Uncle Earl

    My Uncle Earl used to shout at dogs. He was a weird guy. We always wondered why he did it. We asked him one day, but he just told us all to screw off and go find something productive to do.

    Uncle Earl was always telling us to go do something productive. I think this was because Uncle Earl never did anything productive except shout at the neighborhood dogs to “get the hell off off his goddamn lawn.” The general agreement between my siblings and I was that he shouted at the dogs because it was the only way he could feel important.

    Uncle Earl wasn’t a particularly bright or hard-working guy. He just sat on the front porch all of the time and yelled at the dogs and us kids, when it was summer. He collected a pension from the plant where he used to work, before he retired. The rumor was that he was forced into early retirement because he used to yell at the workers just like the dogs in the neighborhood. Old habits die hard, I guess.

    We told Uncle Earl one day that he should go volunteer at the Salvation Army to do some good for the town. His response wasn’t particularly receptive:

    “Tell you what. First let me give you some directions to get to a great place. You go down Do I Look Like I Give a Shit Street, take a right on Big Fuckin’ Deal Avenue, go two blocks until you hit Who Gives a Flying Rat’s Ass Boulevard, and if you continue on that for about thirty miles, you’ll come to the town of Kiss My Ass.”

    We just looked at him for a few minutes until he stopped laughing, then told him that it wasn’t a joke. He just shouted at us and told us to go do something productive.

    My Uncle Earl used to shout at dogs. We always figured that this would get him into trouble one day. The shouting was okay for the little yippy dogs that inhabited our street, but sometimes there were big old dogs that came up from the other side of town, when the stray cats started to run low, for a quick Chihuahua snack.

    We figured that it would only be a matter of time before one of them decided that it was sick of Pugs and Lhasa Apsos before it headed for the big noisy fella with the BLT next to him.

    We also figured that it would be pretty cool to see, so we made sure we were always within earshot of Uncle Earl and his front porch, just to be sure.

    And, surprisingly enough, it did eventually happen. Boy, was that the day to end all days.

    Like I said, Uncle Earl was fond of BLTs- that is, Bacon Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches. Every day, he would go out on the front porch at lunch to eat two BLTs and drink a couple bottles of beer. Well, on that now-infamous day, Uncle Earl must’ve had more than a couple beers- from what it sounded like in the backyard, he must’ve killed damn near the whole case.

    Uncle Earl got rowdy when he’d had too much to drink. He tended to get boisterous and always tried to start fights.

    Well, since it was mid-day, everyone was at work besides us kids- and Uncle Earl. So... there were no people for Uncle Earl to fight. However, there were quite a few dogs about in the neighborhood. Big dogs. Mean dogs. Cujo would take one look at these dogs and say, “Gee, wouldja look at the time? I have got to get home. It’s getting late.” In other words, evil dogs. Uncle Earl was way too drunk to notice this, though. This is the whole cause of the incident.

    Well, we heard Uncle Earl shouting at the dogs. We had been talking about how nasty beer was when we caught an earful of the searing and teasing he was throwing at the dogs. By sort of a mutual, unspoken, agreement we all got up and tiptoed around the yard and perched behind the bushes so that we could see all that was happening without being spotted.

    We saw Uncle Earl yelling at the dogs and waving a beer in one hand and a BLT in the other. The next thing we saw was the way that the dogs were watching that BLT like it was the world’s most tasty thing.

    After a bit, Uncle Earl noticed that the largest dog in the pack, somewhere near the size of a compact car, had walked up to the front gate and was whining loudly for the BLT. The dog was an old, lean, mean dog, the sort that could either live forever or be torn to shreds if the other dogs in the pack got really hungry.

    Some neurons fired drunkenly in Unc’s head and he concluded that it would be fun to tease the dog. Like I said, my Uncle Earl wasn’t that bright. The case of beer and the sun did not help one bit.

    Well, Uncle Earl walked right over to that gate and dangled the BLT directly above the dogs nose. The dog’s drool damn near soaked Uncle Earl’s loafers- which, my dad said, were entirely suited to Uncle Earl. But that’s another story.

    The dog looked at the BLT, then at Uncle Earl, then back to the BLT, then back to Uncle Earl. this went on for a bit, as if the dog was checking the BLT for possible poison and Uncle Earl for weapons possession. After noting that there was evidence of neither, the dog went for the BLT. Uncle Earl jumped back and giggled. Yep, that set it. If he was giggling, he was schnockered.

    Uncle Earl said to the dog, “Wassa matter, poochy? You can’t get at the sammich? Here, lemme give it to ya.”

    Uncle Earl dangled the BLT over the dog’s head again. Unfortunately, standing in the sun for the past five minutes had really set that alcohol to working and his reflexes were a bit dulled. So...when he tried to yank the sandwich back, he didn’t quite make it. However, the dog did. It was able to get the whole BLT into its mouth...as well as part of Uncle Earl’s hand.

    Uncle Earl screamed at the dog, then began to swear at it, as well as flail wildly in its general direction with his free hand.  This caused the dog to rumble deeply in its throat. All us kids made a low “oooh” sound at this. We knew it was about to get really good.

    And boy, did it it ever. Uncle Earl heard the growl and just started wailing on the dog. The dog must have been as crazy from the heat as Uncle Earl, because, at that, it just went straight for Uncle Earl’s throat.

    This surprised the hell out of Uncle Earl. You’d think he would’ve expected a dog to attack after he teased it with a BLT and then whacked it. But he must’ve been so schnockered that the idea never occurred to him. That was my siblings’ theory. Personally, I think Uncle Earl was just so self-centered that he never thought
anyone would cross him.

    Well, he lay there screaming and yelling in pain for a few minutes as the dog gnawed at his larynx. When the screams turned to gurgles, we figured that the fun was
over and threw sticks and rocks at the mutt until it ran off. Then we ran over to the house to call the hospital.

    Well, the ambulance came and picked up Uncle Earl and took him to the hospital. We listened in on the doctor and heard him tell my dad that it was a damn good thing that the dog had been malnourished, since that meant that most of its teeth had fallen out. So, I guess Uncle Earl was lucky that he had picked an old stray to pick on, rather than one of the young’uns.

    That was about the only luck Uncle Earl had with that situation. He lived, but he lost his voice box. Things were a lot quieter in the neighborhood after that. Uncle Earl still sat on his front porch and tried to yell at us kids and the dogs. Unfortunately, he was only able to speak with one of those throat kazoos. It’s kind of hard to have respect for a guy who talks like that. We just ignored him from then on, and eventually started to go into his yard to retrieve lost balls and Frisbees. The raving yelling of a man who sounded like a bad sci-fi robot is rather easy to have no repect for.

    My Uncle Earl used to shout at dogs.