Everyone bought dogs and went to Atlantic City and lost tons of money this week. Also, Ryan faced more worries about Iraq. Depressing and funny, this episode.

Ryan was still reeling from finding out that he'd been recalled, but he was hesitant to tell the roommates. Chet was concerned. He knew something was wrong. "I sleep next to him every night..." he said, with a hint of wistfulness that whispered at a terrible, secret longing. A cold wind blew in from the Atlantic. A dog ran sheepishly down the street. Chet stared out at the flickering horizon. Sigh.

Ryan told the girls during their ladies poker game and they were all "Oh you're not actually going to go... Obama's in office!" Ryan ships out next month. On April 15th. Death and taxes. Go figure.

So everyone remained boggled about this big, unwieldy thing. Unsure what else to do, they baked an American-flag cake decided to get a puppy! Devyn figured that the dog would teach her how to be patient and responsible and invested in something other than herself. Good luck, dog. The creature is a little yippers Yorky that Sara, correctly, asserted is not actually a real dog. Whatever. Devyn bought some teeny tiny sweaters for it and Baya said that the dog was having a sexual identity crisis and Katelynn just smiled awkwardly and everyone kinda just looked down at the floor and made little circles with their feet and yikes.

Because the dog was not enough to assuage the mope-ish-ness of the household, the gang rented a bus to take them down to the Borgata in Atlantic City. Chet made awkward jokes about "twenties and hundies" and Ryan just smirked at him. Chet mistook it for a flirtatious grin. That old sheepish dog came back, poking its head around the corner. The sky gleamed again. Chet blinked back hopeful tears. Sigh.

When they checked into their big coffee-colored suite they all hooted and hollered the way every reality show star must when they enter a comped suite, as per some sort of implicit agreement with the owners of the hotel. So that was that and they gorged themselves on free food and Chet made an embarrassing toast to Ryan (they said his last name!), who was wearing a big floppy cowboy hat in honor of the occasion. Then er'body went gambling, except for Devyn who is too young and Katelynn who is too broke. But Kate is desperate to feed the wicked Gamblor that lives inside her, so after about an hour of pretending she wouldn't, she hit the tables. She was doing well ("six up"), but... Scott seemed a little less than happy that she was gambling with what is, essentially, his money. Sigh.

Ryan sat in the hottub in his big floppy hat.

They all went clurb dancin' and apparently JD won a ton of money so he made it raiiiinnn y'all. Meanwhile Katelynn was anchored to the Blackjack tables. Her reasoning was that she wanted to pay Scott back. And that's young America everybody! What with their unearned American Idol outlets to fame and whatnot. Katelynn didn't dare want to save and work and do it the old fashioned way. Nah, everything had to be quick and easy for ol' Katez.

Poor Devyn. She couldn't waste her money, so she was just sulking in her room, sleeping in the nude. Twinges of Tami and David in Lost Angeles came lilting in as Chet pulled the covers off and saw exposed ladyparts! It was the first naked lady he'd ever seen, like in the flesh! Ohhh he was so excited and Ryan cackled and said "I don't know why Chet does these things, but I'm glad he does", because Chet is just so ridiculous to laugh at. Chet then apologized to Devyn and she said "I"m not naked, I'm wearing underpants." And he was like "Oh... frig."

The ratty old dog trotted down the boardwalk, a distant bolt of lightning flashing in the pearly sky. Chet stared out the huge picture window in this lovely suite in this gritty city. Sigh.

Katelynn was making jokes about losing all that money and Scott just grumbled. Everyone was super stressed so they went to get sensual massages. Chet was suuuuuuuper excited because a lady got to touch him. He looked at Ryan's hands. They were soft enough. Small enough. He'd imagine the masseuse's hands were his. Alas, he got the ugly old mom lady, not the hot one, to rub his "smelly" feet. So Chet didn't get what he wanted, but he never does.


It was time to leave the rainy Borgata and everyone bemoaned their losses. Katelynn most of all. "Just another hour on the tables..." she begged of big, fleeting Time. But to no avail. The roommates arrived home to a smelly refrigerator. Fitting, in some small poetic way. JD, who apparently won $3,000!!, told Scott that Katelynn was basically never going to pay him back. Scott shrugged his shoulders and said "Sometimes people have to do things their own way."

Ryan decided not to tell his PA ladyfriend that he was going back to the war, because she had worries with school and whatnot. That was sort of sad. Then it was time for Scott to help get Ryan back in fighting shape, so there was a sweaty montage of squat thrusts and chin-ups and curled biceps and somewhere Chet's glasses went "sproiiinngggg" and his hair stood on end.

That old dog that used to live around here, where did he go? He left one rainy day, we saw that last swish of his tail and heard the scatter of his paws on the cement before he disappeared. Maybe he's in mountains now, or paddling some river. Maybe he's lying still somewhere forever, his last great doggy sigh long gone. Maybe he's lost and lonely in some windy desert, that same big sky a tent, a blue umbrella.

Maybe he's used some small bit of magic and become a man. He's curled up somewhere, in dreams, beside a blonde-haired boy. The lazy day surrounding them, the calm hush of breath and bodies their musical score. A swell of strings, of skin taut like drums. Peace, like peace has never been. And then a lick, a quick dart here, and damp slap there. And Chet wakes up. It's Devyn's damn puppy. And he's fallen asleep on the couch. Ryan's off somewhere, in that big floppy cowboy hat. But he'll be back tonight. He's not left just yet. There's still a chance.

So Chet will sit and wait, and watch for him in the window, eager as ever, fascinated by every car. And then he'll realize, like a sudden storm, "Wait... it's me. That old dog is me."