing from dog stomachs” she said. "Bowser is not the first and I am sure he will not be the last."

“What does it cost to remove the sponge?” Clayton pressed.

“I am sorry. Based on Bowser’s age he is not a candidate for surgery. I am so very sorry.” the vet said.

“In a way, you are lucky” the vet said.

Clayton raised his eyebrows in an unspoken question.

“Some of the dogs that come in here have been poisoned with ‘button batteries’. They burn a hole through the dog’s intestines and it must be incredibly painful. At least the sponge is doesn’t hurt so bad that they cannot walk.”

Clayton took Bowser out to the truck and texted Kristal. He waited a half-hour and she did not respond.

He walked Bowser back into the clinic and held him while the vet put Bowser down.

He didn't see that he had any other choice.


Krystal’s rage was volcanic.

Clayton thought he had done what she asked. He had taken Bowser to the vet and had been damned lucky to get an appointment.

She was screaming at him, not noticing that Mattie was also crying. “I didn’t get to say good-bye to him!”
It was like a broken record. Over and over and over again. Louder and louder.
"You should have waited for me...."

Clayton couldn’t stand the noise and the blaming. He walked out the door.

After several laps of walking around the block, he called his mom. She listened a bit and then advised that he go back into the house and just hold Kristal’s hand.

“She needs to know that you feel her pain” his mom told him. “Don’t justify. Don’t defend. Just listen.”

“Keep reminding her that she is the most important thing in your life. Her and Mattie.”

He walked back in and she started yelling at him again, but with less anger and more worry.

When she seemed to lose a little bit of steam, he extended his hand. She took it. He moved over and sat on the couch next to her.

Somehow, not looking eye-to-eye defused some of the confrontation.

She was still angry, but not so much at him.

After a bit she put her head on his shoulder and wept violently.

“I don’t know what is the matter with me” she said. “I just can’t think straight and my emotions are all over the place.”

“Its not important. You have been working a boatload of hours. Everybody is stressed” Clayton reassured her.

She hesitated. Then she said “I think we might be pregnant.”

It was on the tip of Clayton’s tongue to ask her if she thought this was a good time to bring another child into the world...but something stayed his tongue.

He hugged her.

He echoed his mother’s wisdom. “Nothing is more important to me than you...and Mattie...and now our new child.”


  1. ERJ, I presume that the poisoning is based on the real world.

    There is not a Hell hot enough for such people.

  2. It was "a trick" I heard about from an older, Hispanic man named Amos Z.

    Grease warms up and melts or is digested. Sponge expands.

    The time-line was sped up vs. fact to move the story along.

    Other than the change in time-line, I believe it is/was real.

  3. I had a friend long ago that used that technique to get rid of some wolves that were pulling down his calves and eating their kidney fat and livers. He would find those calves still alive bawling with their guts dragging on the ground and their mothers bawling and licking them trying to make them better. I didn't feel sorry for those wolves. ---ken

  4. Sorry to hear about the dog. If that happened to mine, I'd be really pissed. Makes you wonder if someone is planning a robbery or is just mentally defective.

  5. This story has legs. Keep with it.
    Incidentally, I just ordered a copy of “7Cows”. Have you a PO Box to receive packages?

  6. Man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. Sometimes the lumps come from every direction.

  7. folded piece of sharpened spring steel in a frozen meatball was a common method for wolves in the far north.

  8. I've read that the Eskimos would get rid of wolves the same way, using an intact fish skeleton wrapped with gut, coated with fat, then the cut extracted. Fat melts, skeleton 'boings', no more wolf.


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