UNITED STATES—As a direct result of his dog being banished from the cafe’s interior, the savvy and productive Robbie bifurcated. Now there were two Robbies. The savvy and productive Robbie and the Robbie that craved idleness. The idle Robbie, prone to daydreaming and gargling with Jaegermeister in the morning, had taken over. The savvy Robbie wisely knew to let bygone be bygones and laugh off the whole matter of the health inspector who had forced him to sit outdoors in the often freezing cold, if he wanted to bring Rolf along and have his schnauzer’s company.

That was beyond compromise. In his heart of heart’s Robbie knew that a) if Rolf were to go outside and take a walk, which ensured his animal happiness, the walk inevitably led to the door of the coffee shop. b) if Robbie did not go to the coffee shop it might be impossible for him to summon those first few lines that primed his writing machine. Now, as a result of this pesky health inspector who always threatened to re-appeared, this sliver of discomfort had fermented from chagrin to rage. I absolutely must do something about it, he thought.

Meanwhile, Rolf the giant schnauzer was really calling the shots. The seal to reach the coffee shop was kindled by the promise of his daily meat treat. Be it turkey ham of Canadian bacon that black dog knew he would always be pleased. Dogs are so much smarter that humans, thought Robbie, they go after meat instead of money.

“Let’s go,” Robbie said.

Rolf perked up his furry black head, with an apologetic yelp, and submitted to the hooking of the leash. The dog didn’t really want to go, but off they went. That old dog was smarter even than Robbie knew.

The pages were staying more-blank than scribbled on lately. But there was the bonus of being able to chain smoke in the back patio table, but it wasn’t good for him. Or was it? Robbie was going through this stage of mystic existentialism. What if by trying to be good in our behavior and habit’s, just what if we were postposing that inevitable transformation: the erasure of this human iteration known as Robbie and all the beautiful and also some nasty that went with it. Now wouldn’t that be nice, Robbie mused.

To be sure, Robbie harbored an intense fear of the health inspector, finding she was not this horrid figment of his imagination, but was a real and beautiful woman of wavy auburn hair, instead of this harpy, who nevertheless would be better off, for the sake of creation, to not be with us but to take a hike to the cemetery.

“Rolf,” said Robbie to his dog, now trotting happily in the sun toward the promise of a meat treat. “Dear Rolf, can you hear what I am saying?  It’s not nice at all. We’re talking about murder. Well of course you can hear me. You’re the smartest dog there ever was! You barked when I sold all those early investments in bitcoins.”

To be continued…

Graydon Miller is the Wizard of Fiction.

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Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)