I promised SEX and DEATH, and you're going to get it. To be sure, I don't know if anyone will actually die (maybe I'll have to rehash that Lumbar the cat scene again), but there is actual bloody violence as well as a lot of more-traditionally-human conflicts. I know Zelma is the obvious choice for having a character get killed off, she being so old and representative of the future of My Love. To have her die would probably (still speaking in the realm of symbolism) be a cleansing experience, allow me to distance myself from my worshipped Object, to assert my ambivalence towards Her, and thereby regain some of my independence, my strength, and my ability to find charm and enjoyment in Her presence to the extent I was able before Him and the other matters on which We conflict became permanent presences within our dealings. I really really don't want Zelma to die though, in this book or especially in real life, which is why I haven't characterized her much beyond that initial introduction. I've witnessed so many cheezy formulaic dramas that I know that if Zelma were set up extensively as the matriarchal figure, then she would have to die to bring Us further together, send the DOGS their separate ways to who knows where (probably the pound, and death), and set a turning point in the tone of the plot. No, no, no! Zelma will not be a puppet for this drama... besides, I've got some incidents here that can perform the same function. The first will be symbolic of the main conflict to as to get you all worked up, and the second will be directly about this conflict (the love triangle thang, of course).
Now as usual, I want to get you wildly enthralled, or horrified, or however you're supposed to get when confronted by large-scale violence, but I don't want to underhandedly manipulate you into feeling this way, and I wouldn't know how to do so even if I did want to. Constructing a really effective vile-fest seems to me much harder than writing an erotica script, as people's triggers for the appropriate reactions aren't as obvious, seeing how simultaneously desensitized and sheltered from the whole thing most of us in these here rich and developed countries are. On the one hand I find extensive special effects depicting oozing carcasses covered in maggots with personality disorders pretty entertaining, but on the other hand, such "horror" movies are not in the least bit actually terrifying (at least to me) unless they involve actual household appliances in the act of mutilating one's hands or eyes... or insects burrowing under one's skin and giving birth. And even in these cases, the reaction is not one of spiritual anguish but a somewhat surface-level "Ewwww" that produces only repeated flinchings by and toward the imaginatively-injured area. So I guess I could try to produce this reaction, but to do so I would have to tap into your immediate physical revulsions, as surely actual maggotty carcasses would do, but which descriptions usually fall short of for we the media-desensitized.
So I will probably have less success doing this as I did getting you all actually hot and steamy in the SEX section. I'll try to try this, I suppose, but I can't help thinking there's bigger fish to swallow here. I've looked back at my earlier comments on sexy death to find that the only thing actually intelligent that I said was that they merge in the extremes. In feeling oneself on the brink and really good sex there's (so I hear) the same sort of obliteration of self. I, for one, haven't had a near-death experience, except for yesterday when I slipped in the shower of Her apartment (while resting my head against the tile wall to drift off to the steam at a 35deg. angle), and I personally didn't feel myself merge with the cosmos, but that is what happens, isn't it? In hedging on death we re-learn that everything we have called our individuality is just a temporary cruel joke? In the extinguishment of Self, consciousness gets merged with Other, which at least looks to get the same result as the sexual Urge to merge. And just like all the boundaries keep crashing in and revealing that it's all just a much-needed deception, that you're two very different people who necessarily in some small part really actually do hate each other, with the long-standing slight Urge to be dead I've expressed on more than one occasion here I keep getting hit over the head with all the competing considerations, with the constant reminder from some other part of my brain that what might seem in some way like a final and major fulfillment is just some shmuck that couldn't take it and is now rotting away, leaving everyone else a bit more bummed out.
Okay, I guess this parallel is far from exact, but I'm trying to figure out what the hell I can sensationalize in this section. So far I have no idea how to apply anything I've just said, so I'll just say that you're all welcome to have mystical revelations as fear and horror press through your bones, but my explicit goal will just be to be sort of accurate in relating these events and my impressions of them while grossing you out.
The pen had been introduced only a week or so before I arrived. Before that all the DOGS had just run loose. This, I figure, was the source of the lawsuit that is presently being brought by the city against Zelma. So the occurrence of that day less than a week into my arrival (I'm losing track of the exact days, but I expect you never had track of them, so I don't care) wasn't new or even rare: all the DOGS were loose. Well, not Louie, as he/she/it is clearly insane, or white dog, who wasn't yet in the picture, and there is one little black very old DOG, whose name I don't even know and who is indistinguishable in all appearance and behavior from a small throw pillow, who was absent from the festivities. The rest of them, though, were all there, including Gorbachev and Samantha, a pair of mid-sized spaniels of sorts (I really should learn something about the names of DOGS if my descriptions are to be the least bit descriptive, and so horrific, as all realism is) owned originally by Zelma but adopted by some people who live in the same building for the purpose, I believe, of representing the twins Brick-a-Brack and Mothra, harbingers of the coming of perky death present in some form in all ages and cultures except 1976. So that's... what? ...many DOGS. It seemed none of them were brash enough (like my Mercury) to simply run away and never come back until trapped in the local Dairy Queen to wait for us to come pick her up, but they covered an enormous amount of area in a very short time. Queen was going to be my poster-child for relaxation in the preceding chapter, but set free she was anything but relaxed, but rather set to bursting with a jubilant energy that spelled D-E-A-T-H to the lowly but noble plant life she trampled underfoot. Buster fixed himself siamese to the shins of local humans, growling a bit when other DOGS threatened to disturb his courtship, but showing nonetheless all the signs of potentially becoming a not-completely-screwed-up-and-horrible animal. Buffy stayed basically within twelve feet of the pen at all times and still ran from human contact, so I guess freedom wasn't her problem (at least not that kind of freedom, there being also the sheer lack of restraint upon the floating consciousness which produces an affective BIG VOID, much like Vancouver). The normally-free DOGS got very into the action as well, bounding all over each other and their long-separated cohorts in a fleshy sprawl that made my early observations of the activity of only three or four of such beasts seem very mundane. They played nice if left alone, but when humans got involved, there was tremendous competition for that sacred, and therefore at least for them sort of kind of bone-chilling, commodity of attention. (Okay, admittedly that one didn't work, but it doesn't matter because the horrific things haven't happened yet.)
Such was the case on the steps of Zelma's porch where She and I stood surrounded by a large number of overly-energetic bodies. Did I mentioned the darkening sky that had yet to show any sign of the renowned Aurora Boremealis? I'm quite sure it set the mood in a most dark and sinister way, but I don't really remember because it just wasn't any more cool than usual (which is still very cool, but I am easily desensitized). There had to that point been several episodes of growling involving Duke, Coyote, Sonny, and Sugar Dee (I will not translate these into English, because a lengthy debate over who gets to slobber on the most-recently-tossed stick wouldn't be that interesting), plus the regular and constant episodes involving Gorbachev and Samantha chasing each other around whenever there was even a thought of people, so We really didn't think much of it. It was just DOGS trying to be macho (including the females), showing each other up, and ultimately erupting in something akin to play. So when Bear and Duke both began to worship Her lovely legs, and began to growl at each other, We did reprimand them, but not with anywhere near the level of force that would have been effective. But the growling increased in volume, and the two DOGS coiled as a single self-afflicted entity away from us and into the building, eyes locked and teeth bared. Then <<leap>> and the kind of blood-curdling cry that makes you think someone is being physically ripped apart right before your eyes... Which I guess isn't too far off from what was happening right there in front of Us... the fight slunk down the set of six stairs or so leading to the lower apartments, right in front of a door, which opened to reveal a woman and her husband panicking big time. Zelma appeared, having sprinted down from her upstairs apartment, and joined with the young couple in whacking arbitrarily at and around the flailing mass. She succeeded in disengaging Coyote who, infected by the brutal stench, had for whatever reason begun to attack Duke's BUTT!, and the other DOGS who may have had similar ideas were also appropriately distracted (aided by their being basically oblivious), but no one could disengage the two opponents: Bear had his jaw chomped squarely into Duke's front leg, Duke had a solid grip on Bear's head, and both seemed seized by the kind of frenzy that could only be said to emanate not from their stinky little bodies but from the rapidly-vibrating space between them. By this time the opponents were a good twelve feet or so away from Us, and we were most definitely not drawn to move closer. She grabbed my arm and gasped; I responded by alternately staring and hiding My eyes with the same sense of helplessness that comes when one's car has gone completely out of control and leaves no option but to wait until it gets where it's going to go. I thought that at the very least Bear would lose an eye, and would not have been surprised if one or both of them had just burst in a pool of blood and guts. Eventually the woman in the apartment below emerged with a can of hot pepper bear repellent and broke the struggle by spraying it all over both of them, and the whole area for that matter. There was a mass exodus from the infected area, and the suddenly disheartened DOGS were readily apprehended: Bear we pulled outside and chained to a post, while Duke was taken upstairs to Zelma's bathtub for treatment. Both were in one piece, or rather their respective pieces, having failed to fully actualize their potentiality for being dismembered. I for one was happy about it.
So was that a good sensationalist violence scene? I think the "blood and guts" line showed it to be very graphic, yes? Should I have said "pools of gushing blood with gut flecks" too, say in describing the hallway afterwards? Or I could have at least been a bit more horrific in describing Bear's head being almost pulled off. It was pretty revolting, even though no one died. Really the worst of the mess in the hallway was the bear spray, which covered everything and took days to fully dissipate. I was privileged to experience this close-up when I helped immediately after the fight to put the DOGS back in the pen. Some were fairly acquiescent about this (though of course I couldn't get anywhere near Buffy), but when I tried to put Coyote in (who couldn't be trusted loose with Bear chained up and looking attractively bloody and meek as he was), he wouldn't go past the first gate and started to growl. He was very shaken up, so instead of just forcing him in I kneeled down and gave him a big hug, healin' the hurt through the power of what appears to be love, or in this case Luv. In so doing I rubbed my face directly in the bear spray and inhaled, serving my New Ageyness right. This was not a good move. My immediately subsequent coughing fit lasted at least five minutes straight and forced me to go back to Her apartment to wash my face. This didn't work, though, and within minutes I was once again sporting a beard/nasal hair combo of fire, so I fetched a wet rag which for the rest of the evening became my inhaler. (Was I trying to shield myself from the sheer horrific nausea? Was I trying to get high? Are the elements my real drug? Try charting out the symbolism in this section and then perhaps construct an amusing board game around its various elements to provide much enjoyment to viewers over seventeen unless accompanied by a parent or guardian).
And there was a rest of the evening, which was less horrific I suppose, but offers the realism necessary for the previous section to fully impact your recurring nightmares... The DOGS needed medical attention and We offered to help (having hearts of gold, tender sensibilities, and nothing else planned for the evening). One of Zelma's friends brought his truck (Zelma's was mashed, if you recall), and I sat in the back of it on a wet tire with Her, the husband of the bear-spray woman, and Bear himself, wounded and sulking. So I got to chum around with the bully-boy, and found that after getting to know him (and I think getting the whole story, or at least the whole relevant part of it, as I doubt there's much more to it except lots more experiences with squirrels, dog food, and his own dung), and hence also to the archetypal junior high gym class member locked deep in my heart (to the considerable extent to which his experiences also involve dung), I could forgive him for being such a mean old bullying shmogus. I held him as we drove to prevent him from jumping off the truck, but made sure not to get my face too close to him lest I feel the power of Luv scorch any further inside my respiratory track. I did get his hair all over my wet rag, though, and no that is not a euphemism, ya perv. It was a very beautiful night (even though the sky wasn't really holding its own in perpetrating the horrifically mystical mood), and the air whipping at us as We rode was very cold, so We huddled together, petting each other's hands as much as we pet the DOG.
When we got to the vet, the DOGS were taken in separately to the custody of the doctors. I was somehow designated to hold Sugar Dee (a DOG who, I am pretty damned sure, must symbolize some major elemental force, having stared into the face of auto-smooshing-related death and all, or I wouldn't have had the momentary cuteness-induced desire to use her as my inhaler), who had insisted upon coming along for the ride. And who could resist her sweet guile?[*] She is very small, light, energetic, good-tempered, and cute as six buttons plus a small child. Her presence made the ordeal much more, well, fun. After a few minutes in the waiting room with Zelma's truck-driving friend, who insisted upon loudly chortling every thirty seconds for no reason I could fathom, I joined most of the others in the operating room where the vets drugged each combatant in succession, cleaned it up, shaved the relevant areas, and stitched up the major wounds. None of these were particularly serious, they said, though Duke might be limping for a while. As repair proceeded, the vets began to be overwhelmed by the force of death... I mean, the, uh pepper spray-stuff, and had to obtain rags like my own. Zelma related various anecdotes about the DOGS (Bear and Buffy had almost starved and/or frozen to death when their previous owner went and died on them in his cabin deep in the heart of nowhere), and We doted over Sugar Dee until it came time to drag the DOGS back to the truck. Each haul required two people, as the freight was still drugged and pretty fat (being neutered does that), so I got to carry a bit of both. All the while my whole face, especially the inside of my nose, burnt itself a quaint little hell, but on the way back I felt very good despite the cold, and the burning, and the fact that we were in the midst of a pretty expensive tragedy... I felt like this partially because it was a bonding experience for all concerned (though the bond between the damaged was undoubtedly of a somewhat different character than those between Me, Her, our friendly neighbors, Bear, and Sugar Dee), but mostly because I could feel even then that it would make a wonderfully climactic and illustrative episode for this book. And I gloated. Pretty sick, doncha think?