The new vet’s head is a balloon at the fair, inflating in the fold of the break room door. She shrinks to see me, humming bumblebees over my PBJ on rye. You ate the last of my sourdough. The rye you bought was all there was and its seeds chipped my teeth along my jagged tongue. “I got one that won’t go down,” says the new vet with her balloon face. I drop the sandwich. Food does not control me. That was hurtful when you said that. An old black lab splays the death room. An old pink man strains his chair.

“I missed the vein before,” explains the vet, loading another syringe with cerulean death syrup. I like her joke: We’re gonna free this old guy from the blues. The vet works blue. And now the dog does too. The owner stares at the needle. If only he knew how slowly it goes. But the balloon forbids talking, so nobody gets the joke. Only she speaks: pitchy, mincing. Not like that time she ordered scrubs: I hope double XL works. How different from the voice that murders at three hundred a pop. Fat ladies are mute as wide penguins holding the pinkies of stilt walkers until the dog owner wobbles forward in his chair to pet his Lab. He is much too big for grace. He doesn’t feel it under his foot. I can still see that little furry black leg dying under his boot. She probably thinks it is because I caught her ballooning at me, like this is typical of me and my kind—the whole fattened freak show, but when I scream for him to move his goddamned foot, it is you I am thinking of. You don’t even like rye.

Michael Chaney is the author of Fugitive Vision (Indiana University Press, 2008) and editor of Graphic Subjects: Critical Essays on Autobiography and Graphic Novels (Wisconsin, 2010). His recent fictions have been accepted by Columbia College Literary Review and Coe Review, among others. He occasionally blogs at