Skip to main content

Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 12 page 20


He spears his index fingers into his ears, striking the drums. The dog, as if encouraged by the gesture, barks even louder.

The man groans. He grunts. He growls. He yells. But the dog keeps barking louder and louder.

Like a child, he throws a tantrum, huffing, kicking his feet against the arms of the sofa. He can't understand why people in the neighbouring apartments aren't kicking their floors and slamming their walls. He can't understand why he can't hear his neighbours shouting at the top of their lungs for the dog to shut up. He can't understand why he has to be the only person tortured by the barking.

He sits up, breathes deep, closes his eyes. He imagines the dog, small and weak, skinny and pathetic, and envisions picking it up by the neck; he holds it with one hand, staring down its narrow throat as it defiantly growls then barks in his face. He feels the animal's cold, enraged breath against his skin. The animal contorts its tiny body, trying to escape, but the man's grip is tight.

He opens his eyes, refusing to witness the ending. He shakes his head, physically trying to dismiss the ugly thought from his mind. He sits back down, slumps, and recoils into the stale sofa cushion, ashamed, disgusted for thinking such a thought.

The dog continues barking. The man’s eyelids begin to quiver, his fingers spasm, his breathing becomes erratic. He's losing his mind. He believes the dog knows he's losing his mind but doesn't care. He closes his eyes again and is immediately returned to the scene of a crime not yet committed. The dog, still firmly held in his grasp, continues to bark in his face before thrusting toward him in an effort to bite him. He squeezes its neck, but stops when the barks turn into terrified yelps. He opens his eyes. The shame he felt moments ago returns, more intensely than before.

He twitches, he blinks, filled with revulsion at the evil thoughts in the depths of his mind. Where did they come from, how could he entertain them? He believes that such thoughts are not his own, do not represent him. He is a good man, an honest, honorable man, a man who would never hold a small dog by the neck and carry out the horrific act he had not yet fully conceived. Such thoughts, such vile, malignant images, belonged in the minds of vile, malignant people, but not himself, certainly not himself.

He rises from the sofa. It’s still barking. He walks around the barren living room. Barking. He sits back down. Barking. He gets back up. Barking.

He walks to the kitchen, opens the fridge. There is nothing inside. The barking bounces off the fridge walls like a pinball. He opens the cupboards, one after another, each one revealing an empty space where food should be, then he slams each one shut as hard as he can, hoping the noise will drown out the barking.

He returns to the living room. He stands there, in the center of the floor, hands on hips. He closes his eyes, and for the third time sees himself holding a small dog by the neck. He sees himself squeezing the dog until it yelps, and just as he feels the tiny vertebrae in its neck shift then crack, he ferociously opens his twitching eyelids. He breathes rapidly. He bends down. Several tears fall from his eyes, striking the floor, exploding on impact, creating a small puddle filled with what he believes to be his conscience.