Dear Mr. President

I have to go out of town for the weekend and have left instructions for care of the pets on the kitchen counter. I know you love all of God’s creatures. I won’t bother telling you any of their names as it is only likely to confuse you. Heading the list are the three dogs, where to locate their food, at what times to let them out, etc; then come the cats, not too much there: they are inside cats, four of them; just clean the litter boxes and say hello and try not to be too abrasive or overly needy of affection (if it is affection you crave use the dogs).

There are five gold fish: two on the kitchen counter and three in the pond out back. The turtle likes to be spoken to frequently. He's a rare Terrapin I swiped from a nature preserve on the Eastern Shore and his survival is sketchy. The toad also likes to be addressed in a friendly manner (you can start by complimenting his orange underbelly).

The star represents the birds and lizards, both of which reside in the back room amid a disaster of wood chips and scattered seed. They are easy to forget, but the birds like to be whistled to. The lizards don’t care as long as there are crickets. I almost forgot: there are two furry rabbits, five horses and one imaginary one. No need to worry about that last one; just remember there are things you know that you do not know, and things you don’t need to know. (However, there are mice in the garage being murdered slowly with sound waves, so don’t let the cat go in there. It could damage his hearing.)

About the author:

John Mancini lives in Baltimore, MD. His work has also appeared at McSweeney's.