Failure By Agreement

The wickedest voice

Daniel Williams
Human Parts
Published in
6 min readMar 11
by author

Walking our dog, Blossom, means you stop and stop as she drags herself over the entire planet, one sniff at a time. The first sniff leads to the next and the next. Chain sniffing. She slides her nose along the ground, building the fecal puzzle of a thousand lives.

My wife says sniffing is how a dog builds up its self-esteem, so how can I deny Blossom her sniffs? I cannot. I would never interrupt a system so simple, efficient, and wonderful. If sniffing my neighbors’ droppings made me feel good about myself, guess what I’d be doing right now.

Also, we recently learned sniffing has a laxative effect on dogs. Smells go in, waste comes out.

And yes, I’d still do it. If all I had to do for self-esteem was sniff the neighbors’ droppings and surrender some of my own, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I would do just about anything to esteem myself.

The million stops of the Blossom train give me plenty of time to think.

What do I think about? The same thing you do:


Specifically, I think about the times I’ve been called worthless in one way or another.

A person hears some plan of mine and labels me a dud for thinking of this plan. Or they receive a drawing, a story, a poem, and instead of saying, “Not interested,” which is their right, they take it a step further: “This has no value,” which is the kindest way they can think of for saying, “You have no value.”

That’s how I take it, anyway. My particular form of life is invalid.

“No value?” I say. “What should I do?”

“Have you tried dying?”

“A little bit every day, baby.” I whisper this loud enough for them to hear, but all they hear is the “baby,” which I cannot defend or explain.

The Idea
I went out walking with Blossom the other day, and while she sniffed and sniffed, I sifted through foul thoughts.

Suddenly, she caught a whiff of something powerful and peed immediately. As I watched her waste flow over her feet, which seemed to please her — in her defense, it was cold out — I thought, Wouldn’t it



Daniel Williams
Human Parts

A poverty-stricken, soft Batman by night. Illustrator and writing teacher by day. Previously: McSweeney’s, Slackjaw.