SmokeLong Quarterly

Share This f l Translate this page


Story by Meredith Alling (Read author interview) February 1, 2016

Art by Roderick McClain

I saw a man holding a gun to a dog’s head and another man taking their picture so I stepped back and assessed like number one what is going on number two do I want to see it if this man blows this dog’s head off number three what is the other possibility here. The other possibility that my brain came up with pretty fast I have to say is that this is a photo shoot for an instructional book on dog training. The title of the book is Do You Ever Just Want to Kill Your Dog or maybe it’s Are You Holding Your Dog Hostage which could mean that you are not walking your dog or taking it out enough and that’s the reason for the bad behavior. Or maybe it’s You Won’t Have to Hold a Gun to Your Dog’s Head to Get Them To Do These 10 Tricks. So that’s the obvious situation so I lean over the fence and I say hey when does the book come out and the men both turn to me and the dog tries to lie down and the man with the gun nudges the dog back into a seated position. The man with the camera is crouching and he stands up and walks to the fence gets right up on it and looks into my eyes and his eyes are green and he says do you want to see something crazy? And I say well not if it’s what I think you mean and I nod at the gun man and the camera man looks at him and then looks back at me and laughs and says what no come on over, come on there is a gate here. I think well OK maybe I can save this dog we’ll be bonded for life maybe I’ll get shot in the process be a local hero get a sum of money. I go through the gate and I get in there with the three of them and the camera guy says come here, look at this. He takes me to the dog and he says Scooter stand up Scooter stand up. The dog stands up and its back legs are totally dead like paralyzed or something and the knees I guess you’d call them are calloused over. The camera man says go ahead Scooter shake a tail feather, walk a while. The dog listens and starts going and is just dragging those worthless legs but is really moving, not slow at all. And then the camera man says OK Scooter good job come back now and the dog listens. The camera man says this dog doesn’t deserve to die, but some people want it to die. Oh I see I say. So you are not killing it. The camera man says no we are not killing it at all and the man with the gun aims it at the sky and pulls the trigger and nothing happens except for his loud whoop, his loud and joyful whoop.


Notes from Guest Reader Josh Neufeld and Sari Wilson

‘Scooter’ takes the readers in all sorts of unexpected directions.

About the Author

Meredith Alling is a writer and nonprofit project manager living in Los Angeles. Her website is HERE.

About the Artist

Roderick McClain is a writer and artist whose work has appeared in PANK, Diagram and other journals. He holds an MFA in Fiction from UNC Wilmington. His work studies trivial decisions that lead to ruin. He lives in a shed with his family.

This story appeared in Issue Fifty-One of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Fifty-One

Support SmokeLong Quarterly

Your donation helps writers and artists get paid for their work. If you’re enjoying what you read here, please consider donating to SmokeLong Quarterly today.

The Hybrid Flash: How to Dual-Wield Genre

Book Now!

The Hybrid Flash with Erin Vachon

In this webinar/workshop, you will harness the experimental power of hybrid flash. You will discover the intertwined history of hybrid and flash, and read published flash crossed with image, poetry, and creative nonfiction. You will learn the rules of each genre, so you know how to break them.