Title: Dog's Lament
Character: Aerin Gavriel
Location: New York, 1996
Time: 3:00 AM
There is a moment in time that I recall with haunting clarity. I do not know why the sight of it was so branded into my memory, as it seemed like I had seen such a repulsive occurrence many times before in passing. All it was, was a dog that had found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. With its back pressed against the fence, the hound fought back with what I had assumed to be a relentless fervour against its peers until they took the dog down and tore it wide. I did not know how long that corpse had been strewn there, but the chill that emanated from the coagulating fluids and crow-pecked remains told me it was not a recent event.
I found the remnants of that desperate struggle scraped against the mesh fence in an unimportant back alley far from where I should’ve been that night. Yet, when I gazed upon that figure soaked in blood, I found no other place where I possibly could be. In those bones, I saw an apparition frozen in place, staring at me with those hollow eyes while I hovered over its frame. It spoke in silent tongues with the wind that tossed the tufts of fur and assaulted the empty chest cavity, baying at my chained down essence. 'Chase the empty skies' it would say, 'fight the shackles that bind you to this enslaved earth,' like the carnal impulse to howl at the moon in the dead of night.
I knelt down beside the hound and stared deeply into those hollowed out eyes. Dare you judge me? Dare you bare your teeth at me in your glorified death? Dare you shriek your lust of freedom at the onlookers after your kin has torn those cords from your throat and your intestines from your gut? Even as your body lies helpless and as your eyes are devoured by the birds, you spit upon me in the aftermath of your violent struggle.
Oh, if only you had bowed your head to your commands; if only you listened instead of standing your ground. What brought you to such an end? What cruel curiosity brought you this far to render your head from your shoulders and the song from your lungs? If only you had stayed where you belonged and kept yourself in line, you might still be breathing the air now. Then again, a life enslaved for a cause that’s not your own, to exist to merely serve in endless torment, is not truly a life at all.
Perhaps this was your breaking point from being so obedient. Maybe this was your finest moment when you broke the chains that bound you and even death was a welcomed release. In this idea I admired the beast, for it was no longer a maimed hound, but a creature of relentless beauty and will. I could never compare myself to such a thing.
How ironic it seemed to stare down at my better heaped in a mass of its own fluids. I reached down and pulled the dog’s eyelids shut to blind it from the cruelty that fed on its chilled form in a single act of sympathy. Afterwards, I rose to my feet and flicked the half-consumed cigarette from my fingertips into the puddle beside the corpse. Soon someone would come by with a shovel and scrape the remains from the asphalt to remove the traces of what had transpired. The hound’s greatest moment would be washed away as something insignificant – to never be remembered, like the life it miserably led.
"Such is the life of a dog," I mused as I turned and walked away from the scene towards my obligated duty. Perhaps I will go out as radiantly as that great beast one day, only to have my efforts washed away like ashes to the wind. But, I doubted this as much as the earth below me. In this moment, I realized why I had closed those empty eyes. I had not done it out of sympathy, but out of personal guilt in order to hide my pathetic form from that judgmental gaze.
Do not judge me, I thought as my gaze slid to rest on the filth-strewn asphalt, for you know not the reason I serve my master.