About my Dog, Though
I'm maybe six, and my dad is angry that I've forgotten, again, to feed my dog. Since I don't take care of it, he says he's going to kill it and goes to my parents' bedroom closet where he keeps his guns. Probably, I cry and beg that he not kill her, but I don't follow him outsie. A few moments later, from the TV room at the rear of the house, I hear a gunshot in the backyard and somehow feel it in my chest. I could part the window curtains, but I'm afraid of what I might see. The back door opens and my father's bootheels thud as he crosses our small ranch house to put the gun away. Does he call out to me from their room, saying I have a mess to clean up in the backyard? I'm still crying, sobbing possibly, and I go through the front door, the long way around the house. When i turn the corner at the garage and open the fence gate, I find my dog pacing nervously in her pen.
Now, roughly the age my father was then, I've recognized in myself the latent impulse to teach my son hard lessons in hard ways, but up to this pint, fortunately, for both me and him, it's reamined dormant. Though I have an idea bout what lesson my father was trying—imperfectly, of course—to impart, I've never asked him about it. I fear I've somehow fabricated the memory. He was—is—a great father and grandfather, a man who never let a day go by without letting me know he loved me, and I can't face his disappointment, for how could I ever think he'd do something like this? If you ever met him, I'm certain it'd seem as impossible to you as it does to me. Maybe a worse fear? That it isn't a false memory and in asking him about it, I'd be forcing him to remember something shameful. Either way, I'm not ready to put him through it, and even in this moment, I feel preemptively guilty for both the pain I'll cause him when he eventually reads this and for the grossly incomplete picture this essay paints of a man I love and admire.
Perhaps the impulse that led him to make me thing he'd killed my dog isn't all that different from the one keeping me from asking him about it.
About my dog, though, we later gave her to our mailman.