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The smell of Death…
The Smell of Death…
by Sergio ‘ente per ente’ PALUMBO
edited by Michele 'bottomdweller' DUTCHER
Smell of rain. Smell of trees…
I go down the slope, breathlessly, following my Master. The ground under me is very slippery, full of autumn leaves, and some pointed rocks abound hither and thither…
My wet nose is acquainted with the surroundings. I sense the many different woods, my tongue cools down in the air, I feel the smells coming from our pack/group: Jake’s odour, the one of his old Master, Harry ( his trousers, his waxed jacket, the barrel of his gun, his shoes covered in mud), and my own Master’s (Frank) well known aroma, his typical skin in the rain, his leather clothing and headgear.
Then, Harry and Frank immediately stop. Jake stops too, staying near his Master. The nose game of the day is going to start…
Frank looks at me with his blue eyes, his little nose is so different from mine that our kind hardly could call it a real nose. Both his young hands pat on the shaded sable furry pelt of my elongated head.
“Good boy,Max” Frank says, his words coming to me as strange sounds, but I can interpret them perfectly after so many years of co- existence within human premises. And then his clear pupils are special, I need only to stare at them to comprehend everything at once. It’s an unusual ability, no other man possesses as far as I know. He may convince me thanks to the power of a glance: this is why he is so famous as a dog trainer all around. “Now I count on you: find the ball! Good boy!” and then he gives me the sign. On his mark I begin running.
Jake hurries,too, after me…
We run, and run, and run.
Past the trees, after the potholes on the path, I know exactly where I am to go…Jake is following me, his sense of smell is very good too, but not as good as mine: he knows that I’ll get to the spot where the ball has been hidden because I can sense it in a way he can’t, but he is well aware he can beat me only by working the field faster than I do when on site…
But, while going away from him, I begin perceiving another weird smell, something I had already sensed before….Oh, my!It’s that stench…
Other than Frank, I possess a special ability, too. My olfaction is special, more augmented than common dogs’ sense of smell. I know something is going to happen,I am sure that it will occur soon ! I turn my head to the left and to the right, both eyes stumble on my grey and white fellow, Jake, approaching: It’s him!
What could I do? How could I warn him? Anyway, how could I prevent all that from occurring only in a few seconds from now…? I look at Jake and Jake looks at me in return: he goes a few steps forward, then back, trying to figure out why I stay and don’t run anymore. I put my brown eyes on him, in silence, the smell coming from his pelt becoming stronger and stronger minute after minute…It’s near, it’s now! Jake puts his rear extremities into a bad place, very slippery, his front paws lose their grip and begin falling down the slope, very fast. An unstoppable tumble. He barks, cries out, he flails, but everything he does can’t thwart what’s going on…
In the end there is a plonk, the cries cease.
Jake’s head has hit a big rock at the bottom of the slope, he does breath no more.His Master arrives,looking for the dog fallen, and says “Damn’!”
And then the man curses the wind.
My Master, too, swears, looking at me and patting on my head in a reassuring gesture.
But Jake is dead. That kind of smell can never be mistaken, nor forgotten. This rainy day, too.
One month later, I sit near my Master’s armchair in the living room, my four paws laid on the cold floor. It’s late evening and Frank is watching TV. I look at him and his quiet face reassures me: in a matter of minutes he will stand up, going to the potting shed in the garden to attend his usual businness,after which he will be in the kitchen to make dinner for both of us.
As he steps out of the living room, I surge forward, raise my head, open my maws and wait in silence. I religiously keep following with my eyes my Master’s feet walking away:only on his mark I’ll go after him.
But, unexpectedly, something happens: I sense again that smell, that stench: I run out, go to the shed outside and look at it very worried.
In silence I enter the wooden outbuilding and find my Master at work on his hunting gun: Frank is cleaning it for the next day of hunting in the wilderness, again.
I sense that smell, another time, stronger and stronger: I know that it’s the smell of death!
I bark, I yelp, trying to make him look at me, to stop what he is presently doing. But the Master looks at me in return, smiling, nothing else.
Then the shot is inadvertently fired…An accident, a damn accident, the bullet is thrown out of the gun barrel and violently hits the man working on it!
The smell of blood, the smell of gunpowder, the smell of meat.
The smell of death, again!
I whine, I run about, I try to call to anyone.
But there is nothing I can do.
If I only were capable I would cry, shedding all my tears on the ground, desperate over the sad death of my Master.
But I can’t cry.
Dogs may only mourn alone.
micheledutcher - I also like the perspective from the dog's viewpoint. It's a little magical with the smell of death detail - but it would be sad to be mourning alone for the leader of the pack. Nicely done!
Snowy - I love the fact that the story is told from a dog's point of view and it is done well considering the language used here. I especally love the last sentence in the piece. It very much describes the inside of a dog's head-a loyal dog. You certainly presented the unseen.
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