Daniel woke up with a bitter, dry taste in his mouth. The afternoon whiskey was obviously too much. 

“Damn it, how the f*ck did I fall asleep? I can’t possibly go out stinking like this! I’ll have to do another workout session. That will do it! All this rancid odor will evaporate by the time I’m done.” 

Daniel got up from the armchair that stood next to the treadmill and quickly grabbed a bottle of water. He didn’t have time to waste: he wanted to get rid of the acetaldehyde smell that was coming from his mouth and his pores before his Friday night out. 

He knew that terrible smell all too well. It was the smell of his father. Daniel despised it but he couldn’t forget it. Even now, he wasn’t sure if the smell was coming out of his body or if his mind was playing games with him, bringing back the awful memories. 

He didn’t care. He set the machine on level ‘merciless’ and started panting and gasping, angrily staring through the window. That was Daniel’s way of solving problems. Violently, forcefully. He was the least kind to himself and he hardly knew it.  

But tonight, things were not going according to Daniel’s plan. He noticed a big pair of calm brown eyes looking directly at him through the window. The eyes looked sad, almost pitiful. 

Those were the eyes of a basset hound, the only dog that managed to look sad even at his happiest. It was Isaac, who just got back from his evening walk with Pixie after her training. The sensation of warmth he picked up before from the spitz’s company subdued as he sharpened his focus. It was time for work. He will dissect his fondness of Pixie later, once this inhabitation experiment is over.

Daniel had no idea what was happening and why this strange dog with flapping ears was staring at him. The persistent look slowed him down and he wasn’t running on the treadmill incline at his maximum. 

“What do you want? Go away, I can’t run if you stand there!” Daniel yelled at Isaac as he was slowing down almost to a halt. 

The troubled young man has seen that dog previously. He didn’t hate him as much as his other friend, the dirty corgi, but he was annoying enough. 

Isaac just stood there silently, like he was carved in stone. He looked like a statue, but on the inside, he was on fire. He had all his strengths gathered in one incisive, laser-sharp focus: he didn’t want to make a mistake with Daniel. 

It was important to inhabit him before he entered the “Demure”. The night club had a no-dog policy. Even if it were otherwise, he wouldn’t risk mingling with all those drunk, stoned people. It was too loud and too dark. It wasn’t the place for teaching people how to love, as far as the dog’s way was in question. 

For some weird reason, people thought that night clubs are fun places. For another, even less comprehensible reason, they thought nightclubs were the place to find love.

Isaac had to plant the seed at that very moment.

Daniel got irritated, but at first, he decided to ignore the dog. He was too lazy and too busy to go and find something to throw at him. He kept working his miles and contemplating his night plans.

Yet Isaac was determined. 

Daniel had no idea how determined the basset was. Isaac had the biggest heart and the biggest guts combined in one body. With Marshall’s wisdom, he was an invincible inhabitation executor. And he had an all-star support team on whom he relied often. By adding Pixie to the mix, he was even more convinced that tonight’s going to be a victory. His initial hesitation faded in view of the growing confidence. 

Daniel was getting nervous. He couldn’t work out and he couldn’t throw something at the dog, too. Whenever he thought of going to the kitchen to grab an empty box, he felt a sudden painful twitch in his hands and legs. It was as if an invisible force stopped him from becoming violent and kicking the dog out of his sight. 

The dog’s eyes… his sad eyes were mesmerizing. They reminded him of something, of someone: the heartfelt gaze his mom directed towards him when he would come back from school and his dad was out: 

“Hey, sweet boy! You are done with school? Come on over and tell me how it all went today! Did you get an A in history? Ah, you did, didn’t you? Well done, Daniel! But remember mommy loves you, no matter what, don’t you ever forget that!”

How could he forget? She was the only person expressing affection in his family. 

Isaac’s sad eyes reminded him of his mom’s loving eyes on her deathbed. 

He remembered everything and his anger broke into an uncontrollable sadness. He started weeping,  threw his wrecked body into the armchair, and covered his eyes with his palms.

Isaac was sad but he was also pleased. The seed of love was planted. He knew that sadness is a part of life and that love is sometimes sad. He stood patiently below Daniel’s window until the tears cleaned his eyes and his body relieved from the overwhelming feelings of guilt and sadness. The awful acetaldehyde smell was also gone. He didn’t need the workout anymore. 

Daniel sighed surprisingly and wondered what the heck happened. He hadn’t cried in years. He didn’t connect the strange event to the basset.

That was exactly what Isaac’ intended. Daniel’s inhabitation began and he was ready to go out.  

Featured Image Credit: Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

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