Stephen King

L.T.’s Theory of Pets * Stephen King short story

I love a story with a twist. And this one is about a quarreling couple who own a cat and a dog. LT and Lulu got each other the pet they wanted most to celebrate their anniversary together. The problem was that the dog that she got him took to her more than him and the cat that he got her adored him and scratched her. The animals got OK together but the arguments did not stop between the man and his wife and only intensified. Troubled marriages always find a point of insecurity and will argue out of nowhere for the smallest of mis-doings.

LT’s wife, Lulubelle, gives LT a dog whose growls sound like purrs to Lulu but growls to LT. LT gives his wife a Siamese cat whose yowls sound like coming home to LT but yowls to Lulu.

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As L.T. Tells his story at the factory and around the dinner table, people feel sorry for him, for the wife that left him to go back to her mother, for the dog that she took with him and some women find it attractive. But when the night is over and the author ponders over L.T. crying in the car over his ex-wife that went missing two years ago, he can’t seem to understand his own wife who suspects him of murder.

I kept quiet. It was late. I was tired. It had been a hard day, a harder evening, and I was tired. The last thing I wanted was to have an argument with my wife when I was tired and she was worried. That’s the sort of argument where one of you ends up spending the night on the couch. And the only way to stop an argument like that is to be quiet. In a marriage, words are like rain. And the land of a marriage is filled with dry washes and arroyos that can become raging rivers in almost the wink of an eye. The therapists believe in talk, but most of them are either divorced or queer. It’s silence that is a marriage’s best friend. Silence. 

The fate of Lulubelle is unknown but chances are she’s dead.

There was a man – they assumed he was a man, it almost always is – who had butchered five women out in that part of the world, five in three years, mostly during the time L.T. had been living with Lulubelle. Four of the women were transients. He would get them to stop somehow, then pull them out of their cars, rape them, dismember them with an axe, leave them a rise or two away for the buzzards and crows and weasels. The fifth one was an elderly rancher’s wife. The police call this killer the Axe Man. As I write this, the Axe Man has not been captured. Nor has he killed again; if Cynthia Lulubelle Simms DeWitt was the Axe Man’s sixth victim, she was also his last, at least so far. There is still some question, however, as to whether or not she was his sixth victim.

They found her dead dog and her nowhere and as the author sits down on the toilet lid with a glass of water he ponders about L.T.’s favourite cat:

about the sound that Siamese cats make, that weird crying, how it must sound good if you love them, how it must sound like coming home.

I had to stop here: what does he mean? Did he prefer his cat to his wife? More purring less arguing? He was accounted for when she disappeared. Or maybe he was happy with his current situation enough to stay single (women were attracted to him and his silly story).


Stephen King said his story is inspired by a Dear Abby editorial about how giving people pets as gifts may be viewed as arrogance in certain circles, because it assuming the receiver can–and wants to–look after the pet. King himself briefly discusses how he received a Pembroke Welsh Corgi as a present, and has enjoyed its company ever since.

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