Jul 15, 2005

Quentin... Thanks for the kind words. But I'm afraid I'll always be seen as the villain. Forever, Lucy

Lucy, with eye shadow
Originally uploaded by macnamband.

I can't tell for a moment what that sound is. Is it a fly or the call of the muezzin? The faintest, most plaintive plea. Wings or voice, I can't tell. I'm standing on a mound scanning for the dog. For the fifth day in a row we have become separated. She does this to spite me, even after all the efforts I've made to please her. I will kill her as soon as I find her. I will take her head to Meknes put it on the battlements of Moulay Ismail's castle, to go along with the ghosts of 10,000 other heads.

How can this happen? I walk 30 yards, turn around and she's gone. I'm thinking maybe I have to keep her on a barbed wire leash, drag her after the car like marrieds cans. I cannot turn my back; this is the new truth. Not for a moment. So what, you think. But this problem is growing. Every day there's something. A break out, a complaint. The Islamic women the other night, standing under the court lights, and this one, I think she's the one that's leading the effort to get rid of the dog but I couldn't see very well, and just at the moment she looks at me, the dog jacknifes and shits. And she's looking up like anyone would sitting on the can, particularly being viewed. This is a long one and so here's the dog trying to get it out and the woman is beside herself trying to get the sight of the dog out — of her mind where it will be forever hanging. She's appalled that the dog is so closeby and doing this. She quickly looks and me and points behind her, as though to say, 'that's where it's buried.'

I pretend like I'm on my cell phone. I turn away.

And every day there's another distrubance . On Wednesday, Soueda finished doing the laundary and mopping the floors but left open the kitchen window, which is baracaded by plants. Just open 10 inches. The dog drips through. All the world is permeable to her.

And now at 6:45 a.m., toward the end of the walk, she does this. It's the third time this morning. The territory is no longer frightening. She's discovered discarded food and other delicacies in the refuse lying here and there. But how does she disappear so fast? You walk a few yards, look over shoud shoulder. Poof.

We're on the road above the cemetary. I see the old toothless woman, I'd seen a few minutes earlier. The dog had frightened her. She goes through entrance to the cemetary. I walk behind her and up a mound. The dog's not below, toward the town. She didn't get ahead of me. I don't think she's back a long the road we're on. Just 100 yards in that direction she'd gone off but the workmen on the roof saw her on a parallel road. And then something spooked her. A dog or perhaps a man with a stone. The workmen pointed and I turned around just in time to see her in that whippet stride, a black blur, among rocks and ramparts. I ran ahead. She rounded a corner and we collided. I said, listen, I've had it. Now just stay with me until we get home. I am in no mood. It's too early; I'm sick as a dog, you'll forgive the expression.

We walk on and 30 yards later she's gone again. I'm in a Rumi reverie and she disappears, and no poetry, no success, nothing is compensation. I want to kill her. This business of losing dogs on walks is old wood, an old letter from childhood.

So I scout from the mound and there's nothing. I don't want to go back and face the guards again. How is it that every day now this man loses his dog? they want to know. They look at me with that benevolent smile. They shake their heads. And, of course, this is something to jot down. Someone at the university will know about this by the end of the day. There'll be a slip of paper, a minute notation, lost among stack of other notations.

I double back. I walk up one street, down another. I'm trying to think this through. I end up on a street parallel to the one I'd been on. Suddenly, I notice a black shape on that other street. Running in the direction we were going. I yell. The shape stops. It's her. Not a positive ID but I'm sure it is. The shape is running again. I call again. The shape stops. I start running toward it. About a quarter mile away. The shape takes off. My first thought is that to kill her I've got to cut her off. I run hard toward the residence, across an abandonned plot, over the yellow flowers and the tiny blue flowers, I can't remember names, I get on the straight road to the residence. I'm running, but not well, I don't have juice. I'm out. I walk but I'm close enough now that I can see all the approaches to the residence. I don't see her. I slow down.

I arrive at the residence. I've gotten there first. The guards are seated in their plastic chairs, legs crossed like women in an impressionist painting. Two guards and a soldier. They look at me, say nothing. The one guard and I don't do well. He has his white holster, which is always unlatched. He hates the dog. He hates me. He looks like a man in a spaghetti western. Eli Wallach, squinting.

I often waved to the guards, because it seemed appropriate, but as I've come to appreciate their real role here, which is not about security - they're off from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. - it's intelligence gathering, I've become less affable. I resent their duplicity. I resent their resentment. And particularly this one. When we duel, like the other day, when we passed each other, along the walk that runs along the back of the residence, I look at him directly and unlike before, when I would offer salam alecum, I wait for him to go first. I know he doesn't like that.

I feel the weight of the university lately. Not to mention the imbroglio over the electricity. In April they insisted we were all paid up. Two weeks ago they say, we owe another $100 for December. They shake their heads. "A miscalculation." And now $60 for June. How can it be? There's no air conditioning. It's light until 8:30 p.m. I don't run anything. It's 100 degrees on a lot of days. Nothing moves. I don't cook anything. I don't light anything. Lucy and I live in dim light. Just enough to read. How can we pay the same rate as in February when we were burning everything. If there was a lighbulb we turned it on. The appearance of heat was important.... So now I'm asking them for kilowatts and rates for each month, not just the amounts due. In the interests of transparency. You want an American-styled university, then be it. But they won't show me kilowatts or rates. They're stalling.

My friend, S., smiles when I tell him this. "Of course," he says. "They're cheating you because they need more money to pay for the new heating system." He encourages me to battle them. But it's dangerous, there is a danger here.

So I come in the gate. No dog. No word from the guards.

I get to the building. She's sitting next to the door, like 'Oh King, where hast thou been?' She's panting. She's been moving.

I kill her.

Later, inside, I notice she smells bad. Not like she rolled in something, like she became something. In afterlife, I chase her into the bathroom. I give her a bath. She's out of emotion. I tell her, You're not going back to another life. You're going back down to a be bug. Meanwhile, she's looking confused, the water, the soap, the man who just killed her is now giving her a bath... Can you beat that, Pa? These Americans are weird, aren't they though?

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