A man lay on my back steps, snoring, shoeless in a greasy tweed suit, loafers tucked under his head. I shook him. No response. I clapped my hands, yelled and whistled, but he sucked his thumb, resiliently fetal.
I was late for work, so I left. When I got home, he was still there. I jangled my keys. He woke up and tried to crawl through the door.
“Don’t I have to invite you over the threshold first?”
“There’s no such thing as vampires.”
“Maybe I should call the police.”
“Then tell me what you want.”
Donald Rumsfeld slowly got to his feet. His glasses were missing a lens. He thumbed them back up his nose.
I laughed. It came out in a tittery, effeminate way. It’s not my best quality.
“Waffles,” Donald Rumsfeld said again, a tiny whistle escaping through the gap between his teeth. “Please?
For reasons of which I am still unsure, I took his scabby hand and brought him into my home.
The neighbors quickly got used to Donald Rumsfeld. In the yard, children flocked around him. Donald Rumsfeld handed out nickels and gum. He zoomed toy trucks and tossed leather balls and Hula’d Hoops, gibbering in a sing-song language the screaming Todds and Ellas seemed to instinctively understand. Mothers fanned themselves on porches, bemused. Fathers tinkered with axles, unconcerned.
The problem was the dogs.
There was just something about Donald Rumsfeld’s smell. No matter how many times I bathed him, it seeped from his pores, an oily mixture of Dr. Scholls and singed Kurd. Undertones of cordite and debased milk. The dogs howled and whined, revulsion in their flat eyes. They turned in circles, clawed the dirt, pissed uncontrollably. It got so bad we could no longer go outside. Each night at dusk, a protracted yapping began in the distance. It picked up intensity, rolling across the city in volleys, every canine for miles dragging their asses across rough linoleum, drawing courage from one another.
Bark! Barkald! Barkfeld!
“This is insane,” I said, holding towels to my ears.
Ruff! Ruffeld! RuffRum!
“Listen,” I finally said. “Maybe it would be best if you -”
Donald Rumsfeld threw open the door and barged out onto the porch. The braying became hysterical. He tore open his shirt, pounded his chest, and screamed. It was one long note, a piercing soprano, which he held for over a minute.
The awe of ignition.
The shock of the new.
Every single dog went mute. In fact, the entire city seemed to go quiet. No birds chirped, no buses idled, no couples sent entrees back to the kitchen for a re-fire. The entire world was momentarily cowed.