Orphan Dogs - Samuel Cole

After our final PRIDE, we (you, me and a yappy terrier named Bentley) unleashed from the SexWorld bag onto the bedspread PRIDE’S tchotchke loot: condoms and frisbees and Blow Pops and two lime-green New Testament Gideon Bibles
from a horde of neckties who still believe God can change queer to clear. Hissing at the neckties, Bentley licking the loot, we were almost over it. It’s tragic, how quickly gay men with little dogs can move on. I gave the bag one last shake. A business card from the Humane Society of Minneapolis fell onto the floor. “You’re not tchotchke loot anymore,” you told Bentley. Rain came. We’d heard it was coming. I sat beside you on the carpet and passed between us the business card, Bentley, and a cigarette, taking from each the design for which it was made: matted cages littered with whatnot burning for home.

During our final PRIDE, we (you, me and thousands more free) roamed the white tent grid in a park with a playground for urbanite children missing the air of a swing, the rush of a slide, the grasp of a monkey bar, the queers of a sideshow. I tied to our wrists strings anchoring a bunch of We-R-Family balloons. I mummified our bare chests with errant tye-dye streamers from the Equal Rights parade float. I yelled at the Baptists, “We’re not tchotchke loot but we’ll take your lime-green Bibles anyway.” I snapped a picture of us in front of the Humane Society of Minneapolis booth, holding a yappy terrier named Corky you renamed Bentley, and posted it on Facebook—271 likes: 69 comments: 6 shares in ten minutes. You’d think we were happy. You’d think we loved PRIDE.  You’d think Bentley the luckiest terrier in Minnesota. You’d think we were foreshadowing the future.

Before our final PRIDE, we (just you and me), ate oatmeal in silence, showered alone, argued parade routes, disputed parking fees, and itemized each other’s shortcomings—I’m surprised we ever arrived anywhere intact. A billboard sign on Highway 94 got us talking. HAPPY PRIDE FROM THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF MINNEAPOLIS: a grainy picture of a yappy terrier plastered on both sides. “I wonder why there’s always so many dogs at PRIDE in need of rescue,” I said. “Duh,” you said, without pause. “If orphan gays in orphan days can save orphan dogs from orphan ways, then orphan dogs in orphan ways can save orphan days from orphan gays who’ve been compared for far too long as tchotchke loot.”

Samuel Cole lives in Woodbury, MN, where he finds work in special event management. He is a poet, flash fiction geek, and essayist enthusiast. His work has appeared in many literary journals. He is also a prize-winning card maker and scrapbooker.