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Tuesday, 23 July 2019

A STORY ABOUT A MAN AND A DOG


Sweet my love, I want to tell you a story about a man and a dog.

(I don't know why a man and a dog! Every good writer has a story about a man and a dog, so I'm a-telling you about a man and a dog.)

Anyway, here is how the story goes:
Once upon a time a lone man walked in the endless whispering desert inside his mind. He walked and walked, and the sharp edges of the cracked and calcified sighs and screams littering his life cut into his soles.

(I said SOLES, not souls. It's a frigging metaphor. And NO, he wasn't wearing any shoes... Why?BECAUSE IT WOULD RUIN THE STORY!)

As he walked he left behind him a trail of blood-stains, the exact shade of clotted pain. It hurt too - you better believe it - but he was one stubborn dude, and so he walked that trail of shattered dreams for days and days.

At night he'd stop and build a fire with left-over bits of old loves he found tossed and trampled by the side of the track, and sat as close as he dared and warmed his hands to the flickering embers. Sometimes a flame would fitfully leap out and singe his palms, and he would yelp, but never did he lean back. The burning of a dead passion was infinitely better than the cold encroaching poisonous ice of the desert night.

The next morning the pallid sun would rise - it's fervid sickly heat belying its leprous light - and on he would trudge. After a few days, he realized he was being followed. Far behind him, almost lost in the vague shapes of the distant dunes, a shadow stuttered. Close one day, another day further, but always there.

(I don't know what it was, but since it's a story about a man and a dog, it stands to reason it's a bloody dog!)

One night he dozed off by the fire. Something he had never done before, as he feared some old obsession would overrun his senses as he slept. But somehow, that night he slept. And as he slept the ragged hesitant shadow crept closer and closer, and when he awoke he found an odd creature slept curled up to him.

(Yes, it WAS a dog)

It WAS a dog, but a scruffier creature could not be imagined: ragged coat, mismatched ears and snarly limp-tongued smile. All in all, not an animal to bring to mind any kind of warm cuddly tales about men and dogs.

It was - however - a dog, and so subject to the dastardly fate laid on every dog since the beginning of creation: the poor thing knew how to love, and so that is what it did. It loved. and since no better object presented itself in that arid land, he bravely proceeded to love the man.

Now the man was most indignant. He tried to chase the dog away. He threw sharp-edged stones of polished scorn, shouted his harshest words, but the stupid animal would not be dissuaded from his dogged pursuit.

(Ye, I get the irony in using the word "dogged" to describe a dog's mindless devotion to an unworthy object of love, I'm writing this, aren't I?)

The truth be told, on the cold nights, the man found the dog's presence quite useful. The gelid desert stars would throw down sharp arrows of ice, but the dog would stand above the sleeping man and snarl, and the frigid shards would break on his scruffy coat, and the man would sleep unharmed by the fierce stinging pain of old regrets.

During the day, the man forged ahead, and the dog would trail behind, trotting and pausing to sniff here and there; all the while lapping up the trail of blood the man was leaving behind.

This the man found singularly repulsive; as was the dog's attempts at licking at his feet, or at his face, on which the tears ran a constant stream of burning salt. It seemed to the man the animal was feeding on his pain: his blood, his tears; and in the silent fearsome nights when the dog lay close, it seemed to devour even his fears.

This went on for quite a while. Days and days, endless chains of nights. The man walking his cursed path, the dog trailing behind. Oh but one day, the man found lying on the ground something strange: the monstrous bones of a snark.

(What do you mean: what is a snark? Ask Lewis Carroll, I don't know what a snark is.)

The dead thing stretched out on the ivory sand, its rib cage arched up against the sky; its cavernous eyes and empty grin seeming to mock the man. It was just too much, and the man sat on the ground and decided to die then and there.

There was no reason to continue life under these pitiless empty skies. At first the dog nudged at him, and licked at his face, his feet, and uttered plaintive whimpers; but the man would just lie there. The dog barked, he nipped at the man's heels, he even snarled. 

The man pushed him away. "Begone! Fuck off! Go off and bug someone else. Leave me alone."
"I can't!" The dog cried, "I just can't!"
"Why the fuck not?"
"Why because...because I'm a dog! I love you - that stuff about Old Yellar and Jock of the bloody bush-veld is bred into us- and I am obliged to lie at your feet and die if you die; and let me tell you, I don't want to die!"
"Go away, I tell you, I don't want you."
"Well!" cried the dog in a huff, "If you didn't want me, why did you spend your entire life chasing after love?"

But the man, of course, up and died without replying; and the Love-dog howled a bit, and chased a few fleas across its shoulder before trotting off to look for another man to follow home. This time, maybe, one who would welcome the touch of its healing tongue, and savour the comfort of its warmth on a cold night.

(Yep. that's how it ends. Why didn't the DOG die? Well... I don't know. I suppose it's because its a Love-dog, see? And love doesn't die. Not naturally, you know. You have to kill it.)

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