It was a beautiful day. Jake was out the back sunbathing on the lawn
when the dog came. He could hear it making its way through the
undergrowth, panting and scratching as it approached the garden fence.
It stood behind the mesh and started to growl at him. A low-pitched
menacing rumble punctuated by short rasps of air. Jake tried to ignore
it. He lay still and waited for the dog to leave. But it continued and
the growls intensified. The dog had picked up the scent of sun cream
and sweat, and it wasn't going anywhere. Jake sat up and stared at the
dog. It launched itself at the fence, barking ferociously at him. It
chewed and clawed at the wire and bared its teeth in between the snarls
and yelps. At first, Jake spoke softly to the dog.
'Come on boy. You know me.. What's all this then. There's a good
But the dog's bark was now a deafening howl and the noise was bouncing
off the back garages. Jake snapped. He stood up and taunted the dog
through the fence.
'Fuck off ya scabby flea ridden half breed!' He picked up a handful of
gravel and threw it at the dog. It retreated slightly then returned to
its task. Jake went to get the hose. The dog followed him along the
line of the boundary and started digging at the bottom of the fence.
Jake unwound the hose and turned on the tap. Water filled the rubber
tube and spurted out of the end. He turned the tap on full and aimed
the pipe at the dog. A spout of water shot across the path and through
the wire. It hit the dog square in the face and it yowled and shook its
head, its ears flapping frantically from side to side. Jake applied
more water torture. He fanned the spray across its back and the dog
started to withdraw from the assault. It then turned on its tail,
disappeared behind an evergreen shrub and was gone. Jake switched off
the hose and returned to his beer on the lawn.
About ten minutes later, he heard a noise beyond the fence.
'Not again.' he thought. He rested on his elbow and peered into the
neighbour's garden. There was no sign of the dog. He lay back down and
sighed with relief. Suddenly, he heard a voice.
'Excuse me .. You there..' Jake sat up again. It was
Mr Grieves, the mutt's owner. He had appeared from nowhere. Jake
squinted at him.
'Did you see my dog earlier?'
'Did you see my dog earlier?'
'I don't know what you mean?
'My dog.. did you see my dog?'
'You attacked it, didn't you?'
'Attack your dog? Try the other way round?
'Did you spray my dog with water?'
'If you mean did I stop your dog from ruining my afternoon..' The
'You have no right to attack someone's property like that. I will be
calling the RSPCA and reporting you.' Jake was getting hot and
'Look.. Mr Grieves. The dog is intrusive and aggressive and needs to be
kept under control. All I did was calm it down with a bit of
'My Dog was soaked through. He has a medical condition you know.'
'You are really beginning to annoy me, Mr Grieves.'
The neighbour started puffing and growling, not unlike his canine
'You will be hearing from my solicitors about this. It's criminal
damage you know.'
'I tell you what, Mr Grieves. You do that. And I'll wait for the
letter, OK?' Jake lay down and the neighbour shuffled off back to his
house. He tried to forget about it and relax, but the damage had been
done. He got up and went inside to wash off the sun cream.
In the bathroom, he was towel drying his flushed neck and face when he
heard the phone. He rushed downstairs and picked it up.
'Hello?' He waited and then he heard a young woman's voice.
'This is Sheryl here from British telemarketing.'
Jake closed his eyes and waited for the next sentence.
'How would you like to halve your phone bill over the next three
months?' A puddle had formed around Jake's feet and he could feel the
water running down his back.
'Hello, Sheryl.. How would you like to fuck off!'
He slammed the phone down. He was about to ascend the stairs when the
phone started ringing again.
'For fuck's sake!' Jake picked up the receiver.
'Look, Sheryl.. I told you before.. I am not interested.'
' Hi Jake, it's me.. Who the hell is Sheryl?'
It was Amanda. Jake had been going out with her for about six months.
He'd met her when she turned up at his office looking for some advice
on tax-free savings. Their relationship wasn't serious, at least that's
what Jake hoped, but Amanda was keen to take it on to the next level,
as she described it. Jake thought it sounded like some arcade game they
were playing together, and at times it felt like that.
' Hi Amanda.. Oh it was just a girl trying to sell me something on the
'Sell you something.. what do you mean..?
'Oh you know.. services.' Jake was digging the hole deeper as he
'Look Jake, is there something you want to tell me?
'Tell you..? Amanda, it was a girl from some marketing company trying
to get me to switch my telephone company. For God's sake. I am having a
nightmare of a day and the last thing I need is for you to start
getting jealous about some telesales airhead who I have never met in my
' It's just that I worry about us, Jake. Where we're going and all
'We're going on to the next level, Amanda. As soon as we complete this
one OK?' Jake started to shiver.
'Look Amanda can I call you back. I'm standing here in the nude.
'Never mind.. Look, I'll call you back in ten minutes.'
After a long and tortuous conversation with his girlfriend, Jake opened
a can of beer and settled down in front of the TV. The beer fizzed out
of the top. He gulped down a few mouthfuls and the ice-cold liquid
chilled his throat. It felt good. At last he was beginning to relax. He
flicked the channel control and settled on a nature programme. Just
then, the letterbox rattled and something landed on the hall carpet. He
got up to investigate. On the floor was a small white envelope with his
name across the front.
He ripped it open and pulled out a letter. It read,
Following your gratuitous attack on my dog, I would like to inform you
that I have been in touch with my solicitor who has indicated to me
that legal proceedings are a definite possibility, and you will be
hearing from him in due course.
Mr Grieves (Esq.)
Jake stared at the letter in disbelief.
'What pretentious twat would include (Esq.)in brackets!' He screwed
the note into a ball and threw it down the hall. He opened the front
door to see if Grieves was still around. The street was quiet and
deserted. He looked both ways but he had vanished. Grieves must have
run back to his house. Jake slammed the door and returned to his
Two Great Bull Seals were battling it out on a beach somewhere in
Antarctica. One had gouged a chunk of flesh out of the other's neck and
was about to sink the fatal blow. Jake turned off the TV and went into
the kitchen. It was getting dark outside. He stood at the back window
and stared into the garden. He couldn't stop thinking about the dog and
its obnoxious owner. He rubbed his eyes and pushed his hair back. He
could feel a headache coming on. Drinking in the afternoon was a
mistake, but if he stopped now, the headache would just get worse. He
went to the fridge and popped another can out of its plastic holder. He
opened the back door and stepped into the garden. It was still warm and
he could feel the heat of the day rising up from the patio slabs. He
sat down on his decorative garden bench and flicked the ring pull. As
he stared at the fence, he imagined what the magistrates would say to
' Take him down' Jake muttered under his breath and smiled. But then
the anger returned. Something like this could ruin his career. He could
see the story in the Herald,
"Respected Financier Found Guilty Of Animal Cruelty".
He felt trapped and claustrophobic. He stepped up to the fence and
looked down into Grieves's back garden. There were neat little rows of
bedding plants, miniature hedges and potted shrubs. A decorative
birdbath with a small water feature bubbled near the back door. In the
corner, a small shed had been erected and in the centre of the garden
was an immaculate latticework of sheared green lawn. Suddenly, he heard
a familiar rustling and the patter of tiny paws approaching. He ducked
into the house before the dog reached him. He stood at the window and
watched it sniff around where he had been, it growled and scraped at
the soil. The rage started to build again and he clenched his
'Fucking dog.' He cursed. I could wring its fucking neck,' Then it came
'That's it!..' he enthused. 'No doggie .. No solicitor's letter and no
more bloody noise.' He wondered why he hadn't thought of it before. He
took another sip of beer and contemplated how he might do it.
'Some rat poison maybe...or a gun!' He shrugged his shoulders. 'Don't
be stupid, Jake.' But then he looked down and saw the toolbox sticking
out of a cupboard door.
'The hammer.. I'll use the hammer.' He opened the box and lifted out
his brand new Spear and Jackson. He felt the weight of it in his hand
and swiped it through the air. Then he stopped.
'What are you doing, Jake? Are you pissed or what?' He put the hammer
down on the table and rubbed his eyes. It was such a ridiculous idea,
but then it would put an end to his problem. He picked up the hammer
again and touched the cold metal surface with his finger. Outside, the
dog was still digging at the base of the fence. Jake gritted his
'Fuck it, let's do it.'
He remembered he had some steak defrosting in the fridge. He picked the
slab of raw meat off the plate and blood dripped onto the floor. He
held it over the sink and reached for a knife to cut it up. He sliced
it into small bite size chunks and put them in a plastic bag. He worked
quickly, worried that the dog might disappear again. When he had
finished he washed his hands, picked up the bag and the hammer and
tiptoed out the back door.
It was near dark. The dog was lying down now, waiting for him to come.
When it saw him approaching it started to growl. Jake picked out a cube
of meat and threw it over the fence. The dog stopped growling and
sniffed around until it located his gift. Jake moved closer and tossed
some more beef at the dog. It munched on it, licked its lips and waited
for another treat. It was beginning to forget to growl. Jake reached
the fence. He had three pieces of meat left. He pushed one through the
wire and it dropped down at the dog's front paws. As it gulped it down
Jake climbed over and jumped into Grieves' garden. The dog started to
'Shh.. There you are boy.' Jake offered the dog the penultimate morsel.
He dropped the meat on the ground and the dog licked it up. Finally,
Jake held out the last piece.
'Come and get it.' The dog moved forward cautiously, snarling and
sniffing the air. Jake gripped the hammer behind his back and looked
around the garden to make sure that Grieves wasn't around. The dog
stopped again, sensing danger.
'Good boy.. here's some lovely munchies for you.'
The dog hesitated but then stepped forward to within striking distance.
Jack lowered his palm and the dog pushed its nose into his hand. It
cocked its head to pick up the meat in its teeth. Jake raised the
hammer and stopped.
'What the fuck am I doing?' he held the hammer above his head as the
dog licked his fingers.
'Too late.' He brought the hammer down and hit the dog accurately on
top of the scull. There was a loud crack and the dog slumped to the
ground, wriggling and kicking its legs. It was probably dead but he hit
it again and then again. The hammer smashed through the cheek and bits
of bone stuck to the steel head. He raised it one last time but the dog
was now completely still. Jack was out of breath and in danger of
hyperventilating. He stood for a second and gulped in air. He threw his
weapon over the fence and picked up the little warm corpse. Its head
flopped as he lifted it and blood ran out of its mouth and eye socket.
He tossed it into his garden, covered the evidence with soil and
climbed back over the fence.
In the kitchen, he put the dog in a refuse sack and laid it out on the
table. He stopped.
'What now? What do you do with a dead dog?' He searched his brain for a
'Come on, think.' He'd have to chop it up and put it out with the
rubbish. But the bins had just been collected. Another week in this
heat and the bags would walk to the dump on their own. He could take it
in the car and toss it in the river, but what if he was spotted by one
of the neighbours? Suddenly, the doorbell sounded. He jumped out of his
thought and turned to the door.
'Oh my God.. who the fuck is that?' It sounded again.
He bundled the carcass into the cupboard. He scanned the kitchen for
evidence and spotted the bloodstained hammer in the sink. He rinsed it
under the tap and put it back in the toolbox. The bell rang again and
continued to ring until he reached the front door. He straightened his
hair and checked his clothes for blood. There was a large crimson stain
on his t-shirt. He took it off and wrapped it up in a tight ball.
'Who's there.. ?'
'Jake... It's me. Let me in.'
'Amanda.' He thought, 'Fuck.. of all the people.'
'Jake. Come on What are you doing in there?'
'I'm just coming.' He unlocked the door and opened up. Amanda was
frowning. She walked past him and looked up the hall.
'What are you doing Jake?' She looked at his bare chest.
'Nothing, I was just watching a film and I didn't want to leave it at a
good bit and..' he tailed off as his story ran out of steam.
'Is there something you want to tell me Jake. I haven't come at a bad
time or... an embarrassing time. I wouldn't want to embarrass you
'Don't be daft, Amanda. You know you're always welcome. So.. What
brings you round here tonight. I thought you were studying for your
advanced driving test.'
' The driving school can wait. I want to get to the bottom of this. You
are up to something and I want to know what it is.' Jake couldn't
contain his anxiety any longer.
'OK.. Amanda. You're right. I am having an affair. She's upstairs now
applying baby oil to her privates.'
'I've been seeing her for months and you've caught me with my pants
down. In fact my pants are always down when you are not around. I'm
just a little horny devil who can't keep his hands out of the honey,
you know what I mean?' She stepped away from him in horror.
'What's the matter? Don't you want to go and check on my tart upstairs?
Maybe you could join us. Wouldn't that be fun.' Something registered in
her mind that he was teasing her. She slapped him playfully on the top
of the head.
'You.! You'll be the death of me' Jake smiled for a second and then
remembered about his problem in the kitchen.
'What a state you're in. Look at you.' Amanda tidied his hair like a
fussing mother, then added. 'Why are you half naked?'
'It's so hot tonight, don't you think.' He wiped his forehead with the
scrunched up t-shirt then tried to distract her.
'Would you like a drink, Amanda. You go into the living room and I'll
get you a nice cool G and T.'
'That would be lovely.' She started following him into the
'No. Why don't you sit yourself down in the living room and I'll bring
it to you.' He pressed her shoulders gently. She shrugged him
'Jake. Stop whining. I want to talk to you.' She continued to follow
him in. As he stepped through the door, he paused slightly, and glanced
furtively around the room. She pushed him in.
'What's the matter with you? Oh my God.. Look at all those filthy
'That's why I didn't want you to come in. It's such a mess in here.' He
rolled his eyes.
'You are such a batchelor boy Jake Straiton. Let me do them for
'Leave them!' His tone surprised her and she frowned at him again. She
sat down at the table.
'What's wrong, Jake. You seem a little tense. It's not me is it?'
'Nothing's the matter. I've just had a bit of a bad day that's
'Why, what's happened.'
'Oh you know.. boring domestic stuff, nothing really.' He threw the
soiled t-shirt into the washing machine.
'You can talk to me , you know. We are supposed to be partners aren't
we?. She smiled at him and he thought about confessing to her about his
misadventure with the hammer but then he recoiled and searched for the
bottle of gin.
'G and T then, OK'
'OK. I'll get it ready and you go and put some music on. It'll help me
relax.' He turned round to check where she was. She was staring into
'Jake, do you think we are going to make it?'
'Oh fuck.. he thought, 'not the deep and meaningfuls.. not now'
'Of course we're going to make it... next level and all that.'
'Not just the next level, I'm talking about the top level.. the forever
level.' She looked like she was going to cry. Jake poured the gin into
a tall glass and checked the cupboard again. To his horror, a small
puddle of blood had appeared from under the door. His hands started to
shake and the bottle clinked off the side of the glass.
'I've upset you haven't I.' Amanda sniffed. 'You're afraid of emotions
Jake. You just can't deal with them can you?'
'It's not that.. Look, why don't we go next door out of all this mess
and we can talk about it properly.' He handed her the glass, trying to
control his nerves.
'Why don't you ever tell me that you love me?'
'I do love you , Amanda. Oh for Christ sake. Look I want us to be
together forever on the highest level and all that but I've just had a
terrible day and.. I hate this bloody neighbourhood and I wish I'd
never moved out of my flat in Denistoun.. and...' The blood had now
formed a small rivulet and was pushing its way towards Amanda's stool.
Amanda stood up and threw her arms around Jake's neck.
'I love you too, Jake.' As he hugged her he looked down her back to see
the small river gather in a pool around her feet. He started to
'Come on Amanda, let's go upstairs.' He looked at her with a kind of
desperation that she thankfully misread. She played with the hairs
around his nipples, took his hand and led him out of the kitchen. A
small, congealed glob of red fluid clung to the sole of her shoe.
It was around four. Amanda was lying on her front, snoring her lungs
out. Jake slipped out of bed and crept downstairs. He pulled at the
cupboard door and it made a sticky tearing sound as it opened. He knelt
down by the corpse. Rigormortis had set in and one of the dog's legs
was sticking out of the plastic sack. He picked up the leg between his
fingers and pushed it back into the bag. He hauled the body out of the
cupboard and put it down on the floor while he searched for the torch.
Then he shuffled out the back door.
As he negotiated around the side of the house, the torchlight swung and
flashed against the wall and the path. He was finding it difficult to
carry both items. Halfway along the path, he dropped the torch. As he
reached down to pick it up, the dog slid out of the bin bag.
'For fuck's sake..' He looked round to check no one had heard him. He
gathered up the dog again and carried on until he reached the garage.
To its left he located the compost maker. He smiled, glad that he had
ordered the larger size from the council. He laid the dog on the path
and lifted the plastic lid. The smell was overpowering. He held his
nose and shone the torch inside. It was only half full. He put the
torch on the wall and unwrapped the dog from its plastic shroud. It was
wet and sticky and his hands hurried to pull it out of the bag. He
balanced the dog on the edge of the container and was just about to
push it in when a light went on in the McCartney's house directly
opposite. In panic, he let the dog go, but instead of falling in, it
rolled backwards and dropped back onto the path. He ducked down behind
the wall and looked up at the illuminated window. An unidentifiable
figure was moving back and forth, in and out of the frame. He squeezed
in closer to the wall and held his breath. After a few moments, the
light blinked out and the garden was dark again. He waited until he was
sure, then reached for the torch. The beam swung wildly around his feet
then finally settled on the dog's mutilated features. He scooped up the
body and threw it into the rotting compost. It landed with a wet slap.
He snapped the lid shut and wiped the gunge off his hands.
'That's sorted next year's organic veg supply' he thought. He gathered
up the remains of the bin bag and made his way back to the
Amanda was standing in the middle of the room staring at the floor. She
'What in the name of God is this, Jake.' Jake had to think quick.
'You won't believe it but the freezer's broken down. Everything is
ruined.' He surprised himself with his improvisational skills. ' I
heard the motor go. It made a terrible noise... Woke me up.'
But look at the blood , Jake.'
'I know. Its disgusting isn't it.'
'But I thought you said you'd given up eating red meat.'
'I had.. but er.. Oh I've been feeling a bit listless lately and I
thought I might be getting anaemic like before. So I bought myself some
steaks to perk up my protein intake.' It was some kind of truth at
Amanda rubbed her eyes then scratched her head.
'But..I thought..' A yawn interrupted her train of thought. Jake seized
'Listen darling. Why don't you go back to bed. It's really late. I'll
sort out this horrible mess and I'll be up in a little while.
'Are you sure? She yawned again.
'Yeah love. Don't worry, It'll be all gone in the morning.'
She kissed him on the cheek and stepped round the large lake of blood
on the floor. She was half way down the hall when she stopped.
'But I thought your freezer was in the garage?'
'It was sweetheart but I moved it into the kitchen cupboard. It's more
convenient for cooking. Off you go. Night night.'
After one final yawn and puzzled glance at the floor she disappeared
upstairs. He got the mop and bucket out and started on the linoleum. As
the vileda soaked up the blood he tried to figure out how the hell he
was going to move the freezer before the morning.
A few days later a multitude of posters appeared on lampposts and in
newsagents' windows. Grieves had plastered the entire neighbourhood
with photos of his treasured pooch. It was posing for the camera with a
squeezy yellow toy dangling from its jaws. Above its happy little head
was the word 'LOST' in bold capitals. Occasionally some old woman or
mother with child would stop and read the small print. They would
gesticulate some sympathetic sounds and then walk on. But soon, the
posters disappeared and the little dog was forgotten. Jake's garden was
now a haven of peace and tranquillity.