A thin dog is chained to a thin tree. The dog stares at the chain, as if confused, while absently scratching at fleas and shivering in the sand. Despite this, the sun is a bloodshot eye staring down at the earth in silent judgment. A thin cloud shutters the eye, then changes shape to become a halo around the sun.

"That ain't normal," croaks a man behind the tree. He steps around the trunk and walks parallel to the chain. The dog begins to whine and run in place. He places a bare foot on the chain. The dog yelps; the man laughs.

He's naked and as scrawny as his hound. His teeth are yellow, crooked and small. Scars cover his torso, some long and thin, others fat and blotchy. His hair rests on his shoulders and shines with grease.

After several frustrated minutes, the dog collapses. It's weary eyes bulge in excitement as it stares at the wide horizon. The man relinquishes the chain, and continues to walk along it. Upon reaching the dog, he prods it with a limp foot. The dog doesn't notice or care, and the man frowns.

"Come on, Buster, we're almost there! California's just a stone's throw away!" He continues to prod the dog. His toenails are sharp and dig into the dog's side, but it doesn't notice or care. He soon draws blood. He pauses to stare at the growing crimson stain. A drop falls from his foot and is devoured by the parched earth.

The man grabs the dog's collar, a torn, faded thong of leather with black stitches that read CHARLY. He snaps the collar and lifts it from the dog's neck to reveal a bloated ring of scars. It stops panting, looks at the man, then shakily stands. He smiles and raises the bloody toe. The dog begins to run, and as it runs dust falls free from it's fur. Hair sprouts from the old rope-burns and fleas are transfigured into baby-blue fairies that madly giggle as they drift into the sky. The dog fills out and begins to look decent, trustworthy, loved. The man laughs again.

Tears roll down his cheeks, tearing away grime to reveal pale, unblemished skin. He spits curses amidst the laughter, and begins to bark orders at the fleeing pet. Sit. Roll over. Play dead. Fetch. It ignores him, already light-years away. It's hair becomes arms, growing until they touch the sky, and they develop fists. It's fangs shrink and flatten, then fall from their gums, which begin to swell and bleed. The dog continues to "fill out" and is soon obese. It is panting again as it's legs labor to carry it further away, but it eventually gives in when it's ankles snap. It then pops like a balloon with too much air, letting loose rainbow confetti across the universe. The man catches a handful and, still laughing, smells it.

The laughter soon ends, and disgust infests his face. His tears continue to fall, but they also change. They darken and gain in volume until a flood of oil is pouring down his face. A droplet anoints the forgotten chain, and it ignites. Sparks slither through the chain and reduce it to ash.

After the sparks devour the chain, they detonate the tree. Flaming lumber sails through the sky and where the tree once was now stands a well-dressed man. He's got a black suit and a red necktie. His hair is white and held back in a ponytail. He steps towards the naked man and offers a gloved hand. Other than the grime and oil on the naked one, the two have identical faces. The crying man ignores the offering. The affable man leaves it in place, lest the other should change his mind. His other hand is buried in a pants pocket, busily rearranging spare change.

"It's not gold, but it will do," says the affable man. The puddle of oil is encroaching upon his feet.

"You may stop crying now," says the affable man. The puddle swells. The affable man drags the spare change from it's grave and drops it at the crying man's feet. The puddle swells.

"When I was your age, we would be content to find fool's gold. Your tears are worth their weight in real gold, so don't squander them. Here," he says, and pulls his jacket open. A puppy with a rope around it's neck falls into the sand, and the affable man's shirt twinkles like a little star before his jacket closes/ The puppy stands and laps up some oil. It's tail begins to wag. The affable man hands the end of the rope to the crying man. Feeling the fibers in his hands, his tears dry up.

"I'll do better with you. Promise." He smiles down at the dog briefly, then begins to walk. The rope quickly tightens around the puppy's neck, and so it follows, too. The affable man has disappeared.