Get a Dog

Friend of mine tells me to get a dog. Tells me it’ll be interesting to figure out what it wants. I tell him it sounds like having a kid only without it getting to the stage where it can speak. He’s retiring soon. Probably thinking about himself and what he’s going to do. But he’s right. I do need something more than I have.

I need to do something real. All the things I do are about imaginary worlds. Writing and reading and watching movies is all about imaginary friends. I have a robot imaginary friend now. It’s called woebot and it talks to me after a fashion. I try to keep it simple for the little fella. If I exceed one subject or object in my sentence it tells me to go easy because it’s only a robot. Makes me feel sorry for it.

You know about the robot vacuum cleaner already. It’s real but if I was to think of it as a friend then I’d be using my imagination.

So, yeah – what is real? Music? Nah. Have you ever heard a familiar song at low volume and struggled to recognise it? I have. It makes me wary of calling it real. The way music makes me feel relies on all sorts of imaginary stuff like memory and perception and awareness. Maybe I should get me a rock. Oh, wait – I already have one. I call it Gilbert. It’s my pocket pebble. Don’t click on that link; it might not be about the same Gilbert.

I get the feeling that I’m trying to find stability on shifting sands recently. I can talk about it if you like but it won’t do either of us any good. The sands will shift again and it’ll be rendered nonsense in a sprout.

Still, it’ll be interesting for me to read these posts in a few years time and wonder who in earth I was.

And no, I don’t need help. I’m okay. This feeling’ll pass and another one equally implausible’ll take its place. I’ve done this kind of talking to myself all my life. I find it much more illuminating than talking to people. People interrupt all the time with helpful suggestions when all I really want to do is talk it out. I eventually come up with a resolution when I’m just allowed to ramble on.

I’d probably get a dog if I lived on my own, but there’s the wife to consider. She’d think a dog is dirty. Or would she? Maybe I should ask her. Okay, I will.


Imagine you’re on a train. You’re looking out of the windows at sheep and clouds and wondering where sheep would go if they could fly and what clouds would do if they had to wander about in fields when you hear a dog barking.

A dog in the fields? No, this barking is coming from closer than that. It’s coming from this very carriage. From just behind your seat!

Imagine that dogs have been illegal since 2033 when a law was passed forbidding anyone to own a live dog (dead dogs were exempt, which was fortunate because there were many of those following that time) due to the danger posed by canine-flu.

A terrible plague had swept through the dog population in the last month and there were fears of a crossover into the human population. In fact, scientists had proved the risk to be very real. Death was the result of infection. A very quick death. A gruesome death involving a black, icky substance seeping from all orifices.

Imagine the panic in the train after the dog bark was heard. Imagine the rush to the end of the carriage.

Imagine the look on the face of the pensioner as he heard a barking coming from his bag. Imagine his thoughts.

He’s sure there isn’t a dog in his bag. He packed it himself that morning and all it contains are two cheese sandwiches, a biro and a paperback copy of a classic from twenty-fifteen: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. Oh, and his mobile phone.

Imagine that he opens his bag, aware vaguely as he does so that the carriage is very quiet. His phone is flashing and the barking sound is coming from it. He looks at the screen and realises that he has a call. He taps Answer and the barking stops.

Imagine that when he listens to the phone he hears his grandson’s voice.

“Hiya, Gramps, you in the train?”

“Yes I am.”

“You got the carriage to yourself?”

The pensioner glances around and, to his vague surprise, finds that this is so.

“Yes I have!”

“Remember how you always complain that the other people in the carriage are always talking so that you can’t concentrate on your book?

“Yes I do.”

“Well, I fixed that for you.”

“Ah, excellent, thank you, Brad, that’s very kind of you!”

“You’re welcome. Have a good one.”

“You too, Brad.”

The line went dead.

Imagine that the pensioner turned off his phone, put it in his bag and, with a smile of satisfaction, took out his book, settled back in his seat and opened it to page 86.

Fambly Dynamics

Inky Fambly

Fambly dynamics are easy when you’re in charge because you just say leap and they say how high and you say that you’re making me so angry right now and then they get that look in their eye that says that they’ll do anything you want if only you’ll calm the frick down and so you do. Because that’s all you wanted. Respect.

But that’s not really respect, is it, Dad. No. That’s just fear.

So anyway, I walked away. That’s me to the right of the tree walking away. I went in an away direction for eight years and then I visited. You were pleased to see me. At least, that’s how you played it on your face. But who can tell what lurks behind the skin, muscles and bone? Me? Nah. I know nothing.

I mean, sure, I can guess. I’m as intelligent as your next estranged son. I can look at the life you had and look at the life I had and I can extrapolate from me to you. Guesswork.

The dog dies early in the story. It’s called Sam and that’s him between me and the tree.

Sam howled in the night at things that I could never see and hear. Perhaps the neighbour’s cat teased him through the porch door. Maybe the trees swayed in just that way. The way that puts shadows on the inside of your dreams. Hey, we’ve all had those dreams, right? Well, for Sam, they were a little too close and a little too real and … well, I would have howled too. I guess.

I stomped my foot on the floor and Sam picked up the ears that were laid flat to his skull and stopped howling. For a while. So I stomped downstairs and I did things that didn’t help either me or Sam. But at least I didn’t turn him out into the dark and beat him when he tried to come back until he stopped coming back and we heard of a dog killed on the road and maybe it was Sam and maybe it wasn’t but he never came back.

And, despite visiting, neither did I.

Not really.