It was the sharp pain in
my stomach that woke me out of a sound, albeit chemical,
sleep. I sat up in bed, doubled over, and took a few deep
breaths. I carefully massaged my gut, hoping it work the
pain out. For two days I felt like I had swallowed a piece
of glass, scratching the inside of my gut, just under my
right rib cage. For the most part I tried to simply ignore
it, but this morning it was clear it would no longer be
ignored. In truth I hadn’t been able to sleep for
several days either, so had taken a sleeping tablet convincing
myself a goodnight’s sleep was all I needed.
I stumbled to the bathroom to have a quick shower. Gus,
my Boston terrier, whined at the bathroom door.
“Damn it! Sorry Gus”, I called to him over the
I forgot to let him out. I showered quickly, and towelled
myself off. I would have liked to have stood under the hot
water allowing it to penetrate my sore stomach, but Gus
was now a priority. He was probably busting, and I didn’t
want him to turn to the sofa leg in desperation as he was
wont to do.
Since Jack left I was no longer organized. I couldn’t
seem to find my bearings in life whatsoever. This came as
a surprise, as I abhorred Jack. He was the last in a long
line of roommates. People who rented out my spare room for
a time, their lives intertwining with mine, but temporarily
and I was never much for small talk. I preferred my own
company, or so I thought, but it would seem that I lost
my groove since Jack left. But it was only his schedule
that was helpful. He was a nasty man, always trying it on
with me, despite me being old enough to be his mother, and
always getting into fist fights with other young men in
the area . In fact, the day before he left we had had a
nasty row, when I once again turned him down. He had called
me all sorts and actually tried to strike me, but Gus intervened
and bit him on the calf. Needless to say I was happy to
find his bags packed the next day.
Jack, despite being a complete wanker, was one of those
people you could set your watch to. He got up every day
at the same time, ate the same thing at the same time, turned
out his light every night at the same time. His sheer presence
and schedule seemed to provide me with a schedule of my
own, some predictably in my otherwise chaotic world. I created
my own strict schedule around trying to stay out of his
I am an artist. Watercolour landscapes mostly, and I have
managed to scratch a living out for myself for the most
part. The extra income from the room was an important for
me, and I realized I would soon have to post an advert for
the vacancy in Mrs. McGullicuty’s shop .
“It’s probably a bloody ulcer”, a mumbled
as I opened the back door for Gus. I checked the time, already
after nine. I switched on the kettle and called Dr. Porter
and make an appointment. Shortly after putting the phone
down it rang again and I spent some time speaking with an
elderly relative. At last I went back to the door to let
Gus in but there was no sign of him. I called out, but my
eyes fixed on the hole in the fence.
Once again Gus had wriggled his way under the dilapidated
chain-link in my backyard and had probably headed into the
woods behind my house. I was annoyed, but as much at me
for not having the fence repaired, as at him for always
taking advantage. I was worried. He had been gone at least
half an hour. If he had managed to happen upon a rabbit
he would surely give chase, possibly disorienting himself.
Of course, apart from losing the dog, my real concern was
the other creatures that inhabit the woods. Porcupine, skunk
and coyotes all call the place home, none of which would
be good for Gus to get in a tumble with.
I pulled on my wellies and trudged into the forest. It was
a light rain that day and the whole place, newly green from
the arrival of spring, had a very surreal look. It was like
looking at one of my paintings, almost too perfect. After
making my way along the path for the better part of a kilometre,
I called Gus, pausing to listen for any rustling. It was
at that time I heard water. The undergrowth had gotten quite
thick in a few short weeks. I headed in the direction of
the sound and was gifted with a little stream. Not more
than a foot wide, it followed a distinct path of its own,
parallel to the footpath I had been on. It flowed over the
smallest of rocks to make music, a soft gurgling. Despite
my urgent quest, it prompted me to pause and reflect in
My day-dream was broken by a splash. One hundred yards downstream
was Gus, busy pouncing around at the edge of the stream,
mud up to his chest. “Gus!” I admonished. He
looked up to me briefly but immediately turned his attention
s back to his task. As I approached I saw he was busy frogging,
but not being terribly successful.
I picked my way over to where Gus was having his fun. As
I bent down to clip on his lead, the pain in my stomach
became all consuming and I sank helplessly to my knees in
the mud. A loud crack of a branch nearby caused Gus and
I to turn our heads.
“The poison is taking effect I see”, Jack growled
at me from his vantage point five metres away.
I felt my throat swell and struggled to catch my breath.
Gus let out a low growl but had come to my side to see what
the matter was.
“It was the tea.” Jack was smiling now. “The
one thing I could count on was you drinking tea.”
Gus nuzzled my face as my head flopped to the mud. As hard
as I tried I couldn’t get air into my lungs. I reached
for Gus, a limp attempt at a pat on the head for a faithful
companion, and allowed my eyes to close.