Dave unfolded the saliva-soaked paper he had removed from his dog’s mouth, careful not touch its moistened edges. It was certainly not a newspaper, which Lucky never did get the grasp of fetching. While Dave had attempted to teach him the art of using his mouth for something other than eating his tuna-esque dog food and biting at stray pens, Lucky apparently couldn’t fathom the idea that there was more to a set of jaws than that. Regardless, the paper itself was simply too small for a newspaper. It seemed, instead, to be some sort of loose leaf paper, the text upon it very messy and clearly done by the hand of a toddler or someone of similar manual dexterity. The words “Bucket List” were scribbled across the top, which made no sense at all.
Dave glanced back at Lucky, his eyes meandering up his aged, mangy fur coat and stopping at his face. His pink tongue hung out of his mouth, azure eyes locked on Dave. The old Chocolate Lab seemed to be waiting for him to read the note, or perhaps he was simply hungry. Whatever the case, Dave had an uncomfortable feeling that Lucky was expecting him to glance at the spit-soaked paper he held in his hand. He shrugged his shoulders and began reading the note.
“Dear human,” it read, blue ink scribbled on the white page, “as you are aware, I have grown old. Very old. I do not quite know how to count, but I’d estimate my age to be somewhere in the vicinity of 13 and 4,372—both of which the Internet assures me are numbers.” Dave glanced up at Lucky, whose head appeared to be slowly nodding up and down. He’d never received a note from his dog before, nor had they so much as shared in a brief conversation. Dave hoped he wasn’t coming down with a serious case of insanity, but knew it wasn’t impossible with his recent mental health issues. He stared back at the page. “Now, I’d like to begin this letter by addressing what I anticipate are more than a few questions. First and foremost, you’re probably wondering how I know what the Internet is. The answer to that is a great book I found on your dresser, ‘The Internet for Dummies.’ It was quite instrumental in my technological success, once I taught myself how to read.”
Glancing up from the letter, Dave again stared at Lucky. His tongue remained dangling out of his mouth, tail wagging almost violently behind him. He looked just about as dumb and helpless as he had every other day for the past sixteen years. Dave had no idea he’d known how to read, no inkling about Lucky’s apparent passion for literature. If he had, he would’ve gladly picked him up a few dog-friendly books at the library during his daily “chemotherapy entertainment run.” Although, off the top of his head, Dave had no idea what a dog-friendly book might be. He returned his gaze to the letter.
“Second, you are probably wondering how I am writing this. That, my friend, is nothing more than the result of a lifetime of practice. As you are aware, I have spent quite a lot of time with pens.” Dave paused. He had never seen Lucky use a pen in his life, other than to smack it across the floor. He continued reading. “Namely, I like to smack them across the floor.” Dave nodded knowingly. “Eventually, though, I figured out they would create shapes when the shiny edge hit anything. I finally tamed that power and, through the genius of Google Translate, was able to learn how to transpose my thoughts to English.”
Dave nodded slowly. He never did see “Dog” as an option on Google Translate, but it made sense. Google was often ahead of the curve in terms of technology. Then again, it was still entirely possible that the tumor in his brain was simply causing him to go a bit loopy.
“Now, let’s address the reason behind why I am writing this letter. As I have advanced in age, I have become increasingly aware of my impending fate. I have thus constructed a ‘bucket list,’ an idea I borrowed from the Internet, that I hope to complete before my demise. I will require your aid in accomplishing the majority of these tasks, and hope you will assist in what I am sure will be quite a challenging feat. You have been my best friend for as long as I can remember and I can think of no one else I would rather ask.”
Dave stared back up at Lucky, his furry head still locked on him, tongue hanging out of his open mouth.
“Sure,” Dave said, not entirely positive Lucky spoke English. It felt weird talking to his dog and—for the first time—realizing there might be a small chance that he actually understood what he was saying. At the same time, however, it filled him with an uncomfortable sense of fear, the mere idea of what Lucky had seen him do while he thought he was alone. “I’ll help.”
Lucky’s tail smacked against the floor as it increased its wagging speed, his chest rising and falling with each hastened, wheezy breath. He seemed to be nodding at Dave, as if asking him to read on.
“So, without further ado, here is my list:
- Chase one of those metal contraptions I see passing by at a high rate of speed every day.
- Eat the scraps of food that fall off of your table and onto the floor.
- Sniff the behind of a fellow canine, without having my leash tugged away in embarrassment.
- Sit by a window for upwards of six hours and not be disturbed.
- Be permitted to bee indoors.”
Dave paused and re-read the last sloppily written bullet point. He wasn’t familiar with the term “bee indoors.” He glanced up at Lucky. “What do you mean by ‘bee indoors’?”
Lucky’s tail stopped wagging, his tongue still stuck out of his mouth. He shook his head side-to-side, as if saying no.
“Tee indoors? Like golf?” He had no idea how Lucky would hold the club.
Lucky continued shaking his head in dismissal.
“See indoors? You’ve already seen the indoors.”
Lucky’s head remained shaking, its pace increasing slightly.
“Wait,” Dave said, pausing. “I get it. Pee indoors. You want to pee in the house.”
Lucky stopped shaking his head, instead switching to a subtle nod. Dave nodded back at Lucky, not entirely sure he liked the idea of Lucky peeing all over his home, but continued reading anyway.
- “Finally, I wish to be allowed to see what it is like to sleep on a bed. I have often watched you peacefully dream from within its comfortable enclosure, and I hope to experience that myself.
That is all I have chosen to include on my bucket list and I thank you for your time.”
Dave glanced back up at Lucky, his tongue still hanging from his mouth, eyes as wide and dopey as usual. His tail was no longer thumping against the ground, instead his body remained stationary as if he were waiting for Dave to say something. It was either that, or was still waiting to be fed.
“Well,” Dave began, lowering the letter to his side, “all right, I can do these. I mean, you’ve already done pretty much every one of them every day since you were a pup, but why not.” He paused. “There is, however, one condition: you may not pee on my bed.” Dave paused again. “No, wait, you can only pee in the house one time. And it can’t be on my bed. Or in the refrigerator.” He paused for a third time. “Or on me.”
Lucky tilted his head sideways as if thinking, his tongue slipping back into his mouth. He remained still for a moment before his tail again began wagging, head appearing to nod slowly.
“Great, then you have a deal.” He kind of wished he had clarified that he also didn’t want Lucky to pee on the kitchen table, but he figured he could address that should it become an issue.
Lucky stood up and slowly waddled over to Dave’s side, pushing his head into his leg. It was a tough thought, the mere notion that Dave may outlive his beloved companion, but he’d gladly do what he could to make Lucky’s remaining days enjoyable. In fact, for the first time in a while, he actually hoped the tumor pressing firmly against his frontal lobe wouldn’t become malignant until after his friend was gone. At least then he could assure Lucky left comfortably.
Although he was still not entirely positive whether or not he had hallucinated his dog becoming an author, Dave realized he didn’t really mind either way. Lucky’s Bucket List would be a fitting end to their sixteen years of friendship, even if he had imagined the entire exchange.