FOG A SHORT STORY
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
First Published 2016
All rights reserved.
Copyright © Chassis Albuquerque
The right of Chassis Albuquerque to be identified as author of this work has been asserted. No part of this publication
may be reproduced or sexually transmitted in any form by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopied, recorded, or
otherwise without the prior permission of the author’s mother.
Any person who commits any unauthorized act in relation to this publication should make a note of it and may
be liable to a very, very severe admonishing; if you’re in the 3rd world, definitely some form of
supervised corporal punishment, at the very least, wherever you are, a fine of sorts.
FOG, A SHORT STORY ABOUT A DOG involves very few weather phenomena and is in fact a short story about,
obviously, a dog.
And vets – not army vets, you know, people who have fought other people, this is about people who work with animals.
Of course, thinking about it, people can be animals, too, and unless the dinosaur agrees to stage a return and take up arms,
we, the most mistrustful of all the populace of earth, we are also our most heavily armed predator.
Ps. Also, when I said “loss” please don’t believe the animal mentioned has vanished only to suffer
some horrific fate we’ll never know, the dog’s already dead – I just wanted to be clear about that.
Crystal Munday, who’d already had her share of death and funerals to deal with when first her grandmother had died and then her father, had reminded him about her theory of atoms – THEORY: People when they die become atoms, each atom forming a whole of the original person, therefore you are never truly alone surrounded by their millions of atoms. So we take some comfort from science.
The old man had been steadily deteriorating, the death had not been a surprise, .
The dog died shortly after; his death, too, not unexpected. Crystal had given the dog all the time in the world. On the outskirts of the city she’d walk him in the forest – “His favourite place!” she’d tell Radar-Sophisticate fondly but as he’d deteriorated it became necessary to drive him there, otherwise he’d be exhausted, unable to get back. Crystal bought a van and had Radar-Sophisticate build a ramp to lead up the tailgate of the van to help the dog get in and out without exhausting itself because he was just too big to pick up and manhandle.
Clearly Crystal’s dedication for the animal’s well being was extraordinary. But when they’d woken one early morning Radar Sophisticate knew something was wrong, he’d a bad feeling. It got worse and he hears Crystal outside calling the dog.
“Fog! Fog! Fog?” she calls. “Fog, boy, where are you!”
Some days when thick fog rolled in slowly off the ocean and covered the city in its thick great blankets and reams of fog, a skyline of the tips of the tallest buildings poking above through it, Fog would refuse to come indoors, the dog seemed to enjoy the fog’s coolness. Crystal would wonder into the yard calling for him: “Fog? Fog? Fog!” Radar imagined neighbours thinking: There she goes, calling out the obvious weather – what’s next, rain? Thunder? Hail? Lightning?
When Radar glances outside now the day is clear, no clouds, no heavy fog and no Fog the big dog, the world’s all the good colours of blue and yellow and green.
“Fog! Fog!” Crystal called. Then she screamed. “Fog!”
The porch door was open, Crystal was outside kneeling at the dog’s side – he’d collapsed on his side, breathing heavily, staring forlornly at his mistress. The poor big dog couldn’t even stand any more, his legs had given out or maybe his great weight was just too much at his age, he’d just given up. Radar had had to struggle to get him from the garden where Crystal had found him to the porch.
Fog was at least thirteen years old then, old for a cross between a bear and Newfoundland dog. Newfoundland dogs are particularly big animals and, apart from being so massive, if anyone did a handstand in the general vicinity he’d move protectively in between them his owner and regard the handstandee suspiciously. For some reason the upside down sight of them threw him into confusion and the handstandee had only a few seconds before Fog would move his great bulk in on them, swatting them off their the right way up to the ground. And then, if Crystal didn’t get to them in time, the dog would go for their neck.
He’d never actually bitten anyone, he’d just hold them down, his great jaws about their neck, his big paws upon them, his eyes on Crystal awaiting further instruction. And always the handstandee would instinctively lie still, prone, a curious, immediate symbiosis between the great dog and victim; they’d consulted a dog behaviourist who’d discovered a lineage of circus dogs in its history but it had seemed unrelated.
Anyhow, Radar-Sophisticate called their regular vet. For quite some time he’d harboured doubts about this particular vet’s veterinary skills. For instance the vet had said he was “… in the area anyway” which struck Radar as odd, as if the vet had had nothing better to do on this particular day and regularly traveled about the city prepared, constantly on the vigil for animals to put down – was he a serial euthanasiast, like a rapist with a rape kit looking for rape victims? But Crystal, made vulnerable by all the death about them and the deteriorating dog’s health, maintained the dog had always been treated there and it’s history was well documented – to move to a new vet might have jeopardised his health further. Radar-Sophisticate hadn’t pursued it. Even more so than the grievous amount of recent funerals, Radar-Sophisticate recalled it was odd the idiot vet arrived in a Jeep 4×4, complete with camouflage and fold down front windscreen (the vet wasn’t in camouflage, the Jeep was). Maybe the vet thought there was a war on, maybe he was a man who felt the need for concealment driving about the big city?
But what bothered Radar even more was the vet’s little eight year old son was in the front seat, like making a house call to put down an old dog was just a regular part of growing up. Perhaps Crystal was too distracted to say much – she was barely speaking.
“Hello,” the boy said to them.
“Hi,” Radar-Sophisticate said.
“Stay here,” the man told his boy, strapping him in with the seatbelt. Oh, the irony! Radar-Sophisticate thought, watching. So the idiot vet would drive about in his jeep with his son, neither of them buckled up, but pulling up in the driveway of the house now he wanted to buckle his son up? What kind of a vet was this! What greater danger was here than driving about out there without a seatbelt[_?_]
Very athletic with her grief, the vet gave Fog the once-over while Crystal threw herself into a handstand and, oblivious, her top drops down past her elbows as she leans down toward the dog’s nose, her elbows at right angles under her weight as she balances, her bare back to them. Crystal’s lips are so close she touches Fog’s wet, black nose with a kiss! Fog only watches and Crystal can only wish for his big mouth to chomp down on her neck! Involuntary eye movements occurred, the vet staring at the fine sight of Crystal upside down, the way her spine arched and the small swell of her fine tits poking out from her sides. Composing himself and without any great feeling he told them the dog would have to be put down.
“We can just do it here,” is how he actually said it. Perhaps having euthanized so many animals had made him insensitive.
“Here?” Crystal cried, bewildered, righting herself; she wiped her eyes with her wrist and stared at Radar-Sophisticate who’d thought she was going to put her hands over the dog’s ears so Fog wouldn’t hear how they were talking about his death.
“I’ll go get the stuff out the Jeep,” the vet said.
The big old dog just kept staring dumbly at Crystal, he didn’t blink and Radar swore he saw death approaching in those clear, unspeaking eyes.
The vet didn’t explain the process of animal euthanasia, that vets used sodium pentobarbital, for instance – sodium pentobarbital induces a rapid loss of consciousness followed by respiratory arrest by means of intravenous injection. He didn’t brief them that the animal experiences no pain and is effectively “sleeping” before the arrest sets in, stopping the animals heart. The injection has some side effects, such as muscle twitching, or sometimes, because of poor circulation, the drugs can take longer to take effect and both thereby creating the illusion that the poor animal is fighting to stay alive, traumatising the owner into thinking they’ve made a mistake having them put down. It can be disturbingly distressing misunderstanding the effect of the lethal concoction, which he neglected to explain, too.
When he returned with the “stuff” the vet had quickly prepared the injection – he’d might as well brought a gun from the Jeep and shot the dog because – unbeknownst to Crystal and Radar-Sophisticate – the vet had already given Fog the goddamn injection.
“Right, best say your goodbyes, folks,” he said. Radar-Sophisticate could see the confused, bewildered look on Crystal’s face, the trauma of losing the big dog so quickly had caught them both off guard. Fog went pretty quickly; alarmingly his eyes stayed open, another side effect of the injection – all the muscles in his body had relaxed, including the muscles in his big old eyes so they wouldn’t close. He stared deathly at Crystal Munday, his loving mistress, who was trying vainly to close them. It must have been some consolation that the last thing he saw was Crystal. As all the muscles in his body had relaxed his bladder also gave way, the poor old dog wet himself, the final, unprepared for insult and flooded the porch with everything that was left in him.
“He’s still alive!” Crystal said to the vet, panicked. “His eyes are still open! Fog?” she said shouting the poor old dog’s name.
“He’s definitely dead, it’s just a reaction,” the vet said blandly, packing away his “stuff”.
“A reaction to what?” Radar-Sophisticate asked but the vet just went right on packing. Radar tapped the vet sharply on the shoulder where he was kneeling on the ground and the vet looked up, surprised. “A reaction to what?” Radar-Sophisticate repeated, leaning close to the man and gesturing at Crystal.
Surprised to find himself having to give any explanation the vet suddenly went into some brief detail but Radar-Sophisticate could tell the man really hadn’t wanted to. He left Crystal and the big, dead dog in a pool of its own urine, Crystal crying over the dog and stroking his big head. When the vet returned he’d the nerve to look irritated Crystal was still grieving. Unfolding a canvas tarpaulin with the same mundane thoughtlessness as if he weren’t standing in a pool of dead dog urine, “If you grab his hind legs we can get him onto the tarpaulin,” he said to Radar-Sophisticate who looked at Crystal sitting forlornly in the pool of dog urine.
“I want him buried here,” she said.
“Oh, we can’t do that,” the vet said; he had the dog by his head and was trying to lift the dead weight up. “City ordinance laws, you know, city ordinance prevent that – the dog has to be cremated. Say, pal, you grab his legs? He’s quite the brute!”
The two struggled with the big dog, the stupid vet couldn’t believe how much the dead dog weighed and was struggling his side. “Jesus!” the vet said, struggling to get Fog over onto the tarpaulin.
On Radar-Sophisticate’s end the dead weight was familiarly heavy but not completely unmanageable.
“What about your son?” Radar-Sophisticate wondered as they drew up alongside the Jeep.
“Oh, we’ll just cover him with the other half of the tarpaulin,” the vet said.
“Your son?” Radar-Sophisticate asked but the man was struggling with his side, trying to get a corner of the tarpaulin to pull over the dog and didn’t hear.
“What’s that?” the boy asked, pointing at the tarpaulin.
“Wet wood,” the vet said, struggling away, sweat and other bullshit dripping off his forehead.
“Your forehead’s sweating, Daddy.”
Fog’s head appeared, suddenly lolling out of the [_canvas _]tarpaulin; without stopping the vet kneed the dog’s head back inside the tarpaulin like he was deflecting a football. There followed a brief spectacle as the vet and Radar-Sophisticate both tried to cover the dead dog; in the end Crystal had to pull it over him.
“Why are you crying?” the boy asked her as the vet was trying to hoik the tarpaulin up over the tailgate of the Jeep. It was too high for him to lift Fog onto. “For Christ’s sake!” the vet was saying, with each effort battering the poor dead dog against the tailgate. On the third attempt he managed to get it so that the dog’s head rested on the tailgate – then it lolled once more from out under the canvas.
“What’s that smell?” the boy was wondering, turning about in his seat and trying to see what was going on behind him.
The sight of the dead dog’s head was too much and Crystal suddenly said, “I don’t want him cremated, I want him buried here, with me, where he grew up.”
“City Ordinance won’t allow that, besides, he’s all wrapped up now,” the vet repeated distractedly trying to knee the dead dog in the head again and up over the tailgate. Crystal put her hand on the dog’s head, preventing the vet from kicking him.
“I asked you not to do that,” she said coldly.
“Who’s all wrapped up?” the little boy wondered, looking around for someone else.
“Please don’t do that,” Crystal told the vet. She was standing taller than him; she’d stopped crying, too.
“Holy shit, lady, I told you, you’re not allowed to bury a dog on your property!” he said and made as if to knee the dog in the head again but Crystal really stopped him this time and put her hand on his chest.
“What dog, daddy?” his boy was asking.
Radar-Sophisticate was tired of the vet and his insensitivity, even to his son – apart from kicking old Fog’s head about his son should never have been there being exposed to such peculiar parental behaviour and obtuse, morose bereavement. “You want Fog here?” he asked Crystal, who nodded; angry, Radar-Sophisticate scooped Fog up in his arms off the tailgate in one go and in doing so the tarpaulin fell, uncovering the dead dog but it couldn’t be helped. The little boy screamed at the sight as Radar-Sophisticate walked by back into the property, the massive dog’s head lolling, the dead eyes staring wistfully at the kid; even to the little boy it was obvious this was a dead dog his father was fucking around with and not a cord of wood.
“I’m in shock! I’m in shock…!” the kid began yelling crazily.
“Close your eyes!” Radar-Sophisticate shouted at the kid.
“Daddy!” the boy cried, eyes shut tight.
Crystal looked angrily at the vet. “I’m burying my dog here, at [_home. _]And it seems quite contrary to any professional standard, almost unethical, that your son’s here to witness this disturbing circus!” she said, indicating the screaming boy. “I don’t think you care, I don’t think you give a shit,” Crystal told the man about his veterinarian skills.
“Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” the boy was still screaming hysterically, eyes still shut; clearly, just like his father, he wasn’t veterinary material. He climbed into the Jeep, started it up, yelled at the kid to shut it and turned the car about dangerously in the drive. Revving the engine riskily as he pulled up alongside Crystal.
“Please refrain from using that type of language in front of my son…!” the vet yelled ridiculously.
“That type of language?” Crystal said incensed. “Are you insane! You drive about with your son in an open car and he’s not even buckled up? You expose him to your monstrous apathy and mistreat my dead dog not only in front of him but in front of me too? And you want to talk about my language? What kind of asshole vet are you!”
“Bury your dog at home – see if I care!” the vet yelled and sped off out the drive – he’d had to swerve around an oncoming car who hooted! loudly at him; clearly he didn’t care because his son was still unbuckled, but he’d left all his “stuff” behind, too, the sodium pentobarbital, some injections and other veterinary things he’d never come back for.
Back in the yard Crystal told Radar-Sophisticate where she wanted Fog buried.
“Here,” she said, indicating an area where the big old dog would sit under the fruit trees to keep out of the sun during summer and spring, he’d stare aloofly at the fruit that fell from the trees and hit the ground with a thunk! Such arrogance for even gravity. “Dig it deep,” she told Radar-Sophisticate. So he did, he was busy most of the day digging that damn hole, it must have been all of eight foot deep when he’d finished but the City Ordinance people would no doubt never dig any deeper than a few feet they were so officiously lazy he’d thought.
Crystal had had to get a ladder to get him in and out it was so deep. Then they laid the poor old dead (and recently maltreated) dog down – Crystal piled in his toys, some bones, his blanket around him. Then Radar-Sophisticate filled the hole back up; they were both still soaked in the dead dog’s urine and that night it stormed and rained heavily and Crystal held Radar tightly, her legs interlocking his thighs and pinning his legs, her arms – her grip surprising him – so tight around his neck that it had scared him. Outside in the dark night the rain poured and poured washing away the remnants of the dog embarrassingly relieving himself all over the porch.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Apart from referring to himself in the 3rd person, Chassis Albuquerque suffered from a speech defect
as a child – when he spoke, he continuously lied and to counter this habit was given a typewriter
by his parents and began to write.
“My life’s full of them, outrageous exaggerations, I write because no one believes what I say.”
Chassis Albuquerque currently lives in London with his wife and baby daughter. He is on a diet
(Low Carb) and learning Polish – this is unrelated to anything literary, he just thought to mention
Fog, A Short Story About A Dog involves very few weather phenomena and is in fact a short story about, obviously, a dog. And loss. And vets - not army vets, you know, people who have fought other people, this is about people who work with animals. Of course, thinking about it, people can be animals, too, and unless the dinosaur agrees to stage a return and take up arms, we, the most mistrustful of all the populace of earth, we are also our most heavily armed predator. Ps. Also, when I said “loss” please don’t believe the animal mentioned has vanished only to suffer some horrific fate we’ll never know, the dog’s already dead - I just wanted to be clear about that.