First came the story of a boy and his Plank. Then we all played House. Now the party’s over. Please put your chairs up on the tables before you leave.
Have you ever stopped to wonder how dogs with recumbent ears tend to hear the world? Clap a seashell to your head. I won’t say I hear the ocean, because I’ve never been there. But a waterfall, yes. It takes the edge off all but the harshest sounds.
So there I am, lying in my usual corner with nothing better to do than worry an old rag, when the shed door bangs. A moment later, a piercing whine that cuts right through that hush, as if all of a sudden my heart had stopped pumping blood.
It’s like a hornet made of metal, and almost as painful. Sawdust burns my nostrils, and something else: rage. Or so I would guess from context. It’s a potent odor, known to almost all animals (including some humans), but it’s impossible to distinguish from the stench of fear.
I raise my head cautiously above the woodpile. His face is a study in concentration – the same way he looks whenever he’s drawing something. But how did he learn to operate his father’s radial arm saw like that? Again and again he pushes the screaming wheel into the wood. Scraps of paper swirl over the shed floor, bearing the remains of an open mouth, a shocked eyebrow.
You might wonder what an inanimate being could have done to provoke such fury. My guess is nothing – though it did have its share of splinters. It’s just that it’s the bottom dog, and so it has to pay for whatever the alpha male or female might have dished out.
The boy’s jaw is set, but his eyes have begun to get watery, and it can’t be too long until he shuts off the saw – or until someone hears it and comes running over from the house. Keeping to the shadows, I slink around toward the door. With Plank gone, I’ll really have to watch my step.