by Francine Witte

Champagne fizz and me half drunk, I don’t even hear the lock click open on my scabby apartment. With all the paint peel and carpet curl, I can’t imagine who would want to rob me of my nothing.

But here it is, New Year’s Eve, and there’s no one here but me and Max, my dogperson. Max has been barktalking to me all afternoon. Change the lock, he said. Any human thing could break in, he said. Just like any human thing can sneak in and take your unguarded heart.

Max is a smartass dogperson, and I wish he would shut the hell up.

Anyway, back to this. I’m drinking and the bubblewubble is tickling my nose. And just like that, out of nowhere, lockclick and doorwhoosh and in pops David!, my sort-of boyfriend. His mother named him with an exclamation point included. Told him she had hoped it would excite his life.

David! is tall and thin and tends to sway like a flagpole when he stands in one place for too long. David! had clicked me open just last month. Reached in and grabbed my heart. And just like that he left it in a mangled heap, and I’m not at all surprised he’s here to finish the job.

He is waving a gun around and teetering back and forth like there’s a Santa Ana blowing through here. I hold out my champagne bottle to David!, and I tell him to put down the gun and have a drink and I’m sorry I didn’t make his life more exciting.

He just looks at me and Max. ‘But that’s what you promised,’ he finally says. ‘You, with your red-lipped smile and your black-stockinged legs. But you never. Not even a little.’

Here, he puts down the gun. And I’m thinking this is all over, when David! clamps his meat paws around my neck.

Meanwhile, Max has been rooting around under the kitchen sink for scraps. Max goes from dogperson back to dogdog whenever the hell. But he knows a good commotion, and springs quickly into gear. I am rasping something like, just shoot me, hoping this will give David!’s hands other ideas.

In this briefest of beats, Max has snatched up David!’s gun and is holding it between his teeth. And rather than shoot, which would be impossible anyway, Max simply noses David! and his rumpity ass out the unlocked, unguarded door.

Like all the other times that Max has saved me, I will exhale and thank him both in English and in dogspeak. I will let him tell me how he’s always right about the human things. I will polish off what’s left of the champagne and give Max one of those dog treats I save for special occasions like this.

By morning, this will all be history. But this time, when Max invites me to join him in hunting for scraps under the kitchen sink, I might stop pretending I’m so damn superior and just go join him for once.

Francine Witte is the author of four poetry chapbooks, two flash fiction chapbooks, and the full-length poetry collections Café Crazy (Kelsay Books) and the forthcoming The Theory of Flesh (Kelsay Books)  Her play, Love is a Bad Neighborhood, was produced in NYC this past December. She lives in NYC.