Kim Chinquee


She set the oven to three-fifty, sprin­kling some with pep­per­oni, some with­out, keep­ing them sep­a­rate. “These are for me,” she told her boyfriend Rex, point­ing to the cheese ones. She took the dough and rolled them, each, as he sat there eat­ing the stale Chex Mix that her moth­er had made for them at Christmas, feed­ing some to the Cocker Spaniel that he’d bought for her that day, bring­ing him in with a bow on his col­lar. “Ruff, ruff,” Rex had said, and she kissed him, then the pup­py. That was days before and they were still try­ing to find a name that seemed to suit, one day call­ing the pup Beep, since, when he whined, he sound­ed like a car horn. But the next day, she said he did­n’t look like a beep and what kind of name is that, for some­body’s puppy?

The pup­py was like the one with her ex-hus­band, anoth­er all black Cocker that left trails of blood on the car­pet, that the vet had said might make it—she’d shot syringes of Pedialite into this mouth—then at two a.m., she sensed some­thing was wrong, and she got up and held him. Buster, she’d said, Buster, how she watched him twitch and fin­ish. How, in her arms, dead, he did­n’t feel much dif­fer­ent, how that had sur­prised her, how she’d stayed there, rocking.

Pretzel, she said.

Rex was feed­ing the dog a pretzel.

We could call him Pretzel.

He said he did­n’t look like a pretzel.

She put in the pin­wheels she was mak­ing, slid­ing the sheet in. The pup­py barked.

I should­n’t be feed­ing him pret­zels, Rex said. He always fed his own dog–a Golden Doodle named Moo who lived with his ex-wife on the weekday–stuff like pop­corn, pizza.

He tossed the pup­py a stuffed pen­guin with a squeaky. The dog bit, pawed, tear­ing an ear off.

She sat on Rex’s lap, remind­ing him that soon she’d have to leave him.

He said she’d be busy with the puppy–and she thought about going home again, the dri­ve across six states, where she taught his­to­ry at a col­lege. He said to focus on the next time, in two months—they’d be sea­side and sipping.

She remem­bered the dog, Buster, how he’d chewed up shoes and wal­lets, how he’d peed on papers, how her hus­band had bought her the dog to keep her com­pa­ny when, she final­ly learned, he was busy with his mistress.

When the oven alarmed, she got up, and this guy said she was cute, she was sweet, she was some­thing. She’d heard that once, twice, a mil­lion times from a guy back in Chicago, a guy who she slept with when he won­dered where his wife was.

The dog barked. She said the man was wrong. He held her from behind, and she said it was nothing.


Kim Chinquee is the author of the col­lec­tions Pretty and Oh Baby. She
is an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of English at Buffalo State College.