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It’s A Dog’s Life … And Eventual Death

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(image) http://www.blessedquietness.com/pets_in_heaven02.gif

I have spent some portions of my life house-and-pet sitting. Always enjoyed it. And there are certainly tails to tell.

One such dog-sit was with Tibbit, a great, friendly dog. She just passed on to a more comfortable afterlife this week, leaving nothing but fond memories on my part. We shared this following episode a few years ago. I’ll share again in her memory.

*********************************

 

This past weekend I looked after a dog whilst her owners went out of town.

Tibbit is a big, friendly dawg who likes inspecting piles of leaves. She has a long lead which her benevolent human allows to go as far as possible. She knows (better than her accompanying human) that there are treats at the end of each walk.

On Saturday I didn’t get Tibbit out until after dark. We skirted the university (where her masters work) and went up a street bordering the campus. We both liked the Christmas lights. Near the top of the street we met an inebriated gentleman warning us of a bear in the surrounding woods.

“Flush him out,” said he, “And I’ll get my 3 aught 3.”

“Get the rifle first,” I replied, and we went our respective ways.

Now Tibbit and I doubted the veracity of the gentleman, so when we came to a trail through the woods, we took it. I will admit I did peer more intently into the gloom than usual, but one trail led to a larger trail which led back to the university. We advanced without incident.

On Sunday I again walked Tibbit toward the university, though from a different direction. It was a crisp, clear day and she gamboled (as much as the leash allowed ) through the new fallen snow. Sunshine gleamed. This time we were on the other side of the campus, but our walk eventually led to a position about half a mile away from where we were the previous evening.

We followed another trail into the woods and admired the sun through the fir trees. The path was wide and sloped. It came to turn some distance away which would lead us even closer to where we were the day before.

At the top of the slope Tibbit stopped dead in her tracks. She stared and stared. She glanced briefly into the woods but mainly kept staring along the trail. I saw nothing nor heard anything (and I was intent upon both).

Tibbit did not move and made not a sound. She just kept staring.

After a solid two minutes of this I started to backtrack and she made no complaint.

You betcha she got her dog treats.

DE

Dream Of Death And Ghosts [from “Kafka In The Castle”]

21 March 1917

Dreamed I was standing in a balcony with him. In a town in Northern Italy. We could see across the rooftops, to a plain slipping gently toward the foothills of the mountains. The day was clear – a cool spring morning – and the touch of sun was welcome on our skin.

He pointed to a laden waggon passing beneath us. A curtain of dust rose from its wheels as it squeezed through a narrow lane. We watched it for awhile, then he turned to me, his body a silhouette against the vivid sky.

“I enjoyed my funeral. I wish we could have talked about it after – it was one of those things to share.”

“We did share it,” I pointed out. “I was there.”

“But I was not,” he said.

Then he eased himself over the balcony, and without effort, we were sitting in the back of the waggon, perched upon boxes and equipment. We rattled out of the village toward the countryside.

“I loved the outdoors,” he said. “I still remember my last walk in the fields.”

We moved slowly through the country side, the waggon rarely being jostled along the rutted road. The teamster must have been an expert, but he never turned his face to us. Intent upon his business, I suppose.

“You forget that I am dead; for which I thank you.”

“Sometimes I do,” I replied.

“It is at those times, I sometimes think I’m still alive.”

He occasionally pointed to things behind me. Once there was a rabbit. The countryside spread endlessly, without another person in sight. I mentioned this, and he nodded.

“It will be crowded at our destination. But I’ll want to meet my wife.” He then leaned toward me, across the waggon. “You helped me, you know – in our final dance.” He smiled, then sighed, then pointed beneath me.   “My destination is close, I must return.”

I looked down, and saw I was sitting on a coffin – the polished brown one of his funeral. I moved, then bent over, prepared to open it. His fingers touched the wood beneath my hand.

“No. Do not look. You would not like what you found.” His smile seemed forced, there were more teeth showing than usual. “I embrace my new world. But for you, I am well and truly dead.”

DE

(image) http://machedavvero.it/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/valletta11.jpg

When Your Neighbours Are Murderers

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Recently, for an out-of-town guest, I was asked to recount these tales from some years ago. So why not share the wealth.

As fodder for a writer, I have had the good luck to have two murderers as neighbours. Well . . . almost. One committed his murder a month before he was to move in, the other committed his murder years after he moved out. But, still – it’s the spirit of the intent.

Murderer Two lived in the apartment directly across the hall from me many a long year ago, and committed his murder last year. With a knife. The other murderer used a knife, also. Small world.

While living across the hall from me, Murderer Two was often a cause of disruption. He was prone to parties with unruly and uncontrollable guests. I arrived home one afternoon to an event of screaming proportions occurring across the hall. I was within minutes of phoning the police when someone else did so. Police cars and vans appeared on the street and in the driveway. Ten to a dozen officers entered the raucous apartment. People in various states of inebriation and addiction were taken away. Murderer Two was found hiding in his closet. He did not return.

Last year Murderer Two was charged with the murder of his room mate. No party, though they were both drunk. He claimed self-defence, though the victim was stabbed twelve times. It was established stab number nine was the death blow. He was found guilty of second-degree murder.

Murderer One was a month away from moving into the apartment across the hall from me. He was going to replace one of the occupants moving out. One evening however, he visited the apartment past mid-night. He arrived in a taxi. He had a dispute with the taxi driver (over what, was never clear, but probably lack of payment). From the back seat he slit the driver’s throat and fled the scene. A couple of hours later other drivers of the taxi company were searching for him. His cab was spotted at two in the morning. The engine was still running.

I awoke at six to the sound of a huge engine on the city street. I looked out my front window and saw a police mobile investigation vehicle, engine running. Police cars and vans and an ambulance and a fire department vehicle were all present. Out my back window – in the driveway, was a taxi, police officers, and a body under a tarpaulin. The man had been killed four or five metres from me. I had heard nothing. The investigation took hours at the scene. The body remained. Mid-afternoon it was removed. The taxi was towed away. The fire truck was used to hose away the blood.

I had seen the murderer a few times before, visiting his friends next door. He was arrested in a restaurant kitchen where he worked as a cook. He reportedly had been drunk, had problems with a girl friend. But the exact reasons he was there that night, or why he murdered, were not revealed. He also was found guilty and sent to penitentiary.

II no longer live in that apartment house – but not by choice. It caught fire and was eventually torn down.

DE

(image) https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/b2/63/98/b26398bb7be81c0e3a6149a31ac129ae.jpg

Crime And Murder -Scenes From “Darkroom” ~ Fade In:

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I was going through my Dropbox files last week and came across a great surprise. It was a file that, initially, I thought I must have mistitled. But, when I opened it …

… there was a movie script I had adapted from one of my novels. Not the screenplay I knew I had made from another novel, but a whole different one. I am equally surprised by the fact that I did it, and the fact that I have forgotten it. It would have been at least six months of work. WTF

It is called Darkroom, and is about my psychopathic serial killer, Norman. The other is a horror screenplay is based on a portion of one one of my Satan novels. Perhaps I think of horror as a more visual medium.

At any rate, I think I’ll share a portion or two  – or a few – of Darkroom.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

FADE IN:

EXT. CITY STREET – NIGHT

EXT. RUNDOWN THREE STORY MANSION – NIGHT

EXT. LARGE LIT SIGN FACING SIDEWALK – NIGHT

SIGN
Rooms – Week/Month

EXT.ENTRANCE TO ROOMING HOUSE – NIGHT

A Dozen Burly Men crowd through the front door.

INT. STAIRWELL – NIGHT

The Men laugh and roughhouse as they go up the stairs.

INT. STAIRWELL LANDING – NIGHT

The men jostle each other and laugh. A couple wrestle and one
pretends to push another over the railing.

INT. HEAD OF STAIRS – NIGHT

A LAUGHING MAN puts a key in the first door they come to. As it
opens he puts a finger to his lips.

LAUGHING MAN
Shh! It’s my turn to do it.

INT. HALLWAY – NIGHT

The Laughing Man creeps along the hall and stops at the door on
the end. He looks back at the Other Men and giggles. He pounds
and kicks on the door.

LAUGHING MAN

We’re back for another week, Normie.
Did you miss us?

INT. HEAD OF STAIRS – NIGHT

The men crowd into a large room with many beds. The Laughing Man
closes the door behind them.

INT. LARGE ROOM – NIGHT

The Men waste no time getting ready for bed. The Laughing Man beckons

three others to him. Together they pound on the wall.

LAUGHING MAN
Sweet dreams, Adolf.

The Laughing Man stands at attention and gives the Nazi salute to the wall.
The Other Men hoot and holler.

DE

(image) http://67.media.tumblr.com/29eb47a1ae85b7037aa3fbdb4067b595/tumblr_nee4d4Nleu1r0d65jo1_500.jpg

Kafka Sweeps Away Dust, Gold And War [from: Kafka In The Castle]

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27 November 1916

Should I comment upon my unique and strange surroundings – this tiny house of Ottla’s. Not shared with a fiancée, but a sister. This place would not do for Felice, it is too small and too spare and too far from the heart of the city. But I feel secure against the winter. Up here in the castle.

As with all the tiny houses on Alchemist Lane, this one has its history of the quest for gold. Thus I fit right in, for I am after such purity.

 

17 December 1916

Although Ottla seems content with just her Sunday afternoons in this tiny house, I was careful to make certain no one was here before I entered. Since the Alchemist Lane ends in a stone wall, all who enter have to return the way they came. How awkward. Ottla would just smile and ask after my health, it is I who would look at my feet. My love affair of letters would blush on such sure ground. But, we did not pass.

This place is of course a fantasy, a burrow in which to hide through these winter months. It’s barely big enough to bury a man properly, yet before Ottla moved in, a family of eleven crammed their lives into it. Knowing how fortunate I am in this world never seems to help in mine. I thought I might leave both worlds, with the help of the army. Friends and family have told me how grateful I should be that I am unable to join. My official dispensation because I am indispensable to the bureaucracy of the Empire. F. looked upon me in disbelief when I told her I would try again to enlist. Perhaps I can gather the spirits of the necromancers who have lived on this lane to assist me.

 

18 December 1916

I could, with my broom, sweep away the glory of war. It is less than the dust of this tiny house.

DE

(image) http://www.remodelista.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/objects-of-use-chinese-broom-Remodelista-518×600.jpg

Franz Kafka Turns Words To Gold On The Golden Lane

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[Kafka’s house on The Golden Lane]

A burrow offers security and comfort.  Kafka found both in his sister’s tiny house on the Golden Lane.

The Golden Lane is a narrow, dead-end yet massively historic lane, hugging an interior wall of the huge Prague Castle. Centuries ago the small buildings along the lane housed workers of the Castle, including some resident alchemists. Thus the name.

Ottla – Kafka’s sister – had rented it so she could spend time with her lover, and not be bothered by parents and comments. Her lover was not only a Christian, but he was soon going to leave to fight in World War I. Time was precious. However, she rarely had opportunities to use it other than the weekends, so she offered Franz the use of the tiny house for most of the time. And use it he did, though he never stayed the night.

Through fall, winter and spring Kafka wrote a whole book of short stories there. For a single block of time, it was one of his most creative periods.

When I visited, under the Communist rule of the time, it had been converted to a book store. Of course (which he would have appreciated) there were no books by Kafka for sale. Today he is displayed in the windows.

It was only when I went thorough the small rooms, and looked out the window into The Stag Moat, that I realized how important the house would become in Kafka In The Castle, my novel about Kafka. It was cozy – even with the space cramped by tourists. It had been little altered. I could easily imagine Kafka looking through the same glass and walking through the same doorways. No doubt stooping because he was tall. Research met reality.

One of the last stories Kafka wrote, during his final year in Berlin, was called The Burrow. A version exists and is published, though a longer version is supposed to be among his ‘missing’ papers. In it a tiny animal keeps incessantly burrowing to keep away from an enemy. A vague noise convinces the animal to burrow deeper. Yup – that’s Kafka.

DE

(image) https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2645/3848764367_a7b9e65ed5_o.jpg

A Door To Open / A Guest To Greet

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The first claw was so faint upon the door he barely raised an eye from the page. It could have been the wind – it sounded almost like the wind. Wind at other time,s and in other places, might blow such a sound – but not this night. As his thoughts returned to what lay before him, the tiny scrabble, hesitant at floor level, moved slightly to the right, aligning itself more closely to the doorknob.

 ****

The noise skittered up the wood, almost a metallic sound. His head swivelled toward the door.  The first thought he had was for the paint. Then he could sense, by the sound alone, the movement was groping in the dark, that it was unsure of where it was. He closed the book on his lap, still keeping his place with a finger. His eyes remained fixed on the door. He thought he saw the light of his lamp glint off something through the keyhole.

  ****

The doorknob twitched, a slight movement counterclockwise.  Then a brief turn clockwise. He let the book slide down the side of his chair as he put his hand into a pocket. He felt the key between his fingers. He held it tightly. There was more fumbling with the knob, muffled sounds as if a grip was hard to get. The knob turned once more, and then the pressure on the outside was released. He could hear shuffling against the wood. Then he saw, through the keyhole, light reflecting off a muddy iris.

  ****

He stared back through the keyhole, only to see the eye blink and move slowly away. He started to rise from his chair, but was stopped by a thump near the floor, as if a clumsy foot had bumped the wood by mistake. He realised that all the sounds he heard seemed fuddled and uncoordinated. The doorknob was once again twisted, but the motion seemed to lack an ability to grasp. He was wondering whether to turn out the lamp, when a hesitant, hollow knock came upon the door.

(image) http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/blue-door-keyhole-27445.jpg

DE

Classical Music Shakes The Child

Fortissimo

As a child, sometime before Grade One, I encountered a radio/gramophone combination that frightened the music right out of me.

I assume I must have heard the radio before. And I would think I had heard music before. But maybe not to this degree. And certainly not in such volume.

My visual memory is of the odd configuration to the house. We lived in a flat over a commercial garage. There had to be a number of rooms, but I only remember two large connected rooms, going the length of the house. They were each elongated as it was, and were the stuff of apprehension at the best of times. At dusk, or in the evening, there was the feeling of entering some other world. Not a forest perhaps, but a place of shadows where animals and other assorted unpleasant surprises could stalk my passage. And then – presumably – they could leap out, regardless of how carefully one manoeuvred through the gloom. I don’t know if I ever told my parents of this gauntlet I had to face at certain times of the day. But it certainly gave me pause at the best of times. And dusk was not the best of times. Or a weekend family get together after supper. Which is what I believe this was.

I know I was part way through one of the rooms, and getting ready to enter the other. There was still a distance to walk when a loud noise filled the air. I was frightened, but did not run or duck. I froze. It was music. It would not have been an unknown sound, so that is probably why I did not flee.

However, it was music as I had never heard it. I peered the length of the second room, but saw nothing different. I saw my parents seated – as they often were – beside the radio. They were obviously happy and not frightened by the ‘noise’. I was both stock-still and confused. Since they were not troubled I decided to run to them.

I don’t know if the music was in some manner explained to me (I presume it would have been). What they were listening to was an LP of orchestral classical music. My knowledge now makes me imagine it was something wonderfully bombastic by Tchaikovsky. I presume they might have been playing it louder than their usual radio programs. But it made a stirring impression on me, lasting decades.

DE

(image)

Budapest Classical Music Concerts

Death Masks and Death

Bliss Carman, whose death mask it was, and who supplies an appropriate quote.
Bliss Carman, whose death mask it was, and who supplies an appropriate quote.

I took advantage, for my workshop on the Supernatural, to take my students on a field trip to see the death mask of a historically known poet, conveniently placed in a near-by building.

None of them had even heard of ‘death masks’, let alone seen one. I invited them to incorporate the idea of a death mask into their writing exercises. Some did, some did not. However,  it’s possible this visit to death elicited the following story from one of my students. If any do take a look here, they’ll see that I said what I meant about writers stealing all and sundry.

My student and her husband had purchased a new house. Cleaning and renovations eventually took them to the back loft area, which was piled high with decades of accumulated detritus from a long life. They cleared out beds and boxes and newspaper piles and magazines and bundles of clothes and on and on. Anyone who has had to clear out a house knows what this is like.

Near the end of this process, my student noticed a “clump of something” on one of the wooden beams in the ceiling of the loft. Getting ladder and flashlight, her husband climbed to see what it was.  He did not nearly fall from the ladder – that’s hyperbole – but he was definitely taken aback. It was the end of a number of knotted bed sheets.

DE

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