Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Very Special Houndblog

Jesse: Back when your grandparents were just kids in the Midwest seeing each other on Saturday nights they had this dog. His name was Marty and your grandfather picked him up from a local farmer with a litter of fifteen, surprising your grandmother by walking over to her place with the dog inside his hat and pretending he didn't hear its barking. They played with it nearly all day and after dinner drove into town where he ducked down in the seat so it looked like the dog was driving. It was a pretty funny sight and people talked about it for weeks.

Over time Marty did that thing where by being with a family for so long an animal surmounts its beastly qualities and absorbs these little grains of humanity, granting it a strange wisdom that you can sense whenever it sits in a rocking chair and looks you carefully in the eyes. Marty was liked this; he watched the kids while they played in the yard and came along on family vacations.

But veterinary medicine back then wasn't what it is today and by the time he was ten or so Marty's legs started to go. He'd spent so much time scampering around that it was unsettling to see him lying all folded on a pile of rags all day long and he took on this new silence, never barking when a car pulled up or someone opened the oven door, because he was so embarrassed at not being able to help out like he always had. One day in the early winter he fell down half the basement stairs and sometime after being carried up wrapped in a blanket by your grandfather limped off into the forest and never came back.

And of course you didn't know a thing about this until your grandmother's funeral when by the coffin theres this picture of him sitting on her lap at the beach, and you suddenly realize that the sheer volume of your grandparents lives was so much more than you had ever imagined. That they had secrets and shared moments and things between them that you'd never even know about let alone understand.

Your grandfather sat still with his hands clenching and unclenching on the pew in front of him and would only say that his name was Marty and he was "a good dog, a very good dog." He doesn't tell you this but every so often he has this dream where he's on the back steps of the old house and Marty comes back out of the forest just like he did so many times before. The dog comes over and rests his head in his lap for a second and the two of them walk side by side in the forest with the moonlight splashed out on the path ahead of them.

Lisa: Holy god this looks just like the kind of dog I want to be friends with!

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