by Bernie Mojzes

There was a farmer.

He had this dog that tended to drink to excess. They named him Binge-O.

It was all good fun at the start. You know, social drinking, at parties and such. People noticed that Binge-O liked beer and started feeding him drinks. After a while he’d start nosing around, finishing off the dregs of lost or abandoned drinks. It was all downhill from there.

For a long time Binge-O was the life of the party. He’d help around the farm during the day, and in the evenings he’d trot down into town and hang out at the bar, where people kept him well supplied with drinks and beer-nuts all night. Sometimes he’d stagger home ‘round three in the morning. Sometimes we’d find him sleeping it off under a car or tractor, or in someone’s sheep pen.

He had a thing for sheep.

But then, he was a sheepdog, after all.

He started drinking at home. None of us really knew the extent of it, back then. He was good at hiding things. He’d stashed bottles of vodka all over the farm, buried like bones. He turned mean. He was still well-liked in town, and a lot of fun to drink with, but after a certain point something inside him would shift, something would turn ugly, and he’d get angry. People knew to keep away from him when he got like that. He’d snarl and they’d back off.

Time came when Binge-O wasn’t welcome at the bar anymore. He’d bitten a patron the night before, and when he trotted up just before nightfall they wouldn’t let him in. He barked and scratched at the door. He tried to slip in when he thought nobody was looking. He whined. It was sad, but old Tony said, “I ain’t having that damned mutt chewin’ on my customers.” He swatted at Binge-O with a broom.

I don’t think any of us realized how far gone he was. I don’t know if anyone could have helped him, in the long run, but maybe if we’d tried, things wouldn’t have ended the way they did.

They found him the next morning in the hen house. He’d killed them all, snapping their necks and mangling their bodies, before taking his own life. He lay on his side, shotgun still held between all four legs, covered in blood and feathers.

The town is still in shock.

And none of us can look his puppies in the eye. We were all complicit in this thing.

We’re all guilty.