ME, MY SKIP, AND I by Christian Angeles

The moist air wreaked of rainwater and Skip’s curiously pungent aroma, which left an oddly familiar taste of vinegar on my palate. Not that I should be surprised. Humans have always tasted salty and oily and on rare and refreshing occasions: sweet. Especially in the summer. And most especially after eating ice cream.

I bet they would make yummy delicacies. If it weren’t for the fact they made even better servants, who fed and worshiped and pet me in all the hard to reach places – I’d probably eat one. In fact, if I were big, and I mean really big, like the size of a boat at the docks kind of big, I’d try and eat all the puny humans – especially the mean ones.

All of them except for Skip.

Never Skip.

Skip is my brother in hunger. We live in a box, well several boxes scattered throughout the town. We share everything, all the left-over morsels Bar Harbor has to offer. Skip is different. At times, he is more dog than man in that skip naps all day, almost as much as I do, and is brimming with odors, the likes of which I’m still discovering on a daily basis. He also pants when he runs because of how out of shape he is. And he’s fidgety in his sleep, the way a dog chases cats in dreams: arms and legs fully extended and flailing wildly. Sleeping next to him can be brutal at times. Especially if we’re both chasing cats in our dreams that evening.

Last night, we slept in an alley beneath a sodden box house during the storm. I noticed the roof slowly start to collapse overnight. I’d reached out to nuzzle Skip to warn him but he was out like a log. At least until morning. When the overhead pool of rainwater started dripping through the roof.

A pattering of drops dribble down the lines of Skip’s cheek. I track them with my eyes. The tiny wet tributaries that finger along the wrinkles of my old friend’s face. Scars from one too many sun cooked summers. It reminded me of my life back in nature. Before Skip. Before the good old days.

Suddenly, the roof gives way splashing Skip right in the face. Screaming and sputtering, he spits out a series of unkind words out of his mouth. It was the way that he said it. Like a beast. Like an animal of the forest and how hostile they’d used to get when I tried to jump and lick and give them a hug.

Nature is not friendly.

People are friendly.

Another reason I will not eat them.

God I hate nature.

But I sure love Skip.

I lick his face to calm him down. It feels an awful lot like wet salty leather. He rubs my head and behind the ear. Our usual morning routine before going off to find a spotty new sleeping location.

“Good morning boy.” Skip says.

“Hi.” I woofed.

“You know the drill. Let’s find some grub.”

As we walk, I see the ocean docks and busy streets and the friendly delicious looking people around town. I have to say, there are ten things that make Bar Harbor the greatest. Ten are the amount of seafood restaurants that throw out their trash, Nine are the amount of areas to sleep in where we can meet the kinds of folks like Skip and I, Eight are the boats at the docks, Seven are the dogs I know at the park, six are the evil squirrels I know are watching me, five are the streets around main street where all the good food is, four is the amount of feet I have, three is the number of parks in Bar Harbor, two is the amount of comfy boxes we have set up to sleep in, and one is the one and only, Skip. My best friend.

“Can I ask you something boy?” asks Skip.

I tilt my head to the side in a curious fashion.

“What would you do if I was dying?”

Dye Ying? What is Dye Ying?

“Ah. So you’d want to come with me?”

No. No I never said that.

“ Well. We’ll just be sure to find you a good owner. Okay.”

You’re weird, Skip but I love you.

Around the corner, just inward toward the alley, is our secondary box house, which is located behind Wichcraft, the greatest sandwich shop the world has ever known. On occasion, one of the employee’s will throw out a Po-Boy that is crammed with succulent delicacies to say the least.

There is nothing better than a Po-Boy. Fried Oysters, romaine lettuce, fresh seedless tomatoes, apple-smoked bacon, onions and creole mustard pickles.  Sometimes with a splash of vinegar.  It was the perfect sandwich. And it always varied in combination when they threw it out – which is a surprise treat within itself.

So it was a delight that Skip was able to find some of those sandwiches.

And so we feasted like kings, like beasts, and above all: like best friends.

And we slept in our box cottages.

And we lay… still as life passed.