|By CL Bledsoe | 30 July 2012|
The dinosaur is depressed. He’s been lying on my couch for hours, stinking like a freshly laid road. Every few seconds he asks me in this voice like decayed science nerds if I think he’s a good guy.
“Of course,” I say. “You’re great.”
“Even after the cat?”
That makes me wince, each time. He crushed my cat, Mr. Whiskers, under his slimy tail. They say dinosaurs aren’t slimy, but he is. His tail is. Like old lunchmeat.
“He was old,” I say. That just sets him off again.
The dinosaur is my cousin’s husband. I met him one time at a cookout or something, and he followed me around half the day, laughing at everything I said, even though I wasn’t telling any jokes.
“We should be buddies,” he said.
“I don’t think that’s something you have to plan out,” I said. “It just happens.” He laughed, so I added, “We’re grownups, aren’t we? Grownups don’t have buddies.” He thought that was the height of humor. I got up from my seat to get a drink, and when I came back, my plate was gone. He smiled, and there were bits of paper in his teeth. I just sat down and didn’t say a word.
He showed up on my couch a couple weeks later. My cousin dumped him for a mammal.
“Plenty of fish,” I say. That makes him hungry, and his saliva stains the carpet a dark green which doesn’t go with the décor one bit. “Got to walk it off,” I say.
“That’s impossible,” he says, “when your legs fossilized and got burned in some math teacher’s Prius.”
“But you have legs.” I point.
“Yeah,” he grumbles, “but you get what I’m saying.” He inhales on his cigarettes and drops ashes all over my carpet. “Buddy,” he says, “you don’t know how it was. Fast cars. Women like you wouldn’t believe. Those were the days.” He’s talking about his days in the racing circuit, before he met my cousin.
“You should go back,” I say.
He laughs. “An old lizard like me?” He laughs again and flicks his tail at a lamp which shatters, spreading glass and debris on the floor.
I don’t want to kill him. I just want him to not be on my couch anymore, which I’m sure I’ll have to totally replace. I’ve never been a bad person, before; I’ve never had the opportunity. He tells me about his family, long since buried under ash.
“Do you miss them?” I ask as the image stirs something in my mind.
“No. They were bastards.”
“Well, at least they’re gone,” I say but that sets him off crying again.
I tell him I’m going to work, but really I go to my cousin’s house. I hear the moaning from down the street, the steady bovine whoo-haa. I’m not sure if she’s having sex or giving birth, but when I knock on the door, she answers, out of breath, her udders hanging free.
“Take him back,” I say.
“I know. Take him back.”
Her eyes go red and she lowers her head.
“I thought cows didn’t have horns,” I say and stand my ground. She starts crying and invites me in, and I discover that she’s alone; she was just exercising. We chat for what seems like hours on her couch. I tell her about the ash-covered parents, the racing days.
“He never opened up to me,” she says. “He was all stone-hearted and masculine.”
“But isn’t that what you loved about him? Who wants some whiny guy always talking about his feelings?”
She shakes her head. I stab her in the throat with a tranquilizer. It takes a long time to drag her out to my car, and I can’t fit all of her legs in my trunk. She starts to wake up so I dose her again, even though the guy at the feed store said that might be dangerous. But what does he know about what my couch is going through?
The dinosaur is sleeping on the couch, stinking of old glue when I get home. I push my cousin inside and wait for her to wake up. They’re awkward, at first. Whenever things get too heated, I shoot them both with tranquilizers (I bought six cases) and when they wake up, they’re so groggy they’ve forgotten what they were arguing about. After several hours, their memories are so shot from the side effects, that they can’t remember anything but the good times (every so often, I go in and remind them about the good times. I make most of them up, because, frankly, they were a very boring couple). Finally, they fall in love again. I buy them a one-way ticket to Madagascar. They leave. The cleaning crew is already waiting. The movers are right behind them with a new couch.
Sometimes, my cousin and the dinosaur send me postcards, usually asking for money so they can come home. That’s never going to happen. They’re happy, in Madagascar. I’m happy. On my couch.
CL Bledsoe is the author of the young adult novel Sunlight; three poetry collections, _____(Want/Need), Anthem, and Leap Year; and a short story collection called Naming the Animals. A poetry chapbook, Goodbye to Noise, is available online here. Another, The Man Who Killed Himself in My Bathroom, is available at here. His story “The Scream” was selected as a Notable Story of 2011, and he’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize 5 times. He blogs at Murder Your Darlings. Bledsoe lives with his wife and daughter in Maryland.