Friday, May 19, 2006

God's Retriever

filed under:

Spring in Southern California is a windblown affair. The wind comes screaming out to sea like a wind screaming out to sea. The kind of screaming wind that could use chap-stik because its lips are dry. When the wind kisses you, in its windy, screamy way, it sure makes you wish you had chap-stik handy, your lips get so dry.

Maybe I should leave the poetry to the poets. I really just want to make a point. It was windy and it was spring. I was home with my family which was unusual because I'd grown up and gone away. But I was back this spring because it was Easter and I was on my Easter Holiday, which we called "Spring Break." So, here I was, getting my spring broken by an angry wind, just before the Easter holy day. ...more »

I think it was probably a Wednesday because it was Ash Wednesday, which falls on Wednesday. That's the day that Catholics paint crosses on their foreheads with ashes. It also involves palm fronds, but that's too doctrinal for explanation right now.

My family is Catholic when they're religious at all. I'm not really Catholic, but my father is. He's not a very good Catholic, which is why the Church pays him to give advice to priests on their liturgies. He got really interested in liturgy once, and now he knows it better than the average seminary graduate, so priests defer to him on liturgical questions, which are usually very petty but highly profound.

Any lay person who gives doctrinal advice to their priest isn't a model Catholic, in my opinion, since part of being a Catholic is taking orders from the guys higher up on the celestial pecking pole. But that's just my ignorant bigoted opinion. I'm missing my point again, though. I just brought this whole thing up to make some things clear. I'm in a pick-up truck with my dad on a windy Southern Californian day, heading for the church to drop off some speakers he's gonna' need later that night when the Catholics come to paint their heads with ashes. That's my point and nothing larger.

So the church we're heading to is named after a Spanish guy. I don't want to say who, or it might get back to my dad and get him in trouble, but it might as well be San Francisco, the way this church is getting raped by the winds of Santa Ana, right now. She's filling up his steeple, if you know what I mean.

So, we get to this church and pull up in the parking lot. This may be a church, but it isn't exactly the Garden of Eden, so we're going to have to put the speakers in a locked room somewhere. My dad figures the church office is the best place, so he parks right there and we both get out.

Now, I've been a long time lapsed, so it kind of makes sense that my dad should be the one to go get the key from the priest, because I'm not likely to get it out of him. So, I decide to sit down out in front of the office and keep an eye on the truck while my dad heads into God's house to get the key from the pastor.

I don't think the priest is alone with the Lord in there, because somebody has left their dog tied up here on the bench outside the church office. It's a lovely dog. I want to call it a Golden Retriever, but I'm not really sure that's what it was. Its fur was golden, and it was pretty big, but maybe the fur was too long for the name… I just can't say for certain. But it was a long-haired golden dog with a hard-on for retrieving. Of that much, I'm certain. You see, the owner of this beautiful dog had left him tied by his leash to a bench with a tennis ball to play with. And he's just happily chewing on it when I sit down on the bench opposite to admire this beautiful dog being beautifully doggy.

Of course, he's got better ideas, himself. He comes galumphing up to me in that goofy good-natured dog kind of way and gets almost all the way to me before the leash catches him short. So, he comes up as far as he can and drops that slobbery tennis ball on the pavement and rolls it towards me with his nose. Talk about a retriever! This slutty pooch wants to play fetch on a leash!

Well thank that non-existent Lord and all his rape-bait saints that one of us two was given some brains! Though it may be lost on the Golden Retriever, I'm well aware of the limits that leash is gonna' place on his favorite game. Still, as long as we're both sittin' here, waiting on the pious, we might as well amuse ourselves with a game.

My first bright idea is to stick my arm out really fast, horizontally so he doesn't get any wrong ideas, and hold the ball there for him to grab. This strikes me as a good substitute for fetch, but he isn't having any of it. Each time I hold the ball out, he wags his tail cheerfully and gives me that dumb face-to-ball-and-back-again glance like he's ready for the real fireworks to start.

That doesn't work, so I set the ball down and sit back down. But he really isn't bright, so he picks it up, brings it towards me, and nudges it my way again. Well, I try to stop it with my foot, but kinda' screw up and kick it back at him. It rolls past the bench, smacks into the planter behind and gets scooped up in his happy hunter jaws. Man, is he delighted, as he rolls it my way again! Figurin' that worked well, I kick it again, real gently towards the planter. Once again, it bounces into his mouth and comes back to me, just like you'd expect a ball under the influence of a retriever to do. Next kick doesn't even make it to the wall before he's got it! Now we got a nice compromise going on! He gets to retrieve, just like he was born to do, and I get to make him happy, which… well, which I might as well be doing since I don't have anything else going on at the moment.

And so it goes, good feelings building up on both sides. And I kick it, and he goes after it before it hits the wall, and he misses pretty bad. Instead of grabbing it, he ends up pushing it with his nose. It picks up momentum and smacks the planter far harder than is usual, and ricochets off at an angle with quite a bit of speed.

Well, this is an optimistic retriever, and he ain't gonna' let that ball get away from him. He tries again, getting off his nose and charging after the fleeing ball.

Well, now I'd rather not get to my point at this point, but I'm gonna' do it anyhow.

I didn't stop the ball, even though I think I tried. I know that he didn't stop the ball either. But as he charged after it at full retrieving speed, that leash stopped him.
It's kinda' hard to say what happened next. Not that I don't remember. No, I sure do remember. He didn't come short with a whimper. It was really more of a squeak… like some squeezed-out plush-toy. The ball, it just kept cluelessly rolling, and he was just lying there in a really un-dog-like heap.

My heart dropped down to the soles of my feet. I kneeled over the dog, laying hands on him like some kind of dickless faith-healer… you know, the kind who wants to fix you but doesn't have balls enough to re-invent the world at a whim… I couldn't order him to be OK, and rubbing his head wasn't gonna' take his mind off the pain. I pushed away that long, beautiful golden fur around his collar and felt something wet, very wet in that damned dry wind, sticking to my fingers. It was red, and it was blood and he was bleeding around his neck.

OK. So, I fucked up pretty bad here.

I look to my left, I look to my right, and I see I'm all alone, so I just back away. Way away. Like I didn't even know there was a dog in the neighborhood.

My dad is really taking his sweet fucking time, talking to God and his priest and whatever dog-owning jackass is also in there. Before he comes out, two young, deeply-tanned SoCal blondes come strolling by across the parish grounds. The beautiful blonde women see the beautiful blonde dog whimpering under a bench, and descend upon him like a flock of fawning harpies. I'm not exactly close, since I'm pretending I don't know the dog's there, but I hear one of them cry, "OH MY GOD!!! He's BLEEDING!!!" To which the other replies in a shout just below a scream, "What monster leaves their dog like this!!!!"

If it were my dog, don't you think I'd notice this? But it can't be me, because I am studiously nonchalant! The pair pass off, screaming like chalkboards in their hatred of human barbarity. The dog just keeps whimpering, rubbing his head, and licking his paws….

Finally, dad comes out! We unload the speakers, he never even notices the dog… not the kind of thing he would notice… and off we drive.

And that's it for me and God's Retriever… I figure he must've been alright in the end… right? I turned out OK for it, right?

To reply to this post, click HERE. Requires Microsoft Passport.