Monday, November 12, 2007

"The Dog Baby" by Andy Biscontini


Somebody put a curse on my neighbors and turned their baby into a dog.

I heard it happen through the wall.

It took half an hour and sounded painful.

In the fuzzy green light between daybreak and dawn, my neighbors’ baby began to cry. The father tried to comfort it with soft parental coos, but the crying got worse, and worse, and worse, interrupted by guttural baby-barks.

The father called the mother. Her footsteps were punctuated by a gasp, terrified and confused.

I heard my neighbors’ baby’s cradle tip over and smash against the floor.

I heard my neighbors panic.

I heard my neighbors’ baby thrash around the floor in a fleshy interzone of half- dog half-babiness.

I heard my neighbors cry.

Then I heard my neighbors’ dog that was their baby bark and sprint around their apartment with all the novelty, surprise, and curiosity of a human, suddenly graduated from its mortal vessel of limited physical capacity into the somewhat more capable body of a mid-sized terrier.

A couple of days later, coming home with my groceries, I ran into my neighbors in the hallway, taking their dog who had been their baby out for a walk. They all looked happier than I’d ever seen them.

My neighbor’s dog greeted me with the same vague, friendly familiarity with which my neighbors’ baby had always greeted me.

I looked at my neighbors. They looked at each other.

They told me, “He’s had his shots. He’s licensed with the city. He’s popular among his peers at the park. Beautiful women stop him on the street and scratch him under his chin. We’ll likely endure the pain of his death before ours, but we’ll know that he had lived a good life, because we had given it to him.”

I don’t know.

Maybe it wasn’t a curse.

copyright, © 2006, 2007 Andy Biscontini