The darkness faded into a blurry light.
“Where am I?” thought the pug.
She looked around. Inside she felt an uneasiness. She remembered having something to eat. Was it a Donkey Burger and Fat Fries? She stood up on her little tan legs. Her unease grew stronger. She walked out into the bright light of the sun and a sidewalk full of people. The people seemed unusually tall. Why was it that she only could see…
The unease suddenly throbbed in her groin. Her tongue hung out of her mouth, her eyes stared at all the... legs. Hundreds of legs! Some legs were in blue denim, some in khaki knits or dark polyester. The unease overwhelmed the poor little pug as she found herself lunging into the crowd and attempting to attach herself to the nearest leg. Her front paws reached for a calf, but the person was walking too fast. The pug fell face-first onto the concrete. She was up immediately, driven by a desperate need.
The next attempt was on a leg covered with black tights. The pug's inner claw snagged on the tights and she was pulled along.
“Hey!!” a startled girl cried. She turned and saw the pug’s cute black face and little tan body. Her eyes widened and she wanted to hug the pug and take it home. But then the dog clamped onto the girl’s leg and began to hump furiously – “Are you my lover? Are you my lover? Are you my lover?” The pug looked up at the girl. The dog’s face wore an expression of embarrassment at being so needy. “Please, oh please, be my lover!”
“Ugh. Disgusting!” said the girl as she shoved the dog away and left.
Undeterred, the pug ran over to a grouping of legs waiting curbside. She launched herself onto a leg with an expensive leather shoe attached. A man looked down. Without saying a word he kicked the pug in the ribs. The poor pug flew into the roadway and the sound of screeching brakes filled the air. The chrome bumper of a 1974 Peugeot eclipsed the sun as the dog cowered in fear, anticipating pain. Nothing happened, the car had stopped in time. The pug slowly opened her eyes. For a moment, the unease had disappeared, but then a flock of legs articulated across the roadway and the dog gave chase.
“I have a lover, I know I do,” said the pug, “I will find them, I will, I will.”
She found it difficult to keep up with all those legs. How could she ever hump them while they were moving so fast? The pug looked about and spied a still pair of legs sitting at a bench. She moved in for the mount.
Hump, hump, “Are you my lover? Are you my lover? Are you my lover? Are you my lover? Are you my lover? Are you my lover?”
The cold hard metal of a walking cane forced itself between the pug and the object of its affection. Her paws held on tight. The cane pried and pried. Sounds of disgust emanated from an elderly woman-- owner of the leg. With all her strength the woman finally separated the dog. But the pug immediately attempted to attach again. The cold hard metal came down on the pug’s head.
“Are you my, ouch! Are you my, ouch! Are you my, ouch!”
The pug retreated. Despite its setbacks, the pug continued to try to mount legs all day.
“I have a lover, I know I do,” said the pug, “I will find them, I will, I will.”
As the sun began to sink in the west, the poor pug, bruised and beaten, tired and defeated, found a quiet place behind a dumpster and fell asleep.
The sun rose in the east, and the pug awoke. The unease was still there in her loins. It drove her forward in search of a lover that would accept her, a lover that will love her.
The first leg she found was sitting at a bench. Bleary and tired, she was thankful that it wasn’t walking. She rose up and grabbed on with her front legs. Her hips began to thrust. Nothing happened; no cane swatting her on the head, no kick from a shoe, no face-plant in the sidewalk. Enjoying her uninterrupted pleasure, the little pug went into another world somewhere inside herself.
After some time, the pug wondered why she hadn’t been hit or kicked or shoved away. She opened her eyes and found that the leg she thought she was humping had disappeared. It had somehow been replaced by the leg of the bench. Was she so tired this morning that she had started humping the wrong leg? At that moment she didn’t care. Having humped the bench for awhile, she felt somewhat relieved. She dismounted and went off to look for a real leg.
The rest of morning she was met again with rejection and hurt.
That afternoon, after a lunch courtesy of a Donkey Burger restaurant dumpster, the pug headed off to the downtown park. She approached a bench full of legs. Remembering her previous bench encounter and the last ten times she had been kicked, the poor little doggie decided to mount the bench leg instead of the real legs. She humped away; “Are you my lover? Are you my lover? Are you my lover?” The bench did not answer. The real legs laughed at her. She ran away.
The pug was feeling defeated. Maybe she was barking up the wrong tree. Perhaps legs and benches were not meant to be her lovers. At that moment, an old car drove past. Its wheels spun round and round and looked sexy to the little pug.
“Are you my lover?!” she yelled after the car.
The car did not respond.
The pug saw a plane fly high overhead. “Are you my lover?!”
The plane was too far away to hear her.
Nearby a lamp post seemed like something different, something the pug had never thought about before. “Are you my lover?” the pug asked over and over again as it thrust its hips back and forth against the post.
A group of boys saw the pug humping the lamppost and broke out in laughter. She stopped humping the post. She moved away and looked for something else to hump. The boys watched her as she moved around the park attaching to people’s legs and lampposts and rocks and trees. The boys gathered around her.
There was something about these boys, something familiar. “Are these my lovers?” the pug wondered, becoming excited by the number of legs around her.
“Hey, little dog you can, like, hump my leg,” said one of the boys as he extended his leg.
The dog did not think twice and attached herself to the blue jean clad appendage. The boy laughed a mean sounding laugh and then a fist came down into the pug’s face. The pug winced and yelped.
“Good one, Khua,” snorted Mo who was extending his leg out to the hurt little dog. The pug could not resist. As she approached the boy, his foot caught her in the ribs and sent her flying. She landed at the feet of the third boy who had a cigarette in his mouth. He picked her up by the scruff of her neck and held her in front of his face.
“You stupid mutt!” said the boy. “You want to hump something so bad, don’t you? You want my leg? I’ll give you something to hump, you horny little bitch.” With this he took the cigarette out of his mouth and moved the lit end toward the pug’s crotch.
The other boys laughed. “Yeah, you stupid Hump-Pug,” said Khua. The three boys laughed and started chanting, “Hump-Pug, Hump-Pug, Hump-Pug…”
Hump-Pug could feel the heat of Xavier’s cigarette coming close to her skin. She squirmed and kicked, knocking the cigarette out of Xavier’s hand. Xavier squeezed her neck even tighter and she whined.
The three boys laughed. “Stupid Hump-Pug,” said Xavier and threw her to the ground. Mo gave her one more kick and the three boys walked away chanting Hump-Pug’s name.
Poor little Hump-Pug! She was confused. Why was a lover so hard to find? How could people be so mean to her when she just wanted to love? The following weeks and months were cold and dark for Hump-Pug. As the winter wore on into a cold wet spring, she mounted an unimaginable number of objects and legs. Each time she was disappointed and hurt. To Hump-Pug, life began to seem as if it was a cruel joke, an endless series of embarrassments. She felt cheated, as if her birth was a mistake. Maybe she would be better off never having been born. Maybe she would be better off dead. Her soul drooped, then it crumpled and then it imploded. Hump-Pug no longer wanted to exist. There was no hope.
“I do not have a lover, I know I don’t,” said the pug, “I won’t find them, I won’t, I won’t.”
* * * * *
Are You My Lover? is the 23rd story in The Book of Bartholomew. The story, written and illustrated by Mark Granlund.
A small pug dog can't stop humping people's legs, walking canes, benches, and lamp posts. Will she ever learn how to find true love?
You can see the full-color flipbook version of this story here.