A best friend is the hardest thing to come by
By Ryan Sayles
Looking at Diesel, my aging bull mastiff, now there’s a best friend. Never judges, never gets all pissy when I come home drunk at three in the morning. Just waits like an old buddy, tail thumping and happy to see me.
Better than Diane, that’s for sure. I tried to give her the best of everything because she was the best of everything. Best cheerleader, best lay in the Ford’s back seat, best russet potato and cheddar casserole. Some things you just can’t touch. But Diane, she had a mean streak. Diesel, a dog bigger than some racing horses, he didn’t. Not a bad bone in his body and he had all the sharp teeth.
Now Diane, when we said we was getting married, she said she was my best friend. And for thirty years of hell, she was anything but. Diesel is the latest and last in a long line of dogs for me. I’ve hit my end, for sure. Stomach cancer. Diane always said it was too many beers, too many chasers, too many of whatever it was I did when she wasn’t looking.
Right before she left, she said all that fire and spit rising up from my gut was all them sins I committed. Nights I’d raise a hand to her, and some such. Sometimes the only way to get her to shut up was to show her my backhand.
Maybe a boot heel.
But you know, a man’s just a man and a man gets tired of hearing some broad talking shit for thirty years about how she had everything and she wasted it all on that man. I gave her the best. I swear it. Maybe my best wasn’t the same kind of best that Clarence could give, or Robbie or Alex. But fuck them. I won out with Diane. She just regretted it later.
Diesel, he don’t complain about nothing. Not the table scraps I fed him his whole life. Not about how sometimes I’d forget to fill the water bowl. Or how sometimes I’d give him beer instead. After a while you regret every accidental piece of onion he ate. Every nibble of chocolate. Both bad for dogs, you know. He deserves the best. He deserves probably better than I gave him.
Now, I already said Diane got up and left. Bitch. Talking about my death sentence like it was payment for her bullshit suffering all our lives. Like I was responsible for that. She went to her older sister’s house. I followed her.
That didn’t work out well, to say the least.
So I came home, knowing my life is over. Sit down at the dinner table, call Diesel over. Best friend, ever. Never complained when I showed him my backhand, neither. Diane said it made him mean, but I think she lied. I ask forgiveness for every accidental piece of onion he ate. Every nibble of chocolate. My stomach’s killing me. I’d hate for his to do the same.
I feed him strips of fresh meat, hoping that since it’s still warm and gooey, only the best will keep him around longer. He eagerly licks my fingers, doesn’t complain, and I give him another chunk of Diane.
Ryan Sayles’s novel The Subtle Art of Brutality is out through Snubnose Press. He is the editor of The Noir Affliction, a column at Out of the Gutter. His works appears at sites such as Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction Offensive, Beat to a Pulp and Crime Factory. He may be contacted at http://www.vitriolandbarbies.wordpress.com