Sleep is a luxury that many under appreciate.
The howling comes in through my window, loud and sharp. The voices of oh so many dogs that know that they’re on their way to the vet. I want to hate all of them. to send them all to a fiery death but my dogs are among them and I know it’s not their fault. They are my protectors and they do what they must.
I toss the covers off my bed and mumble a colorful word at the window that’s letting that blasted noise through. My slippers are on before my feet can touch the floor and then my robe is on my shoulders then I sleep walk out of the door and down the stairs in the dark.
As I reach the front door I can still hear the frenzied barking coming from the front gate. It sounds as if all hell has broken loose at my gate. I open up the door and Cucho is there to greet me, whining lightly and turning his head over his shoulder to bark at the gate. He’s a small terrier, with matted fur of varying hues of brown. He sneaks in through the door space and starts ringing around my ankles.
We step out of the door together and I make my way to the source of the ruckus. Bowser and Nichols, my two pittbulls, are barking at the gate with all the ferocity that they can muster. A small black stray yips at them from the safety of the other side, being a little tease.
My front gate is made of vertical iron bars with spaces in between. Enough space for that stray mutt to make its presence felt but not enough for my bruisers to get at him. It knows what it’s doing, harassing my boys while standing just out of their reach. It’s jealous. Jealous of the shiny coats on my pitbulls and their pampered life. Pissing my dogs off must give it some low-brow sense of self-worth. It knows my guys would rip it to pieces if they could only reach it. It sees me coming and bolts up the road.
I’mm grateful to see it go but I don’t even bother screaming after it. This is third night in a row that damned thing has come calling. It started the very night my wife left. As if it could sense a vacuum in this place that needed to be filled.
The first night it came I barely registered the sound. I was out back burning those god-awful lavender curtains she insisted on for the bedroom. Those things gave me nightmares, flowing in the corner of the room and screaming at me with their loud colors. Seeing them go was almost as enjoyable as seeing my wife walk out. The material had barely caught when the ruckus started. Curiosity got the better of me and I went to see what was going on. The stray was gone as soon as I got there but it came back with all its noise a few hours later. Too depressed to go down again, I just let them do their thing. It went on for hours and the neighbours sent me a text about it. They suggested that I keep my dogs locked up at night but that wasn’t going to happen. It was that stray’s fault and I wasn’t about to punish my guys for it.
Now that the stray was gone Bowser and Nichols calmed down. They came over to me and if they had tails they would have wagged them so they wagged their butts instead.
“There, there my puppies,” I said to them as they rubbed against my legs. “You’ll get him next time.”
Two hours later, the familiar barking came again. I groaned and made my outside and once again I made my way down to shoo it off and once again I caught sight of its back end as it bolted when I stepped out of the door.
The next night went off without a hitch. For the first time since my wife left, I slept all night long. Not even that damn stray came to bother me. But I was in for a shock when I woke.
I was making my way out for work and Cucho met me at the door like he always did. He bounded up to me, tongue hanging out and I freaked when I saw him.
The brown fur on his head and around his neck was covered in a thick red coating. It could only be blood. I picked him up and cradled him, searching for the source of the blood but I found none. And he seemed to be fine. He wasn’t whimpering at all. It wasn’t his blood.
I put him down and rushed out, looking for Bowser and Nichols, praying that they were not hurt. I found them lying by the gate, also covered in blood and playing with a carcass. The carcass of that damned stray.
What was left of the black dog’s head was stuck in between the bars of the gate. I approached to get a closer look and the two pittbulls sauntered over to me happy as could be, blood dripping from their muzzles. My guys had gone to town on it.
I stood there staring at the white and jagged rows of exposed vertebrae, trying to figure out how this could have happened and then it hit me. This couldn’t be a coincidence. I knew what this was. I know the signs….This is Journeyman’s work.
I rushed back into the house and up to my room. There I reached under the mattress and took out a hard cover journal. I put the code into the lock, opened it up to the last page.
There’s a new entry. Dated for today. Journeyman had been here last night.My palms started to sweat as I over the words in the journal and held my breath.
17th June 2015
My dear Kabirium, I know life hasn’t been easy lately.
Laura is gone. I’m happy to see her go but I know that you’re not. I know how much you need companionship in your life and to feel loved. I always knew that she wasn’t right for you, but I held my tongue. This relationship was your mistake to make. Now that it’s finally over I can help to ease your transition into a better version of you.
At first, I was content to sit on the sidelines and let you come to terms with the separation on your own but when that stray started making nightly trips to your front gate I knew I had to do something. So last night, I went out for a walk.
The strays in this neighbourhood don’t go very far. They’re always hanging around so I went out to that field they like to roam around in to see if they couldn’t be reasoned with.
They were wary of me. Strays always are. So I carried some treats, sat down and laid out a few scraps and bacon strips. Pretty soon dark silhouettes formed at the edge of the field as they started to come out. They took their time deciding on whether they could trust me or not but their hunger made the decision for them. They didn’t stand a chance.
It took a few hours before our black friend with the brown feet made an appearance. He was more apprehensive than the others but as soon as he got in range I hit him with the tranquilizer gun. (NB-you need to invest in a stronger cocktail. I had to follow the mutt across the field before it passed out.)
Now that I had my prize, I slung it over my shoulder and made my way back to yours. I locked Bowser, Nichols and Cucho inside the house so that I could prepare their surprise undisturbed then used motor oil to squeeze the strays head in between the bars of the gate.
Oh, how I wish you had seen the look on its face when it woke. It struggled and howled and tried to pull its head free but there was no way it was getting out. I used the glue gun to fuse its neck to the bars.
Then I opened up the dogs and let them have their way. Nichols got to the stray first. Went straight for the jugular. Bowser caught up and started tearing at the stray’s face. And then Cucho. Sweet, sweet, Cucho, struggled to get in on the action, pushing the pitbulls out of the way to make space for himself on the kill.
It was over fast. And by that I mean that the stray died fast. But the hounds continued at it. Swear-down, they were trying to sever the head off but the spine and neck muscles just wouldn’t give so they decided that half-on, half-off was good enough. I’m just happy they had fun.
Kabirium, I hope you slept well last night. I did this for you. To make you happy. To make your life that much more peaceful.
——-Your loving friend, Journeyman.
The journal entry ends there. I’m not angry with him. In fact I’m glad. Journeyman always comes through for me when something needs doing but I don’t have the guts to do it myself. He really is a good friend. I just wish he had the decency to clean up after himself. What the hell am I going to do with a semi-decapitated dog? Well, I could make breakfast for the neighbours.