Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Unbending

Yesterday morning on my way to work I stopped at a little park. I do not usually stop there, but yesterday I saw something strange coming towards me as I was approaching the park, and decided to stop and sit on a bench for a few minutes, to make sure I was not hallucinating.

What I had seen was a woman pushing a pram, and in the pram, on top of piles and piles of bedding, was a dog. This was a little strange, but not that strange. What was strange was the way the dog was lying on the bedding. It was lying on its side, and its legs were sticking out sideways. Straight out sideways, I mean. It was not a bendy or relaxed-looking dog.

I went into the park and sat on a bench. Then the woman turned into the park as well. I did not stare. Or at least I did stare, but I tried not to look like I was staring. I watched the dog's legs. Every time the pram went over a bump, the dog's legs bounced stiffly. I saw that its eyes were open, but did not see it blink. I did not see its eyes for very long, though, because I was not staring. It may have blinked. I could have missed it. (How often do dogs blink, anyway?)

The woman veered off course and headed straight for me, and I mentally debated whether to get up and leave. But she did not look scary. She looked fairly normal. It was her dog that did not look normal. She did not appear to be taking any notice of me.

I wanted to take a picture, but she had come too close for me to be discreet.

Then she stopped, a few metres from me, and bent down to the pram. She picked up the dog. The dog stayed in exactly the same position as she turned it over so its head was up and its back legs parallel to the ground, and then she bent over and held it in a sort of normal position for a standing dog, only a bit off the ground. I could not see what happened next. It looked as though she was holding the dog over a bush so that it could relieve itself, but did it? There was a grunting sound, and a fart. That might not have been the dog, although I thought it was. (Everybody knows women do not fart in public. It had to be the dog. Right?)

The woman took the dog over to another bush, where she went through the whole performance again, only more quickly. I could see even less this time, because the bush was between us. I only know she bent over with the dog, and said encouraging words to it. And then she went around the park, holding the dog over bushes and sometimes beside rocks, and every time she did I tried to see whether the dog actually did anything, but I couldn’t. I imagined that these were all the dog's favourite places to mark, and she was helping it to live a normal life (or death) in its extremely paralyzed and unbendy (or dead) condition, but I could not see properly. Nor was I was courageous enough to do anything about getting a closer look, or to ask about the dog's existential status. Like everybody else in the park yesterday morning, I was busy pretending that nothing was unusual.

I would be a terrible journalist.

Finally I gave up and got on my bicycle, just in time to see the woman replace the dog in the pram. Its legs stuck straight up until she pushed them down sideways. She wheeled off, and as she passed I saw the dog's face again. Did it roll its eyes, or did I imagine it? Again I did not look for long, so I cannot be sure.

The woman walked off with her pram and her unbendy dog, and I rode to work.

And that is the unsatisfactory end of the story.

5 comments:

kenju said...

Poor dog must have had a stroke. That is so weird.

Kevin B. said...

My imagined end of the story is the revelation that the dog, a long-time companion, had died quite some time ago.

Unable to part with the pet, the woman had the dog stuffed, and has continued their routine of taking the dog to the park to do "its business" there, even though there is no business for a stuffed dead dog to do.

I would call the woman quite disturbed-- but then, I'm the one who made up the scenario.

Lippy said...

Your part of town is certainly interesting - irascible-yet-chatty birds, David Bowie-like talking cats, troll fish (the type that lurk under bridges in swarms) and now, odd people carting around paralysed/dead dogs in prams.

It was her that farted y'know - the dog was just too polite to mention it...

Paula said...

You should write a short story with this as a part. It's really good!

BobCiz said...

Your story about the dog reminds me of the time my wife spent a half hour or so, while sitting on the dock at our lake cottage, talking to a duck which was floating nearby. It wasn't until Mary got up to leave that she realized that the duck hadn't moved or taken any of the usual duck maneuvers the entire time. Yeh, a decoy that had managed to get stuck in place after escaping its previous location. A sense of humor is required to live with this woman.