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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Way of Things: A Dog Story, Chapter XXIX


It poured down rain today and, after months of next to none, all the inhabitants here are singing its praises. We'll be sleeping with the windows open tonight with expected temperatures in the 60s, which is just extraordinary after three months of 90 degree nights and 100 plus degree days (that's Fahrenheit to you Aussies out there in Celsius it would be . . . well . . . just as hot). 

I finished the dog story today. Ordinarily I'd be jubilant, looking to sip a little wine and cheer and dance around. But this time not so much. Mostly I'm just drained.    

There are five more "chapters"--I may post a couple of them together. If anyone would like to read the first draft in all its raw typo-riddled glory, please feel free to drop me a line and I'll send it to you. Thank you for reading so far. And I really mean that. 

XXIX
As they had years before, the Creepers rose as one unit as though they all heard the same sound at the same second, and fled, leaving their dead and wounded behind.

The dogs stood in the gore of the remains, their sides heaving, all of them battle-weary and unsure of what had just happened. Around them lay the bodies of at least a hundred Creepers.  Nearby lay the Old One.  

The Coyote carefully stepped through the dead and dying and rose on his hind legs to look out the window. Gone. All Gone.

He dropped to the floor, gave a nearby dying Creeper a final fatal shake, and trotted out of the room as silently as he had arrived.  Outside was the sound of many retreating feet.

The bodies of their enemies melted as though they hadn’t been there in the first place.

After a moment, the Border Collie limped over and investigated the boy in the bed, ruffling his hair with her nose. This is what all the noise is about?

He’s a door keeper, answered the Hound.

I thought he’d be older.

The Small Dog jumped lightly up onto the bed and nuzzled him, checking his breathing. So did we.

The remains of the dead Creepers were fading and the gore along with them. In a matter of moments, the room would look as though nothing had happened, as long as no one noticed the few broken toys and drawer front hanging loose. All of which, the dogs knew, the Woman would blame on the Boy’s carelessness.

They surrounded the Old One’s motionless body. The Hound placed his head close to the Shepherd’s muzzle, touching him lightly. He moved to his feet and did the same to all four. He is breathing, but cool to the touch.

The Small Dog, still sitting by the Boy’s head, peered into the night sky. It will be dawn soon.
And I must go. The Border Collie shook herself off and moved slowly toward the door.

Do you need someone to see you home? The Hound, though limping himself, and aching from head to hip, made as if to follow her.

She looked back at him, her gold eyes glimmering in the semi darkness. Do I seem like a dog that needs looking after?    

The Hound stopped where he stood. Then I will speak your name at prayer time.

And I will listen. She padded silently out of the room.

The Small Dog looked at the Hound. One of us needs to go get the Woman.

Both of them would have preferred to have been beaten than make the trip back to that bedroom and neither moved.

A faint sound from the floor, a raspy breath.  Not quite yet.

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