Dead Dog Rising

by kate hill cantrill

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Dead Dog Rising


            My father has not slept with any sort of confidence in over one and one-half weeks. The dog is dying, see; he's dying in that pacing way. He's thin and gray and moving like he has big plans—the kind that wake him in the night to say, Let's go! Let's break away!

            His claws have grown and since his pads are wasting, sucked-in, sunken soles, claws tap the floor, they keep the time. Click clack. Click clack. Click. That sound there—that back and forth—is what wakes my father and drives him mad. Click clack, he says, then skid, then sometimes, thump—which means the dog has lost it.

            My father keeps a baseball bat for just this kind of thing, for if the night should make a sound—creak, slam, shattering glass— he'd grab that bat and head downstairs, so angry then, more so than scared. Get out! Get out of my stone house!

            He gives the dog some Valium. He pushes down on his thin backside. He looks him in the eyes and says, You know me, Dog. I know you know me. The dog has made such big, big plans and hasn't got the time. He rises later in the night. Click clack, he walks. Click clack. Click.

            My father, mad with sleep, or lack of it, or simply clouded, grabs the bat in his rough, dry fist. Creak, shuffle, ominous thump. He runs downstairs in panic, fury. He is angry at the nighttime sounds. He holds the bat above his head. Get out! Get out of my stone house!

            The dog is there, on sorry legs, with sorry claws. He looks toward the man, the bat, and says, You know me, Man. I know you know me.