About the Author

Kevin A. Couture

Kevin A. Couture grew up in a small BC mining town and has spent the last decade waking before dawn to write. The stories in his debut collection, Lost Animal Club, have all appeared in various Canadian and American journals. He has an affinity for mysterious t-shirts and ill-fitting sunglasses, and has created three highly-selective mix tapes each year since 1985. In recent years, he has been nominated for the Writers' Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize, and was included in the anthology, Coming Attractions. He lives on Vancouver Island with his wife, two daughters, and their Brittany spaniel, who spectacularly defies animal training.

Books by this Author
Lost Animal Club

Excerpt from "Mr. Money-maker"

The dog might have been born with it for all Rubin knows. A scruffy, genetic misfit. He first came upon him at the scrapyard while scrounging for jewellery wire and other useable crap. They approached each other slowly, flanked by a smouldering mound of plastic and the skeleton of a minivan. The animal looked pathetic; his fur riddled with ticks and spear grass, tattered and filthy as a rug. He seemed vaguely sarcastic if you got right down to it with his perpetually upturned lip, his distant, smoky gaze. Despite all that, there was something about him Rubin liked, something he couldn't explain. He checked the dog's tail to assess his friendliness but there wasn't one. It'd been cropped away or broken or maybe even blown right off at the ass. Hardly a discernible stub left in its place. How in all honesty could Rubin not have taken an animal like that home with him?

The dog gets up, moseys over to his food dish and waits. He doesn't fuss. Doesn't get excited. Doesn't even groom himself. And if Rubin decided not to fill his bowl today, he wouldn't scratch or bark. He'd wander off and go back to sleep. The perfect pet, remote and distant as an emperor penguin.

The first diagnosis occurred in April. The town was in the middle of a civic election and Sarah Newson, the incumbent mayor, came glad-handing door to door. Initially, Rubin wasn't sure if he should invite her in or what. Who knew the protocol for that sort of thing? The number of hassles it might lead to?

"Are you a decided voter, Mr. Tack?" the mayor said from the hallway. Her requisite smile had no oomph at all, like she was exhausted with Rubin already and knew he hadn't voted in any election, ever, in his entire life. In actuality there was a tumour the size of an eyeball in her left breast sucking the energy right out of her. Something neither one of them had a clue about at the time.

Before Rubin could answer, the dog started circling the mayor. He licked her blouse when she leaned down, pressed his nose into her chest hitting the tumour, painfully, dead on. Two weeks later she returned with the doctor's report. Two weeks after that, a full page article in the local paper and a bit piece in the nationals. And now, three confirmed positives later, people even come from down in the valley for a scan. Go figure.

The phone rings and Rubin fumbles with the receiver; his hands, tired from feeding branch segments through the bead borer. Worth answering though. If the caller's a customer, it'd be the third this week and at twenty-five bucks a scan, that's not bad.

"Hello?" he says, trying not to sound impatient.

"Is this Rubin Tack?"

"Tack-fully so."

"My name's Caleb. I work for The Oprah Winfrey Show, guest acquisition department. Do you have a minute?"

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