This short story was also commissioned by Candace C Bowen and Paul de Lancey. It appears in their anthology Loving you to Death, available here on Amazon
Again, the challenge was to tell a story in only 250 words about love and how it could somehow, in a hilarious way, be tied to an accidental murder..
Ethnography is the study of peoples, their cultures, customs and differences. You might be surprised, however, who is actually doing the research….
Sitting on the front doorstep in the sun, Cleft scratched his ear with his paw. “Interesting”, he thought: “I was left-handed before.”
He was loving this assignment. The fe-mail who delivered the mail was due soon. “Ambiguous ontology”, he noted “Must refine it.” She always scratched his head gently. He’d grown fond of the small Pekinese next door too. He checked himself, dog-thoughts crossing his mind.
He was at the gate on time, observing, but today a mail delivered the mail. Cleft nuzzled him and attempted the dog-equivalent of a smile. His jaw made it tricky; it was much easier as a squirrel on his last posting.
Instead of a scratch, Cleft felt a searing pain in his neck and heard “I hate &%$# dogs…”. The electric shock flipped him onto his back. Involuntarily, his jaws clamped onto the mail’s ankle and he bit down too hard.
The mailman sat up. He looked around at his tail and then at his lifeless body, crumpled on the sidewalk in front of him. Cleft’s voice mingled with his new dog-thoughts: “Sorry. It’s not easy studying you mail people like this. I wonder if, in time, you’ll re-appraise your opinion of dogs? Perhaps you could get some help?
The mailman could feel Cleft’s presence fading in his mind. “By the way,” Cleft whispered “The Pekinese next door is really cute…”
Barry is a postgraduate research student, studying at AUT University in Auckland, New Zealand. He has no desire to date the Pekinese who lives next door to him.
The promotional flyer for the competition that I submitted before Cleft was published:
Later, I got my first Amazon review from someone who brought the book. I feel privileged to receive such criticism: