Distorte is a collection of stories written by Pierce Gleeson

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Mr. Jones

Sheepdog in the fields.

Mr. Jones is lying there with his head out in the sun looking for all the world like he’s having a nap but for his mouth hanging slightly open and a bit of tongue coming an inch out past his black lips. He’s not having a nap, though, he’s dead, and he’s been that way for about four hours. His tongue would never be out for a nap. The afternoon is hot and I can’t stop worrying about him. What if he goes bad? I ask mam, and what if he gets rigor mortis? She tells me not to mind him, and if I want I can go out and wrap him up in something so when we take care of him later it wont matter if he’s gone stiff. I don’t though. Don’t want to. I get a red blanket from the washroom and think about hanging it up in front of the doorway but if I’m willing to do that I should be willing to wrap him up but I don’t want to so I get a book and sit on the bench outside the kitchen door for the day, minding him and minding my own business. When dad comes home he comes around to the kitchen door first and I just point at the kennel and he nods, and says “Sorry boss, we should have looked after him last week.” But it’s alright because he looks like he fell asleep on a hot day and it can’t have been that bad. Better, I think, than dad shooting him, which is what he means when he says that. Dad goes in and puts on his grey shirt and old jeans and rolls up his sleeves and walks up to the door and pulls Mr. Jones out by his collar onto the concrete. He moves like a kid who doesn’t want their bath. He doesn’t move, just lies there looking heavy. Dad takes the red blanket that I had there near the kennel and wraps up the big black lump with the corners of it loose so we can carry Mr. Jones like a prisoner we’re bringing back to camp. He hands me two corners and we lift him up and walk around the back. Heavy, heavier than when he’d be on your lap. Alright? says my dad over his shoulder and I nod though he can’t see me. We go down to the top of the field and lay the blanket in the long grass. Dad goes and comes back with his spade and starts digging. A small hole but he goes much deeper than I thought he would. Keep away animals, he says, and hands me the spade and I dig a bit. He tells me how to go at it but I’m still slow. He finishes and when he’s done I jump into it and it’s up to my belly. I have to get a hand out. We pick up Mr Jones. and put him in gently, but his head ends up wrong and he looks uncomfortable. His tongue is still out, getting dirty. Hang on, I say and run to the yard to pick up his leather ball on a rope and run back to the field and drop it in. Dad starts to shovel in soil and says, while he’s doing that, Good-bye Mr. Jones, in the same voice he always has for him, like he’s talking stupid. That’s the only bit I want to cry for. I don’t think I do, but dad puts his hand on my head and says he was a grand lad and ate a lot of bones in his time. We walked around on the soil to settle it. Later on I’m going to sleep, and I remember that he’s lying out under the ground there, fifty feet away, and it feels like he’s further away even than that. I’m glad I gave him his ball. He’d sit forever chewing on that thing.

Written by Pierce Gleeson
Posted on the 07 Jul, 2009