But first, the dog

There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24

Mid-August 2019. Québec City. It’s the morning after your annual souper de filles which had lingered late into the night. You go out onto the balcony to have your coffee when you notice in the candle wax splatters on the table the little alien and his dog.

“Come play with us,” the alien says with a strange urgency, “Come be our friend!”

It makes you think about the water stain along the crack in the ceiling above the bed you shared with two of your sisters in your childhood home. It was a wolf. A wolf sitting on his haunches and howling towards an imaginary moon. You wonder if he’s still there. You’ll check the next time you go home to visit your mother. Maybe you’ll take a picture of it. Maybe you’ll even draw it. Which makes you think: why not take a picture of this alien and his dog, why not draw them? They are calling to you, after all. It would be rude not to.

Drawing of the wax splatterings for Petit chien extraterrestre (14 August 2019)

Without finishing your coffee, you go back inside to grab your phone and snap a picture of this alien and his dog to sketch later. But these are candle wax splatters on a glass tabletop, so nothing is visible in the photo. If you want to capture the alien and his dog, you are going to have to draw them this very moment.

That’s annoying, you think. There is no time to draw the alien and his dog right now; you have other things to do. Work out in the staircases connecting the basse ville and the haute ville before the temperatures rise too high, for example. There are all the dishes lingering in the sink from the night before, the compost and the trash and the recycling to take out, emails to write, errands to run. This will have to wait.

The alien doesn’t agree. This time, in his voice, something more than just urgency: exasperation, frustration, annoyance.

“Cut the shit, bitch,” he says, “In a couple hours, the sun will have climbed to its peak in the sky. It will melt us, me and the dog. Get a piece of paper and a writing utensil, preferably a Ticonderoga number 2 pencil, sit your ass down and draw us for fuck’s sake. Quit fooling around!”

In less than a month, your husband will sit you down and firebomb the life you have built together these last seventeen years. You will find yourself living in a rented room of a brownstone on Bergen and Fifth, alone and scared, and forced to face the woman you have become. You will discover that you don’t really like her. That you loath her, in fact. Fear her, even. Understandably. This woman is not kind. She is judgmental and unforgiving and impatient, stubborn, unteachable. And angry. So angry. All the time. At everything. If you are going to survive this catastrophic moment of your life, if you are going to survive this woman and her hateful, relentless criticisms, you are going to need a friend. A true one. The kind who knows every hair on your head, who has loved you unconditionally since before you were even born. Someone you have buried so deep inside the recesses of your heart as to be unrecognizable to you now: the Alien.

This Alien is no dummy, though. Your hardened little heart is about to be broken wide open and made vulnerable and finally malleable to his hands, but it’s not the average recovering Catholic who goes running back to God without a fight. Certainly not the over-educated, hard-headed, Brooklyn-dwelling variety like yourself. He is going to have to send someone ahead of him. Someone you won’t be able to resist: the little dog.

Petit chien extraterrestre (March 2020)

So then. There’s a pad of paper on the bottom shelf of your nightstand, some pencils in the holder on your desk. Ticonderoga number 2, if I’m not mistaken. Retrieve these things, and then sit your ass down at this table on the balcony and draw the freaking alien and his dog, already, just like he told you. Be sure the drawing makes it back with you to Brooklyn. You won’t be coming back to this apartment in Québec City for two years. In the meantime, confined to your apartment in Brooklyn, you will have started painting what you see in the stains and the cracks of the sidewalks of the city. In the meantime, you will have gotten to know the characters from the drawing of the candle wax splatters. The Alien, of course. But first, the dog.

Veux-tu que je raconte ? (10 August 2020)
Waterstain for Veux-tu que je raconte?

1 thought on “But first, the dog”

Leave a Comment