Wednesday, September 14, 2011
"Don't Believe What They Say"
For your reading enjoyment I hereby post the first Chapter.
WALK THE DOG
Don‘t believe what they say, that‘s what she told me. It‘s been going on in my mind for forever now. Each dawn I remember again, relive the moment as if it happened yesterday, and for all I know it may have. Don‘t believe what they say, I wished with my whole being that I listened. Now I‘m here.
It was a day like every other day for these last two years. Skippy ran up the stairs to sit at the doorpost to my study, staring at me with his big dark dog eyes. The all white, with a few brown spots, Jack Russel believed he could hypnotize me into submission to walk him, and may-hap he did. As with every other day, I sat behind my desk ignoring him for about fifteen minutes, to then finally give in and go downstairs with him trailing after me. I put my rubber boots on, and my leather jacket. She had bought the jacket for me but often wore it herself. My wife that is, or was, she‘s been dead for two years now.
Skippy sat near my feet, looking up at me, with his tongue hanging out. Seeing the leash in my hand he stood up wagging his tail. He licked my hand while I fastened the leash on his belt. Up and down he bounced at the front door. Outside we went. Each day at predawn we did the same thing, however never since again, not at dawn, morning, or evening. Never more we walked together past that old rundown deserted farmhouse.
No one else was awake this early, only me and my dog. I had no problem with waking up, I never went to sleep, and I had nothing better to do. Since her death I‘ve not been able to sleep. The hours I would spend sleeping I now spend in my study not studying, instead I prowled the internet, frequented forums, websites, blogs, read up and chatted up about the weird and strange. Not that I believed in all that supernatural crap. My wife did, and since she‘s gone I felt comfort in loosing myself in her past interests. It might have been better if I had taken these things more serious.
The sky was one big swat of darkness, only a dim white light gave away the moon trying to escape the shadows hold. The sun was still hiding behind the horizon, but soon to peek over it within the hour. It was the streetlights that cast the surroundings in light, so far as in making everything seem like a lighter shade of dark. I looked around; the pavement and street were a dark blurred gray, the parked cars were dark husks sticking out the asphalt, the houses dark behind the curtains, only mine had light shining, and I left that behind.
I heard the streetlights long overdue bulbs wheezing out their lives. For some reason my neighbors fancied the old things; engraved steel lanterns a century old. Who knows how old the bulbs were, by how much light they didn‘t give I would say ancient. The only other sound was that of the insects. Each new dawn they chirped the advent of new insect life, they started too early for the early birds to join them with their own morning greetings. By the time I should have returned from the dog-walk they would be singing along in their full glory.
I always walked the same route past the old farm to the path leading to the small local forest. I liked walking Skippy this early, because no one was around to happen on. No awkward forced greetings, and most of all no artificially well-meant questions about ones well-being. It‘s been two years and they still asked for her like she was still around with us, alive.
I breathed deep in, the air was fresh with humid dew. Skippy tugged at the line going left and right, and between my legs, eager to go and release his yellow stream to the nearest thing he could find. I might have made him wait a tad too long on me, his bladder must be about to burst. He has his favorite spot at a bush near the farmhouse fence. He‘ll have to hold it up till we arrive there. It‘s really his own fault, he should have done a better job in hypnotizing me.
I yanked the leash to make him walk a straight line, and gave it a tug now and then to keep him away from the neighbors gardens and the car tires. His nails clattered on the pavement while he kept up with every wide step I took on the stone tiles. I did my best to go as fast as I could. I wanted to exit my street before waking up any of my neighbors. I could care less about their sleep, I just disliked being seen. Missus Beaty‘s bedroom light went on, and she pushed her curtains aside. There she stood with her few left straw like hair falling down in front of her shoulders. I could see the patches of bald on her skull from where I was standing. She looked at me with her fallen eyes from down under her thick brows. She saw me alright, and from the way she quickly turned away, closed the curtains, and put the light out, I was sure I would receive a complaint in the coming morning. It wouldn‘t matter, it didn‘t in the past and it sure doesn‘t now.
I quickened my pace out the street. Skippy‘s playground, the forest, was a minute walk from the farmhouse going down a dirt path. A cobblestone path led from my street to the abandoned two century old farmstead. The front part of the brick two-story farmhouse looked immaculate if not for the broken upper windows and the sealed shut lower ones. The heavy oaken front door stood sturdy shut, barring entrance to all the curious and adventurous, and rightly so. The back mostly wooden one story part of the house was dangerously close to collapse. The roof had already sagged and collapsed in a few places. The farm had a granary, twice burned down in the last century, from which now only stood the five char-coaled black support beams sticking out the ground. My wife loved this farmstead, she loved everything old and cultural, and so did the town folks. They called it a monument of the utmost cultural importance, set to be restored one day. They‘ve said that forever, to me it‘s a sore sight that should be demolished.
The moon broke free from the dark clouds and shone its white bluish light on the farmhouse, basking it in some sort of glow. I faulted my years of sleep deprivation for this visage. I‘ve never seen a building before that emitted light like that.
Skippy must have forgotten his need to pee at the way he pulled hard at the line, ignoring his favorite spot by the bush at the fence. He is an habitual puller but I never saw him like this before, he pulled so hard he almost hugged the ground in his effort to get us forward. He must have gotten it in his thick head that he was the leader. It didn‘t matter to me if he led or I led as long we ended in the same place I intended to go. He only calmed down when we arrived at the dirt path going down to the forest.
The tree tops stretched to the sky, swaying on the breeze that traveled in between, while the leaves rustled their soothing whisper. I would stay here for eternity, return to nature as we humans once had lived before, but I couldn‘t. Instead on any other day I would satisfy my desires with a walk in the forest while Skippy did his thing, but not that day. I don‘t know why I didn‘t do so, but I now wished I had.
I squatted next to my dog and unleashed him. He galloped away like a showhorse. At the tree line he stopped and turned to face me. The moonlight reflected green in his eyes. It was not really a welcoming sight as it sure was the intention.
“Go then. Run. Do your thing,” I called after the dog.
Skippy jumped in without looking back. I heard the fallen branches crack under his paws and the brush of his body against the foliage, accompanied by his panting. Soon I heard nothing more. I sniffed the freshness of the air, smelled the sweet aroma of leaves and morning dew.
I felt compelled to turn around and look up. The full moon was much higher up the sky than I expected for the hour. It seemed almost to smile at me knowingly. The sleeplessness had finally set madness in, because a thing couldn‘t smile and the moon was a thing devoid of life. Still it urged me to be somewhere else.
They told me the moon was magical. They being the many people online hiding behind avatars on the forums I frequent on the web. One especially, known by the name AmandaTuga claimed to be a bruxa from Lisboa, Portugal. I guess a common witch, one of those Wicca adorers. She told me that when the Lua was full it was especially powerful, and a high for everything magical and its practitioners. She also added that often it would relay messages from afar. She advised me to ever be watchful for its pull, because it could end saving me. Like so common with these kind of people she excelled in omitting to tell me against what it could save me. A bruxa, a witch, whatever.
I thought at that time she was showing off to impress me, because not long after posting my profile picture, I got a private message from her inviting me to come stay over with her in Lisbon; to run naked under the full moon outside in the Portuguese nature. She wanted for us to give in to our carnal desires under the soothing light of the moon. Like I would travel across the Atlantic to get my freak on with a self-proclaimed witch.
Judging from her own profile photo it was a tempting offer. I should have taken her up on her offer, but at that time I had no need for such. I thought the woman beautiful, and enticing, but the crazy part, her belief in witchcraft and her claim to be a witch, did seal the deal against me ever meeting up with her. Though whatever I thought about her at that time, she was right about the moon.
The moon, Lua as she called it, was indeed mesmerizing. Magical as they claimed it to be, I couldn‘t help stare at it and lose myself. I sought the message it had for me, but found none. At that time I was too closed-minded for that, I could try but the state my mind was in I would never find anything. The same close mindedness that put a shell around me against the sultry Portuguese witch.
The sensation of someone watching me and a peculiar smell drew my attention away from the moon. It was Skippy, he sat at my feet and looked at me with his big black round doggy eyes. Him not panting like he always does after a long run, he must have been here waiting on me for a while now.
When he noticed that I got out of my moon revelry, he started a high-pitched whine, something he had not done since my wife passed. I squatted next to him, and petted him to calm him down. He licked my hand, his tongue scrubbing like sandpaper on my skin. His eyes trembled in their sockets, and I could better smell the odd odor. I recognized it, and I wished to never have smelled it again, the sour smell of the dying.
I put the leash back on Skippy and proceeded to walk home. I barely started when I was stopped with a jolt by Skippy not budging. He sat there a marble statue and heavy as one. He whined through his nose when I yanked the rope for him to come. Shaken he stood up, and with lowered head and his tail between his legs, he followed me. We went up the path while the familiar repugnant odor still lingered with us. It didn‘t come from the dog, it was in the air, or from some critter dying somewhere around here, out of our sight.