'Breeders', by Blake Kimzey

Photograph from Wikimedia Commons, reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Licence.

As for Katy Donahue, the girl that lives down the block from my cousin Jimmy who was mauled by a Pit Bull (not mine), I mean, that is a tragedy. A professor/scientist would call this a total coincidence, because the same day we decided to breed Jimmy’s Great Dane with my Pit Bull and call it a Great Pit was the same day I saw the mauled girl/Katy’s picture on the news while I was waiting for the sports highlights. No matter how bad it made me feel to know that she was mauled we couldn’t halt our plan because it was set in stone; we knew we would be minting money and pushing it around in wheelbarrows once we posted the New Dog Breed online and sent out email blasts and put up flyers around town. This wasn’t even an idea I got from an alcohol headache where my tongue had no saliva on it and I couldn’t think straight. This was the real deal. Jimmy was already breeding his Great Dane named Matilda and making a killing and he kept telling me, Sure as shit, this is legit, and Uncle Sam can’t touch it! And I thought, Tax Collectors: you can suck it, and sorry little mauled girl/Katy, these dogs will wear muzzles like half the time, so you can play outside again after the bandages come off and you grow into your new face.

Even better: I just lost my job at Mr. Bread’s Submarine Sandwich last week and they say timing is everything and everything happens for a reason and God is in control, so I have to seize the day, right? And to prepare I started to Google Dog Breeding but got distracted watching street brawls in L.A. on YouTube, the kind of videos you have to verify your age to watch, which is totally kick ass.

I see fast ones coming a mile away. I’ve scrutinized dog breeding and you can’t argue with nuts and bolts or the accounting ledger because Jimmy makes like $600 dollars per pup and I have always been like, That is a killing and I can’t even imagine if you divided it out what the hourly rate would be! Dogs can have tons of puppies at a time, so you do the math. The only problem is you need an initial investment of a female dog with papers to breed with another male dog with papers and I didn’t have either because my Pit Bull named Owen is probably a mutt.

But I was playing KillTime 2 on GameStation and daydreaming and already in my mind I was spending the money I would make with the new Great Pits that we would sell out of in like two seconds. With all that puppy money I would go to Hooters all the time and pay a professional web guy/dork to pimp out my MySpace page and then get digits from every girl I could friend and then set up dates on a staggered/rotating schedule so that no girl would ever get wise to my plan and I would be hooking up like mad but would have to resist the urge to post all of the pictures to the My Pictures application!

I saved my progress on KillTime 2 and called Jimmy and he was just waking up and it was lunchtime so we decided to go to Hooters for wings and brews so we could plan out our mating plan because dogs have to be in heat. I didn’t know when that was but sometimes I saw the dog’s pink penises but never remembered what month it was and then Jimmy told me only female dogs are in heat and that didn’t embarrass me, my not knowing about heat.

The thing about Jimmy is he is always late and can’t really read the big and small hands on a clock and he refuses to wear a digital watch because he doesn’t want girls to think he goes to math competitions in his free time or makes on-the-fly calculations, which means I wait around a lot. Like today: I’ve been waiting for over 10 minutes and I already locked my twelve-speed up to the post that holds the Hooters marquee up in the air. Jimmy drives a Ford Fiesta and I call it his go-kart and he tells me I can make fun of his car when I have something with an engine in it.

I watch Jimmy park his Fiesta which is rusted and royal blue. He takes up two spots, which is hard to do in a Fiesta, but he does it all the time because he doesn’t want people thinking that just because his car is a piece of crap he can’t park it like a Corvette or a Jaguar. I’m a little embarrassed for Jimmy because he is way too big for the Fiesta and it sags on the driver’s side and when I see him crawl out of his seat my first thought is that even big tough guys like Jimmy who are big enough and confident enough to have a Looney Tunes tattoo on their shoulder shouldn’t wear jean shorts.

Walking into Hooters never gets old because they know us and we’re harmless like potential boyfriends should be. We can seat ourselves and it’s like we own the place, like it’s our living room with way more televisions and hot girls everywhere, like someone stepped on an ant pile and out they came.

We always sit in the centre of the restaurant because you get to see all of the waitresses, even the ones that aren’t waiting tables near you, like you’re sitting in the centre of a really sexy intersection. The girls can’t tell if you’re staring at them or not because I could be looking at the television or my menu or a girl that is not the girl that is wondering if I’m staring at her. And even better for me: there are always buckets of wing sauce on Jimmy’s face and he doesn’t know it and I don’t tell him. He just sits there sucking meat from the bone like a Neanderthal and I am watching ESPN on the television behind the bar acting like everything is normal. This way no waitress will ever pick Jimmy over me if it were ever to come down to a 50/50 tiebreaker because I wipe my face nonstop and go through a forest of napkins because it is the one thing I’m totally paranoid of. So I wink a lot at the waitresses as they pass and gesture and nod with my head at Jimmy’s face. Normally I succeed and Jimmy doesn’t even know because he is so busy with the buffalo wings and licking his fingers and I am making inroads with the waitresses, who don’t even know the moneymaking plans we have up our sleeves!

Jimmy said we shouldn’t talk business at Hooters because Hooters is where you enjoy the view and the taste of wings and fries and brew, not business. So after three hours of endless wings and drinking cheap brews and zero talk of Great Pits I ask for the bill in a really cute and harmless way and wink again, which is my signal for: Get Ready For A Great Tip!

After the bill comes Jimmy tells me to meet him at his place, which I know is his way of leaving me with the tab, which I’d be cool with on most days because it’d make me look like the Bread Winner in front of everyone at Hooters but not today because I’m not sure what is on my debit card. I say, Give me a twenty, and Jimmy says, I’ll see you there, which means I have no choice but to be the Bread Winner and trust that there is something on my debit card.

We’re finally hatching our breeding plan in Jimmy’s living room where he has two of the softest couches in the entire world. They’re so broken in that I practically disappear into the cushions. Jimmy thinks the rain and the natural elements softened them up because he found both of them in the alley behind his house. The recliners don’t work but that is a-okay because they were free.

Jimmy is drinking a brew while flipping through television channels and tells me, Matilda is showing signs of being in heat which means any day now it’s go time! He adds: I already got her doggie diapers.

I am filled with delight about making puppies with my wingman and more than happy with the Baywatch rerun Jimmy has settled on and I am sinking even further into the cushions and I say, Which means me getting a new money clip the other day wasn’t in vain or a big fat jinx because we are really close to having the puppy cash. Then I add: Bitch is in heat! To which Jimmy says, Don’t call Matilda a bitch or I’ll rip your head off and shit on you, and I say, Calm down, nobody is shitting on anything, but if we do, we’ll be wiping our butts with puppy litter dollars!

Jimmy kind of stares at me with a you’re-on-thin-ice look and sips his brew. I sip my brew and say, Just get horny already, Matilda! And Jimmy says, Animals don’t get horny. I look at him and go, Oh yeah, and he goes, Yeah, it’s called instincts, dipwad.

When I get back to my place I’m on Double Cloud 9 and I send out an email blast to all my friends letting them know they can have first dibs on our Great Pit litter when we get them born and alive and nurtured on Matilda’s breast milk and the dog oats we buy at PetsGalore. I tell everyone to imagine the cutest and most vicious yet graceful dogs ever made and that is what kind of dog they can expect to buy. I attach two photos I photocopied at CopyDelux and then scanned into my computer: one is a cutout of Owen’s body with Matilda’s head and the other is a cutout of Matilda’s body with Owen’s head and I put hilarious captions that read: Look out for the cute Great Pits and Oh No, the cutest dogs ever are forcing me to grab my bank account and get cash!

Two days later on Friday I get a call from Jimmy around midday telling me Matilda is in heat and that she is showing all of the signs of that like having a swollen vulva and a little bit of bleeding and to not give him any crap if it is a false alarm. I say to Jimmy, It’s breeding time, and he says, Hell yeah!

I grab my money clip and my bike lock and Owen’s leash and I’m headed out the door in a flash. I get Owen from his holding box in the laundry room and for a moment I admire his crazy jaws and his golden coat and the way he is muzzled and the way his every muscle is tensed and ready to pounce and I marvel at how he can scare me even after two years of being his dad.

It is only a twenty minute bike ride to Jimmy’s and I’ve got Owen running behind me with his leash attached to my handlebars and it looks like he has just enough room to breath through his muzzle and the way he is panting lets me know he is a champion athlete born for such a task. The way the sun is burning directly in front of me on Jimmy’s street makes it look like a piece of candy, like an orange/pink Mentos that I would totally eat. I’m basically overflowing with pride thinking of all the people I graduated with from high school who are in college or out of college who may never do anything as great or famous as what me and Jimmy are about to do.

When I get to Jimmy’s I put Owen in the guest room and then walk/run to the fridge and grab two brews and toss one to Jimmy. I guzzle half my brew and suggest we get down to business. I don’t know the technical term for it but I do know Owen has to mount Matilda doggy-style and we’re burning daylight and without these puppies the rent isn’t going to pay itself!

Matilda has her own enclosure that takes up half of Jimmy’s back yard and backs up to the alley. Her cage could basically contain a small dinosaur it is so fortified with chain-link fencing and it is like six feet tall so that even a human couldn’t jump it. Jimmy calls Matilda’s cage Fort Knox. Anytime cars drive by or when the big trash truck squeezes down the alley on trash day Matilda barks like she owns the place. I don’t have anything like Fort Knox/The Cage for Owen in the apartment and besides I have to keep it quiet that I have Owen because my complex doesn’t allow pets.

I’ve got Owen on his leash and he is pawing at the dirt and because he is one badass dog I can tell that he can tell that Matilda is horny or having instincts or whatever the technical term is. I ask Jimmy if I should take off Owen’s muzzle so the dogs can kiss or lick each other and he tells me hell no I can’t do that and asks me if I’m crazy or stupid or both and asks me flat out if I did any internet research at all to prepare for this. I tell him I did plenty of research on YouTube and Google and that I was just checking to see if I could catch him off guard to check and see if he did any research and then he tells me that this isn’t his first rodeo, which is another checkmate for him.

As soon as Jimmy unhitches the gate and walks Owen into Fort Knox/The Cage Matilda gets up and stares at the two of them and starts to bark. Jimmy looks back at me and says, It’s just her letting him know who’s boss. Owen, like any awesome/horny dog starts to lunge at her and Jimmy has to pull back on the leash and is going, Whoa Partner, Whoa Partner! I ask Jimmy if I should be filming this and he asks, For what, and I say, Because we’re making history! Jimmy just looks at me and tells me to be ready in case he needs me. He has Owen’s leash wrapped around his hand and his hand is red and I can tell that Owen is trying with all his might to get to Matilda’s swollen vulva and I’m beaming with pride.

Matilda is holding her ground and standing so tall that I think it would take two Owens stacked on top of each other to reach her full height. And then it happens: Matilda rushes Owen and rams her head into his neck and starts to tear into it and Jimmy can’t reel Owen away from her and he says, Get in here!

I unhitch the gate and when I enter Fort Knox/The Cage Matilda turns her attention to me and starts to bark and I start backing away with my hands in the air and I’m saying, Whoa Girl, Whoa Girl. I just stop where I am and put my arms out in front of me like I’m leaning on an imaginary wall, saying, Easy, Easy. By this point, even though Owen is wearing a muzzle, his growl is ferocious and Matilda is barking even louder and I’m starting to think this is all more trouble than it’s worth and we’ve only been breeding for less than a minute.

Just when I think Jimmy has control of Owen he tells me to take the leash from him and he’ll get Matilda calmed down and then says we need to separate the pair immediately because things have gone to hell in a hurry. Jimmy untangles the leash and his hand is white from lack of circulation and I wrap the leash around my own hand and start to back Owen out of Fort Knox.

In my peripheral vision I see a Lincoln Towncar driving down the alley slam on its breaks and I think a cat or some other animal must have darted in front of the wheels for the driver to stop so abruptly. I’m still holding Owen and I’m staring at the driver and she is just sitting there, talking on her cell phone and staring at us. Then she gets out of the car and starts to yell at us and I can’t make out what she is saying but I can see a little girl in the passenger seat that looks like a mummy because her hands and face are wrapped in gauze, and the woman keeps yelling and her face is red and I feel like she might spontaneously combust.

I yell to the woman that I can’t understand what she is saying and then she goes around to the trunk of the car and disappears for a second and then rounds the back of her car with a rifle and points it at us and I’m going, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, and Jimmy is trying to get Matilda into the corner of Fort Knox and Owen is now trying to bark at the lady with the rifle who is leaning into Jimmy’s fence and taking aim. I yell to her, What are you doing, and she yells back, I’m Katy Donahue’s mother and I won’t have dog fights in my neighborhood and I certainly won’t allow a Pit Bull!

Mrs. Donahue pumps the lever action three times and then pulls the trigger. I see her ankle give and then twist because she is standing in a pair of blue pumps in semi-wet dirt. I think shit and then I close my eyes but I don’t hear any gunfire and there is no echo and I thank Jesus immediately.

Jimmy shouts, It’s only a BB gun, and I open my eyes and the crazy lady is still standing there, mad as hell, saying something fucker and I don’t know what. She pumps the lever action again and pulls the trigger and I can tell this time that a BB pellet has hit Owen in the rib cage and he starts to whimper through his muzzle. Mrs. Donahue is pumping the lever action and yells that the police are on their way and that her daughter is scared for life and we’re sons of bitches and how dare we and I’m wondering how any of what she is saying has anything to do with our plans to breed Great Pits.

For a moment I see the little mauled girl/mummy/Katy peek her head up over the driver’s side window and I look down at Owen and then over to Matilda and I think to myself that we probably won’t put any flyers up on Jimmy’s street and maybe the police, when they show up, will be interested in adding a couple Great Pits to the canine unit. But as I’m thinking about the new Great Pit canine unit I feel Owen’s leash slip from my grip and before I know it he’s tearing ass across Jimmy’s back yard toward Mrs. Donahue who is leaning into the fence and seems off balance with the gun and her blue pumps and the wet ground. All at once her face animates and I see her squint behind the sight and take aim at Owen and before she can pump the lever action it is too late and Owen has taken flight over the fence and all I see is the back of his head disappear into Mrs. Donahue’s face. I can’t look so I look back at Jimmy who is looking back at Matilda.

I hear Mrs. Donahue yelling and I can tell Owen is trying like mad to tear into her face but the muzzle is frustrating the crap out of him. In the distance I hear sirens grow louder and after a moment the sirens seem to be trapped in the alley, the sound ricocheting off the warped wooden fences lining the narrow driveway and I still can’t look but I know the next time I see Mrs. Donahue and her daughter they’ll both look like mummies swaddled in gauze.

Blake Kimzey teaches creative writing at The University of Texas at Dallas. His latest book, Families Among Us, is now available for pre-order. It will be out through Black Lawrence Press this September.

‘Breeders’ originally appeared in The Lifted Brow #7. Get your copy now!