SWISS CHOCOLATE

Photo by Leeann Warner

“Miss me already?”

“OMG, Stanley, what are you doing in Dublin Airport?”

“I have become more mobile since I died. I smelled a grilled cheese/tomato sandwich and tracked you down here. Why are you eating grilled cheese in an airport?”

“Because I’m on my way back from Switzerland where I taught this last week and I’m hungry. Oh Stan, you always did love food. When you were alive, I mean.”

“I still love food. Trouble is, I can’t eat any since I lost my body. Can’t steal it, either, so you don’t have to hide the Swiss chocolate anymore like you used to.”

“You ate so much Swiss chocolate, Stanley!”

“People said it would kill me. Instead I lived till I was almost 15. Probably would have lived longer if I ate more chocolate.”

“Speaking of stealing food, Stanley, you have a worthy successor in Harry the Cur. Harry can jump onto the counter and the stove for beef stew. Even you couldn’t jump that high.”

“I was never stupid enough to jump onto a hot stove. I was silly in those younger years, but never crazy.”

“I miss you, Stanley.”

“Good for you.”

“Everybody says I should be living my life. Instead I miss those who’re gone.”

“Attachments! Don’t you love them?”

“Weird things happen when people and animals die, Stanley. Their voice seems to get louder rather than softer. In fact, they get so loud that sometimes I can’t hear the voices of the living, know what I mean?”

“No.”

“Your voice is so much louder than the voices of Aussie the Bandit and Harry the Cur. They’re alive, but they still don’t have much personality. The land of the living is kind of mute compared to the land of the dead.”

“They’re young, give them time. How strong was my personality when you got me?”

“At first, none. Later you became the most stubborn, ornery, willful dog I ever had.”

“That was moi!”

“You had opinions about everything, Stanley.”

“It’s true, I was a real Zen master. Don’t forget, the Man gave me transmission.”

“The only thing the Man ever gave you was food.”

“Transmission comes in many ways. Speaking of the Man, is his voice as loud as mine?”

“It’s everywhere, Stanley. He seems to be talking right through me, especially when I’m teaching. Someone asks something or something happens, and the thought flashes in my mind: I know just what Bernie would say now. And then I laugh.”

“Why? Because he was funny?”

“No, because there’s something magical about it, Stan. It’s like he’s right there in the retreat house in Sternenberg telling people what he thinks.”

“The Man was just like me, opinions about everything. Sometimes it felt like I was giving him transmission, know what I mean?”

“Not really.”

“Who else talks through you?”

“Nobody, Stan.”

“How about moi?”

“Toi? Why should toi speak through me?”

“Because I am also a Zen master. I came out with some real beauties.”

“Like what?”

“Like Your steak is my steak because we’re all one.’”

“We ate vegetarian meals in Sternenberg, Stanley.”

“Too bad. That was one of my more skillful teachings. Did a dog lick your plates?”

“I don’t know if they let dogs to do that in Switzerland, Stanley.”

“Don’t ever go back there again. Do I smell Swiss chocolate in your bag? My favorite chocolate in the whole world! That’s the problem with dying.”

“What’s the problem, Stanley?”

“You can go everywhere, but you can’t do much. Maybe I could taste some through Harry. After all, if Bernie could speak through you, why can’t I taste Swiss chocolate through Harry the Cur?”

“No way Harry is stealing my Swiss chocolate, Stan. Everyone knows chocolate is poison for dogs.”

“True, he is a little young, but I’ll whisper in his ear. Instruct him in my old chocolate-stealing strategies.”

“You’ll do no such thing, you dead coot!”

“Just watch. I’ll make Harry wise beyond his years.”