Doug had never been aware of his third ear, but it did help him understand why his hats didn’t fit very well. That he had a third ear wasn’t really the problem, though. Rather it was the shape of the ear. It was unlike anything he had ever seen before.
Where it attached to his head, it was cylindrical, but not smooth. A series of concentric rings ran perpendicular to the cylinder and whenever he would touch one, he would hear a mild, not unpleasant tone.
As the rings disappeared, however, the cylinder branched into a series of flower-like appendages. Tulips, if Doug was pressed, but gardening wasn’t really his thing.
Doug stood in front of the mirror, watching his reflection in the mirror mounted on the opposite wall. He had installed that one specifically for this purpose.
Over the course of the past hour, Doug had discovered that he could control the opening and closing of the ear petals with his cheek muscles. A strong squint and they all closed. More modest inflations and they would open and close in groups.
What use this new skill provided, he couldn’t tell. At the moment, it was just helping him occupy a Thursday afternoon for which he had no other plans.
The sound came out of nowhere. Doug just heard it, or at least thought he did.
Whatever the source, it was insistent, particularly as Doug had no real urge to pee.
Claws scraped against a metal sheet, snapping Doug from his thoughts.
Doug left the bathroom, following the scraping noise, and eventually ended up in the kitchen.
Beulah, his basset hound, turned slowly toward Doug as he entered the room, her tail wagging gingerly.
“Beulah?” Doug barely whispered.
Beulah looked sheepish but relieved as the amber puddle spread across the floor.
Doug raced to the door, stepping carefully over the dog, and threw the door open to the backyard. Beulah just looked up at him.
She waddled back to the den and her bed, trailing a pattern of damp footprints behind her.
Doug felt the breeze come through the open door.
“Licking myself clean.”
That’s it, Doug thought, that third ear had to go.
(Images are property of owners and are used here without permission because I heard nothing from them)