The snuffling and smacking are what woke me up. The lip smacking and crunching just plain irritated me. It’s like when your dog thinks it has a flea, it’s two o’clock in the morning and he won’t stop with the chompchompchomp of the eternal flea chase, just the relentless snicksnicksnicking of his incisors meeting, never ending; no matter how long the pauses.

Annoying as hell, actually.

“Dog, stop with the slavering and slurping,” I said, cracking my eyelids for the first time that morning, “and the snickerification of whatever it is you’re slobbering all over.”

Dog was no salivarically challenged. No, not at all. Quite the opposite, in fact

“Dog,” I said again as single solitary no doubt lonely ray of sunshine speared through one of the holes in the ragged Venetians and lanced into my skull with the force of atom bombs, exploding my eyeballs in their sockets and blowing out the back of my skull, while also noting that there had been not the slightest hesitation or cessation of chompification, “what the hell have you got? You’re killing me here.”

Propping myself on one elbow I endeavored to learn just what my canine companion what enjoying with such gusto.

I tipped to my right and almost fell off the bed. My right arm was numb. It felt like it wasn’t even there. This was not unusual, I sometimes, for reasons unknown to the conscious me, slept with my arm hanging down beside the bed. It got pretty numb, hanging like that all night long.

It seems that no matter where I moved my head that ray of light was determined to strip mine my skull of everything in it. Preferably through the back of my head if pain location was any indication.

I knew how to beat this arrogant ray, this insinuator of brightness, this Illiminator of Darkness.

I’d just keep my eyes closed, that’d show it.

Once again I tried to move my right arm and once again I almost fell off my bed.

The incessant slurping was really beginning to annoy me, more than it should.

Oddly though, I was annoyed as if that which I were annoyed with were at a great distance from me. I was irritated, I wanted to do something about it, but I felt like both the irritation and the desire to rectify the source of that irritation, were important to some shadow of me, some other Johnny Apple, someone I knew well, intimately even, but was not close to.

No more Tequila shots with Baron and Shotzie. You’d think people in their 80s would know better than to drink like that. But they did, several times a week, every week, and they had for as long as any of them had been going to The Greek.

“Dog,” I tried one final time, “slurp not lest ye become a slurpee!” to which he replied by ignoring me completely.

Leaning heavily to my left I flung my right arm over my belly and sat up on my left side, using that elbow to prop myself up to have a better view of whatever Dog was so thoroughly enjoying.

A bone. A bone with some meat. That dog and his bones. One of the neighbors must have taken a liking to him. This wasn’t the first time he’d had a bone like that in the last few days.

Still keeping my eyes shut, the light was so bright it hurt my ears to see it, I swung my legs over the edge of the bed and sat up.

Naturally I stood up on Cat’s tail. Cat was not pleased by this, not at all. Cat rectified his displeasure by swiping my leg with his claws, digging so deep that he actually snagged a claw on my skin.

Fortunately it took a few minutes for a cat scratch to start hurting because those looked good and deep and gonna be painerific when they got fired up.

Reclosing my momentarily minisculy parted lids, I stumbled into the kitchen, which faced east and should be in shadow by now.

How did I know that? I had no clue what time it was but I knew it wasn’t yet 6 in the evening and that the sun was indeed going down and not coming up. I knew it. It’s like there was a Sunwatching device in my skull, letting me know where in it’s daily journey across the sky the Sun was at any given moment.

I knew this was vitally important, though it never had been prior to this morning, but I didn’t know why.

I thought I should. I felt like I knew I should. Know why it’s important I mean; the location of the Sun and all.

But I didn’t.

Having taken care of what bathrooms are best suited for, I headed for the kitchen, feeling along the wall with my hand so I wouldn’t kick anything with my bare feet while I was keeping my eyes closed.

I swear I could see the radiance of that pesky ray right through my eyelids. It was that bright.

Reaching the kitchen was like jumping in a big pool of water on a steaming hot day. The releaf was immediate and all encompassing. I felt better as soon as I entered and cracked the ol peeps just a tad.

Not too bad, lots of shadows and dark spots in the brush outside the kitchen windows and nice and cool and dusky-like here in the kitchen.

“Hello Goldie,” I said to my goldfish as I walked by her bowl. Pinnocchio was a favorite. “Did I forget to feed you again last night?”

With her little white fishy lips pressed up against the glass the way she did, it actually seemed as if she were speaking, answering my questions when I had them and offering advice when I asked for it.

There were occasions that I would swear I had her voice. If only goldfishes had voices. I’m sure hers would be nice.

Take right now for instance, I am certain that I can hear her voice as her lips move. I know I can’t, fish don’t talk, but if they could, this is what I think she’d be saying.

“Yes you fed me, over fed me if you really want to know. Again. We’ve had this conversation before. In fact, everytime you do shots with Boris and Shotzie we have this same conversation,” she seemed to be saying and I was definitely hearing.

If you don’t count the sucking bubble sounds that Goldies little white lips were making as she talked.
“Right you are then,” I say, barely swaying at all, “water change coming right up. I know how you hate getting food in your gills.”

And so, eyes mostly open but not really focusing on anything yet, thankful that the endless slurping of Dog and his meatladen bone are not loud enough to be heard here, I gently scoop Goldie out of her bowl, as we have done many a time in the past, using my left hand, as we have done many times in the past, and pickup her bowl of water with my right hand.

Hmmmm, the top of my arm moves, but my fingers are not coming into sight. I can feel them, but I can’t see them.

I can’t see them. But I can see the bloody stump that is now the end of my arm. I have no are below the elbow. I have no wrist. I have no fingers, I have no arm!!!

In the back of my mind I hear a tiny little voice, which is amazing given the amount of noise the front of my mind is making over this missing arm thing, and this tiny little voice that I can just barely hear is saying, “too tight, oo ight, oo ight, et oose, et oosssse,” it said tinily as it faded away.

I looked at my hand, my only hand now, and saw that I had crushed my little friend Goldie. Her guts were popped through her sides and she was a funny shape, not nice and round like she used to be, like she’s supposed to be, but all humpy like, from where my fingers and squashed her. She looked like my playdough used to when I’d squeeze a handful, imprinting my fingers into the dough.

But I had no arm.

I also had no pain and there was no blood. Just some green ichor looking goo sort of congealing on my stump.

I must be dreaming. That’s it, it’s all a bizarre dream. I was thinking this very thing when Dog came in with his chewtoy and flopped at my feet. We were pretty close, Dog and me.

Of course, Dog’s presence also precluded the return of my favorite sounds. Slurping and snickering, chewing and drooling. “I think outside would be a better place for things such as these,” I said to him as he looked up at me with those big brown eyes.

Nope, not a thing, didn’t hear a word. I don’t know if surprise or disappointment would be welcomed more.

That’s when I reached out to grab his gristly toy, that’s when all I wanted was peace and quiet and a little privacy, that’s when I realized that Dog, my friend for his entire life, was chewing my missing arm.

He had gnawed it. He had chewed it. He had slavered over it and soundly seasoned it.

He had chewed my arm off.
He had chewed my arm off and I felt no pain at all. In fact, I felt like I was watching a play unfold, knowing every part and every line, but not being intimately involved.

I was mad but not angry. I was hungry too. Hungry for brain.

Brain? Where did that come from? I had never had brain before and had actually and truly had the opportunity to try it more than once.

Mad but not angry at Dog for chewing off, painlessly, my arm which was not bleeding but oozing a greenish ichor.

Oh, and hungry like I’ve never eaten in my live before but only for brain. Preferably human brain I tell myself as I eye the big soft muscle behind Dog’s ear. The one right above his brain.

Tasty tasty brain.

“If you do,” says a tiny little voice, he’ll be just like us.

Great I think, the voice is back, I am not only disfigured, but insane. Gramma Doris was right after all.

“Do you think you could shove my guts back in and staple me up or something? Mabye some superglue…” I hear the voice say.

“Shove your guts…. what are you talking about? Who are you talking about,” I said.

“In fact, who are you, taking such liberties, talking to me in my head like you know me,” I said, realizing as I said it that I had just comfirmed my insanity to myself.

“It’s me, Goldie,” the little voice said.

It’s me Goldie I say to myself and chuckle as if that’s not only possible and probable, but happening right now. My dead goldfish is telepathically communicating with me post mortem.

I need to find the phone book and look up the number for Bethesda Mental, I needed some serious help.

The flopping in my hand, which I just realized had not just started but had in fact been ongoing for the last 60 seconds at lease, intensified.

The tiny voice in my head got louder too, like someone was yelling now instead of just talking.

“You’re a zombie you great buffoon,” the little voice said, “and since you killed me you zombified me too just like you will Dog if you eat his brain. Everything you kill, even if you eat its brain, will turn into a zombie. Same if you just bite and break the skin. Also, if you want to have any fingers left for future prestidigitational presentations and slights of hand of all sorts, I’d take your arm back from Dog right now. He’s just about got the pinky off completely.”

It made sense. It was nutty as Auntie Lila’s fruitcakes, which sucked big time, but it made sense.

That freak at The Greek, the one that everyone thought was in a zombie costume was in reality the genuine article. A zombie.

And that bloody fiend had bitten me.

Not just me either. He had gotten Lydia and Ryan too. Someone else as they were tossing him out too, one of the bouncers probably.

That would mean they were all zombies too. Damn. Lydia wasn’t so bad but her brother Ryan was a royal pain in the ass.

”She needs me. If this was anything for her like it has been for me she needs me,” I was thinking as I grabbed the hand in Dog’s mouth and pulled it and my arm out.

The pinky was pretty mangled, like Goldie had said. It was just barely hanging on by a tendon or membrane other tenuous tissue. The arm itself was fairly chewed but fairly intact, only showing the bone in a few small places.

I tugged the damaged digit off and tossed it to Dog. Waste not want not and I surely had no use for something as mangled as that finger was.

What to do with the arm though, that was the question of the moment. It wasn’t like I could just jam it back on and tie it in place.

Was it?

“Ummm, pardon me,” the tiny voice said, breaking the trance I had been in. “Could you please just stuff my intestines back inside me and maybe sew me up? Swimming will be impossible it I’m trailing my guts all over the place. They’ll get stuck on everything. Oh by the way, that sound you’re not hearing right now is Dog choking to death on your pinky.”

She was right, he was silently dying. I tried to reach down to give him the hiemlich, or the doggie version of it, and only had the one arm. There was no way to push on him.

I jammed my right arm back onto the elbow joint and gave it a half twist to the right, hearing the satisfying click that I knew would be there when my arm was reattached.

I have no idea how I knew that, but I did.

Unfortunately, it was too late for my friend Dog. He was no longer breathing, just laying there on the floor at my feet, eyes closed, chin on his paws, looking more like he was sleeping peacefully than he had begun the eternal nap he was now imprisoned within.

I was terribly sad, or I more correctly, I knew I was terribly sad, I could feel where it should hurt, but it didn’t. Hurt that is. There was just a feeling, cold more than anything else, where the raw pain of loosing my Dog was.

“If you stuff my guts in and seal me up,” the little voice said, “I’ll tell you the coolest secret you ever heard. But you have to hurry or it will be too late.

“Let me get something skinny to stick your parts back inside you. You’ll just have to be patient,” I replied, now completely committed to the notion that I was talking to my dead goldfish, not only talking to her, but about to “stuff” her guts back in and sew her up so she could swim without getting her intestines hung up on the bowl’s decorations.

The junk drawer had some zipties and string and 8 phillips head screwdrivers, no flatheads, 2 nails and not much else. Nails could do the job. Nice and slender, nails are.

The traveling sewing kit my mother had given me all those years ago was handy and had some nice sharp needles in it. Thread may be a problem though.

I’m not a big fan of secrets. If a thing needs to be a secret, there’s a reason for it. That reason is most probably a good one. So why violate a good reasons reason for being and tell a secret?
It is simply amazing how long the intestines of a goldfish are. Loopy too. Slimy. Hard to hold. Veritably impossible to stuff into a small equally slimy skin.

So I got the scissors, cut off the extruded loops of digestive tissue and stuffed her with cotton, being sure to get out all the unsightly lumps my squashing had made of her. Goldie was quite pleased, feeling that she had never looked so plump and round, very important things to Goldfish, as she did now.

Plopping her back in her bowl for the moment, I sat back to take a deep breath and assess the situation.

Zombies can’t take deep breaths. They can’t take any breaths at all. Zombies don’t breathe.

The realization that I would never again draw breath and therefore would never again smell the sweet scent of my darling Rebecca, any of her sweet scents, made me cry. Well, it made me want to cry. Seems zombies have non-working tear ducts too.

I stood up to shout my anger to the heavens above, somehow having the wind to do this, when my arm fell off, hitting the floor like a piece of dead meat.

How inconvenient. This would not do. It must be rectified.


Phillips head screwdrivers and zipties. It would have been easier with a drill, but I had loaned it to Little Gordo, the biggest Mexican you have ever seen. Still, I could do it with what I have. Attach my arm more permanently, I mean. I could macgiver it.

Take a skinny screwdriver and poke a hole all the way through the detached limb. Poke matching holes in arm. Attach forearm to upper arm with zipties.

Viola, like it was brand new.