I am sitting, still in my school uniform, on the sofa in the evening, when my father comes home in his sad, threadbare brown suit, with the pants’ legs too short on account of his long, spindly legs. My mother has told me that Dad is taking Blackie in to be put to sleep, because Blackie is old. I want to go and hold the old dog as he dies, but my mom won’t let me go. My Dad so wants the company. “You did this George, so you have to do it alone.”
As a child I didn’t realize that Blackie’s hips were broken due to repeatedly being kicked down the stairs and beaten, but it comes out of my mother’s mouth then, how dad had killed the dog, broken his old bones on the long fall down the basement steps onto the concrete below and the subsequent beating as he tried to bathe him in the utility sink. I am mad at my dad, but what gets me more is how sorry I feel for him, as I see him scoop the dog up in his lthin arms, sorry that he must face the results of his rages alone. That is what gets me still, how sorry I felt for him, more so than for the dog.
This was neither the beginning nor the end of my father’s violence. It is a sad chapter that still gets me in the middle of the night, night as black as the fur of the murdered dog. I was also a frequent target and later feared for my life and the lives of my sisters and mother in the house with the man who heard voices, who had a demon riding his withering shoulders.