Les Grotesqueries by Ric Carter
Sometimes I awoke believing I could now speak French. C'était vrai. Or I dreamt that I had written a novel whilst I was asleep. And that everything in the novel was true.
Then there was the morning we awoke to find the dogs stitched together.
They were now connected completely down one side – from their hips to their shoulders – so that there was a point at which the black fur of one dog switched seamlessly to the pale fur of the other. They seemed kind of pleased with themselves - running around, rolling over (with difficulty), nuzzling playfully at each other’s faces. When they looked up at us they seemed to be saying: ‘Whoa! Look at us! We really fucked ourselves up!’
I threw them a tennis ball and the eight-legged, two-headed beast chased after it, as if there were nothing unusual going on. Both dogs showed pleasure at this simple game, individually and collectively. It seemed they were laughing at us. This was dog satire, cleverly exposing our first impulse when we saw them stitched together, our first thought, which was… a human must have done this. ‘Yes! This was our point! It’s exactly the kind of shit you guys would do!’ I nodded dumbly. ‘We’re right and you know it! You know a human would do this! Any day now! Any day now!’
By dinner, the whole dogs-being-stitched-together-problem had been resolved, and to say sorry we slipped the dogs scraps from the table.
“Aujourd'hui – c’est un quelque chose de bizarre,” I said.
“Err… dans le chien, les chiens est…”
“Give it a rest, you can’t do it. You can’t speak French.”
I had to concede this was also true. Maybe I didn’t really know or understand anything. That was a low moment.
But later, I was sitting with one of the dogs – her head on my lap, her sleepy eyes half closed, a little smile on her face – and I was gently patting her head, enjoying the softness of giving such easy pleasure. ‘You’re not so bad, for a human, not such a bad human,’ she seemed to say, or at least those were the words I projected into her head – they made me feel better, but then I immediately felt guilty for having absolved myself of all blame.
Sometimes I awoke believing I knew nothing. C'était vrai. Or that everything was fiction - fiction, dreams or nightmares, on the face of it. And it was all true.
RIC CARTER (he/him) is originally from Northern England and now lives in Guernsey. He has written hundreds of short stories, some of which he has published at www.digestivepress.wordpress.com, been shortlisted for a few prizes and has a couple of short novels more or less ready to go, should anyone wish to publish them.