Sunday, January 16, 2011

Evil as he was, I thanked him, knowing full well we would still have to contend with his vicious dogs before we reached the gate. I opened the front door and he watched us go, sitting on his throne. It was an antiseptic room. He had no hair. His skin was smooth. The dogs sniffed the ground. They began to growl. I addressed the most menacing one: “Nice puppy,” and he smiled as we eyed the gate. Another: “Hello, puppy,” with the same result. But the third made an awful sound deep in its throat. I whispered to my wife that we should continue to move ahead as slowly as we could — one sudden move, I said, and the dog would spring. All the while, I waited for him to bite my leg, wondering what it would feel like when his teeth penetrated the cloth and met the bone. But all he did was growl. The man — where had I seen him before? With my son, it was, after we’d escaped an empty factory with grain on the floor. I’d wrestled a rusted grate from its hinges and we crawled through a narrow chute until we came to a river. The water was low. We could have crossed it by stepping on the exposed rocks scattered everywhere. We came to a bend, then turned around. Where the chute had been was now a wild narrow canyon. “Flash flood,” I said. And we heard the sound.

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