By conservative estimates, there are currently enough wrongfully convicted people in prison in the United States to fill a football stadium.
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I was compiling a list of what I would take with me in the coffin when along came a dog wearing a hat.
120 Hershey milk chocolate bars. Two cases of Fox’s U-Bet syrup. What would heaven be without some chocolate?
“Hey buster,” this dog, with bright blue eyes, a somewhat snooty bearing, and a fedora, yelled.
Four pounds of Columbian. Certainly that would be a necessity for such an extended trip.
“Let me ask you,” said the dog, who introduced himself as Morris, “how many dogs are represented among the ranks of veterinarians?” I told him I had never met a vet who was a dog. “This is anthroposexism!” Morris argued.
Spaghetti. But how to cook it? I would take already cooked spaghetti.
With my mind on spaghetti, I suggested to Morris that we step into Gluttonia’s Pasta to talk further.
Over a bowl of spaghetti marinara on which he most noticeably used no fork, Morris spoke with considerable emotion about the domination of “most aspects” of animal life by people. “Humans even concoct this Kennel-Ration crap,” complained Morris. “Not one chef of canine persuasion has been retained. Ask any dog what he’d like — you think it would be Kennel-Ration?” Morris spoke so loudly that people at other tables were looking.
“And what do you prefer?” I asked.
“Spaghetti marinara, of course,” said Morris, as he kept gobbling.
Some books, I thought, and some records, I must have my favorite book, Dr. Bruce Spencer’s THE FALLACY OF CREATIVE THINKING.
Morris was waxing on about Kennel-Ration. I mentioned that during recurring periods of poverty I had lived — for months — on Kennel-Ration, bolstered sometimes with tropical fish food. “A dab of ketchup was nice,” I said.
“Dogs eschew ketchup,” said Morris curtly.
“This might be a matter of communication,” I said. The American Beauty Rose album of The Dead, of course. “Most dogs don’t have the kind of command of human language you do,” I explained.
“This is true,” said the dog. “Mostly dogs bark. Some dogs also prefer ear twitching.” A motorcycle. A motorcycle to drive all over heaven. “But there’s been no sincere attempt to translate dog language,” said Morris.
“Morris,” I told the dog, “I am convinced you are an honest, well-meaning animal. What can I do to help?”
“Take me to the nearest veterinary school,” said Morris.
We reached Cornell in four hours. Morris bounded from the car. I followed him through a maze of halls.
Morris got pissed when we passed the cafeteria, wafting of frankfurter smoke. “Some of those pigs and cows had families,” Morris said.
A receptionist in the office of the school’s president asked whether we had an appointment. We said no, but she was able, somewhat reluctantly, to schedule us “for just a few minutes” with a Dr. Pinsky.
A telephone. Dry socks.
Pinsky conceded to Morris that there were no dogs among veterinary students, or animal representation among the administration or faculty at the veterinary school other than a Persian cat, an eye-ear-nose-and-throat specialist.
“This is rank anthroposexism!” charged Morris, and the talk immediately plunged downward with Morris ultimately biting Pinsky’s leg and Pinsky chasing Morris around the office with a chair trying to bat him over the head.
As we were fleeing, Pinsky was calling the dog catcher.
Matches. And toothpaste and toothbrush.
As we were heading back, Morris was saying how he might have to move through organized politics when a Collie came prancing along. Morris leaped out the window.
A typewriter. A wok. Friends.
I didn’t hear from Morris until a few months later, when I got a phone call from him. He said he was running for the town council in Ringworm, N.J. as a reform Democrat. Swiss Army knife. A heavy jacket, just in case.
I told Morris I thought this was a wise move, and that I had stopped wearing shoes. Morris stressed that he, in fact, had no possessions. “These are human illusions,” said the dog.