Sunday, March 25, 2007


"It starts with kittens."

I say these words aloud but Merna doesn't notice and Merna doesn't look at me or my mouth as my mouth forms these words. Merna's watching the ice and the zamboni and Merna's carefully holding her little flat stomach. I stand next to Merna and lightly touch Merna's shoulder. Beyond the wide glass window the zamboni circles and the little black dog chases the zamboni. Aaron and Erik have left the ice and the ice's empty except for the little black dog and the zamboni and the security-guard tied to the zamboni and the ice's very wet and slick-looking and the dog's sliding a little and weaving and the dog's short high-pitched barks echo in the cavernous ice-skating arena. Aaron and Erik are standing behind us.

"He's okay," Aaron says.

"He's not dead," Erik says. "Just looked bad."

"Who?" I ask.

"The security-guard." Aaron points at the zamboni. "We didn't tie him tightly. He'll escape when it's important."

"What if he crashes?"

"We tied the wheel down so it'll keep circling."

Merna points at the dog. "The dog's alive." Merna says these words as though the dog's life is an important revelation so I watch the dog and the dog's long thin hairs and the dog's short shivering gait and the dog is very near the zamboni with its wide jaws wide open and little drips of dog-saliva are moving through the air toward the zamboni very isolated and clear inside a dense cloud of fog or breath.

"There's blood on your shirt," I say to Erik without looking at him.

"There is?" Erik inspects his shirt.

"Killer," Aaron says, laughing. "There's the evidence."

"Killer," I repeat.

The dog 's on the ice. The dog's sliding.

"Slide," I say.

Merna's hand's touching Merna's face.

The zamboni's circling vector-like toward the dog and the dog's slicing vector-like toward the zamboni and I feel a thick pain in my chest and in my stomach and I rub my stomach. I think, 'I should watch my stomach,' but I don't watch my stomach. I watch the dog and the zamboni and in my head map the vectors which are slowly aligning before me and I'm thinking about Merna and the little black dog and Merna's stomach which is flat and smooth and Merna's husband Noah who loves dogs and kittens and all small animals and who would be terribly disappointed and disgusted with me now, who, with his long obscenely jointed fingers, would point me out to the sad rumpled detectives and wag his jointed index finger as the sad rumpled detectives dragged my un-struggling body away.

"What the?" says Erik.

"I'm," says Aaron.

I touch the wide glass window and the wide glass window is hard and smooth and cold.

There's a dog-like sound but pitched higher in a swelling way and echoing cavernously and the dog is spinning sideways and the zamboni's moving inexorably in its inexorable vector and there's blood and sounds and the dog, now three-legged and bleedingly panicked, is still, except for a thin rapid shivering, its body pressed against the low half-wall, the ice awash in thick black dog-blood, the fourth leg loose and spinning somewhere mid-ice.

Merna's in the backseat with Aaron and the three-legged dog 's wrapped in my coat in Merna's lap. Erik's slumped in the front-passenger seat. I'm driving.

"Fuck," Erik says. "Where the fuck are we fucking going?"

Aaron stares out the window.

"Where do you fucking go with a fucking three-legged fucking dog?"

"Calm down," Aaron says.


"Panic has no utility." Aaron looks down at the dog and smiles a little smile with thin lips and no teeth. He rests his slim hand on the dog's little head. "We'll go to a veterinarian. That's what you do with dogs."

"It's practically fucking midnight. Where the fuck will find a fucking veterinarian at fucking midnight?"

"At the veterinary hosptital."

"You're fucking batty."

The security-guard was very still, except for his eyes, which fluttered wildly. His little hairy head had collapsed on his broad uniformed shoulder and his wide flat mouth was wide open with his long pink tongue sort of rolled back and jammed into his teeth. The security-guards pudgy hands were strapped to the zamboni steering-wheel with white shoe-laces and beyond the shoe-laces the hands were very pale and white and the pudgy hand's wrinkles were very taught and pronounced in their paleness.

Merna was on the ice, the dog in her arms. Aaron was laughing strangely, from a distance. Erik stared at the ice.

I had stopped the zamboni. I was reaching and I was touching the security-guards uniformed shoulder which was rough and stained and wet.

"It's bloody," Merna said. "It's an it."

"Look at this uniform," I said. "This uniform is very complicated, the stitching is very complicated, but why? I can't tell."

"I'm fucking sorry," Erik said. "I'm really fucking sorry."

Aaron was still laughing.

"It's bleeding. I should call Noah. Noah's not bleeding. Things shouldn't bleed."

"Who's Noah?" Aaron said.

I looked at Aaron and Aaron was very fat and Aaron's belly was shaking and his slim shoulders were shaking and everything was shaking so I touched the security-guard again and the security-guard moved.

"It's moving," I said.

"He," Erik said. "He's a fucking he."

"It's only a dog," Aaron says. "Dogs are amazing and friendly but they're only dogs, but dog's are survivors if your worried. I've seen three-legged dogs before, maybe five or six, three-legged dogs can be a little imbalanced but they heal and are happy, mostly."

"I have the fucking leg," Erik says.

"What are you talking about?" I say.

"I saw the fucking leg and fucking grabbed it. I thought someone might fucking need it to sew it the fuck back on for surgery or something."

"I don't think they can do that," I say.

Aaron leans toward the front-seats. "Let me see the leg," he says. Aaron puts his upturned hand between Erik and me. "I'll take care of the leg for you."

The little dog's whining in Merna's arms and Merna's weeping a little, quietly, and Merna's face is expressionless and slim and pale.

"Give me the leg."

Erik's hand slides into his pocket and Erik's hand pulls out the leg, which is a slim jointed thing very black and crusted and wet, and slowly, waveringly, places the leg in Aaron's upturned hand.

"Thank you."

"What do we do?" I ask.

Aaron rolls down his window and our warm heated air is sucked out and with his left arm, Aaron reaches outside and side-arms the little jointed leg through the snowy night-air and the little jointed leg is a flash of black beneath a streetlight and then gone. "That," Aaron answers.

"It's moving," I said again. "Look at it," I said. "Somebody do something."

The security-guard's mouth opened and closed like an automated drawbridge and the security-guard's tongue unfurled and moved in a rough way, as though the tongue were disoriented or detached somehow or possessed of its own free-will.

"Tongue," I said.

Aaron was laughing and Aaron's belly was shaking with his laughter and the laughter was low and sad with a flat quality that filtered hollowly throughout the ice-skating arena.

I touched the security-guard's cheek which was sallow and cold and the mouth continued to move drawbridge-like and the tongue and the mouth moved together and formed a word and the word was almost muffled by Aaron's laughter but the word was there and solid and I was next to the word and with my ear I savored the word and the word was: "It."

I direct the car along the snowy roads and curve with the roads and there are streetlights and little twinkle-y reflections from plastic reflectors glued to the road and the car is moving smoothly and not sliding. The radio's off and there are no sounds in the car except the low and limitless breathing of each person and each person's breathing is harsh and rasping and each person is a separate person with separate breathing and I imagine myself as a separate person with separate breathing and a separate brain with separate thoughts and I think, 'What would I think?' but my answer is only, 'You would think what you're thinking now because thought is a chemical process probably and if you were a separate you, you would still have the same chemicals.' But I doubt myself and as the car's internal-combustion engine propels the car from streetlight to streetlight, I slowly think, 'That's wrong, stupid.' I think, 'My thoughts are random and undetermined because each being is a separate being and each thought is its own thought and motivation-less.'

"Unpredictable," I say.

"Emergency room," Merna says.

"Huh?" I imagine the words 'emergency room' as a very long very straight highway that inclines slightly at a constant angle, and I can see very far beyond the horizon and beyond the horizon is this same road and in my rear-view mirror the road disappears behind me so there is no road and only a cloudy black nothing.

"Take it to the emergency room. Noah's there. Noah's working tonight. Noah will know what to do."

"Who's Noah?" Aaron asks.

"Is he a fucking veterinarian?" asks Erik. "Does he have an extra fucking leg?"

The security-guard's eyes were very wide and the security-guard's mouth was very wide and the security-guard's nose was porous and inflated and within each nostril were thick black hairs that vibrated with each deep breath of the security-guard's lungs. "It hurts," the security-guard said. "It hurts."

"Kill him already," Aaron said. "Where's your knife? He knows too much."

I watched Aaron carefully and Aaron's sinewy mouth rapidly chomped the air and when Aaron formed words each word was a short robotic thing, fashioned from minimum materials so that each air molecule had a direct and specific purpose. Aaron's hands convulsively closed into tight fists and Aaron's fists were red and hairy with little curved veins and round white knuckles.

Merna and the dog quietly whimpered.

Erik shuddered and turned his back toward me. "I can't watch," he said.

I touched the security-guard's porous nose.

"Blood on the ice," Aaron said. "Unsolved local mystery. The ice-kill-pades."

"What the hell happened?" Noah asks.

Noah's stethoscope dangles from his wide hand. His eyes are very near the little dog's little black stump.

"Can you do something?" Merna asks.

I watch Noah's obscenely jointed fingers and Noah's obscenely jointed fingers rattle together and caress the area around the little black stump and the little black stump shivers away from the fingers but Noah's fingers are persistent and investigative and calm. And Noah's fingers are long and alien and I move away from the fingers and away from Aaron and Erik who stand together behind me and who are also alien-like and distant, either too wide or too narrow with limbs that are too long or that move in a slow and sudden way so that at each moment I am startled and fearful and alone. Aaron and Erik's mouths move and there are words but I ignore the words and lay myself softly down on a narrow wood bench and watch the ceiling which is white acoustic-tile with gray fluorescent-panels and within each fluorescent-panel are three fluorescent light-tubes, each lighted dully and flickering. "I don't have to move," I say. "I could lay here forever and no one would tell me I shouldn't."

"He'll be okay," Merna says. "Noah's doing something." Merna sits near my head and touches my head. "It was an accident."

"Accident," I say. "Tomorrow," I say.


Aaron and Erik are distant and moving and I say to Merna, "Where are they going?"

"Back to the ice-rink."

"I'm sleepy."

"You're coming tomorrow, aren't you?" Merna asks. Merna's hands are caressing her belly. "You have to come."

I am chilly and sleepy and I roll onto my side and rest my arms cross-wise beneath my head which is heavy and warm and object-like and I suddenly imagine myself head-less and lightweight and I wonder if, head-less, with eyes in my shoulders or chest or something, if I could move faster and more efficiently and perhaps become some kind of bored super-hero savior.

"I don't want to be the only one," Merna says.

"What time is it?"


"It is tomorrow," I say.

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