Thursday, October 07, 2010
2:29 AM |
Excerpt From "There Are Other Things Beside Brightness and Light"
[a short story]For Dev
“Sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangun.”
—Virgil, The Aeneid
Detachment takes practice.
I once cared about a dog named Tibby. It was a white Pomeranian—one of those frivolous types of dogs that are easy to love because the busy brilliance of their thick hair reduces even adults to squealing children. Tibby—if I try to recall correctly—was a gentle soul, and he had eyes that seemed to see through me. I was a young boy, and he was my world—a yapping mass of cuteness that required devotion. I fed him, I bathed him. Tibby slept at the foot of my bed. Once, in a boring drunken episode, my father shot Tibby with his gun, because the dog barked too loudly and made him spill his beer on his shirt which barely contained his swollen gut.
After mother buried the animal in the backyard, near the garbage cans, which was shaded by a hollowed out acacia tree in the dark subdivision where we lived, I mustered some courage to ask father: “Why did you kill the dog?”
He didn’t seem to get that there was rage swelling in my little body. My father snorted, and then said, “Because I can.” He guffawed. His breath reeked of beer. Hell, I quickly knew, stank like this.
I remember that was the first time I’d ever felt pain; perhaps this was also the last. I was nine. Pain throbbed like an ancient truth, coming to the fore from the gut, ending as a strange tingling between my legs that surprised me, just for a moment. There was pain, and there was father looking at me like I was a mouse, a small, talking insignificance of a mouse. All I could see in the feverish anger that swelled my imagination was Tibby’s shattered head heaped upon my father’s decapitated body, blood dripping down its jaws and into the soiled beer-stained wifebeater my father wore that night—five years, eight months, and thirteen days before he died.
I had a hard-on. I remembered that most of all. At nine, I had a fucking hard-on.
Later on, in my quiet days, my imagination tries to spring on me the sound of a dog yelping, in that frightened drawn-out cadence that signals knowledge of pain. But I have learned to drown that out with the white noise of nothingness—a gathering blob of pure vacuum that settles in my head and sits in it like a strange dark dream.
And all I will ever learn to see from then on is the dark side to everything. In the end, I must confess this: I never loved Sarah. She was just my Saturday well spent. I told her that. “I can never love you,” I told her in the very beginning. She took that as an invitation to redeem me. It was her first mistake.
Labels: fiction, life, writing
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