Estimated reading time: 3 minute(s)

Below, you will find a dialogue between Justin and Justina, two unusual-yet-similarly-named friends. This dialogue finds both Justin and Justina at their respective homes, communicating via Element messenger. Justina is being tormented by a perpetually yappy small dog in her apartment building. As she is wont to do and to regret, she asks Justin for advice on how to handle the auditory assault.

Illustration of two dachshunds from "The Story My Doggy Told Me" by Ralph Henry Barbour (1914) - illustration by John Roe
Unbeknownst to Justina, the yappy dog in her living nightmare was a dachshund, but a more existentially aggrieved one than the two pictured above in The Story My Doggie Told to Me (1914) by Ralph Henry Barbour and Illustration by John Roe

Act I 〜 Save Me From this Yappy Dog, Justin

Justina: Help.
Justin: I’ll be right there! But what’s wrong?
Justina: This dog in my building won’t stop yapping.
Justin: That sounds annoying. Did you try calling the landlord?
Justina: No.
Justin: Right. That’s a person.
Justina: It’s terrible Justin. The sound echoes in the courtyard! This is what I get for opening my window now that the weather is nice.
Justin: Do you know where it’s coming from specifically?
Justina: I’m scared to go find out. You don’t understand. This isn’t normal barking. It’s dark.
Justin: Alright. Going to need some sound here to diagnose it.
Justina: It’s not barking right this second though.
Justin: Just put your phone on the windowsill and I’ll call you. That’ll set the little monster off. Answer the call and I’ll listen.
Justina: Alright. Done.

Act II 〜 The Humanity

Justin calls Justina. The dog, likely set off by the sound of Justina’s ringtone, begins barking. Justina answers the call. She leaves the phone and returns to her computer. Justin does the same.
Justina: Well!? Do you hear it?
Justin: That’s horrible. I broke out into a cold sweat. I’m shaking. The humanity.
Justina: You see!? It’s not just annoying! It’s unsettling! There’s something wrong with it!
Justin: Indeed, indeed there is. I should never doubt you. You picked up on something very dark.
Justina: I can’t put my finger on it though. I don’t get it. Why does this dog make me feel something so dark? I’m questioning who I am and why I’m here.

Act III 〜 The Existential Agony of Regretting Having Ever Existed

Justin: Eureka! I know what it is!
Justina: Tell me!
Justin: So do you remember when you told your mother that you wish you hadn’t been born?
Justina: Oh yeah. I did that a few times in high school and junior high.
Justin: Right.
Justina: …Wait a second. You didn’t even know me back then. How did you know!?
Justin: Intuition.
Justina: I see.
Justin: Anyway, that’s similar to the dog. It regrets having been born. Curses its mother. Horrible.
Justina: So it wants to die?
Justin: No.
Justina: I don’t get it.
Justin: It regrets having ever existed. That’s what I’m hearing in its yelp. It’s not just angry that it exists now. It’s a deep, existential angst – a fundamental part of its being. There’s no fixing that kind of agony. I wonder if it was fixed. But that’s another issue.
Justina: That’s horrible.
Justin: Yeah.

Act IV 〜 Fixing One’s Own Existence

Justina: So… what do I do about it? I’m already starting to have some existential questions listening to this.
Justin: I’m preemptively maxed out on existentialism.
Justina: …
Justin: Is the doorman downstairs?
Justina: Maybe.
Justin: Alright. Go tell him what’s going on. Put in a call to the landlord too.
Justina: No! The landlord would evict me for complaining!
Justin: That’s not how it works. But fine. Just the doorman.
Justina: What if the doorman tells the landlord?
Justin: That would be good.
Justina: No!
Justin: I’m going to call you again and set it off if you don’t do what I say.
Justina: Alright I’ll do it!
Justin: Good.
Justina: This is surprisingly practical advice.
Justin: Even after having tailored it to the audience, I’m mildly surprised you’re taking it.
Justina: Me too.