Thursday, January 8, 2015

Because it was there

I walk past the thing all day, registering it, filing it away to investigate later. It looks like a twisted piece of tissue paper that had once been wet, but is now dry. I register it as something new, but hardly startling, hardly worth looking at immediately as it is lying on the floor in the entryway amidst a million other things on the floor in the entryway, a whirlwind of bits and pieces.

The entryway is like a dog’s breakfast my mom would say, which would be fitting because it is where the dogs stay most of the time, where they eat and where they lay by the fire, their blankets strewn about on the floor amidst bits of firewood and clumps of sawdust and intermittent pools of water where snow has melted from the treads of boots or from between the toes of Murdoch or from the pile of firewood stacked beneath the window.

And there are fragments of stick smuggled in from outside. Bite sized pieces. Molly, forever melded to whatever stick she happens to pick up at the beginning of our walks, stands most days contemplating whether to stay outside all day hanging on to her stick or drop it by the door and come inside where it is warm and where there might be food.

“Come on Molly,” I say as she eyes me dubiously from a distance and all the cold air rushes into the house around me, the hot air escaping in great puffs of steam. “It will be there when we come out again.” And about nine and a half times out of ten it is still there. So, she drops it kind of mechanically and steps slowly over it, padding into the house at a snail’s pace. “That’s okay Molly,” I say, waving her on with my mittened hand. “Take your time.” But sometimes the stick is small enough to hide in her mouth and I find it later, a gnarled and splintered lump on her bed.

There are other things in the entryway too, shoes and tools waiting to be returned to some toolbox or other, gloves drying on top of Murdoch’s kennel, a chainsaw or two and bags of various things coming or going, not to mention great rafts of dog hair collecting in corners and occasionally sailing across the floor.

So when this thing catches my eye in the morning, a white thing that looks like a fragment of partially twisted tissue paper, it is of little consequence to leave it where it is for awhile.

When I eventually do pick the white thing up off the floor, carefully because I think it will be delicate and papery, I am momentarily taken aback because it is rubbery to the touch. In the next instant I know what it used to be, “It’s that glove!” and I turn to Murdoch where he stands at the top of the stairs in the kitchen and I hold up what was once the cuff of a white latex glove, now a white string with bits of glove still clinging to it. “Why would you eat this?” I ask him, because I just know it was him. He stares back with his dark brown eyes peering out from beneath his shaggy eyebrows and says nothing.

Of course, I am not surprised, it is Murdoch afterall and he has eaten all sorts of things. Like the bowl of that wooden spoon two Christmases ago, and the forks he chewed on when he was much younger, snarling the tines into deformed twists of metal. He used to eat the fingers of gloves and he has swallowed entire socks, not to mention that deer hoof he inhaled whole and then threw up a few hours later in front of the fire.

And of course there’s the neighbours’ garbage he has got in to on occasion, returning home to regurgitate scraps of tin foil and plastic wrap, and the various dead rabbits and animal organs he has found in the bush of which I have lost count, and there was that bone fragment he swallowed a few months ago and we thought for a moment that he might be dying as he lay lethargic on the floor.

In retrospect, I think as I look at the scrap of a thing dangling from my fingers, I suppose the hand of a latex glove is nothing to be concerned about. I shake my head at Murdoch’s Murdochness as I throw the remnants of the glove in the garbage and realize the answer to my question of why would he eat this, is simple: because it was there.

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