The Humor and Life, in Particular Web site
author:  Margie Culbertson



E.R. Vine
George Miller was hungry. He usually was, but especially on Wednesday evenings. On Wednesday, Sadie played bingo at the community center. George hated bingo, even though it got Sadie out of the house for a few hours. So did the Women's Guild, the literary society, the bridge club and the sewing circle. He liked all of them. They didn't interfere with supper. Bingo did.

George loved to eat, and since retirement he wasn't burning off many calories. Sadie kept telling him he'd eat himself to death. He said it'd be her fault for being such a good cook, but sometimes he sacrificed thirds just to keep her quiet. George liked quietness. Except at meal time, he was glad when Sadie was out of the house. He really wasn't fat, though he tipped the scales at two hundred even. On him it looked good. He was five foot seven. Now it was Wednesday evening and he had a terminal case of the munchies.

George checked the refrigerator for the fourth time. No, he hadn't missed anything. Sadie had plastered everything edible with signs promising instant dissolution if he touched it. He had ignored those signs—once. He shuddered, sighed deeply, and closed the door again. Over the past few months he and Sadie had been getting reacquainted. He should have kept on working. Still, she was a good cook, and if it weren't for that bingo....

A whimper at his feet brought him back to reality. It was Sadie's dog, and he was hungry, too. George felt a momentary warmth toward a kindred spirit, or at least a kindred stomach. Fuzzy whimpered again. George absently took a small, bone shaped biscuit out of the box on the table and tossed it to the dog. Fuzzy fumbled the catch and had to skitter across the linoleum after it.

Fuzzy was aptly named. He had a thick coat of wiry gray hair that stuck out in all directions. Except when he opened his mouth to beg, it was hard to tell which way he was facing. Visitors had been known to pat the wrong end by mistake. Fuzzy seemed to take it philosophically. He finished the dog biscuit and whined for another. George shook out a handful and sat down to dole them out. They looked too good for dogs. He sniffed one. It smelled somewhat like liver. He loved liver, but Sadie seldom fixed it. His taste buds twitched slightly. He tossed Fuzzy another one, and another. Another. Yet another. That did it. Fuzzy turned around twice and lay down on the floor by the chair.

George started to put the surviving biscuit back in the box, then paused. It did look good, at that. He wondered how it tasted. Gingerly, he nibbled one corner. Not too bad! He chewed it up thoughtfully. Quite good, in fact. Much better than the crackers Sadie served with the cheese dip last week. He reached for another. When Sadie arrived at eight–thirty, expecting to find him savage with hunger, he was really quite civilized.

At supper that night he seemed to be off his feed a bit. He stopped with seconds voluntarily, and even helped with the dishes. Sadie wondered what he had been up to, but decided not to ask. Fuzzy whimpered. Sadie reached for the dog biscuits. Empty.

"I'm sure that box was almost full when I left. I opened it at lunch time."

George said nothing.

She eyed him suspiciously. "Do you know where the dog biscuits went?"

"Fuzzy had some."

"He couldn't have eaten the whole box!"

Fuzzy looked up hopefully. George tried to look innocent, but his face wasn't a good liar. The dog's emotions were well hidden, but George's hair, while every bit as wiry and unruly, only extended from the sideburns back. That left a lot of open terrain to defend, and he wasn't up to it. He felt a guilty expression start at the tip of his nose and spread out over his face like ripples on a pond. He surrendered.

"I ate them."

"What!" Sadie stared at him. He waited. "How were they?" she asked.

"Good." Then, more boldly, "How about picking up two or three more boxes next time you shop?"


Mr. Schultz, who ran the neighborhood grocery, saw her as she started across the street. He finished pyramiding the cans of peas, today's special, and wiped his hands on his apron. He was getting pretty good at predicting her order:  bread, a stick of butter, a small jar of jam, coffee—no, she got coffee last week, but she must be nearly out of sugar—eggs, bacon, a nice slice of ham and make it lean, sour cream and baking potatoes. Oh, yes...and dog biscuits.

"Good morning, Mrs. Miller. Beautiful day, isn't it?"

Her order was true to form. He was about to ring it up when she darted up the aisle and came back with three large boxes of liver–flavored dog biscuits. She put them with the other items on the yellow oilcloth of the counter. He totaled the order. The paper on his old, crank–type adding machine kept curling forward and obscuring the keyboard. He flipped it back.

"That will be fifteen dollars and sixty–three cents."

She handed him two tens. He rang it up on the register. She put the change in her purse and started to pick up her bags. Now was the time to ask; he just had to satisfy his curiosity.

"Mrs. Miller, would you mind telling me what you do with all those dog biscuits? I've seen your dog, and he can't possibly be eating that many."

Mr. Schultz had indeed seen the dog, a shaggy, gray, round little mop sharing a leash with a shaggy, gray, round little man. If the dog were shaved, he thought, it would probably have the same features as its master:  deep set eyes and an underslung jaw full of irregular teeth. On the other hand, the dog inside all that hair probably didn't weigh five pounds.

Sadie Miller bristled. "If you must know," she snapped, "my husband eats them."

Mr. Schultz was shocked. She obviously wasn't joking. "Mrs. Miller!" he cried, "You've got to stop him! Those things aren't people food; they're dog food. They'll kill him!"

She really got angry then. "Why don't you mind your own business? My husband's been eating them for months and they haven't done him a bit of harm. He says they're better than the cookies I used to get here. Goodbye!"

She snatched up her groceries and swept out with the cold dignity of an offended penguin.


Autumn passed, and winter, but she didn't come back. He heard she was shopping at the new chain store on the other side of the village and cursed himself for an officious, meddling fool. Why hadn't he minded his own business instead of chasing away a good customer? Now, whenever a woman bought a box of dog biscuits he couldn't help wondering if her husband ate them, too.

The weeks passed. Mr. Schultz was standing behind his counter on a lovely spring day. He had hooked the screen door open to let the fresh breeze blow through freely. Suddenly Mrs. Miller stumbled in. She was distraught.

"Mr. Schultz! Call the police—the ambulance! My husband...." She collapsed in the chair by the door, weeping. He stared at her, trying to comprehend. She looked up through her tears. "Please call for help! Quick! He's dying!"

"Oh, Mrs. Miller!" he cried helplessly, "Why didn't you listen to me? I warned you about those dog biscuits!"

She pulled herself to her feet and glared at him. "The dog biscuits had nothing to do with it. He was hit chasing a car."

©E.R. Vine



"E.R.Vine" (an improvement on his check–signing name) is a long–retired mechanical engineer living on the family compound in the wilds of Arkansas with his wife, two sons, one daughter–in–law, three dogs, eight cats and a stray nubian goat that wandered in one day. He writes to make up for not having much else to do. He is working on reaching the thousand–rejection–slip mark of the established writer, and only has nine hundred and ninety–nine to go.

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©Margie Culbertson

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