I glowered at the great, sprawling toad. It stood — sat — it sagged in an unpleasant heap two feet tall at the top of it’s bulging eyes, and spread to cover nearly half the rug when it rested, its abdomen flacidly drifting to all sides. It boasted an irridescence of unwholesome qualities, a certain foul odor that put one in mind of the work “brackish”, and a heritage in academe.
“I am,” he noted with some satisfaction, “the best educated toad you will encounter.” I did not look the toad in its turret-mounted eyes. I was keeping myself calm, and discourse with toads was not going to help that. After a pointed silence, the toad moved to fill the gap. “And, of course, it goes without saying that I’ve all the finest tools for flexibility and endurance that nature, in her wisdom, could provide.”
“I’m very pleased for you.” I did not quite snap the words.
“I’ve powerful legs and jaw muscles, you know. Quite an advanced brain for those of the Bufonidae persuasion. I can travel, thrive on a variety of diets ….”
I grunted. The toad, unfortunately, took this for some sort of applause. He scrambled closer in that loose way that toads have, that almost no other creature does, nor wants to have. The smell of tainted water intensified.
“…Far superior to frogs, of course. Better water retention, more protective skins, greater scope in where we can live, what we can do….” He trailed off under my gaze. It wasn’t exactly a whithering gaze, but it was certainly unkind. It looked apologetic. I didn’t.
“Really. I’m very pleased for you. Now, if I could concentrate…?”
“Oh. Certainly. I didn’t mean to ….” If toads could shrug, this one would have. It shuffled its front feet uncertainly. I scowled at the screen on my computer some more. “You know, if there’s a way I can help, I’d — I mean, smart, quick, enduring, observant, flexible –” I cut the toad off by throwing my wineglass across the room.
“Can you install software?”
“– I am well educated –”
“Can you make the bleeding software work?”
“– but more in the line of literature and the paths of the human spirit.”
“You can’t,” I gritted. “Can you?”
“Well neither can I, all right? So what good is all that education and evolution?” There was another long silence during which I loomed menacingly over the toad. The toad ran a gray tongue around the left side of its mouth.
“I can produce serontonin from my parotoid glands — my warts, if you will. Maybe if you gave me a lick you could relax a little — ?”