There was silence when I walked up to the car this morning. Nothing. No barks, no jangling chain, no pity crying in my heart. Maybe the neighbor’s dog died, I said to myself. I sort of wished he had.
He was chained outside a few steps from the gate. A Doberman, black and very skinny. They weren’t wasting food on this guy. Outside every day and night, in snow and sun and zero degrees. Maybe they brought him in once in a while, who knows? One day when I went to get the mail, I saw this funny black thing in the dirt beside the trailer and stopped to stare. It was the dog, curled up so tightly there were no paws or tail or head to notice! He must have been asleep, because he didn’t bark. All the rest of the forever time, though, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark… Whenever one of us got the mail, he barked. As soon as I opened our front door, he barked. He barked when I was crunching through the snow. He barked when I was chopping wood. He barked when I walked down the road two hundred yards away from him. We could hear him barking late at night. Sometimes there was a piteous moaning when his owner drove away.
At any rate I kept my distance. I didn’t want to see or hear or feel the dog, so in that respect the whole thing worked. I mean, he didn’t even have a dog house. There may have been enough chain for him to crawl underneath the single-wide somewhere, but I doubt it. “Call the sheriff,” people said. Oh sure. “Call animal control.” Yeah, yeah. And if I did and someone really came—there’s only one employee for 2,204 square miles—the owner’s gaze would turn my way. I know better than to tell a heavy guy with four trucks how to take care of his dog.
And then you’ll never guess what. I went back up to the road to take a picture for this post, and the leaping wraith was back! Was I glad or disappointed?
Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark…
What a karma sink this place is. There must be human sacrifices buried in the dirt. Flayed Spanish corpses, gringo teeth. Gasoline and radium.