He was the kind of guy you dreaded seeing right up until you were with him. But then you found yourself having such a good time, you forgot your original trepidation. Or at least you did until all that fun caught up to you.
The memoir begins with a story about bulldog masturbation and digresses from there.
Here is a sample of that opening chapter. The last 6 pages to be exact. Yeah, it's long for a blog post, but I hope it holds your attention just the same. I'd love to hear what you think of ... The Feedstore Chronicles.
Doyle had three women in his life. His first wife and the mother of his three boys, Pamela. His second wife, Laura, whom he was in the process of divorcing when I hired on. And last, but not least, Snuggles.
Snuggles was an English Bulldog. Her fur was brown and white, and she was one of the laziest, not to mention nastiest, canines to ever down a bowl of Kibble. Snuggles possessed runny, pus-filled eyes. A loud, raspy breathing pattern, somewhat like an asthmatic Darth Vader. And stubby, bowed legs that barely kept her flabby gut from dragging the ground. She also happened to be Doyle's most prized possession.
Ninety percent of the time, Snuggles curled up on her doggy bed behind the counter and refused to move. Too bad for me if I needed something from the cabinet her fat body was pressed against. Once or twice per day she would hoist her smelly carcass from the fleece pad, only to use my pant leg as a depository for her snot-crusted eyes. Nasty as that practice was, it beat her other habit all to hell.
Doyle lived for the times when Snuggles went into heat. Having read an ad in the Thrifty Nickel for English Bulldog pups fetching thirteen-hundred bucks a pop, mining Snuggles' ovaries became his life's mission.
I, however, dreaded the arrival of her cycle.
For this glorious week, Snuggles wasn't merely content to wipe her eye boogers on my jeans. No -- she also felt the animalistic calling to drag her butt across the store's concrete floor.
Guess who cleaned up the crimson snail trails.
That's right. Me.
The only good thing about these visits from Mother Nature was the entertainment they provided at each failed attempt by Doyle to produce a litter of wrinkled dollar signs.
Doyle whored Snuggles out to every male bulldog within a three county area. Too greedy to share in the potential booty of a litter worth several grand, Doyle always opted to pay upfront stud fees rather than give up a higher share should she actually conceive. Without fail, the rendezvous led to the same result.
Snuggles would shack up with the chosen doggy Don Juan for three or four days. After each tryst she'd come back looking as happy and satisfied as a fat man leaving Golden Corral. Given the price of bulldog pups, Doyle projected Snuggles and her uterus to be good for an easy five grand a year. And by his calculations, she only needed to have two litters of two pups to accomplish that goal. But in the end, none of the arranged liaisons turned Doyle into the grandpa he so desperately wanted to be.
Along with the dog, Doyle was also raising three boys. Three mean little hoodlums that I wagered would make him a grandpa long before Snuggles ever did. Never mind the fact that Austin, the oldest, was only twelve. Their father's genes were too strong for them not to find trouble of some sort. And given Doyle's track record, at least some of that trouble was bound to be of the female variety.
To this day I still can't fathom exactly how Doyle sweet-talked so many women. Women you would never expect a man who lived in a double-wide on the outskirts of town to coerce into a sleepover.
Women like Dr. Croft.
When pimping out Snuggles failed to work, Doyle turned to artificial insemination. The procedure was pricey, but each time Snuggles came into heat, he'd reach for his credit card, load the pooch into his pickup, and head off to the vet's office.
This went on for better than a year, and I never suspected Snuggles wasn't the only one getting her jollies at the appointments.
Then came the day I was in the back, sacking up some hen scratch for Mrs. Esparza. Doyle had taught me how to up-sell so I was in the middle of trying to convince the woman that a bit of oyster shell and a bag of laying pellets would raise her egg production.
“As hens get older they really need the extra calcium they get from oyster shells.”
“No, no, no. No hay falta con mis gallinas.” Mrs. Esparza wagged a finger in my face.
She was a regular customer, so I knew once she began responding in Spanish, my chances to sell her anything extra were gone. Next she would pretend not to understand anything I said.
“Yo, Travis!” Doyle's voice came over the intercom, saving me from having to try.
“Yeah,” I yelled back.
“Hurry up and get Mrs. Esparza loaded. I have an important mission for you.”
I carried the hen scratch out, loaded it in Mrs. Esparza's Buick, and headed back inside to see what Doyle had in mind.
“John's bringing some papers by for me to sign, so I need you to take Snuggles in for her AI appointment.”
John was Doyle's lawyer. Between the divorces, the subpoena when Doyle's bookie got popped, and other brushes with the justice system, they had a close working relationship, so I didn't think anything of his explanation.
“Okay,” I said, “But I'm taking your truck. I don't want Snuggles wiping eye snot on my seats.” The pickup had been a recent gift from my grandfather, and despite the '76 Ford's battered appearance and age, I was still quite proud of the vehicle.
Grabbing the keys for the store's flatbed Ford off the pegboard, I snapped a leash on Snuggles and drug her fat butt out the door.
On the way to the vet's, Snuggles tried to lay her head on my lap. I managed to fend her off, though I very nearly rear ended a VW bus in the process.
Then, right as I turned into the lot at the vet's office, Snuggles sneezed and blew snot all over the right side of my face as well as the driver’s window.
Cursing, I reached for a stained Taco Bell napkin on the dash. The lone napkin did little more than smear the mucus, so I searched for something else to clean my cheek while Snuggles looked on with smug satisfaction. When I leaned across to open the glove box, the foul beast mistook the gesture to mean I wanted a kiss. Planting her wide tongue to my cheek, she left a string of dog slobber dripping off my ear.
Cussing once again, I wiped the slime off with the back of my hand and headed inside.
Behind the receptionist desk sat a stunning young woman in her early twenties.
“Snuggles!” She beamed when we walked in. The girl walked out from behind the counter and bent down to pat the dog's head.
Sucking in my stomach, I swelled my chest and proudly said, “She's a good dog.”
“She sure is,” the girl cooed. Then she looked up at me and frowned. Pointing with a cute, manicured fingernail the receptionist said, “You got something on your eyebrow.”
Reaching up, I grabbed a gooey wad of green bulldog snot.
So much for making a favorable impression.
The girl led me and Snuggles back to a waiting room where she left us alone.
Up until then, I'd assumed bulldog semen came in little vials. I assumed they kept it frozen and had a machine that heated it up to the right temperature when needed. I assumed the procedure involved something resembling a turkey baster.
Two out of three of my assumptions proved to be flat-ass wrong.
Dr. Croft came in after only a few minutes and the truth didn't dawn on me even as she bent to lift the bulldog that had followed her into the room.
I watched as the doctor, an attractive woman in her forties, reached beneath the male bulldog, snapped what looked like a sandwich bag around his privates, and began the collection process.
Like a fan at Wimbledon, my head went back and forth as Dr. Croft established a steady rhythm.
Blood rushed to my cheeks when she looked me in the eye and said, “So you work for Doyle? That must be interesting.”
I might have managed a nod as she continued to stroke Brutus. Beside me, Snuggles ignored the poochie porn show.
There I was, a teenage boy, trapped in a tiny room, and forced to bear witness as an attractive and secure middle-aged woman jacked off a very well-endowed beast. Most would describe that as interesting.
I found it mortifying.
Puberty had hit me like a two-ton rock so I had both an active, fantasy-filled imagination and a strong libido, but none of my daydreams had ever starred the canine equivalent of Ron Jeremy. Though I was pretty sure that a few of my nightmares were about to. And yet, I couldn't look away.
Grimacing, I watched the piston like movement with held breath and tensed jaws. When the big moment arrived, I actually flinched. Brutus shuddered once, before casually looking over his shoulder as if challenging me to do better. Right about then, I felt about as confident as a major league batter swinging a toothpick.
The only part of the act I'd envisioned correctly was the turkey baster. When the whole sordid event was finished I'm not sure who felt more violated, me or Snuggles.
On the way out I didn't even slow down. No way did I want to even chance making eye-contact with that pretty receptionist.
Back at the feedstore, Doyle had a huge, shit-eating grin plastered on his face when I slinked in.
“You could have warned me,” I said.
“I could've,” he nodded, “but that wouldn't have been nearly as much fun.” Doyle laughed, before adding, “Heard you turned redder than Brutus's dipstick.”
“What did you want me to do? Cheer the vet on? Offer to lend a hand?”
He shrugged. “You could have volunteered to go next.”
“That would have gone over well.”
Doyle served up a lop-sided grin and shrugged. “Worked for me.”
Gape-mouthed, I stared.
“Sometimes all you've got to do is ask,” Doyle said with a wink and an evil chuckle.
Who knows whether Doyle was telling the truth or just jerking my chain, so to speak, but he did teach me a valuable lesson; Until you're brave enough to ask the question, you'll never hear a yes.
I could tell you that the whole bulldog experience gave me the confidence to march right up to Samantha Blake and ask her out. Yeah, I could tell you that, but it'd be a lie. Truth is it took many more lessons. Some painful, some criminal, and some downright immoral before I emerged from the feedstore a wizened member of the male species.
Perhaps I would have found love and a good woman to share my life with even without Doyle’s depraved guidance. Perhaps, I would have sailed through my teen years and into adulthood unscathed and equally as prepared to face the world. Perhaps, but it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun.