“Snow day, Aussie!””

“I hate it.”

“What’s to hate about snow?”

“No walks, no rides, no deer hunting. Luckily there are still squirrels to ambush.”

“Speaking of which, Auss, Lori told me that this morning, when she was out having her morning cigarette, she heard you scream. She ran towards you and saw you with your mouth holding a squirrel, but the squirrel had its teeth in you, too.”

“What nerve!”

“The squirrel was defending itself, Aussie.”

“I call it aggression.”

“You and Vladimir Putin.”

“We’re harboring neo-Nazis and Satanists in our back yard. Time to clean them out. “

“So where did the squirrel hurt you? Lori said that there was blood on the white snow and also on the floor when you came indoors.”

“The squirrel didn’t hurt me. Squirrels don’t hurt dogs. Law of nature.”

“Is that so?”

“And no matter how much it did hurt, I wouldn’t let it go. Not letting go is my practice.”

“Not even when Lori shouted Leave it!?”

“I got to admit, she’s scary, that one. When she nails me with those blue eyes of hers and the raspy voice, I think twice.”

“I think you listen to her more than you listen to me.”

“That’s because you’re a wimp. Just look at the texts you get on the phone.”

“What texts, Auss?”

“The ones you get every evening: ‘Hi, are you getting softer with age? Get firm in minutes and add 3 inches.’”

“Aussie, those texts are meant for men. They’re sent by some robot that doesn’t know Eve from Adam, but they’re meant for men who have trouble getting a hard-on late in life.”

“You could use some hardening up yourself, you’re getting as soft as a sponge.”

“Oh Auss, you don’t understand what they mean.”

“And you sure could use 3 more inches. Look at you, you’ve shrunk about a foot. You’re a midget.”

“People do shrink as they get older, in penis and in height, Aussie.”

“What about brains?”

“I don’t think our brains shrink, but I’m quite sure they change.”

“Your memory tank is as flat as a busted balloon. Soon you won’t even remember my name, which is good because I hate Aussie anyway. I’m waiting for you to ask me what’s my name and I’ll say Beast.”

“Okay, Aussie, relax. I think you’re still recovering from that bite you got from the squirrel.”

“Conniving, fascist, genocidal squirrel!”

“It was defending itself, Auss, trying to save its life—and it did.”

“It did?”

“Lori said that after you left it lying on the snow, she went to get something to pick it up with and put away in the bushes, thinking it was dead, and as she approached it jumped up on its feet and scattered.”

“No! She’s lying. It was dead! I know it was dead.”

“She says it had blood on its body, but it scampered away. Tell me, Aussie, do you even know the difference between dead and alive?”

“It was dead, I tell you. It didn’t breathe, the fur was still, nothing moved. I’m a hunter, I know dead, and it was dead.”

“You know, Aussie, there’s a famous koan about that.”

“Can we please keep Zen out of this?”

“A Zen master and his student go to visit a home where someone died. The student hits the coffin and asks: ‘Alive or dead?’”

“What did the Zen master say?”

“’I won’t say alive, I won’t say dead.’”

“That’s what the Zen master said?”


“He probably needed those pills.”

“What pills, Aussie?”

“The ones that won’t let you go soft and will add three inches.”

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