The dog is okay
It’s a quiet evening and I sink into my armchair with a sigh. Poppy’s in bed, Walter’s out for the night and my pile of unopened New Yorkers can finally have some love. Ah, bliss! A few hours to myself. It’s a house of perfect calm.
I position the lamp at an optimal angle behind my right shoulder. Without having anyone else’s legs to consider, I pull the coffee table toward me, then rest my feet upon it with a smile. As gilded evening light reflects off the magazine pages, my glossy dog lies glossily at my feet.
All is right with the world. Conditions are perfect.
I cast another look at my dog. She’s still motionless at my feet and all four paws point stiffly at the wall. She looks like a toppled-over mannequin. That is, she looks normal.
Yet her eyes are open and she’s staring glassily at the wall.
‘Is Steppenwolf depressed?’ I wonder as I look back at the magazine. Stiff paragraphs about the federal budget float before me. I crinkle my brows at the density of the page.
‘Do family dogs have fulfilling lives?’ think I, last month’s magazine falling limply into my lap. The idea of Steppenwolf’s raison d’etre suddenly weighs heavily upon me.
‘I should let her sleep in our bed,’ I realize, suddenly glum.
And then I hear it. Bzzz. Bzzz. Bzzz. Now it’s faint, now it’s loud. Bzzz. Bzzz.
Steppenwolf’s body remains motionless but her eyes roll madly in her head. Bzzz, bzzz. It could be a commercial for flies, the sound is so clear. Bzzz. The villain weaves about the room like a stunt pilot. It zooms above my and Steppenwolf’s heads then rests tauntingly on the lamp.
“I’m going to fix your wagon,” I shout, unwittingly parroting my father who has always threatened flies thus. I reach for the fly swatter and assay a few dainty swipes.
Enraged, I charge into Walter’s office and grab his electric tennis racket — a grisly device that electrocutes flies with Texan ruthlessness. Walter once swiped me with this thing when I was holding a newborn Poppy. I’ve never let him forget the pain. I’d hate for him to see me using it now.
But, bzzz, bzzz.
I leap about the room with the electric racket. Its grill goes crackle as I swipe here and swipe there. In front of my uncovered windows, and for the benefit of my street, I put on a grotesque ballet.
Bzzz. Bzzz. Snap!
It’s the fly.
Steppenwolf gives it a solemn look then flops her head onto the rug. All four feet point stiffly at the wall. Her coat is glossy. Her eyes are closed.
I return to my magazine with satisfaction. Steppenwolf needn’t move into our bed just yet. Our dog, it seems, is okay.