Friday, 8 April 2011

An Encounter

The warm air is alive with birds staking territorial claims, squawking their rights up into a pale sky turned gold and peach as the blood-orange sun dips. The man walks through chaotic clouds of midges, whistling, one hand sunk deep in his pocket, the other leading a handsome dog, a young German Shepherd, its magnificent coat still puppy-fluffy, its energy quivering like a coiled spring. Dog and master round the corner by the ancient oak, and turn onto the old drovers’ road.

They stop. Their way is blocked. A black dog, a Labrador, over-fed to barrel-like proportions stands snarling, its coat gleaming, its podgy hackled bristling. Teeth bared, it advances, growling.

The man steps back. His head turns this way and that, his eyes combing for a streak of movement that will identify an owner, but there is no one. The pup whines, and tries to slink behind his owners legs as the black dog growls and growls, edging forward. Heart hammering, the man shouts, but it makes no difference. The dog advances, locked on target.

It launches in a fury of teeth and barks. The man remembers his sturdy boots. He lashes out with his foot, but nothing deters their attacker. So the man kicks, and kicks again, his boot pounding through ample flesh to the bones below. The dog yelps, but it doesn’t stop. Anger takes over. The man kicks and kicks until the dog squeals, turns tail, and runs.

The man is panting, his face flushed scarlet and sweaty, his eyes wild. For a moment he is triumphant. Then he remembers what he learned in childhood: we don’t kick animals. He looks around, fearing, perhaps, his cross mother standing with hands dug into her hips, or an irate owner, or a crowd of horrified onlookers. But there is no one save the birds and midges. Content justice has been served, he dismisses his conscience, and carries on his way.

10 comments:

  1. I like how you have his conscience pop up at the end and then he quickly dismisses it when he doesn't get caught.

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  2. I've had the drive to kick attacking dogs before. There was a pair of bulldogs near one place we rented - they were terrible, running into the road to threaten you. I never touched them, and don't think my conscience would abate so readily as his if I had.

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  3. Lara, thank you for your comment.

    John, I'll be honest, I was driving past, and saw this happening last night. The same dog, it's one of a pair, has attacked my very own dog-of-small-brain. I didn't kick it, I was so shocked at what was happening right here in a leafy country lane, I just picked up dosb, and ran.

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  4. Your writing is full of so much description and imagery. That's an area I'd like to improve in my own writing. Very nicely done. Funny, I wouldn't have thought kicking a dog in those circumstances would be controversial.

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  5. This is so powerful, Sam! I felt my heart beating fast.

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  6. I liked the contrast between the serenity of the opening description and the viciousness of the dog attack. A lovely read.
    Adam B @revhappiness

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  7. This was incredibly powerful - I think I probably would have done the same as you Sam and high-tailed it outta there!

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  8. This is a gorgeous piece of writing, Sam. A slice of everyday life turned on it's head to be somehow evocative of greater, more important things. Very well done.

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  9. wonderful descriptions in this, it's always difficult to know what to do when a dog attacks, even though we are told it's not right to kick an animal

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  10. Thank you ever so much for all your kind comments, very much appreciated! xxx

    I think I'm guilty of looking at the incident through my own eyes, and I think Crafty sums it up beautifully when she says "it's always difficult to know what to do." I do still walk that route sometimes with dog-of-small-brain... only sometimes though!

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