Finnegans Woof by Richard O’Neil

      

They’d dressed him as a cat, but I knew better; I’d sniffed his ass: Still 100% dog, hey. He whipped around and started up. 

“The hefk you doin?”

“Sniffing your ass, hey.”

“Oh. Balls?”

“Balls!”

So we getted outdoors and started chewing balls, me a godzilla and him a cat, but then he started eyeballing my ball and I had to tell him what was what, hey. “Stupid,” I said.

“No, you’re stupid.”

“Stupid.”

“You’re stupid!”

“Stu–grrrrr–stupid!”

“GIMME THE BALL.”

“STUPID.”

“YOU’RE STUPID.

“STUPID, HEY.

“YOU’RE STUPID, HEY.”

“STUPIDER STUPID.

“HEY!”

Paul being Paul said No then STOP IT then took our balls. Calm Down, he said. You Two. We went to the fire. They were having a ball anyway and drinking and hooting and adjusting their police uniforms and DJ discs and things. I sniffed in the grass. Nothing. Sniffed legs. Nothing. Two got up, walked off, a dog-man and a cat-woman, very impressive. Somebody’s poochie sniffed my tooshie.

The hefk? I whipped about. “The hefk?” 

She was a pumpkin. “Sup.”

SAY HI YOU TWO. We circled like gunslingers getting good deep inhalations, pumpkin and godzilla, then moseyed back to cat, who was not a cat, but prissy as one, chewing a plush skeleton.

“Nice!” she said. “Me?”

He gave it up, the ass. To me: “Food?”

I agreed. “Food!”

There were more indoors, ghouls and rat-people. One of them had entered earlier as a giant cat and looked into our eyes until we’d agreed mutually to murder him, then removed his head, was himself again, the hefk, snuck us cheesies when Paul was outdoors, then stopped when Paul was indoors, hey. The asshole. 

“FUCK PAUL.”

Paul arrived. What’s Up, Boy.

“CHEESIES.”

He scratched my chin. Oh, yes. Big hullabaloo, snorts and giggles, they were Wanna Play Fesh?-ing with a ball, up and down into cups, drinking cups, STUPID, I wanted to Fesh, pumpkin entered. “Me?” she said. “Me?” She looked at me. The hefk? But I didn’t know. “Me? ME?” Pushed by a toe to GO AWAY then SHUT UP. I ran up and down the steps. Then again. Third time. My god. Exhilarating. I waited, surveying the crowd, my head held high. “CHEESIES?” Were they not impressed? A hobo, I’MBOB MARLEYBRO, ignoring me, swiped his chatter. “…Cheesies?”

Hefk. Up I went, top step, my throne, I almost lay down my head but–OH, now wufk? OH DAMIAN. I nosed the door a crack, pulsating peoples, dog-man and cat-woman defurred. Still had her tail, hey. Unh. I wanted in, positioned, yeah-yeah-yeah, What The Fuck, snorting and raucous, cat-woman saying Oh My Gaaa(aaaaaaaaaa)wd, covering her nose to stifle giggles, maybe meows, and then I was off the bed. Shoo Boy. Unh, Mnh, Not Two Hard, That Okay, Yeah Baby, I snuck up on cat-woman, yeah-yeah-yeah, STOP, she said, GO AWAY he said, I was airborne godzilla, toe in my tooshie, a sonic boom of gusts and gale behind me. Closed door. I pawed. Hey? 

“Sup.”

I turned. pumpkin. 

We went downstairs, met a crayfish, Hey Emily. WOW PAUL I Love Your HOWSE. Aw. Who’s This? This is Nugget, this is Muffin, SAY HIIIIIII–

We circled.

“No,” he said. Wouldn’t make eye contact. “No…”

Me: “You’re ugly, hey.” pumpkin: “Sup, sup.”

“No, please…”

Dork. I asked: “Balls?”

He blinked, deigned to condescend. “…Okay.”

So we tended a corner, pumpkin cat crayfish and me, godzilla, chewing balls, they’d given us no toasted marshies from the flame, when three others hopped the wall, three skeleton heads, all in black. Silence on the guffawing. Nervous giggles like when I burp.

 

PAUL:

Excuse Me. Who Are You. This Is My Howse. You Can’t Be Here. 

SKELETONS:

PAUL:

You Need Two Leave. 

SKELETONS:

PAUL:

Hello. You Going Two Say Anything. 

SKELETONS:

PAUL:

Ile Call The Cops. 

SKELETONS:

Haw haw.

BITCH:

Paul. Ime Calling The Cops.

PAUL:

Hold on.

BITCH: 

Ime CALLING THE COPS PAUL.

SKELETONS:

PAUL:

Guys. Seriously. 

SKELETON:

Nice party.

pumpkin:

“Sup.”

BITCH:

Muffin Come HERE.

pumpkin:

“Me?” 

BITCH:

MUFFIN NOW.

SKELETON: 

Hey Girl.


Crouches. Scratches pumpkin. Her leg goes tap-tap-tap and I want some. “Hey.” NUGGET. That’s Paul. NUGGET COME HERE. Calm Down, he says, the skeleton. I’m Good With Dogs. Retrieves—my god—a bag of cheesies. Then pumpkin is gorging, pure bliss. 

Flufk that. “CHEESIES, HEY.” 

NUGGET. 

We Are Here in the Name of Satan–  

OK IME SICK OF THIS IME CALLING THE COPS. 

And We Are Here To Do Satan’s Work (withdrawing the cheesies).

Me: “FUCK SATAN!”

Sorry, boy. Here you go (cheesies outheld, mountains and mountains). 

I gobble it all. “SATAN’S ALL RIGHT.”

 

SATAN:

 

Good Boy.

 

Hullabaloo again, indoors, cat runs in circles saying, “STUPID, STUPID, BALLS, STUPID,” there are more skeletons, through the front door all in black, the earliers are cowering, the hobo is on the ground, there are six skeletons now, pumpkin looks to me. The hefk? But I still don’t know, I hate loud noises, STUPID, one big skeleton won’t leave the front door, they are hacking, up and down, spilling cans and candied corn and people running as they drop their marshies, which crayfish and me gobble.

“Pretty good, hey.”

“It’s okay…” 

“Sup,” says pumpkin. 

“Food.”

“Me?”

Idiot. “There, hey.” She gets her own marshies. Indoors the skeletons walk around, leaning over bodies, putting hands to necks and shaking. “Hey,” I say. “Hey. HEY.” They’ve closed the door. Cat-woman and dog-man are weeping, brought down with two skeletons behind them, put on their legs, like when Paul says BEG BOY SHAKE and I wobble a bit for some cheesies. Please Don’t, says dog-man. Cat-woman stares at the ground. We Didn’t Do Anything. Please. Satan makes a slice to his neck for the skeletons to see and then it gets icky, many motions, and I return to sniffing grass. 

It’s quiet now and pumpkin and cat are looking in. The skeletons open the door. 

 

pumpkin:

“Sup.”

cat: 

“Balls?”

SKELETONS:

What About Them. 

SATAN:

Who.

SKELETONS:

The Weenies. 

SATAN:

Come Here Boy.

 

“Cheesies?” He’s at my face, no more skeleton, baby eyes, baby skin, baby, HEY, scratches my chin, god, yes. This Won’t Hurt. I Promise. He wipes it on a towel first, it’s all white, it’s all red, Paul is behind him but on his back, his chest isn’t rising, PAUL, it isn’t falling, he puts it, it’s gleaming above my head and between my shoulders. Hold Still. 

 

SATAN:

SATAN:

SATAN:

There.



godzilla falls around me. I leap out. YES. godzilla is deflated, on the ground. Satan says, Come Here, and pumpkin is cut from the pumpkin, cat says, NO NO NO STUPID NO ASSHOLE NO, Come On Boy. It’s All Right. NO NO NO. Here You Go. OH GOD CHEESIES YES. Good Boy. He cuts the cat ears, the cat suit, it’s out, it’s on the ground, cat is all brown under there, I hate him, idiot. crayfish lies there, looking at no one, shy dork, loser, stupid, STUPID, and leaves his red suit behind him, he’s all spots, he just sits there, gets the most pats. Good Boy. GOOD Boy.  

“HEY.”

“ME?”

“HEY.”

“BALLS?” 

 

SKELETONS:

Oh My God.

SKELETONS:

Can We Just Kill Them.

SATAN:

What.

SKELETONS:

The Dogs.

SKELETONS:

The Weenies. Haw.

SATAN:

No. 

SKELETONS:

Why.

SATAN:

I Like Dogs. 

SKELETONS:

SKELETONS:

Why Are You Here.

SATAN:

They Didn’t Do Anything Wrong.

SKELETONS:

Bluh.

former pumpkin:

“Sup.”

SKELETONS:

This One Likes You.

SATAN:

[scratching my ears]

 

They Put Their Dogs In Costumes. 

SKELETONS:

[scratching former pumpkin’s]

Fucking Weirdos.

SATAN:

[scratching my belly]

Yeah. It’s Sick.

SKELETONS:

They Deserve To Die For That Alone.

MORAL OF THE STORY:

Yeah.

once a cat:

“Balls?”

SKELETONS:

[crouching]

You’re A Needy One Aren’t You.

SKELETONS:

Let’s Take Them With Us.

SKELETONS:

What?

SKELETONS:

Fucking No. 

SATAN:

[standing]

There’s Room In The Van.

SKELETONS CHORUS:

Seriously.

Come On.I’m Down. 

It Should Be Fine.                         U

                                                        G

[clapping] Satan Puppies!   H.        Fine. 

We get through the room over the bodies, past the red spots, outdoors. No walls, hey. Trees and sky. Rainbow scents. Cool cold and fallen leaves. I zip to the bushes. Back. A Third time. Puff out my chest. Adore me. “SATAN.” Good Boy, says the Skeletons. Scratching my ears. Yes. I am. GOOD BOY. Red van. They go in before me, the former pumpkin and once a cat, he who never makes eye contact is lifted, sits on a skeleton’s lap. Satan waits for me.

You Coming Boy.

“Cheesies?”

The most delicious piece of kibble ever tasted flits through the air, into my maw, I slobber and chomp until it’s sinew then mush. Satan pat-pats the floorboard, the others watch me. How Many More Houses We Got. Satan holds up fingers. Then We’re Done. Back to me, saying, Last Chance Boy. I am free now. I leap. The door closes. A whole wide world of cheesies and romps and sniffs. Hail Satan, says Satan. Hail Satan, says the skeletons. Scratches my chin, rubs my belly, I am loved, I am adored, I am worthy, hey. I stand on my backies and watch the outdoors. Pumpkins. Lanterns. Ghouls. Spookies. Up in the sky a great big light, blue and splendid, it is an eyeball looking back. It doesn’t blink. I don’t blink. I raise my neck and howl like I’ve never howled. This is the best. It is splendid. I am here. Satan applauds and scratches my head. Good Boy, he says. 

Good Boy. 

 


Richard O’Neil lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio.

Published 10/27/22






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