It's Always Something / by Cyle Talley

"Your dog peed on the carpet outside the bathroom," Anna is packing a lunch for Carter, the third grader sitting at the table eating Cheerios, and balancing Ashton, the three year old, on her hip.

"Good morning to you, too." There's a little coffee left, but not enough to fill a thermos. Better make more. It's been fucking freezing out.

"Rocko pee?" Ashton looks concerned.

"Where did the alleged crime occur? I'll go have a look."

"Have a look? I need it cleaned up, Rob." She's either pleading or demanding. Who knows?

"Is it a spot or a puddle?"

"What does it matter? I- Alex! You have to take Carter to school so I can make the deposition! I'm gonna be late!"

"If it's a puddle, it was your dog. It's just science." My dog- the one Anna "rescued" from her sister who has five dogs too many; the chihuahua with a missing tooth, an underbite, and nuclear farts who just "doesn't get along" with Quincy the idiot black lab, and "Rocko likes you most anyway, so he should just be your dog" comes skittering around the kitchen island. When he sees me, he sits and cocks his head to the right. He looks like Rodney Dangerfield. "Alright Rocko, let's take a look at the evidence." He wags his mangy little tail.

There is indeed a puddle outside the bathroom.

"Alex? Are you still in there? What are you doing to that poor toilet?" I pound on the door just to fuck with him. Who knows? It might help things along. "Anna says you've gotta take Carter to school."

"Fuck! I can't! I'm gonna be late! Why can't Anna?"

"Something about being sick of this shit and running away with some rich guy."

"Can you take him?"

"I take him more than either of you and I'm not even his parent!"

"Yeah, but he likes you! You're fun Uncle Rob!"

"Fun Uncle Rob is gonna teach him how to Saran Wrap a toilet and set fire to shit."

"What?"

"Yeah, I'll take him. Come on, Rocko." He wags his mangy little tail.

"No way he made that puddle, Anna."

"Did you clean it up? Where's Alex?!"

"I'm taking Carter- and yes, I cleaned it up. Who do you think I am?" Looks like gas station coffee for me. "Let's go kid. You too, Rocko.""Your dog peed on the carpet again, Rob." If anything, Saturday's are worse than weekdays because Anna decides to make pancakes for us all. Which would be fine, if she could actually make pancakes, but she can't. "Carter! For the love of God, PLEASE stop singing 'The Final Countdown'. Where did you even learn that song?"

"Good morning to you, too," I wink at Carter. An agreement is already in place. He keeps this up, that ice cream sundae is his. "I'm telling you, Anna. That puddle is just too damn big for Rocko to have made it."

"Well, Quincy is housetrained and Rocko is the lone variable that's been introduced, so I'm just trying to- Carter! PLEASE?!"

"Do you maybe want some help with the breakfast?"

"No Rob, I don't. I want the pee to be cleaned up."

"Okay, but seriously Anna, it's not-"

"Okay, but seriously, Rob, there's urine. On my carpet. And I'm already plotting how to kill my firstborn, so the thought of killing a roommate probably wouldn't give me a whole lot of pause."

"Okay, okay," I'm already walking away mid-monologue.

"Use the Resolve!" She screams after me.

Use the Resolve, Rob. Your dog peed on the carpet, Rob. Have this dog, Rob. Babysit our spawn for free so we can go out to drink and dance, Rob. Won't it be fun to live together, Rob? Won't it just-"

"Ash!" I shout and he's so startled that a dark shadow of pee jumps onto the wall. His pants are around his ankles, exposing his little white ass and he's holding his shirt above his nipples with both hands. His eyes go wide.

"I wan-ned ta see where'ih went!"

"Anna! Come here quick! You need to see this!"