Flash fiction, short stories, poetry …
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“Wow. Ow. Bow. How. Ow. Ow.”

There’s some swearing in this one. Those of a tender disposition might want to look away.

***

I

can see the breakers rolling up the beach: white lines smearing out like wrinkles. A dog is barking. “Bow. Wow. Ow. Bow. How. Ow. Ow. Ow.” And it keeps barking. It’s so incorporeal, it could be lost in a building along the coast, could be dropped down a well, or it could be as close as the flat next door. That’d mean it belongs to the guy who’s renting us this holiday home.

I realize that dog has been barking its way around my subconscious for days now; a never ending, barking metronome that just won’t shut up.

Damn owner should be shouting at that damn dog.

But: “How. Bow. Ow. Ow.”

There it goes again.

A barbecue is blowing smoke in my face. We’ve got it pitched out on the veranda, and that salty sea air is rolling around in the smoke like it’s playing with it. And that dog is calling for its supper. Wanna bit of burger?

“Bow. Ow. Ow.”

Little snapper. Wanna plug its woof-hole with a half-pound of chuck-steak.

Though I guess that would be just what it wants.

We sit in bed discussing the psychology of pet ownership. I’ve never had a dog; never walked on the moon, neither, but figure I’m more of an expert than NASA.

Damn dog is ‘owing’ and ‘bowing’.

1 AM. Dear God. You furry little shit!

There was this other dog. I’m in the queue for the butcher. Dog’s outside. One of those rough, little dogs they keep up in the schemes, with a harness – practically a neck-scarf – and floppy jowls. It’s the colour of malt-brown caramel.

“Baby, Baby. Don’t you worry.” That’s what it’s owner says when that dog starts blowing out on the pavement. ‘Cept this dog is so loud it sounds like it’s in the shop with us.

Whining. Barking.

That dolly totters over to the door, trying to keep her place in the queue with an outstretched hand and backwards glances. “Baby, mummy’s just getting’ dinner. Don’t be like that, honey.”

Dog yowls, yawns, whines, one sharp bark. Looks worried around the door, but I know this little, brown torpedo is spoiled to high-hell. I never owned one, but I know this woman is apologising to that little rust-spot. Tick, tack, back in the shop, fake tan swinging on her arms, and I’m just wishing she’d snap the umbilical to that pooch-hound.

“Ow. Bow. Wow. How…”

Tick, tack. Tick, tack. “Bertie! You be a good boy. Mummy’s only going to be a minute. What a silly billy. Mummy’s here.

Dear, god. Dog’s got it’s eye set on a chop the size of its head. A long cord of drool drags around on the pavement, before pulling itself down as a frothy bolus of saliva. Dogs like that little sput have a bad rep round here. They’ve attacked kids.

“Bow. Ow. Ow. Ow.”

Tick, tack.

Christ. Push her out of the queue you lilly-livered sons-of-bitches.

Dog is sitting with its ass on the warm pavement, pale furry underside leading to pink flesh, like its stomach is receding; dog bits flopped around all doolally.

“Ow. Ow.”

Tick, tack. Tick, tack.

“Baby, don’t be like that.”

It goes on and on. And now I realise I can’t remember if I ever did get my pack of pork chitlins, or whether Bertie and the tick-tack woman ever made it out of the shop, or whether we all turned on them with pitchforks and torches; her and the damned Hellhound.

“Ow. Bow. How.”

But, I can’t concentrate to remembering, what with this multi-headed monster right next door. Barking out on the dog radio; barking back through time, like it’s that dog in the store talking to me, dissing me, sticking up the little dog ‘V’s.

3am. No sleep. “Ow. Bow. How. Ow.”

5am. No sleep. “Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. How. Bow. How.”

5:45am. Carving knife in hand.

July 8, 2011   12 Comments

Boris

U

nfortunately, Boris (our Border-Staffordshire cross with no small amount of whippet) is not particularly thrifty when it comes to using the Internet. His broad, big-toed lion’s paws are awkward on the keys of G and R, so, unsurprisingly, he is often found to be chewing in frustration on a Theakston and Harvard rubber-chew mouse, while words like ‘wobstoppef’ (instead of Gobstopper) and ‘Cafinal’ (instead of Cardinal) rise up his screen like lazy flies from the garbage of his day, and needless to say, the furious re-typing means those heavily laden insects never alight on the roof of his laptop with a little, light conversation. Rewriting with paws, is like that…

“Time for a walk, old dog.”

He pads beside me through the wet, grassy park, considering new ideas on Chaucer and Kennedy, convinced that his true canine instincts will lead him to a justifiable conclusion – some new, writerly insight, far greater than ever before found by a type-writing Gefalumpahound (or whatever cross he is).

I watch his big, saggy eyes like handbags holding bowling balls.

I observe the lappish tilt of his soft, brown ears, that perk up at the first sign of cats, small children, and fresh inspiration on his play (you know, the one on Brookmyer and Barbara Woodhouse – but it’s a long work).

Cats, of course, ruin his concentration, and make the vein in his forehead pound. Poor old dog – but certainly his work is some of the best of a type-writing dog this year, anywhere – or at least, that’s what he alludes to around his writing companions as they snuffle each other hello and drag through the leaves, in one big, happy, bounding, hairy writing group, camped out in wet, winter’s grass.

It suddenly occurs to me that Boris and I have quite misplaced Mother’s Day. Mother, of course, is quite attached to it and will let many things slide (such as Boris smoking his pipe indoors and observing her with one, blood-shot eye over his monocle – as long as his feet are clean) but not, unfortunately, the one day of the year that has her name on it.

I hope, amongst hope, as the lead goes slack and then straightens up again, that Boris has come to some poetic objectivity, some humorous story, he can pound in with his big, awkward paws, which can then be misdirected as the perfect, off-the-cuff gift for a mother who has everything, apart from a sense of humor.

Boris peruses a cat in an ill-considered manner. Good, good. Mother likes cats – big, stripy, slack-jawed cats, just like that; fuzzy like a jumper.

Then his attention snaps to a little, black, scratchy movement in the leaf-litter. No, for God’s sake, not Kafka – drop it, boy, drop it! I hate it when he eats bugs – all buggy-breath; the tongue that licks his master’s face and Mother will never understand it. The little black beetle navigates the drool, with the spryness of a 6,000,000 year old literary critic and vanishes between the leaves of crackling paper.

Boris is on the hunt, but fails to find inspiration by burying his wet nose in the behind of a pertly, pink Pekinese, running on an extendible leash, like a buzz saw cutting through the grass. The sour faced woman, with skin whiter than frost, sucks in on a lemon and reels in her maddened, canine appliance. It completes a four-footed take-off, and vanishes over a bush – reeled in out of the way of literary temptation. That lead has obviously come to an end.

I wonder, as I stand embarrassed next to Boris, who squats next to me like the spider-lady, rigid and shaking, if this is his final, writerly analysis of the matter. Tufts of grass fly in appreciation of the great outdoors.

Mother, I don’t think I’ll present you with Boris’ latest, greatest, master-work.

September 22, 2010   2 Comments