Spaniel in the Wind
by Martin Bolton
I, Fletcher Stanley Norman, write this now in the hope that I might deter others as foolish and unthinking as myself from perpetrating similarly vile acts. I fear that I have sunk too far into the murky depths of depravity, into realms beyond the light of the sun’s blessed rays, to hold any real hope for my own salvation. I can but warn others that this path I have taken leads only to eternal damnation, and pray that my warning is heeded.
The unwitting catalyst for the change in my previously mild and forgiving disposition was a cocker spaniel named Pete. His arrival in my garden one bright morning in early spring sparked a lamentable transition in my psyche, culminating in the dire events I am about to recount, the consequences of which are poor, innocent Pete’s shallow grave and my enduring slump into despair and darkness. Were it possible to turn back time, I would gladly give my own life in return for little Pete’s, but alas my despicable acts of blind jealousy can never be undone. I can only hope that Pete rests in peace, or perhaps exists in another sphere, beyond the shroud, where he is free from molestation and malice, where he bounds undisturbed through perfumed meadows void of the groping, fungal fingers of sin to which my soul succumbed.
At first, Pete’s boisterous, irrepressible zest for life was a welcome distraction from my permanent pond-side vigil. Each day he would breathe new life into the garden as he bounded back and forth, chasing his tail or following the scent of some long retired nocturnal beast, pausing periodically to slobber noisily over is testicles. There was a contagious energy in him that flowed into his surrounding environment, making every day seem like the first of spring. That energy has now left this derelict place, giving rise to a stagnant greyness that wreathes my pointy hat like a malignant smog and drains the light from my heart.
That first summer after Pete’s arrival seems like a painfully ecstatic dream that serves only to remind me with unrelenting brutality of all that I have destroyed. Pete was the sunshine, and every night as the moon shone upon my pond, I gazed at the water and pictured his manic tale and his thick, spongy ears dangling in the water as he lapped up mouthfuls of green slime. I would patiently wait, knowing he would be back at dawn to lay a steaming mound on the grass and mark me as his own.
But as I watched him, day after day, mindlessly urinating at every opportunity and relentlessly pursuing any hapless creature that ventured within the confines of the garden wall, something dark was nurtured within my soul. I gradually grew to despise Pete.
He became an insufferable annoyance, the constant scent marking seemed unnecessary and, in my head, became a mortal insult directed at me, and his incessant barking at every passer by an ear-splitting cacophony that cut me to the quick. I became irritable and developed a purple temper that flared up and threatened to explode whenever he was present. That indiscriminately affectionate, delirious young cocker spaniel became the secret focus for a deeply destructive, unforgiving hatred.
I was gradually gripped by a malignant, corrosive darkness that dug a fetid pit within my spirit, and it was two years after his arrival that I finally slid so disastrously to its very depths. I remember that morning so vividly that it tears at my heart like the claws of some ravenous raptor to recount it. It was early spring, dew hung heavy on glistening spider-webs, and the chorus of bird song was food for the soul – though mine had long since abandoned such sustenance.
I swear I did not plan what happened next, or perhaps I did in my festering, cursed subconscious. The sun was just rising and steam rose from the hedgerows. I heard the latch on the back door, the noise that signalled my daily torment. True to form, Pete came bounding onto the lawn, barking at the feeding birds, trying vainly to catch one in flight and sending them flapping to the tops of trees. He then squatted for his morning defecation – you could set your watch by his bowel movements. I had witnessed this very scene every day for two years, but this time it would have a different ending. As I watched him through eyes sooty with the blackness of hate, a terrible idea formed in my mind. As Pete squeezed out his final nugget of miasmic waste, I leapt from my rock as if controlled by some powerfully malevolent force, and mounted him roughly. Using my fishing rod as a miniature horse-whip, I gripped one of Pete’s giant ears and I rode him hard around the garden.
God forgive me, I rode him!
We cantered around the perimeter and out the gate. I did not see the range rover. God help me, I did not see it until it was too late! I managed to jump free in the nick of time, but poor, innocent Pete was not so lucky. His skull was crushed like an egg under the front wheel.
Shame and guilt are not my only punishment, for my porcelain heart will live on through the millennia and I shall linger in the knowledge of what I have done.