Fred died tonight.
We rescued him from a family that was calling him Bocephus...Hank Williams Jr...of course, we took one look at him and said there is no way this bassett hound....this big lumbering short legged hound dog with ears that hadn't gotten the memo yet and were still long enough to stir the dust and waft the scent up to that CSI Superfly Noze of his. You see, bassetts are according to legend bred from full sized blue tic hound with a Dachsund or some dog with short legs. They are short, but still are classified with the big dogs.
We both took one look at him and as soon as we drove away from the family that had to get rid of him because of a landlord we looked at each other and said, "There is no way in hell this dog is going to be able to pull off Bosephus. I can't remember which one of us came up with it but the name, once spoken aloud was his and his forever and that was...
We brought him home seven or eight years ago and we weren't sure how old he was then. We put the dogs out to potty after we came back to the house soaked by the rain this afternoon. He went out. About 6 30 we went to call them in...Ginger, our rescue hound, came in but no Fred.
My wife went around the corner from the back door of our house and there, against the brick curb of the side entrance, was Fred dying.
You who have never had pets are chickenshit bastards, Pussies. You have no frigging idea what love and grief and pain is all about.
You've never given youself away.
Everybody holds back.
It's like we're playing this freakin' game but it isn't a game, it's real. But we think it's a game where the more you hold back of yourself the more...the more power?...you have...over who, that's the whole question.
It's all about power. All about telling the story so well that the fantasy you have crafted out of the stream, the river of consciousness that is the flow of the human race and, most importantly, current of our culture...the United States.
Crazy how we hold back.
Fred was lying, gasping for breath, his eyes blown wide with death, a stroke, a heart attack...something that was quick and final because I think we both knew as soon as we saw him this was it, that he was going to die.
So we sat in the backseat of our neighbor's car...a good Christian woman...seriously, a good one and I don't say that lightly...gave us a ride to the vet...
Fred died on the way to the vet in my wife's arms with me rubbing his belly and each of us telling him what a good boy he was and how if he needed to go we'd understand and it was ok...
And he died.
I pulled up to the back door and went to the front and there were two people in front of me and one person sitting with a kitty carrier and a little girl too young...far too young. My wife is in the parking lot with Fred dead and the rain pouring down and fogging her eyes and spraying like the tears you never dared admit were there...
I stood in line. I mean there was this little girl with her mom and kitty in a carrier. Was I shout out over everyone else: "My fucking dog is dead and he's out back in the rain and we need someone to bring him inside..."
And I knew I couldn't say that in front of the little girl.
What could I have said to her?
Yes, death is real. And, yes, when you die you cease to exist there is no eternal life because, frankly, the Powers That Be say Fuck him!
Death should not make you afraid. People who would use fear to sway and governor your reactions and your decisions here, right here, in the real world...are leaches. You have to kill them and rid yourself of their clinging corpse if you want to go on...if you want to wake up on the cliffs edge with the tawney wheat spread round you and the chaff and wheat blowing up and over your face as your small, tight little hands crush.
Freedom is when we feel ourselves rubbing up against each other like frog eggs clinging to the reeds in a pond. Freedom is giving up the safety of the herd. The 'herd mentality' but that makes it all go away.
Only it doesn't just go away, now does it?
Fred is dead. Yeah, right. It rhymes, go ahead write a poem around it. I'm a big fan of Poe and believe that literature has as it's primary motivation shocking and flummoxing the middle to upper classes.
You can blow bubbles all you want.
Truth is you can't make it from here to where you are and back again.
My dog is dead.
Fred is dead...and there's nothing at all funny about it.
He died on the way to the vets. We found him laying at the step to the side entrance.
We scooped him up in a car...yes, driven by a Christian lady...and off to the vets.
He died in the back seat with my wife and I holding him rubbing him and telling him he was a good dog.
It is nauseatingly upsetting when you lose an animal that had been part of your life so long that having him ripped away in the course of less than two hours...
What's worse...worse than my grief for my loss of my dog...I find myself ignoring the best advice I've ever gotten since I became an atheist:
When you're on the Ladder
don't look up
if you look up
it's nothing but assholes
as far as you can see
but if you look down...
you will see there are children starving to death or allowed to die of perfectly cureable maladies if you had access to the right vaccines.
You see their eyes staring up at you with hope...
Hope is for suckers.
The truth is the pyramid is made of people...naked people writhing against each other, contorting and slitthery sweating a sleeze of you own designing.
After all, that's what freedom is all about.
To take a stand. To say 'this is more important than me having a career in business or in the academic world.
To risk something...not for power or money or advantage...but because you just want to. Don't overthink, just let what ever happens and then you pay for everybodies good time and that's that.
Yeah, I wish we could all be ballerinas and astronauts. Put I don't have time to wait for that lucky combination to come rolling round again.
You gotta dance with them that brung you.
I was doing OK until I had to tell the two other dogs...Ginger, our rescue hound and Suki...a Terrier Mix with sewing machine teeth, that Fred was not coming back. I let the two of them smell the blankets Fred died wrapped him...thought they could figure it out from the smells than my attempts at communication.
When we came back from the vet haveing left his body behind for disposal. It is against the law in our small West Virginia to bury animals in your own back yard. Hell, if the chamber of commerce knew how many dead cats I've got buried around here they would shit.
My wife was across the street talking to a neighbor who had just stuff money in her hand and said
"Here" and had the other two in the house by myself and...
OK, no big emotional fireworks. They sniffed Freds death shroud...Ginger curled up and laid down on the blanket and slept for the lonest time and Suki...well, I'm worried about Suki. I don't how she's going to take it.
The lady driving us to the vet and back was Christian. So I just fell back into the Christian patoi knowing that's what she expected. My wife and I are atheists, but when in Rome...
I remember at one point saying:
"Well, you can't argue with God!"
She agreed with that...I don't think she understand what I meant....but she's a nice lady and until she comes and burns a big A on my front lawn then I'm just going to ignore her being a Christian just as sure as I am that she suspects my beliefs are not even remotely similar to mine.
I remember when we were having a yard sale and I had books lined up on the porch railing all around the house...they say I'm a Bibliophile but I swear I have never had sex with a book...not even one...and, no, no playboy foldouts either. The Christian lady who ran us to the vet because Fred was in the back seat dying was up on my porch looking at all these various books...and I mean everything from Buckland's Compete to Dawkins The God Delusion.
She was picking up some Stephen King books I no longer needed. I'm trying to keep a full set of the Dark Tower Series just because it was two summers ago when, after subsisting on the dry grainery of non-fiction...so I took a break and I read the Gunslinger novels all the way through.
She was commenting on the reach of my interests in my reading material and I told her, I told his Christian lady, that
"I didn't think a man who ends up believing at the end of his life
the same thing he believed at the beginning of his life
has lived much of a life."
She nodded and said "You know, I've never thought about it like that."
I mean to say, she is a Christian...but she's the kind of sweet, baby-face sort who is just so damned cute you finding yourself wanting to tell her you do believe in God even though you don't. I've been to church after church. There's always a woman like my neighbor in their congregation. She's often a little, slightly aged and tattered, sex pot as well...let's just say she was a woman who had the laying on of hands many...many...perhaps too many...times.
I know the different roles people play. The woman who comes down front every service to get her sins forgiven or her demons exorcised. Truth is those sins weren't exacltly being confessed any more...no, no...now they're being bragged about.
I loved Fred. You the type who wants to snicker at the idea of a man loving his dog? If you are, if you've got that hard of stone for a heart, then you aren't worth the oxygen you breathe or the space you take up.
Fred died in the best way possible. In my wife's arms with me beside her rubbing his belly. Better than any of that 'put him down' bullshit. Fred had the dignity...and I know I'm talking crazy here and I don't give a fuck because my dog just died and I'm trying to cope with what that means and how I'm supposed to go on with my life...
...so, like, give me a little time.
Not real time.
I have to keep writing till it's over.
If you don't understand that compulsion then you're just a journalist and not a writer at all.
I can't stop until I've got it all.
How many of you out there know?
How many of you know what it feels like to lose a pet...a dog...a big 'thumping dog'...the kind you could thump on the rib cage and it would sound all hollow and resonant.
A dog you slept with...in the same room with...for nearly ten years.
Not only that, the Bassett Hound.
When I asked my wife to marry me almost 25 years ago now...strange thing was I knew I want to marry her and grow old with her...and we both agreed on that...
Now we are actually getting older with each other, we're beginning to see with made a serious mistake.
I'm serious, you think I'm joking? I'm serious as a heart attack.
You need to go out there and find someone you want to grow old with and someone who wants to grow old with you...
In the end it's all about growing older. Everyone is growing older at the same pace so everyone stays relative to the same age of ...well...relatives.
Today Fred died.
When I asked my wife to marry me I told her I had three hundred dollars and I could get her either an engagement ring or a bassett hound pup. She didn't hesitate. She chose the puppy.
Every sense then we've had a bassett hound in the house. After Cleo died we've had a series of pups and older dogs...Fred was an older dog...
She was our engagement dog. She was the heir apparent to the righteous line coming down from Queen Cleopatra...a true bassetts assett. She was the bond and seal of our marriage.
Of course, we're going to have to get another bassett. I don't think my wife has figured that out yet...but Fred was the ruling 'engagement puppy' and we can not not have a bassett and I know you all can just snear at me and call me stupid but the truth is we've always had a bassett hound in the house and, even though the strain of adding another will be onerous financially and emotionally...I'm really seriously greiving.
Out first bassett hound was Cleopatra. Cleo lasted a long time and her passing was another of those major events in our lives.
Superstition. Emotional. Delusional. Insatiable. Falsifiable?
All religion is superstition. Religion is superstition made profitable and marketed to the masses.
And Fred died tonight...
You understand, my dog, my Fred...
He was alive this afternoon when I came home from work around 5 oclock and Fred was dead by 7 oclock.
I don't like death...no, seriously, these goth types that act like they love death and haven't a clue about what they really talking about doing. They're fools. Sucking blood will not give you immortality. However the good news is what ever virus you suck down and swallow the acids in your stomach will kill.
Don't take my word for it, find somebody who knows what he is talking about.
So here I am in the backseat...we are...late fifties and early sixties aging hippies and/or disco dancers...she is, I just like to watch...
And there's Fred draped across us, with her blue blankie and clap trap quilt
You pet him, you rub him, you tell him he's a good dog...
And as he struggles for his last breath you hold him tight and let him go at the same time.
And there is no way I can tell you how that feels...can portray to you this death?...
Be glad I do not cut your throat
for having the balls to ask me such a thing
What can I say about Fred?
I never really thought until right now, at this moment...shows you how dense us creative types can be...Fred...the name...always reminds me as Fred MacMurtry from My 3 Sons. Nobody smoked a pipe like Fred McMurtry.
well that's about it
that's all I intended to do
sorry if it isn't long enough for you
(God, how many times have I said that)