I tremble.

My bones creak and I pull myself up from the porch, splintered wood releasing itself from my paws but I won’t whimper. The Biteys follow me to my guard duty. The Round-Leg Metal Dog clicks and clacks and turns off. It floats over the road when it walks. Its Master holds the leash inside it. Its Master doesn’t even have to chain it to a post. SitStayGoodDog until it’s time to go for a walk.

I snarl.

I used to go for walks inside them, inside other Round-Leg Metal Dogs, but not for a long time. Not since MyFriend left. Not since JuneShake. Not since the old smells grew taller and brought new smells with them and my eyes clouded over and I couldn’t see but I could smell everything like I used to when I would protect them. They don’t need my protection but I still smell everything: the air from Round-Leg Metal Dog, the brown spit on the ground, last night’s rancid scraps, the bees nesting and buzzing in my chewed-out ball, the crust around my bowl, the rust hole that makes my water spill onto the porch, the smell of my own blood from the Biteys maybe I’ll name them like MyMaster named me: sometimes GoodJune. Sometimes DammitJune. Sit Stay. Fuckoff. No shake. Not anymore. I like to shake. I miss to shake. GoodJune.

The new face, the Round-Leg’s Master. That old thing still kicking? he says. He laughs and spits. He puts out his fleshpaw. I growl. I’m still kicking. He keeps reaching. I snap. He slaps. Stupid old dog. I grab his fleshpaw with my teeth, the droplet of chew spit that missed and dirt, the shale and ham and flesh and bone and blood. MyMaster yells, JesusFuckingChristJune. He hits me again. I let go. DammitJune. I whimper. I lay back down. I see MyMaster walking with him and they disappear into the cloud.

I used to see as far as the world is wide before the cloud, all the way to the end of the road and back.

• • •

They say I’m cross.

The blue turns black and the night smells come out. The bad ones howl and whine and circle the house and the sheep. I sit. I stay. The Biteys swarm and bite and the splinters splinter each time I roll over into my own little slice of comfort. I keep myself warm against the cold metal of my chain of my tether. When I roll it clinks and clacks and I hear it bend. Snap. Someday snap.

MyMaster opens the screen door and stumbles out. He holds himself up with the wood and metal stick. DammitJuneDammitJune. You make me do this. You make me I just. He points the metal stick at my face and puts the wood up to his eyes. He hides behind it. I look up, up at the dark metal stick, up at his trembling fleshpaws and at the water from his eyes. Ohforfuckssake he says. He puts the metal stick down. Onemorechance he says. He pats me on the head with his wet fleshpaw.

GoodJune. Onemorechance. GoodnightJune.

• • •

LoudChicken hoots and hollers to tell all of us that it’s time to get up but I know that already. MyMaster shuffles by, throwing the straps of his overalls over his shoulders and grumbling and he pats me on the head and I pull and he says DammitJune not another one don’t break another one spent more money on chains for you than on the chickens that hoot and holler. They were good chickens.

A Round-Leg Metal Dog pulls into the driveway. I pull and pull and tug and the splinters dig into each pad but I will pull and be useful I will be protecting and GoodJune. Onemorechance. I pull and pull and tug and tug and even the Biteys get out of my way and today snap.

I run and run and I run past MyMaster DammitJune and past his fleshpaw with the overall strap holding on by a thread and to the gate. I jump and hit my belly against the cold metal and my claws scrape and make a bad noise and flake rust to the ground and into my hair against the Biteys that fly with me like a raincloud that makes me bleed. Scrape scrape scramble scamper. But I won’t whimper not June DammitJune.

The Round-Leg Metal Dog breathes and its Master crawls out. I will protect MyMaster. I will show how useful I am. I will protect him. Onemorechance. I bare my teeth, even the hole where the one is missing and the other was glued back on. I still taste the glue. It was a treat. It gummed up my throat and I licked and licked and they laughed and laughed stupid old dog but now I will protect and show MyMaster I am useful I snarl Onemorechance and MyFriend says JuneShake and I stop.

JuneShake.

I shake.

©2013 Tyler Weaver