Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fifi's Wagon

An excerpt from my novel work-in-progress, about Fifi, a morbidly obese French bulldog.

At first, Fifi galloped in the manner that only a bulldog with short stubby legs can gallop. As the months passed and the weight accumulated, she slowed to a clumsy uneven jog, which eventually descended into a labored waddle. Fifi had finally assumed a pitched Frankenstein-type lurching gait those last few weeks when she could still ambulate on her own. Sylvia had worried that Fifi would keel over on her side and remain stuck like a flipped turtle.
A normal bulldog possesses loose flaps of skin that drape around the skull and falls in folds. Fifi's facial skin wrapped so tightly around her skull that her head resembled a medicine ball filled to capacity and in danger of bursting at any time. Fifi had been a playful puppy but her stubby legs were soon overwhelmed by her massive weight, and she had been unable to walk since she was two years old. Ever practical Sylvia had commissioned Ben to construct a wagon in his woodshop so she could haul Fifi outside to relieve herself.
This required an elaborate ritual.
As soon as Fifi whined to go outside, Sylvia hurried to the front hall closet. She donned a white lab coat and an oversized pair of black rubber chemist's gloves and assumed the appearance of an anorexic mad scientist. Next, she retrieved both the ramp and wagon Ben had built. Sylvia then propped the ramp so Fifi could waddle onto it. Fifi could not make it up the incline, and Sylvia had to struggle against gravity to get Fifi close to the wagon. Fifi weighed half as much as Sylvia. Eventually Sylvia realized lifting the ramp and dumping Fifi into the wagon was the most efficient method.
Next came the long and winding path through the yard. She hauled the wagon behind the garage, away from the prying eyes of her neighbors. Then she shoved Fifi to the rear of the wagon so the dog's hindquarters hung over the side, and waited for her to eliminate.
Six years of this routine had not improved Fifi's aim.
When Fifi finished, Sylvia wiped the dog's nether region as well as the edge of the wagon with Scott toilet paper and left the whole mess in place wherever it dropped. It was then referred to as compost.
Ben learned to seek out and isolate pockets of wadded white-paper compost before he fired up the power mower after one unfortunate incident some years ago back which is best left to the imagination.

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