All Stories, Crime/Mystery/Thriller

The Dog by Paul Goodwin

My new neighbour is on the doorstep, towering and muscular, jaw thrust forward, bushy grey whiskers like a Victorian.  “Your dog kept me awake last night,” he says.  “Incessant howling.  Given me a headache.”

“Impossible,” I say.  “I don’t have a dog.”

He leans forward, slow like a crane.  His face is close to mine.  I see madness in his eyes.  His breath smells of tobacco.  “Don’t give me that.  Think I’m stupid?”

I force a nervous laugh.  “I’ve never had a dog.  Stick insects and a hamster when I was a kid.  Never a dog.”

He’s walking away.  He tells me he’ll get the police onto me.

The police never come.  But official-looking people in a van turn up, unloading microphones.  One pokes over my garden fence, another through his open window.  Five days later, they’re gone.

He’s back on the doorstep.  “Making me look a fool.  You kept that dog quiet when the council were monitoring.  Now they’re gone, your dog’s back at it.  Couldn’t sleep at all.”

“Look, I don’t…” But he’s walking away, threatening me with the police again.

I’m awake at 3.00 am.  The moon lights the bedroom.  Footsteps crunch the gravel path outside.  I see his long profile below, ears cupped against my backdoor.  I struggle to open my window, but he disappears into the night.

There are strips of meat on my lawn and a dead fox in the bushes.  I see him on the street -his hair a crazy grey tangle.  I tell him I’ll call the police.  He won’t know I’m bluffing.

He sneers: “Just try it.  They’ll be too busy for you.  But if they do come, they’ll shoot your bloody cur.”

Next night he’s in my garden again.  It’s a full moon.  He’s broken through the lock I put on the gate.  He’s smashing bottles with a hammer and scattering the glass.  Sometimes, he stops, looks towards the house, puts his hands to his ear and curses.  I could go out there and confront him, but he’s bigger than me.  I wouldn’t stand a chance.

There’s a note through my door, misspelt and soiled.  It demands that I get rid of my dog, or he’ll crush it with a rock.  Says its howling is driving him insane.  He won’t be responsible for what he might do.  I buy a better lock for the gate.  He breaks it.  I lean a concrete block next to it.  He climbs over.  Every night, he’s rattling the back door handle, banging on the windows, and shouting, “Shut that bloody dog up.  I’ll strangle the brute.”

He’s getting bolder.  The low winter sun appears, illuminating my room like stage lighting.  I hear his slow, heavy walk on the gravel.  He presses his face against the window, his hands shielding his eyes.  His head is dark and featureless against the glare.  His whiskers brush the glass as he moves away.

Two huge thumps and the door bursts open, the lock torn from splintered wood.  Cold air hits my face.  He’s muttering: “Well, well, well”, in a satisfied voice like a man pleased to have come upon a scandal.  There’s something metallic and heavy in his hand.

In the corner, the youth pulls against his shackles.  His long hair is golden in the sunlight.  He mumbles in a language I can never understand.  I rush to apply the needle and the tape: too late.  He’s holding his head back, breathing fast, building to a crisis. 

I cover my ears and close my eyes.  But my head is full of his desperate howl.

Paul Goodwin

Image by bazinga1k980 from Pixabay

11 thoughts on “The Dog by Paul Goodwin”

  1. Hi Paul,
    I know how you worked on this and I would like to let you see my comments after your revision –

    Well that wasn’t what I was expecting!!
    To be honest I wasn’t sure if he could have done anything with it but this is clever, very clever.
    Those last couple of paragraphs could either be about the neighbour or the youth. And the ending is open to interpretation but not really as a rock wouldn’t do so we know what the howl was all about.
    I wonder if he had this scenario in his mind all along, if so, he has finished this off with quite a bit of writing skill.

    I’ve read thousands of shorts in the time that we have been here and not often am I surprised. I was with this!!!
    Brilliant my fine friend, absolutely brilliant!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Paul,
    Helleva start to a Monday.
    What I like is the accusation by the neighbor is credibly denied but the truth is much worse. Excellent twist.
    Well done!
    My best,

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Boom! Loved this! I thought the neighbor was delusional right up to that wow of a twist.
    And his reaction to the discovery–very creepy.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great writing and a great twist ending! I completely empathized with the main character thinking the neighbor was crazy and then you twisted it all on its head in just three sentences! Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great tone of voice here – mostly adjective and adverb (thankfully) free. The use of present tense for the narration also adds to the urgency and gristle of the story. As others have said, superb and deftly done, harrowing, ending.

    Liked by 2 people

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