Barking Dog = Night Crimes
by Cheryl Lynn Andrews
That damn dog. I hate the neighbor's dog. Yap, yap, yap. Just brainless, mindless barking. Not even real barking, but a shrill penetrating yap. Like short, sharp nails being driven directly into my skull. It has a pattern, repeated over and over, like Morse code. Yap, yap, yap …yap, yap…yap, yap, yap. Isn’t that SOS? If it doesn’t shut up, it’s going to need SOS.
It’s 2:44 in the morning, and the neighborhood is dead quiet except for that damn dog. There can’t possibly be anything out there to bark at. And why does it have to get under my bedroom window and yap? All night, every night. Ever since they moved in a week ago. Why can’t they hear it? I’m going crazy from sleep deprivation and endless torture, and they’re undoubtedly sleeping like babies. Then again, I have seen neither hide nor hair of them since that first day. It’s like they just moved in psychodog and a little furniture and then left town.
The first time I saw the dog, I almost laughed. It has to be just about the ugliest dog in the world. Only about a foot high, and a sickly cream color, like curdled milk. It’s almost bald, with little sprigs of hair sticking out at random, like some insane barber had got hold of it. You think it might have been kind of cute at one time? Like Benji cute? Naw, not a chance, that dog has always been ugly. Makes you wonder what those people were thinking to take something like that into their home. It had to be a gift from a hateful mother-in-law with a sick sense of humor. That must be why they put it out at night: they hate it too. They can’t give it away – no one would voluntarily take that beast ... but since there is no fence, maybe it would conveniently wander away. “Aw, sorry Mom. Honestly, I don’t know what happened, he just disappeared.”
You’d think it would get hoarse, or at least bored, with that monotonous, mechanical, repetitive yapping, like a wind-up toy from hell. If it was a real bark, I think I could stand it better. I was raised around dogs – real dogs that could do what dogs were meant to do, like hunting, herding or stopping a burglar -- they only barked when it was necessary. If one of them barked, you knew there was a good reason. And it was the kind of bark that would scare a burglar – not just irritate him.
Yap, yap, yap. It doesn’t even take a breath. How can it keep that up? There is nothing normal about a dog like that. It must be psychotic. Probably got a look at itself in a mirror one day. Drove it right over the edge.
3:10. I have to get up in three hours to go to work, I haven’t slept yet. I have to do something. The first few nights I tried screaming at it to shut up. It even worked for a while. Screaming seemed to startle it. Like no one had ever told it to “shut up” before. Not likely, but maybe they didn’t say it with so much enthusiasm as I did. It didn’t entirely stop the yapping, but it did slow it down enough so that I got in a nap before it started up again. Now, no amount of yelling has any effect.
I’ve always been taught not to nag at a dog. One quick, firm correction is more effective that constant nagging. If you say “no,” make sure the dog knows you mean “no!” Ookaay. It’s about time this dog understands what “shut up!” means. I’m going out there and teach that dog one quick, firm lesson and be done with it. If it sees me coming, I know it’ll run off for a while, but that’s not enough – the damn thing will just come right back. But maybe if I’m careful, I can go out the back door and slip around from behind and scare the yap right out of it.
Where are my shoes? I need to turn on the light, but I don’t want to give it any warning. If I can sneak up on it and scream right into its ratty little ear, I might be able to scare it off long enough for me to get some sleep. I’m wasting time fumbling around in the dark – forget the shoes, never mind the robe: it’s time to get this over with.
Man, it’s dark out here. Around the corner … remember the rose bush – give that plenty of room. I can’t see the dog but I can hear him just fine. It’s still yapping. Good. It’s totally unaware that I’m out here. Damn! That hurts! I stubbed my toe on the only rock in the whole yard. Not a big rock, just big enough nearly to break my toe. Hmm. Just big enough. Nice and round, about the size of my fist, about two pounds. Perfect! Even better than my original plan. If I can throw this rock close enough, I should be able to scare that yappy little monster into the next neighborhood. I’ll have to throw it hard. I don’t want to just spook this dumb dog a little bit and give it something to really bark at.
Concentrate… Aim for the yap…. Wind her up, and let her go! SHUT UP! Yapyapthunk! Yike! All right! Perfect shot! That had to have hit the ground within an inch of its ugly little nose. That dog won’t stop running ‘til it gets to Nebraska! I’ll bet next time I yell SHUT UP, that dog’s legs will start running before its ears finish hearing!
Silence. Ahh yes. I can hear my bed a-calling.
Luxurious! Wonderful! This bed has never felt so comfortable. Five minutes without a sound. I never thought pure silence could feel so peaceful. And I never realized what a good pitcher I could be (given proper inspiration). I should try out for the majors. That pitch was as close to perfect as anyone could get. And the sound of the thunk! and that simultaneous Yike! was so satisfying.
That rock probably even skinned its little nose. Oh no. Surely I didn’t actually hit the dog. I’m not that good a shot. I couldn’t have gotten that close. But that was a pretty big rock. And I did throw it about as hard as I could…
Geez! I probably killed it. I’ve never hurt anything in my life. Now I’ll go to hell for sure, and that ratty little dog will be there to torture me through eternity.
4:00. It’s so quiet. Not a sound. Dead Silence.
Now I won’t sleep for worrying about that damn dog. God, I hate that dog!
Victoria Press Fourth Issue 1998 reprinted with permission