The first thing that stirred Hank into semi-consciousness was the stench. He hoped it was a dream. He wondered if it was possible to smell things in his dreams. Whatever it was, it was pungent.
Even if he was dreaming, it was too vile to sleep. Hank looked at the clock. In forty-five minutes his alarm would sound. His wife, Adele, snoozed peacefully beside him.
Hank sniffed the air. It wasn’t a dream. Someone was sick. His first thought was Adele’s dog. He fumbled out of bed and shuffled his way down the dark hallway. The laminate floor was cold on his bare feet. The smell was so strong it turned his stomach.
Hank shuttered. He stepped in something wet. Hopping on one foot, he located a light switch. On his last hop he splashed in another puddle. He could feel something half-solid sliding down his ankle.
Looking down, his suspicions were confirmed. The dog had diarrhea. Cowering in the corner, Adele’s spaniel stared at Hank. It’s tail was wagging.
Hank suppressed the urge to yell at the dog for fear of waking up the house.
“Stupid mutt,” he whispered. It only made the dog look more pathetic.
He walked on the sides of his feet, trying not to spread the mess. He grabbed a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom and started cleaning up. The stench seemed to burn itself into his nasal passages.
Once he sopped up the dripping filth, Hank washed his feet. Then he washed his hands, his face and then his hands again. He even contemplated brushing his teeth. He gave the dog one more menacing stare, then went to bed.
As soon as he sat down, Adele stirred. “Did you find the source of the smell?”
“It was the dog,” said Hank.
“Did you clean it up?”
“Yeah,” sighed Hank. The stench was still in his nose.
Adele rolled over and looked at Hank. “Thanks, honey. You’re sweet.”
“Wait. Did you smell it?”
“How could I not? It reeks in here.”
Hank flopped on his pillow. “I hate you.”
Adele laughed. “I love you, too.” She kissed his cheek and rolled over.
“Keep laughing, You won’t think it’s funny when I leave you,” whispered Hank.
“What did you say?”
“Nothing. Go to sleep. I have thirty minutes to salvage my life,” said Hank, then closed his eyes.