Six

Brian struggled to keep Spot's tail hidden in his coat and out of his face.

"I don't care what this end says," said Brian. "I'm not responding."

"Monsieur le Brian," said Spot. "We must infiltrate this place you call supermarket. We dogs have not the sweat glands. The heavy coat in which you sneak me is very hot, no?"

"You insisted on shopping with me," said Brian.

"You go to secure for me the royal sustenance," said Spot. "To consider your opportunities for mischief distresses me to no end."

"You're lucky I don't pick you up cat chow," said Brian. "Here it is. Let's go."

"The cereal kibble?" said Spot.

"It makes its own gravy," said Brian. "Just add water."

"Monsieur le Brian," said Spot. "The intestines of the human beings? They have the nooks and crannies for the long digestion. But the intestines of the canines? The meal of choice is the smelly animal entrails. In particular when they mingle with the haunting aroma of fermenting decomposition. The commercial dog food is instead available to keep the caregivers from, when they feed the dogs, how do you say it? From the generous vomiting. From the abundant upchucking. From the festive regurgitation. To suspend the happy music of cud insurgency."

"What will keep you from treasure hunting the neighborhood trash cans?" said Brian.

"The liver, the kidneys, the tripe," said Spot. "Follow the odor to discover at long last the Shangri-La of body parts that have no moving."

"Your tummy looks like it started a party and forgot to invite you," said the cashier to whom Brian took his armful of pungent dark and gray packaged meats.

"I have indigestion," said Brian.

"Well, I don't see how all of these rich meats will help your indigestion any," she said.

"I have a special condition," said Brian. "My intestines are very smooth, like a canine. I require rich foods that digest quickly. No fiber."

"Sounds like a tough life," she said. "Eating all that rich food. How would a girl keep her figure?"

"Please," said Brian. "I'm very sensitive about my condition. They call it the Doggie Tickle Otis."

"I'm sorry," she said. "$19.54, please."

"That was a good year," said Brian. "Ha, ha. My Aunt Fern's husband always seems to get a laugh from that joke. Ha."

"Your uncle must be quite a handsome man," she said. "Feel better soon."

"I hear traffic from the other side of that glass door," said Brian. "I hear freedom."

"Sir," said the security guard who intervened. "Isn't that coat too heavy to be in season?"

"No," said Spot from beneath Brian's beard. "We — I mean, I — steal nothing. Either take us, which is to say me, into the custody. Or let us go. By which I mean me."

"If you've done nothing wrong," said the guard, "why shop in disguise?"

"What?" said Brian. "Where did this dog come from? No. He, he only wanted to make sure I fed him what he wanted."

"Indeed," said the guard.

"This dog ran away from the circus," said Brian. "He knows how to talk."

"Bark, bark, bark," said Spot.

"Stop acting normal," said Brian.

"Bark, bark, le bark," said Spot.

"I think you had better come with me, young man," said the guard.

"Why are you doing this to me?" said Brian.

"I hear what no one can stand is the know-it-all," said Spot.