A Shaggy Dog Story for Halloween.

by Pedro

It’s going to be a great Halloween. I just get that feeling. I suppose it’s what Grandma means when she says “I can feel it in my waters.” Eew! Gross!  Where do grandmas get this gross stuff from? There’s Mom trying to teach me to be polite and everything, then her mom comes out with something like that. I reckon she does it to wind Mom up. It sure looks like it by the number of times I’ve been thinking that and the old girl has turned to me with a grin on her face as if she has heard my thoughts.

Grandma moved in with us when Grandpa passed about three years ago, not long after Dad upped and left us. So there is just the three of us in the house. Although it’s Mom’s house, grandma keeps us in order. Actually it’s great having her as she runs the house and gets meals for us so Mom doesn’t have to when she gets in from work. I still have to help out when I get home from school. Grandma says I need to know how to cook for when I leave home.

I don’t watch much TV, only things that interest me. Dad used to make me sit with him and watch the sports channels. Football and baseball. Ugh. All the hype turned me off. Even worse when Dad used to run his mouth.  I’d sooner watch paint dry. I’d sooner do math homework. Ok, so I’m a nerd. We did watch Australian Rules football occasionally, when Dad couldn’t find anything else he liked better. That was a bit more fun. I certainly thought it more interesting with the players in their short shorts and sleeveless jerseys. I think Grumps, Dad’s Dad, must be able to read my mind, because he used to put it on whenever he came to stay. Dad used to get so pissed.

Mom said I could have the sports channels if I paid for the subscription. No thanks. Aussie Rules isn’t that interesting. I don’t like the soaps either, but Mom and Grandma do and give me a summary at mealtimes so I can bluff my way at school. So what do I do instead of TV? I read. Told you: I’m a nerd. Online mostly. Although I like the feel of handling real books, hard copy of the stuff I read online wouldn’t have been a good idea when Dad was around. They say you can judge a man by the contents of his bookshelf. If I tell you my online bookshelf is and a couple of similar sites, does that confirm what you have already guessed about me?

Of course I also like to look at pictures and that was my undoing. Well more Dad’s undoing. He caught me looking and started running his mouth about faggots and slapping me about but I managed to knee him one. That slowed him down enough for Mom and Grumps, who was staying with us at the time, to come find out what the noise was. Dad wanted to chuck me out in the street saying “He goes or I go.” Grumps, bless him, didn’t argue. He just gave me a hug, looked Dad in the eye and said “Looks like you’re the one going, son. You can come back tomorrow for your stuff.” Dad never did come back. Grumps took his stuff with him when he went home and Dad collected it from there.

Why Grumps? Apparently when I was a little kid I tried to say ‘gramps’ but got it wrong. Everyone said it was cute, except Dad who thought it fit, so it kind of stuck.

A couple of years ago Grumps decided to sell his house and move into a retirement apartment.  I thought he might come and live with us, but he said that probably wasn’t a good idea and anyway he wanted to stay in the same town as his friends. He still visits regular though.

When he moved, I went over to his place to help him clear out his attic and he gave me loads of books. Stuff he said he used to read when he was a teenager. Sci-fi and fantasy. There were some novels set in ancient Greece by Mary Renault. They were interesting. More like the stuff I have been finding online. Not the sort of thing I would have expected Grumps to read. So I looked and found they had my name not Grumps’ in the front. So I asked him about it. Turns out he had a brother that nobody mentions and who disappeared when he was about my age. Grumps says, although it is a common name in Mom’s family, he likes to think of me as being named after his brother. I was thinking about asking what happened to him but Grumps’ face clouded over and he said it was probably better I didn’t know.

The fantasy books are okay as a bit of escapism. Dragons and werewolves and vampires are fun but I can’t take them seriously. The old sci-fi masters, Clarke and Niven and especially Asimov with his Laws of Robotics and Mathematics of Psychohistory are much more plausible. The idea that crowd behavior over time can be analyzed mathematically really appeals to my nerdiness. Okay, sometimes they have to bring in ideas that are far-fetched in order to get the story to move along and I don’t have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is telepathy. I find that a cop-out. Yes, we can detect impossibly small satellite signals for TV and mobiles, but I just don’t believe the human mind can do the same.


I don’t have many friends and certainly not a special friend I would want to ‘come out’ for. That is not to say there aren’t guys I would like to get to know better. Like that David who I’ve seen around with his big hairy dog. He is in my year and I know he lives just a couple of blocks away.

I once asked Mom if I could have a dog as a playmate. She said okay as long as I looked after it, took it for walks and paid for it and all the bills. That meant I had to get a job to save up, so I do some shifts at the local store. Of course that doesn’t leave me any time to play with a dog, if I had one. Mom must have seen that coming. Moms are crafty like that.

Working at the store has its moments. If I am on the checkouts I like to chat with the customers if it is not too busy. I’ve noticed there are a few old guys who always seem to pick my line. They’re nice enough but I think they fancy me. Have I said I am cute? Well I am. So I camp it up a bit for them and we have a laugh. If I am stacking shelves they will usually stop and say hello.  But there is one guy I don’t like. No fun in his eyes, only lust. I remember thinking ‘kiddie-fiddler’ as I gave him his change one time. He can’t have known what I was thinking but he went bright red. He’s never been back to my line since.

Mind you I nearly got fired the other day. There is this big woman comes in and I mean big. She has an ass like a shelf. You could park a pint glass on each cheek. With her shopping she always buys a tin of diet coke and a chocolate muffin which she consumes at one of the tables behind the checkout area. Coke on the table, muffin hidden in its bag on the bench next to her. Then loads her car up before going to the fast food concession next door! So as I hand over her receipt I am thinking she is kidding herself with that diet coke. She looks at me as though I am the spawn of the devil, goes ape-shit accusing me of calling her fat and threatens to drag the manager over. Fortunately it all blows over when the guy next in the line says I never said anything and she must be hearing things.

So back to today.

I’m in the lunch line and I realise the kid in front is David. So as I surreptitiously check him out I am thinking ‘You know something, David? You are one hot cute guy.’ Well he turns round, gives me a smile as he looks me down and up and says “And so are you!”

Maybe there is something in this telepathy thing after all.

He is coming around later and I think we are going to be ‘trick or treating’. Not around the neighborhood. We are far too old for that, but not too old to try some tricks and treats in my bedroom.


Copyright © Pedro October 2017