The old man sat downstairs talking to his lovely wife. The lovely wife was saying good night as she did every night. The old man had always been a night owl and went to bed long after everyone else was asleep. As she reached in to kiss him, a noise caught his attention. She’s in the sink he thought. He pulled away from his bride and left the office to run upstairs. He had to be quick. There was no proof without catching her in the act.
The old man could still pretty spry when he wanted to be, though the years had limited the duration of his sprints. He knew his limitations. He just needed to get to the kitchen before she jumped down. As he rounded the landing that served as a midway point on the stairs, he pivoted on the railing and launched himself upstairs. As his vision cleared the top floor, he could see the beast. I have you now…
With both humans downstairs, the beast had infiltrated the kitchen and decided to feast on the bits of chicken stuck to the tray soaking in the sink. She had stood on her hind legs, and was standing at the kitchen sink like a person. The beast was as large as a man, and twice as strong. Her two front legs supported her massive frame while her head bent down into the sink in order to grab the tasty morsels from the pan.
Adrenalin fueling the chase, the old man reached the top of the stairs in an instant. He had planned to run up behind the beast so that he could surprise her. If he could scare her while she fed, perhaps she would learn not to eat from the sink. That was the plan anyway. It seemed like a good plan before it all went bad.
As the old man reached the second floor, something unexpected happened. Though he couldn’t be sure what was wrong, his aging brain had time to register one important alert. With pain imminent, the old man’s brain sounded the alarm to all bodily systems: Warning – collision imminent – brace for impact!
The human body is a marvelously complex machine. The brain serves as the command center for much of the body. Like a large sea vessel, when emergencies are encountered, alarms are initiated. In this case, the ship had lost it’s bearings due to a sudden unplanned change of course. Specifically, instead of moving forward, the ship was now diving straight for the floor. Old ships are not submarines after all, and sudden acceleration towards the sea floor is cause for alarm. So it was with the old man. He was not built for sudden acceleration towards the floor. Still, the old man’s brain was pretty active. Aware of sudden danger, his brain recorded the following actions and alerts in short order:
- Hands: pain
- Elbows: pain
- Knees: pain
- Cause: Sudden lack of ability to remain upright
- Secondary Cause: Falling
- Primary Cause: Tripped
- Root cause analysis: The Beast
- Alternate Beast Identification: Ferret Dog
- Canonical Name of Ferret Dog: Annie
- Emergency Restorative Action 1: Scream in anger and pain
- Emergency Restorative Action 2: Re-evaluate horizontal position
- Reset all systems and report
- Reset Initiated…
- Critical systems: nominal
- Legs: pain
- Arms: pain
- Man-parts: How YOU doin’?
- System has been reset
- Prime Directive: Kill Ferret Dog
As I flopped on the ground trying to decide which limb hurt the most, Annie jumped down from her feast while Lauren came upstairs to see what all the fuss was about. It hurt to get up. It hurt to do anything. Somehow, someone had come in and replaced my body with that of an old man’s. As an additional insult, it would seem that the old man’s body had clown feet that had hooked the top step of the stairs. None of that mattered though. It was hard to see through the pain, impossible to think through the rage. One thought consumed me.
Kill The Beast!
Annie enjoyed the advantage of youth. The beast, however, lacked wisdom. Though I might have been unable to run up a flight of stairs while remaining upright, I should damn well be able to outsmart a one year old dog. Life isn’t like it is in books though. Slowly I climbed to my feet while Lauren watched, her concern masked by her strenuous attempts at curtailing her laughter.
Annie cowered in the corner. She had no fear of physical retribution, for we had never laid a hand on her in anger. She knew though — oh the beast knew what she had done. She wore her guilt as if it were a necklace of thick iron. Her head hung under the weight of it, her eyes looking up at me with a pitiful stare.
Still my fury was consuming. I gathered my bruised old body, stood towering over her and pointed a shaky finger at her. The only word I could manage through the anger and pain hung in the air as I glared at her.
That was it. That was all the English I could conjure. My internal conflict had consumed all of my mental resources leaving me with only basic language skills. I wanted to kill the Ferret Dog, but I could never hurt her. The beast had won. I’m not entirely sure how, but she had won.
I gathered up my bruised body along with my battered dignity and limped back downstairs where I could hurt in peace. The battle had ended; I had lost. Losing wasn’t the problem though. What bothered me most was that for all my pain and humiliation, the she-beast hadn’t learned a damned thing.