Dog Saves Man From Lonely Death

Flash Fiction (300 words)

A man holds the paw of a dog.

A few summers back a good friend of mine went crazy and survived to tell the tale. He granted me an exclusive interview on what we’ve agreed to call his return to sanity. He took pains to assure me that poor planning was not behind his failure to die.

This is the story he told me:

To facilitate the stockpiling of ammunition, he moved to a tent in the rumpled hills of western Nebraska. Then, his preparations complete, he became spoiled for choice and dallied, getting particular about time of day, weather conditions, lighting. He found the end of his life had become performance art and developed as a consequence stage fright.

He steeled himself and declared that his next day would be his last. His life was to have ended precisely at sunset, but three days of clouds scuttled that plan by obscuring the exact timing of the celestial event. A born perfectionist, he said he wasn’t going to die sloppily, said he was raised better than that.

He had not planned for a long trip. Food ran short. Game being scarce on the western plains, he took to shooting angels. Reinvigorated by the challenge of the hunt, he turned his back on suicide and shot through his ammunition culling the heavenly herd.

One late-summer day he hitched in to North Platte, sunburned, hungry and thin, his dirty-blonde hair matted, his untended beard greasy, his eyes full of sky. The waitress brought him coffee and observed that he looked hungry. He allowed that he was and confided that there’s not much to an angel in terms of meat, and the feathers are an unholy mess to clean.

I raised a skeptical eyebrow.

He sighed.

The real story was that he had twenty thousand rounds of ammo but didn’t kill himself because there was nobody to care for his dog.


© Copyright 2020 by Jim Latham
Photo by Fabian Gieske on Unsplash
published June 19, 2020 on Medium.com

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