It is a cold October night in the city. Most people in the neighborhood are either asleep or away. Two figures sit on the back of two separate porches of adjacent apartments overlooking an alley. A single street light casts the shadows of their bodies against the brick wall of a popular local restaurant. The sign on the restaurant reads, “Big Country Corral: Home of the Biggest Steaks in Town” in large neon letters. Both figures are visibly shaking from the cold. They are making small talk to pass the time.

“Jesus it’s cold!”

“Yeah…usually is this time of year.”

“So who are your owners?”

“The Jeffersons.”

“And yours?”

“Jacksons.”

“How many years has it been?”

“Seven.”

“They treat you well?”

“Alright I guess.”

“Then you have nothing to complain about. Jackson’s don’t seem to give a shit about me. They don’t even recognize I exist half the time.”

“Yeah, I guess I should be grateful.”

“You should.”

“I should…”

“So why aren’t you?”

“I guess it would be nice to have more freedom.”

“Freedom? Do you know what they do to us out there once we’re free?”

“Return us?”

“And if we don’t have an ID?

“Oh…right.”

“Like it or not, without them we’re pretty helpless. You should know that by now.”

“I know…it’s just that I keep having this dream.”

“What dream?”

“I keep having this dream where I’m in a society, but it’s not like this one.”

“Go on.”

“It’s a society where everything is the same as it is now, only without owners.”

“You’re crazy! How would we survive without people to care for us, feed us, bathe us, play with us and exercise us?”

“I didn’t say there were no people, just no owners”

“Alright. Keep going.”

“So these people…they just help us out like they help each other out. Whenever one of us is hungry, a person usually feeds us, whenever we’re cold, people clothe us, and whenever we’re sick, they take care of us.”

“Okay, but how do they protect us? What if someone attacks us? Where do they keep us to make sure we’re safe?”

“They make sure we’re safe.”

“By keeping us inside?”

“No.”

“Outside?”

“No.”

“Then how?”

“They don’t keep us. We keep ourselves.”

“Oh…but isn’t that dangerous?”

“Sometimes.”

“Too dangerous for me.”

“Not any more dangerous than some owners. Did you hear what happened to Bob?”

“Good point, but you have to admit that it’s risky. You never know what will happen next. You have to worry about where your next meal will come from.”

“Makes it kind of an adventure, doesn’t it? At least that way you get to choose what you eat and where you shit.

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“You get to choose who you want to be around. You even get to choose your own mate.”

“Won’t that lead to overpopulation?”

“It could, but it would be a lot slower once forced breeding is outlawed. Besides, this whole problem is people’s fault. They don’t give a shit how many  of us there are as long as they get what they want. The jails are full of undesirables that only exist just because some idiot was lonely or thought it would be fun.”

“I think you’re whining too much.”

“Maybe you should tell that to Bob.”

“Fuck you! You know that’s not what I –

“I’m just saying.”

“That’s fucked up.”

“Yeah, but it’s true. Besides, nothing ever gets done without instigators.”

“Some things do.”

“Like what?”

“Yesterday I taught my owner a lesson by threatening to pee on the floor.”

“You just proved my point.”

“Yeah…shit. I guess I did. Have you ever tried that restaurant?”

“That one right there?”

“Yeah.”

“Gross.”

“What? You’ve never been curious?”

“Do you even know what that is?”

“A good restaurant?”

“It’s cow.”

“You’re shitting me!”

“Nope.”

“I don’t wanna think about that. Way to ruin it.”

“Most don’t.”

“Good thing we don’t taste good, right?”

“Yeah…good thing we aren’t in Korea.”

“What?”

“You really don’t read much, do you?”

“Shut up and tell me already.”

“They eat us in Korea.”

“Really?”

“Well, not all of us, but some of us.”

“That’s fucked up.”

“No more fucked up than eating cows.”

“Are you saying cows are worth more than us?”

“That’s just your ego talking.”

“We’re so much smarter, though. Plus, we’re cuter.

“They feel pain.”

“So?”

“They feel pain, just like you or me or Bob.”

“Yeah but…not like exactly the way we do, right?”

“Why shouldn’t they?”

“I don’t wanna think about it.”

“I thought so.”

“Stop being so pretentious.”

“So knowledge and empathy are pretentious?”

“You’re forcing your beliefs on me. Besides, it’s too cold to talk about this shit. I wonder what’s for dinner.”

“Probably the same stuff they always give you.”

“Hey, I can have dreams too, even if they aren’t as utopian as yours.”

“Sorry for seeing the big picture.”

“There you go again.”

“Yeah…here I go again.”

“I think my owners are home. I I heard their car pull up.”

“Alright, man, I’ll see you later.”

“Yeah…I’ll see you. Time?”

“You know how it is. It’s whenever they decide.”

“Right. Well, time for me to go be an instigator. Maybe your crazy is rubbing off on me after all.”

“Good luck.”

“Peace.”

“Peace.”

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