"Bob...!" she called, drawing out the middle vowel of his first name.
He didn't answer, although he heard her. Her voice seemed to come to him as if through a fog, as though caught in the mists rolling down from the volcano that covered everything, including sound. He was still staring down at his feet when she finally came into the bedroom.
"Bob!" she said sharply. She made the middle vowel of his name so short it was reduced to almost a spit.
He jerked slightly at the interruption and finally looked up at her. "Ethel," he sighed.
"Dinner's ready," she immediately responded, one foot already out the bedroom door.
"Ethel," he repeated, a little bit harder, stopping her in her tracks.
Ethel turned back around, waiting and expectant. Bob often had moments such as these, so she was used to them, and not really expecting all that much from this latest bout of his ennui. She crossed her arms and looked down at the carpet, thinking, fleetingly, that it needed badly to be cleaned and that she ought to take care of that soon.
"Ethel," he sighed again, "when did we become such a laughingstock?"
"A joke, Ethel," Bob snapped weakly, "we have become a joke to everyone."
Ethel wondered who had offended Bob this week. He was always imagining injuries and insults to his person and character that she simply did not see, and dinner was going cold.
"The world, Ethel!" Bob retorted, finally worked up into something approaching real emotion. Ethel vaguely hoped it might snap him out of his funk; anger from him was better than him sitting on the edge of the bed staring at his feet.
"The world, Bob?" Ethel sighed, "The whole world is against us, Bob?"
"We were the kings of the jungle, Ethel! Our people roamed the plains and everyone scattered before us -they respected us, Ethel! There were no jokes! No laughing at us behind our backs! We had primacy, Ethel, do you understand?" Bob was gesticulating wildly at this point, and really worked up, "And now we're reduced to... to..."
"Dinner's cold," Ethel spoke flatly, turning to leave the room.
"Ethel..." Bob whined. He knew he was losing her, but how could he explain to her how much the jokes belittled and demeaned him? Aaron, that hairless human, had waved Bob into his office earlier that day, before lunch, and insisted Bob look at something on his computer. Bob had felt nervous -Aaron had an unappealing taste for the off-color jokes, but they were co-workers, so Bob felt he had no choice -and thus he had stepped into Aaron's office feeling extra sweaty under his arms even before Aaron had spun his computer monitor around so that Bob could see a website called:
Bob did his best to crack a smile, but what he really wanted to do was bite Aaron's head off. The only thing that stopped Bob was the knowledge that he would likely be fired immediately...
...and that humans weren't really all that tasty.
"Funny, huh?" Aaron said with a quick glance up at Bob. Without waiting for an answer, Aaron turned back to his computer screen and continued scrolling down through the cartoons, laughing out loud at the ones that he found particularly hilarious. He was practically crying with laughter.
All Bob could think about was biting off Aaron's head, and the incredible satisfaction he would derive from wrapping his mighty jaws around Aaron's soft human melon head and then crushing the tiny skull until the pebble brain burst inside his mighty T-Rex mouth.
Instead, he sipped his coffee and nodded a few times, silently counting out the moments that were ticking by in his head until he could make his excuse that he was busy and escape back to the safety of his office...
...where he sat and did nothing for the rest of the day -he didn't even eat his lunch.
At least, not at first, but then the hunger overcame him and he peeked inside his lunchbox to see what Ethel had packed for him to eat. Inside was a tuna salad sandwich (on wheat bread) and fat-free yogurt. If he could have cried, tears would have slowly slid down his scaly cheeks as he chewed on the lunch his wife had lovingly made fat-free and healthy for him, because -that very morning -she'd taken too much to heart his complaint about his belly having overtaken his feet and his inability to put on a pair of argyle socks.