Even the most young and irresponsible Russian scolds me when I tell them I don’t lock my door. I shrug and say something evasive. They give up, eventually.So, the gnarled and cold looking man who just punched me in the face in my kitchen shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise. But, surprise is sown into the word “punch.”
What is more surprising however, is the bloody foot sitting in front of my face when I finally open my eyes again, head aching.
Belly, M’s dog, sits in front of me, giving me a parental look. I back away from Belly and the foot. It’s still in its boot, a bouquet of cracked bones and shredded skin.
“Did you?” I look at the foot, then at Belly.
“I did, and I don’t have much time.”
I back further away. “What the hell?”
“I ate him, so I can talk for a short time, that’s how it works.”
“How what works?” I say, unable to stop looking at the foot.
“Life, fool!” Belly snaps.
“Now, I have some things I need to say, while I can,” Belly begins.
“But,” I try.
“Hush, you may ask questions if there is time. I have some things you need to hear.”
I nod, mostly at the foot.
“You know this sound?” Belly makes a moaning sound I’ve heard countless times.
“Yeah, you know. It means I need to go out, so, take me out. You always seems so surprised when I pee on the floor, well, now it’s your own fault.”
I nod, slowly. Belly makes the sound again.
“That sound,” he says, “got it?”
“Yeah, got it.”
“Good, and when I bark, give me some damn food. And not those rabbit turds, give me something good. You’re always cooking those damn soups. Give me a bone. Okay? When I bark, it means I want a bone.”
“No buts!” Belly snaps.
“You could choke on it, it’s bad for you!” I manage.
Belly raises an eyebrow. “Coming from the apartment of pack-a-day smokers. I’ll take the risk. And also, stop bringing tall men over, I don’t like them, they frighten me.”
Belly said the last part with a hint of shame. I look at the foot and then back at him. I decide it’s best not to argue.
Belly looks to be thinking.
I hesitate, then ask, “is that all?”
“I believe so, okay, you may ask a question.”
I look at the foot, then back to Belly. “What the hell is going on?” I burst out.
Belly sighs, “dogs take on the attributes of anything we eat. Why do you think they’re always putting down any of us who even nip at a human being? Why do you think some people are always saying how smart their dog is?” Belly chuckled, darkly. “If they only knew; people go missing all the time, you know?”
I try to chuckle with him, nervously. I choke on it.
“I—“ Belly begins, then coughs.
“Crap, it’s fading. Leave the foot!” he manages, before falling silent. He begins looking around the kitchen, curious. He looks down at the foot. He picks it up in his mouth greedily and dashes off.
Shaking, I stand. I look out of the kitchen to see Belly in the corner of the living room. He is trying to bury the foot in the carpet with his nose.