FICTION: XII The Hanged Dog (Dog’s Nightmare III) by Padrika Tarrant – Exclusive to STORGY!

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Round the back of the new-created Primark, suspended between concrete and sky by a scaffold-pole, between the Tarot and the truth, a dog turns slowly in the rain, hung by electric cable, suspended by one hind paw. The angels think it’s a right old wheeze.

The shop is young still, and tender, held up by poles until its bones grow hard, coats unfurling on the hanging-racks like woolen petals, cash machines not yet hungry, lolling their empty mouths. And along the spaces behind, are the embryos of shop assistants, pink as prawns, a tiny name tag developing on each little thorax. They can see the dog through the windows but cannot help, not wrap any item, nor even wish him Good Afternoon.

Long gone the bucking backbone and the panicpanicpanic; the pleading and the whine; all there is left is a shoelace of drool that reaches from his chops to the concrete. This is not to say the dog is dead: look, he has moved his tongue, which is dull and blue. His teeth are a row of broken Polos and he breathes past them, shallow and quick. The rain-water sloshes his eyes and turns his toenails black. Beyond the window, T shirts are dropping like windblown rose petals.

The hanged dog is twirling in the atmosphere, feeling death against his poor cold face, the massiveness of it and the hurting, of torn-out ribs and beaks like knives; the contorted elbows of things that dare to hatch. His tail is curled with gravity and its tip brushes his back in the manner of a tea pot handle, ridiculous. His ears balloon past his muzzle, collecting rain-water and guttering it downwards in two thin drips. If he was able, the dog would tear up those who mistreated him so, savage their faces, stop their sniggering But the dog is just a prototype, is all fluster and bark and liver spots. His foot is hurting something terrible, and the hanged dog tries to snarl, to muster up some dignity, a shred of fight or even just some spatter of fury at its tormentors, who strung him up.

But the angels are distracted by the windows, which quiver with shock and pain at their slapping, which makes the very glass flinch. The shop assistants stare, bug-eyed at the dog, bulging with compassion.

But the angels grow quickly bored, what with the rain and everything, and they slope off back to heaven to watch Countdown.


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