How to Kill Your Chihuahua
The day after Sinatra died, I was frantic. Despite the harrowing events of the night before-- holding my best friend, feeble in my arms as he exhaled his last, pained breaths; placing his cold, limp body into a cardboard box--I was no longer shocked-still by grief. Instead, that paralysis had been replaced by an all consuming need to do something, anything to beat back the sadness. That something--since my dog's body was still laying in the cardboard box--would be the disposal of his stiff, little corpse. Instead of wallowing in despair, I would plan a funeral for my Chihuahua.
I decided to go into work that morning, choosing it as a welcome distraction from the real task at hand. Besides, what else was I going to do? Stare at my dead dog? Cry more? Feel something? That just wouldn't be me. And as I suspected, work turned out to be the perfectly imperfect place to be. Surrounded by drunks and ne'er-do-wells in that grimy little dive bar, I felt at home having a crisis. Shit, everyone there certainly was, I thought as I looked around.
To my left was skin and bone Stephanie, the anorexic 45-year-old wino who loved to cheer on her favorite sports team using a feigned baby voice. Normally her bizarre and infantile routine turned my stomach. It called to mind the kind of deep trauma a woman would have to experience to act so strangely; pouting and pretending to be a child, making up cutesy catch phrases to snag attention from her drunken male cohorts. Today, however, I wasn't bothered when she played the children's song, The Wheels on the Bus, on the juke box. I found her entertaining.
Next to Stephanie was Geoff, who had earned the nickname Mercedes Geoff because he was frequently pulled over for drunk driving in his luxury car. I would constantly fight with Mercedes Geoff, trying to pry his keys from his hands. Sometimes, I would win and call him a cab, only to realize he had snuck out the side door with a spare set of keys. I hadn't won at all. Even worse, I had been tricked by a drunk. I worried not that Mercedes Geoff would kill himself, but that he would kill someone else. Today, though? I didn't care. Go ahead, Geoff. Mow down that family of four.
Let's not forget about Bill. Bill didn't have a nickname, but held the reputation for official dive-bar creep. Bill's shtick was scaring out any and all young women who dared to enter with his shitty pick-up lines and even shittier halitosis. Literally, his mouth smelled like a turd. I looked at Bill and imagined his poor wife having to kiss that mouth. I laughed out loud.
And then there was my boss. Years of cocaine and booze had not treated him well. His skin was washed in a sort of grayish peach, his eyes were yellowed, his bald head speckled with age spots. He sat alone, a pathetic conductor, getting off on being just a little bit better than the rest of his brood. I had a special distaste for his seat in this social scenario, the King of the Valley of Shit, if you will. But today? He didn't seem that bad. And really, who was I to judge? I had a dead dog on my living room floor.
The work day was spent assuring everyone that I was 'just fine' and that I was 'happy Sinatra died at home with me, in my arms,' instead of in a clinical environment where he would have been frightened. People soothed me with generic sentiments and reminded me repeatedly that all dogs go to Heaven. At some point, my original idea to bury Sinatra in my front yard was replaced with a solid plan to drop him into the Pacific Ocean. He and I had, after all, relocated to California together. Also, I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I wasn't up for digging a grave.
But how does one go about dumping their best friend's corpse into the ocean? Customers warned me that this was highly illegal, at which I scoffed. My dog was a 5-lb Chihuahua. How harsh could the penalty for dumping him really be? I reckoned I would need a smaller, well-structured box for his tomb. Something that would sink, but also something with holes in it, so that his body could be eaten by fish. Circle of life and all that. The box I originally housed him in was too flimsy and too large. Not only would I be caught dropping something so big, it would inevitably crumble and wash up on shore. I certainly didn't want some little kid finding a box full of dead dog on the beach the next day.
I needed help. I needed a partner in crime. They say a good friend will help you move, but a best friend will help you move a body. I knew who to call.
"Jesse, I need you to come here. I get off work at 8. We are going to drop Sinatra's corpse into the ocean," I told him. Very matter-of-fact.
Jesse was already aware that Sinatra had died. I had done him the disservice of texting him a picture of the corpse the night before in a flurry of grief. It was a macabre shot--taken on my Smart Phone--the dog stiffly nestled in a bed of flowers, his long protruding tongue strategically covered by a daisy. Fuckin' Millennials, man. I'm surprised I didn't put it on Instagram.
"Ugh, I need a draaank. Shit, I betchu you do, too. Should I meet you at your bar?" He responded.
"We need a box. Something compact, but heavy. Something that will sink," I was all business.
"Okay, I'll head that way A.S.A.P.," Jesses' tone changed as he prepared to be all business as well.
When Jesse arrived at the bar, we each sucked down a drink, loosely plotting the funeral. I decided to drop Sinatra off the Huntington Beach Pier, mainly because it was close. I reasoned that the pier was long, the water deep, and therefore the casket less likely to wash up on shore. We obtained a significant enough buzz to cope with the sadness at hand, and went together to retrieve the body. I assured Jesse that I would handle the repackaging of the corpse, if he could just stay by my side, maybe even hold my hand.
But before there would be any repackaging, Jesse and I needed a receptacle. We still needed a box. Back at home, Jesse scrounged in my craft room, as I squirreled through the rest of the apartment.
"We could probably just put him in a shoebox," Jesse yelled out.
"I don't think that's sturdy enough!" I yelled back, "What about this?" I popped my head around the corner, a small sock-drawer organizer in my hands. "It doesn't have a top, but maybe we could make one out of like..." My eyes scanned the room until they landed on hot pink duct tape, "This!" I leapt over to the tape, "And it's pink!" Jesse stared at me.
"Girl, I really think the shoebox will do it," He shrugged.
"Wait, hold on," I went back to searching for another receptacle. This time, I resurfaced with an old laptop box. "We could put him in here, sorta' sideways, and then fling it, like a Frisbee, as far off the pier as possible," My thoughts were racing. And, I realize now, insane. I went back to searching while Jesse stood still, holding the perfectly appropriate shoebox in his hands.
I lifted up my bathroom trashcan, a bright yellow metal cylinder, covered in tiny holes. "We could put him in this, like a crabbing pot if we smooshed the top shut. Maybe tie a rope to it, or weight it with rocks? People would probably just think we're crabbing," My eyes darted from object to object as I imagined each a coffin, or a tomb, or a...crabbing pot.
"Girl, listen. Let's just use the shoebox. We can weight it. I really think it'll be fine," Jesse was calm. Jesse was right. He placed the shoebox next to the corpse on the floor. I put down the yellow trashcan.
I sat on my knees and slumped over the makeshift casket. I stared at my tiny Chihuahua. It was if he were sleeping, but this time, instead of sleeping by my side, or on his favorite burrow in my ratty old sofa, he was nestled in a final bed of flowers. I started to cry, and reached in to move him. But as I reached forward, my body recoiled, my soft cries turning into a deep wail. I couldn't touch him. I didn't want to feel him lifeless and stiff. I remembered how his once warm paws had turned cold and papery the night before. Jesse--by my side as promised--sprang into action, pushing me aside.
"Go to your room!" He yelled., "Get out of here, GO TO YOUR ROOM," I could only nod with gratitude as Jesse prepared to move the body.
I cowered in my bedroom, pacing as Jesse not only moved the dead dog from one box to another, but also decorated the new box beautifully.
"You can come out now," he called.
I walked slowly into the living room.
"Wait!" He held up a hand as I approached.
I watched as Jesse picked up a single daisy, left over from Sinatra's original casket of flowers. He placed the daisy over the dog's long, exposed tongue.
"Oh my God, I did that, too," I laughed. Jesse smiled.
Inside the casket, Jesse had sprinkled glitter and rhinestones . Sinatra looked at peace. He also looked sparkly, which pleased me. As a final touch, Jesse used rainbow yarn to knit a macramé cover over the shoebox, which he then used to secure the lid closed. He even decorated the macramé by weaving in fresh flowers. The casket was beautiful.
"There," he said, taking a step back from his work and dusting off his hands, "Now he's ready."
I dressed appropriately for a funeral, clad in a long, black dress and heels. I refused to show up to this sendoff in anything less than stylish. Sinatra, after all, was a huge fan of costumes. It would be sacrilege to dress down.
The drive to Huntington Beach was spooky, the PCH blanketed in a somber fog, a tiny body nestled in the back seat of my Chrysler LeBaron. Jesse played Mariah Carey songs, nothing too sad, as I had requested. We sang along, stopping the music only to tell tales of Sinatra and his beautiful, 13-year stint on Earth.
Several friends met us at the pier, reassuring me that despite our short residency in California, both Sinatra and I were loved by those around us. We marched down the pier in a huddle; I carried Sinatra in his sparkling shoebox, determined to say something profound, determined to cry.
At the end of the pier, however, I didn't feel profound. I didn't feel like crying. I worried that the box wouldn't sink. I worried that we would get in some kind of trouble. I tried to speak, but my words were canned; I just said what you're supposed to say at these types of things. I felt cheesy and cold.
"I want to thank you guys for coming tonight, it means a lot to me, really," I started, "Sinatra was a really good dog. It's no doubt that he will be missed by many," I said, holding the box out, as if presenting it to my guests, "Now, let's drop this baby into the ocean, shall we?" It was all I could muster, and it would have to do.
The group approached the railing of the pier. I held the box out as far over the railing as I could, and like I was dropping a penny in a wishing well, I let go. As the box fell, the glitter inside sprayed from the sides, creating a rainbow streak of sparkles in the cold, salty air. The box hit the water with a splash, and as planned, slowly started to sink straight down to the ocean floor. As it sank, the fresh flowers Jesse had woven into the macramé floated to the top of the water. When the box sank out of site, Jesse presented a portable speaker.
"And now, a song for Sinatra," I cued Tina Turner's 'Simply the Best,' on my Smart Phone.
"You really were better than all the rest, Sinatra," Jesse exclaimed as the music played.
We watched Sinatra's flowers float in the tide as we listened to the entirety of the song. The group dispersed, and Jesse and I headed back to Long Beach, together.
The following wake would be held at Ashley's, a local dive bar near my apartment. As Jesse and I drank in memoriam, we tried our best to make light of the situation.
"You know, when he first got sick last week, I was seriously afraid I was gonna' have to kill him, like, put him down, " I told him, leaning over my vodka-soda.
"Girl, haha, how to kill your Chihuahua?" He laughed.
"No, seriously. I Googled it. BIG MISTAKE."
"Oh God, I'm sure, what did it say?"
"Yeah, well, I forgot the internet is a sick, dark place. So when I Googled 'how do I kill my dog,' the first thing that came up was a Yahoo Answers page where some sicko actually said 'Why don't you just punch it to death?'" I laughed and took a big swig of my drink, "And the answers went on and on. Drop him off a cliff, or, like, shoot him. Can you imagine shooting Sinatra? That shit would be BLOWN AWAY, like, for real in pieces."
"Haha, Jesus," Jesse tossed back a gulp of his whiskey-ginger.
"Yeah but it made me actually LOL. So that was kind of an a-ha moment. Like maybe this isn't just a sad thing. Maybe it's a kind of funny thing, too? Am I a bitch for thinking that?"
"No...well, no, not a bitch. Because the whole thing was pretty funny. Girl, when you recoiled, I mean RE-COILED from that first box, no, no. Not funny. But also, kinda' funny," Jesse said.
"And the tongue! When we both covered that long-ass tongue. Who knew that really happened?" I replied.
"For real, he looked like a Mr. Yuck sticker," Jesse held up his glass, "To Sinatra and his long-ass tongue," he laughed.
"He's a mer-dog now, swimming free in the Pacific," I held up my glass and we each took a swig.
"I feel like I want to write about this but I have no idea how, you know? Like, I want it to be funny, not super serious. Sinatra wasn't super serious. Sinatra was funny," I made eye contact with our bartender, ready for a shot.
"You could write about how to kill him. But make it really dark. Like, a spooky story, or a ghost story, or no. Even better, do a book of poetry. Like...okay..." Jesse started:
"Roses are red, methheads smoke meth..." he waited a moment, thinking, "I was advised to punch you to death," we both started laughing.
"Hahah, alright, okay, how about..." I chimed in, "Roses are red,"
"Bananas get riiipe," Jesse stretched out the word 'ripe,' giving me time to think of a rhyme.
"I'll duct-tape your mouth...to the back of my tailpipe?" Again, we belly- laughed.
"Hahah, oh my God yessss, girl, my knee is red from slappin' it, haha," and at that, Jesse started on another poem.
As we sat there getting dead-drunk in our grief, remembering little Sinatra, Jesse and I traded macabre but cute couplets. We covered all kinds of disturbing topics, including death by fire, dog-rape, and even asshole douching.
I know that, for many of you, Sinatra was a good friend. That night, I had to say goodbye to that friend. These perverse poems helped me get through it.
Jesse and I laughed until we cried, instead of just crying. I hope that you will laugh through these poems, too.
Please note: I'll update the IG page gradually, so as not to completely wear out all the followers with so many posts. Also, I feel like going for a bike ride. So it'll have to wait.