Friday, February 19, 2010

Temptation

The red heart-shaped box of chocolates called to me from the kitchen counter. I can smell them all the way from my spot on the end of the couch. I saw Beej eat one of them earlier, before she and Todd turned off the kitchen lights and headed out to the hot tub. She smiled while she chewed on the caramel; I know that caramels are her favorite. Todd’s favorite is dark chocolate cherry cordials. I like them both the same. But then, I never met a bite of people food I didn’t like. I am Labrador, the garbage disposal of the canine world.

Sometimes just the smell of people food is good enough. When Todd and Beej cook, I like to hang out on the kitchen floor. They patiently step over me as they retrieve cooking implements from this drawer or that cabinet. If I am lucky they’ll drop something; on the rare occasion that I don’t notice, Beej will tap her toe near it so I know where I can score a bite.

The competition on the kitchen floor is stiff with my brother Nemo hanging around. Nemo is a beagle, and has the second most powerful nose in our world. His nose directs him to fallen morsels before mine can recognize it. I tend to watch where things fall, while he sniffs them out. If I direct my attention elsewhere for a moment he’ll swoop in and score. His nose is so powerful I swear he can smell a burger grilling on the other side of Narragansett Bay on a summer evening. I prefer to focus on the more attainable food items on the counter where he can’t reach. He can fantasize about distant grilling burgers all he wants; I tend to lean toward the tangible and immediate.

I sat on the kitchen floor and let the blissful smell of the chocolates prey on my senses. I lie down on the kitchen floor and allow the saliva to moisten my front paws. The memory of the flavor of chocolate is fresh in my mind. Not long ago I scored a pan of brownies. Before that I had secured half a box of cherry cordials. And then the voice in the back of my mind starts to chant.

“Chocolate.”

“Chocolate.”

“Chocolate.”

I squirm under my desire to taste chocolate once again. I pace on the kitchen floor, trying to silence the chanting. But it only gets louder.

“CHOCOLATE.”

“CHOCOLATE.”

“CHOCOLATE.”

“CHOCOLATE.”

I bark, in an effort to silence the voice. Then I press my nose into the trash can to rid my nose of the smell of chocolate. Beej just took the trash out before she and Todd went outside. The bag is empty, I think. I need to be sure. Maybe there’s something in there that will stop the chanting.

The aluminum trash bin topples over on its side. I wedge my nose under the lid and tug the bag out with my teeth. I firmly grip it and shake my head back and forth. It’s empty, except for a few small items they must have thrown in there. A tag from a shirt she bought at Old Navy, bah! A paper towel with some pancake scraps on it, score! The chanting is silenced to a whisper, until I realize that there’s nothing else in the bag. Then it starts up again even louder and more urgently this time.

“CHOCOLATE.”

“CHOCOLATE.”

“CHOCOLATE.”

“CHOCOLATE.”

My front paws slide on the surface of the counter, my nose inches toward the shiny red cardboard heart. Beej had slid it to the center of the counter, where she’d hoped it would be out of my reach. I swat at it with my front paw until it’s at the edge of the counter. I step down and move closer to the edge, and then use my front paws to swat again. It inches closer and closer to the edge with each swat. I know that I can bat my paw just one more time and the chocolates will fall to the floor.

The bamboo plant in the ceramic pot crashes to the floor. I rescue the cardboard box from the puddle before it gets soggy. I carry it over to my bed and work the lid off the top. Nemo beelines to the bed and tries to snag a bit of my treasure. I cover the box with my front legs and snarl until he retreats. He circles the bed waiting for me to let my guard down; not likely, brother.

The chocolate melts on my tongue and I am deliriously happy. The room spins a bit as I delight in the smooth and sweet flavor. I chew slightly on the caramel until it’s soft enough to coat the inside of my mouth. Nemo leans in to take a whiff; I let him have a piece too.

The heart-shaped box is empty; I lie on my back basking in the afterglow and sigh contentedly. Then I hear the footsteps. Then I hear their voices as they approach the back door. They are talking and laughing; they had a nice time soaking in the hot tub. Frantic, I run upstairs into the guest bedroom. I flatten myself against the far side of the bed in the shadows.

“Oh no!” Beej moans. “Griffen! What the hell? BAD DOG GRIFFEN!”

“Where is he?” Todd asks.

“I don’t know, but he’s dead meat,” Beej says. “Shit! The chocolates that Spencer got me for Valentine’s Day! He ate them. Goddam it! I only got to eat one of them!”

Todd found me. I honestly thought that he wouldn’t think to look there. I listened as he called to me from downstairs, and then as he came up the stairs and walked into our bedroom. He grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and pulled me up. I resisted and tried to let my weight hold me down against the carpet. Todd is strong when he’s mad.

Ashamed I carefully entered the kitchen. Beej had righted the trash can and she was cleaning up the bamboo’s broken pot. Todd rolled up a newspaper and swatted me on the nose.

“BAD DOG, GRIFFEN! BAD BOY!” he yelled as he swatted.

I wish I could say “I know. I know I am a bad dog. I couldn’t help myself.” I left the kitchen as soon as I could and tucked my tail between my legs to protect myself. I stood by the bottom of the stairs and listened to them talk about me.

“He’s 8 now. It’s ridiculous that we can’t leave him for half a fucking hour in here, you know?” Beej complained.

“I know. I just think that his little brain just shuts off when there’s something on the counter that he wants,” Todd explained. He caught my eye, “Look at him, he looks so sad.”

“Good. He should be,” Beej replied. I listened as they finished cleaning up the mess. Todd sat on the bottom step and scratched my hips. I hung my head until Beej walked in. I looked up at her expectantly.

“Pet him, he’s so sad,” Todd pleaded.

“No. I will not reward his bad behavior,” Beej replied. “He will learn that his behavior is unacceptable if his pack shuns him.”

“Beej, he’s not thinking about the consequences when there’s chocolate on the counter. He’s not going to remember being shunned the next time he gets tempted.”

“Well, too bad. I don’t want to pet him right now. I am mad at him. He’s a bad dog,” she pointed at me and emphasized the words “bad” and “dog.” I bowed my head. Then she stormed up the stairs and went to the bathroom sink to wash her face. I stood in the doorway and watched her while she ignored me, and then she went to bed without saying goodnight.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Taoist said...

Now just imagine the tale the chocolates are telling St. Peter!

Heh, this was a good one, Beej, I enjoyed it!

February 22, 2010 at 9:17 AM  
Blogger Beej said...

I am experimenting with Griffen's POV for a freelance gig I am trying to get. Thanks!

Just this weekend he ate an entire stick of butter off the counter. Then at 3AM Sunday morning he hoarked all over our bedroom carpet. The smell, still, is unbearable even after the gallons of Resolve and Febreze. Looks like I'll be renting a Rug Doctor on the way home.

February 22, 2010 at 11:18 AM  

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