I see him standing there, smugly looking at himself in the mirror in my bedroom. Posing, turning this way and that. I watch as he tips his hat at his own reflection, nodding as if introducing himself to nobility. As if he was worth being introduced to someone noble. It wasn’t that long ago that I yelled at him to get out of the house, sent him scurrying away with his tail between his legs.
The nerve of him, fawning over his good looks, like he is in love with the mere sight of himself. I see him smile as he runs a brush through his thick hair and gives it a little flip, like the women in the cheesy ‘80’s movies do when they want to make it look like they have major attitude and the guys better watch out. In fact that is exactly how he is acting, like some bitch in heat about to go out and find someone that will fuck her just because she looks so good.
He turns his back to me as he admires his profile, and I notice that he is wearing my new black Hugo Boss slacks, the ones that I picked up last week at Nordstrom when I went to buy my wife the newest Yves Saint Laurent clutch. I hadn’t even had the chance to wear the slacks after getting them back from the tailor. I had them taken in a little at the crotch, they were a little too slack in that area, which tends to bother me a lot.
I find myself admiring the way they fit him for a moment, before I remember that they were my pants. Then he turns around and I notice that the crotch is tight around him, tight on him where it was still a little loose on me. Not only is he wearing my fucking clothes but they look better on him than they did on me.
Here he stands, in my room, wearing my clothing. Brand new black slacks, one of my white English Laundry button-up shirts, and I can make out one of my brand new undershirts too! My black cap toe shoes are on his feet, and as he turns I can see that he is wearing the Ralph Lauren argyle socks that I love so much, a pair that replaced ones he took from my hamper a couple of weeks back. He even has my Bulova watch on his furry wrist. I look down to my left hand and am reassured for a moment to see the white gold band my wife gave me on our wedding day still in place. I imagine this impostor wearing even this symbol of my identity and I get sick to my stomach.
He doesn’t notice me standing there, still too obsessed with his own visage to notice the audience of one in the doorway. This fixation of his isn’t too surprising, it isn’t the first time he has lost sight of those around him because he became distracted by some new, shiny object that has come into view. The focus on his reflection makes me want to stare at him myself and I continue to absorb the fact that he does look better in my clothes than I do. Not only do they fit his body better, but they fit his personality better. It is as if I was an impostor in these clothes, as if I was breaking them in for him to wear when the time came.
I can only think of what my wife would do if she were to come home and see him standing there, like this. My best friend of years, ready to replace me, even in the capacity of a husband. What about my children? Would they be happy to see him, literally, fill my shoes? With my work schedule, they spend more time with him than they do with me generally. I can see him sitting there, fresh from a run around the block, ready to drink some of my Glenlivet, while my wife cooks dinner and my kids are finishing their homework. The thought of it disgusts me, even as I begin to realize that the change would barely go noticed. Would she even notice my absence in bed, her bent over with him behind her (their bodies joined as ours have so many times)? Would she even realize it wasn’t me inside of her?
What would become of me? I think of my options in life. Who am I that I could be so easily replaced by this pretend me, this malicious fake that wants to be more than he was born to be? This freak in a suit, standing in my room admiring the life that belongs to me, a life that is all of my doing. Without me, he certainly would not be wearing that suit, or those shoes, or be brushing that hair back from his eyes.
I sneak over to the closet as he bends down to tighten the laces on my Santoni shoes around his feet. I reach into the closet and grab my brown lamb skin belt by Calvin Klein and position myself so that a step and a jump will put me right upon him, and when I see him stand back up and straighten the Armani tie that I bought for last year’s award ceremony, I make my move and throw the belt around his neck.
He falls to the ground on all fours and tries to buck me off of his back, but he isn’t strong enough in this position to get the leverage right. I tighten the belt around his throat. His wild thrashing movements force him to breathe deeper and harder, and his breath is quickly spent as his larynx is crushed and he is unable to draw in fresh air. Being this close to him, I can smell that his usual oatmeal and vanilla shampoo scent is missing and in its place is the scent of my Burberry cologne. Rage fills me and I pull the belt even tighter, even though I know that he cannot breathe anymore, even if I were to let go of the belt and leave him there, I have collapsed his throat, blood is coming out of his mouth even as I turn him over to look him in the eyes.
He knows me as soon as I turn him over. I see myself reflected in those big brown eyes, pupils much larger than a human’s could be. The rings of brown iris are growing dim and it seems like he is going to cry as his mouth moves in an attempt to speak. But he cannot speak, he couldn’t do more than bark, even if his throat wasn’t crushed beyond repair and he wasn’t suffocating to death. I imagine I see regret in his eyes, the same look that he used to give me when he was caught doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing, something that he couldn’t help but do. I watch as even that expression fades and is replaced by sadness before his attempts at breathing slow and then stop all together. His body convulses once before it remains still.
I remembered times when he was young when he would get that look, chewing on my shoes when I woke up in the morning or the one time he peed on the couch a week after we brought him home.
I sit next to his body as the room grows cold. With my hand on his chest I don’t notice the warmth leave his flesh, time is marked by the slow curling of his lips away from his exposed teeth and by my limbs growing stiff from staying in place too long. I realize the gravity of what I had just done and my body grows weak. I notice that the clothes he still wears are as empty of life as he is, and even then he wears them like a second skin. I am not sure when he began to change, or why I never really noticed it before today. Maybe it was the clothes that made it real, the subtle changes never apparent until I felt threatened.
I killed my best friend. But I had to do it, a dog that has a taste of a man’s life is no less dangerous than a dog that has had a taste of a man’s flesh. They must be put down, for their own good. Dogs are meant to be man’s best friend, they are not meant to wear their clothes or watches or smell of their cologne.