[Being the latest in a series of excerpts from my novel, Man Bites Dog, which is currently on sale at Tomely for only 99c until 23 June 2014]
I need a plan. I need to do something. I need to either run like buggery and pretend I never saw this, or ring the doorbell and let Satan’s owner know what’s going on. I’m tempted to run, I can’t deny that that’s my favourite option, but standing here, seeing the still form of my greatest nemesis brought low, I can’t help but feel sorry for him. The Dalai Lama said that our enemies help us to define ourselves, and that we should love them for it, but I pretty much only ever hated this dog. Until now. Now I’m not so sure. The only thing I am sure of is that this little scenario is doing a real number on my head and I’m quoting the Dalai Lama and it’s a dead dog, for god’s sake, that’s all, just a dead dog, so why am I freaking out so badly?
I close my eyes and take a deep breath. When I open my eyes again Satan is still there, his fur a little damp from the morning dew. I turn and walk up to the front door. My greatest nemesis brought low—where did that one come from? Mum was right, I definitely read too many comics when I was younger. I press the doorbell. I hear soft footsteps, then the door opens to reveal a four-and-a-half-foot-tall elderly woman. According to the envelope I’ve just stuffed in her mailbox, this must be Mrs Fraser. Mrs A. Fraser, known in certain circles as she-who-breeds-monsters-and-who-furthermore-ignores-complaints-about-said-monsters-attacking-official-representatives-of-Australia-Post. In real life she doesn’t look much like a monster- breeder. She’s wearing a lavender-grey cardigan pulled close around her shoulders. Her hair is silvery white. She’d make a great poster girl for lovely old ladies everywhere. She looks up at me with steel-grey eyes.
‘Yea?’ Her accent is broadly Scottish.
I smile in what I hope is a confidence-inspiring manner. ‘Um, hi. I’m the guy who delivers your mail.’ I’m trying to sound calm and respectful, but I’m coming across as nervous and stupid.
‘Well, I was just putting your mail in the box.’
She peers around me, looking to see what’s wrong with the box, I suppose, and then squints back up at me.
I’m getting a big Robbie Coltrane vibe. I look down, trying not to smile at the vision of Robbie dressed as a nun that’s just popped into my head. This is not a smiling occasion.
‘Well, I noticed that there was something wrong with your dog . . .’
She leans out of the doorway, and when she sees Satan lying on the couch she cries out, pushes past me, and runs over to her dog’s body. ‘Gavin! Mah wee bebeh! What’s wrong wi’ ye?’
Gavin? What kind of a name for a dog is ‘Gavin’? I suppose it’s Scottish-sounding. Maybe she named him after her husband.
Mrs Fraser rests her hand under Satan’s—Gavin’s—muzzle and bends down, lifting his face to hers. There’s no response. Obviously. I stare helplessly as she rests her head against Satan’s—that is to say, Gavin’s—face and starts to cry.
The sound of her crying snaps me out of it and I take a step forward. ‘If there’s anything I can do to help . . .’
She straightens up. Her face is red, but she doesn’t look sad. She looks pissed off. ‘YOU did this to him!’ she screams.
I’m stunned. I frown. I open my mouth to say something, but all that comes out is a meek yelp. ‘What?’
She takes a step towards me and points a bony finger. ‘I know what you did! You HATED mah bebeh! I’ve seen you feed him in the mornings, always ruining his appetite for lunch! But that wasn’t enough for ye, was it? No, OH no! Ye had to go further. YOU POISONED HIM WITH YOUR CHICKEN! YOU KILLED MAH BEBEH!’
I back away, off the veranda and down the garden path. Lunch? She fed him lunch? What did she feed him? Ex-politicians? Dole bludgers? She follows, shaking her fist at me. ‘YOU MURDERED HIM!
MURDERER! MURDERER!’ This woman has officially moved beyond distraught and into insane. I turn around, jump the gate and scramble onto my bike. ‘Look, I know this must be a difficult time for you right now, but I swear I just found him like that,’ I say, adopting what I hope is a conciliatory tone.
‘LIAR!’ She’s standing at her gate now. Her face is bright pink and she’s spitting a little when she yells.
I flinch and pedal away. ‘YOU HAVEN’T HEARD THE LAST OF THIS!’ she screams at me. I turn to see her standing out the front of her place, shaking her little fist in the air.
Stay tuned for further excerpts from Man Bites Dog, or buy a copy from Tomely for only 99c and read the whole thing for yourself.