Monday, February 2, 2009

fiction as an open letter

for Mohammed Mrabet and Paul Bowles
Amigo Mrabet,

You don't know me. That doesn't matter. Last night someone placed a dead dog on my door step. I do not know why they would do such a thing, why they would be so cruel. A man who would kill a dog for no reason but to answer to hatreds deep in his soul is a wasted man, a man gone wrong. The police came and banged on my door as I was getting ready to go to work. It was cold and black out. I had not even had a chance to drink my coffee. Come with us, the police said. All right, I'll come, let me get my shoes and coat. No shoes or coat, they said. All right, I said. The police are the same everywhere in the world. They took me to a gas station. Is this the man? No. Are you sure? I'm positive, he's not the man. Thank you, I said to the gas station attendant. I am an innocent man and whatever they say I've done you should know that I did not. I know, he said. You aren't the criminal. At the back of the gas station as I was being taken home, I saw the shape of a body beneath a white light. The body was covered in a white sheet, the edges of the sheet dark with blood. So, I thought to myself, they think I am a murderer now. What next? They left me at my door step. The dog was gone. It was nearly time for me to begin work. I would certainly be late. I started running. A man of forty-five running to work in the early hours. I am strong but my lungs are weak. When I got to work my boss called me into his office. Look, you're late, your getting old, I don't think you can do this work anymore. What, I said. Someone killed a dog and placed it on my doorstep. The police came and took me away and questioned me. There was a murder down at the gas station. I had nothing to do with any of these things and now that I am late you tell me I am too old. But I work hard and fast, as hard and fast as those other men who are much younger. They will tell you. They will say, he works hard don't fire him. My boss looked at me sadly, shaking his head. It isn't what you think. I'm going to have to fire you. All right, I said. I'm fired now. I'll just have to get another job. Good, he said. And take this with you. He reached under his desk and handed me a sack. In the sack was another dead dog. I took the dog with me into a field behind a dark building. It was nearly morning. I found a shovel and began to dig. I buried the dog. Then said a prayer for the poor dog and for all men. You say a man has no price, but there is a cost to being a man in this world. There are stones and there are the dead walking about with stones in their mouths. There are good men and women but one must spend one's life looking for them, in the unforgiving dark.

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