Smell Ya Later, Goobs!

This is another shot at the “We” from “We Are Amazing,” with different names and a stronger understanding of who these characters are. This little string of scenes is useless to me for the longer story I’m planning to write someday, but it’s a tight piece of writing and deserves to be uploaded anyways.

Basic context: the perspective belongs to Marshall, an idiotically happy dog with no understanding of drama.


Marshall doesn’t understand pictures. They’re flat and look like they have people in them, but they don’t actually smell like anything, which makes them about as interesting to Marshall as an open can of green beans. Nothing exists in a picture that he couldn’t just sniff out properly elsewhere. But Goobs, for some reason, thinks they’re important.

Goobs may be the best boy in the whole world, but there are so many things about him that Marshall just doesn’t understand. Like why they go back and forth between two dens. Or why the first thing he does when he gets to Mom’s is to stop and look at the photos on the bureau next to the kitchen table when he could just smell the people who live here directly. Or the day Goobs stands there for an extra-long time, until Mom comes into the room and he says, “You took a new family photo.”

“Hmm?” Mom asks, distracted.

“You took a new family photo,” Goobs repeats.

“Oh,” Mom answers. “Ah. Yes. Yes, we did do that. Chris received this promotional thing at work, but it was for one day only so we had to jump at the chance.” A pause. Then: “You were at your dad’s.”

“Right,” he says.

“Don’t look at me like that,” she says as she comes over, despite the fact that Goobs isn’t looking at her, eyes still on the photo. “Here you are,” she declares, moving a frame in the back to the forefront, setting it at a jaunty angle to the family picture. “Right next to us, as always.” She drops a hand on his shoulder, and Marshall sees her give his boy a squeeze before she promises: “You’ll be in the next one.”

Goobs nods but stands there for a long time after Rory calls Mom away, looking at his picture with a furrow between his eyes, until Marshall reminds him that all the best stuff to do is in the backyard.

“All right,” he agrees, finally, and of course they have the best time ever. Goobs talks to him the whole time. Even if Marshall doesn’t entirely understand why he keeps asking him questions (“When do you suppose they took it? Do you think we’ll be able to switch days with Dad when it’s time to take the next one? Do you think I should warn Dad that we might have to switch suddenly? Or should I wait until Mom lets me know?”) when he knows Marshall can’t answer.

#

Goobs calls it a school picture.

“You think she’ll like it?” he asks, studying it again. Marshall gives the thing a sniff, inspecting its rather colorless odor, but Goobs frowns, bringing it up to his face to take a closer look. “I have kind of a weird expression. Look – see? Does this look weird to you?” he asks, offering it again to the dog, who finds that it still has that interestingly sharp yet flat scent to it. The printer sometimes smells like this.

“Oh well,” Goobs decides, and he tucks it into a manila envelope. “The one she had is old. This one is better.” He frowns, peaks inside, and doesn’t sound at all happy when he adds, “Even if I do have a weird look on my face.”

Mom doesn’t mind. She thanks him profusely when he hands it to her, and Goobs looks so pleased with himself that Marshall feels pleased with himself too, forgetting that he had nothing to do with the school picture in the first place. In his excitement he tries to jump up on her, and is saved from getting kicked out only because Goobs pushes him back down with the flat palm of his hand and Mom isn’t wearing her nice pants.

“Set it on the counter,” she says, when the momentary assault is over. Marshall lolls his tongue at her. “As soon as I get the chance I’ll be sure to replace the old picture with your new one. Thanks, honey.”

A month later, Goobs puts it in himself.

#

Next year, Goobs doesn’t ask. He swaps the picture out and says, to Marshall, “She’s really busy. I bet she really appreciates it when I do stuff like this without being asked.”

Marshall licks Goob’s hand, Goobs scratches Marshall’s ears, and every time they pass the bureau he adjusts the picture so that it’s pointing just a little more at Mom’s place at the table. Mom doesn’t say anything, but Goobs explains to Marshall that she’s had to deal with two disasters at work and she’s pretty tired when she gets home.

#

Goobs doesn’t ask the year after either. Or the year after that. He pulls the picture out from where it’s been buried behind the rest of the photos, and replaces it without a word.

#

The last year, as Goobs is reaching into the picture frames, his latest school picture in a manila envelope on the table behind him, he stops with his hand only halfway there. Marshall doesn’t understand when he picks up the largest frame instead, or why he stands there for such a long time, looking at it.

He puts it down, but doesn’t look at Marshall when he says, “I must’ve been at Dad’s again.”

Marshall still doesn’t get it. Worse, he has no way to tell Goobs that he’s forgotten the envelope on the table when his boy turns and walks away. Eventually it gets moved to the kitchen counter, then to the stools underneath where all the old mail lives, and after that Marshall forgets about it. It’s not important to Goobs, it’s not important to him.

Goobs gets sent to his room five times that weekend for what Mom calls “disrespect,” which is incredibly boring because they kick Marshall out into the backyard by himself every time it happens.

#

Marshall doesn’t notice, but Goobs never stops to look at the pictures again.

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