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A Psychiatrist and His Pets (Louis Toliver, Jr)


Larry was ready to leave his house. He went to the door and reached for his keys in a jar where he usually stored them. But they weren’t there. Larry scratched his head and then thought to himself. Where’d I put my keys? He took a deep breath. Okay, don’t panic, Larry. He began searching around his apartment and he couldn’t find a glimpse of a Tweety Bird key chain anywhere. He couldn’t leave his apartment without his keys. Larry couldn’t understand. Everyday, when he came home, he put his keys in the glass jar on the table by the door next to the fishbowl. The keys were not in the jar. The keys were not in the jar. Why weren’t the keys in the jar? Where else could they be if they weren’t in the jar? What did I do when he got home yesterday? If the keys were not in the jar, then that meant that Larry’s life was spinning out of control. What if he could never leave his apartment, again? “Toro, help me find my keys,” Larry pushed the dog off the couch.
Toro was lying lazily on the couch watching his owner search frantically around for the keys.  He was a Jack Russell terrier who got his name because he liked kicking up grass with his feet like a bull. Though, that’s when he used to go outside. He hadn’t been outside in 42 months, or 6 months in human time. The reason he hadn’t been outside was because his pack leader seemed to have gone crazy and then out of the blue, he lost his ability to find things… quickly. His pack leader had lost control of his sight and mind.
            “Toro, have you seen my keys?” Larry wheezed.
            “I can’t take this anymore!” Toro began barking, “Help! Help me somebody!” For 42 months, 6 months in human time, the pack leader pretended he couldn’t see his keys, then his wallet, then his shoes, his keys again (that were in his hands this time). The routine would last for hours until the pack leader finally gave up and stayed home. For Toro, this meant shitting in a box in the bathroom and pizza nightly. The keys were always sitting by the fishbowl, where Silver lived. It was driving Toro crazy.
            Silver was a goldfish that seemed wiser beyond his time. He was floating watching Toro. “Barking isn’t going to make it better.  You got to give Larry time. He will find them.”
            “Are you fucking serious? Ever-fucking-day for the past 42-fucking months, I  had to watch this fucking man have a breakdown every-fucking-time he has tried to go out that fucking door!” Toro grasped his anger. His eyes looked up at his pack leader and he barked softly, “Please let me out of this apartment. Just let me smell the grass, please.”
Larry finally saw the keys by the fishbowl. He gave Toro a glance as if he understood. “Now, you know I don’t want you to get kidnapped.” Larry took a deep breath and smiled. Everything was going to be okay. He grasped his keys tightly and smiled. He reached for his wallet that was usually by the fishbowl but it was gone. My wallet. Where’s my wallet. Larry felt himself losing his mind and losing control. Larry would never be able to go back to work. He would never see a patient again. He was becoming a patient. He didn’t know what was happening to him.
“The wallet is there! The wallet is fucking there! Look!” Toro barked. “Help!” Toro barked loudly. “Somebody help me! Somebody please kidnap me!” He ran to the door and tried to push the door open with his paws, but he ended up crashing his head into the door.
“Please, Toro, you must remain calm and deal,” Silver pleaded.
“Calm? I’m going to bark the shit out of my lungs until someone comes,” Toro kicked up his feet like a bull, ready to take another run at the door.
“Yes, but when you bark it aggravates me,” Silver swam closely and put and eye up to the fishbowl as if to intimidate Toro. “It makes it hard for me to read.”
“Read? You don’t have any books. You’re in a fishbowl,” Toro said with arrogance, making his life seem temporarily better than Silver’s.
Actually, I can read every single one of those 561 DVDS by the TV,” Silver said with confidence. “I’ve learned to match the sounds with the letters. It passes the time.”
“What! Fish can’t read!” Toro didn’t believe Silver and was finally distracted from his pack leader,” “Well what’s that bluish looking one over there?”
“That’s The Notebook,” Silver squinted his eye. “Those first two letters I know from when Larry says No to you a lot. Of course, he also asks us what movies he should watch over and over again.” Silver continued mocking Larry’s voice, “How about Taxi Driver, Silver?” Silver then became a caricature of Larry, “Ah, I bet you’d love the Crying Game, Toro. My life sucks let’s watch Brokeback Mountain. I hate my life, how about the Virgin Suicides, Toro!”
“To be honest I’ve tried to tune the master out. All I hear is whining and bitching,” Toro itched his ass on the carpet.
“Life is full of suffering, Toro,” Silver said. “The sooner you accept it, the better off you are.”
“Toro, help me find my wallet!” Larry said tearfully. His head was moving from side-to side, searching.
Toro pondered for a moment. “Fuck this! Help!” Toro took off toward the door again and jumped up to try to push the door open with his paws, but he ended up crashing his head into the door and blacking out.

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