Thomas Wictor

Excised snippet Number Three

Excised snippet Number Three

Here’s the third passage from my novel Invisible Idiot, which became Chasing the Last Whale, Volume Two of the Ghosts Trilogy.

I agreed with the need to remove these scenes, but since I like them, I’m publishing them here when I get the urge. Even though Mike Albee and Lura Dold of Sandpiper Publicity defrauded me of $40,000 by exploiting the suicides of my parents in 2013, and even though I’m no longer a professional writer, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t keep posting these.

Excised Snippet Number Three: The Akitas

Almost at the end of No Man’s Land, there’s a yard with three dogs. I didn’t know they were Akitas until I Googled them. Akitas are Japanese dogs originally bred for hunting bears. Two of the Akitas in the yard at the end of No Man’s Land are bitches and one is a dog. Males canines are called “dogs,” I discovered.

With their thickset bodies, heavy jowls, and low foreheads, Akitas look like Neanderthals. The only reason they exist is because someone needed a controllable animal really good at killing other animals. The three Akitas’ yard is a dust bowl scattered with car wheels, transmissions, bottles, cans, and faded plastic toys. There aren’t any trees; the only shade is under a rusty white machine standing in the middle of the yard. It’s a big metal cylinder with four legs and a lid.

It might be an antique washer, though it doesn’t have those scary wringers that caught peoples’ hands and degloved them, as it’s called when you lose all your skin from a limb. Or from your face. There’s a stark, institutional quality to the cylinder, like it’s from the laundry or kitchen of a mental hospital. On hot days the Akitas crowd their heads and shoulders under it. Their isn’t room for the rest of their bodies.

Though Akitas are supposed to be killers, these three trotted beside me the entire length of their yard when I walked past. They didn’t bark; instead, they put their ears back, grinned, licked their lips, and wagged their tails so hard their haunches went in circles. Usually one of them scooped up a yellow toy dump truck, brought it over to the fence, and bowed to me on her forelegs. She was asking me to please play with her. They don’t have a ball or squeaky frog or rawhide bone. All they have is a truck with hard edges.

Sometimes a thin, chinless, gray-haired, gray-skinned man in khaki shorts and a white wife-beater came out and surveyed the yard. He looked dazed, like he couldn’t believe what he saw. The Akitas skipped and jumped for him, but he ignored them. He or someone else had piled paint cans and sections of tree trunk in the corner of the yard, where the dogs had been digging a hole under the fence. This was to prevent the Akitas from escaping. You can’t neglect something unless it’s actually in your possession.

A while back I made the huge mistake of talking to the Akitas.

“Listen,” I said as I walked past. “You need to pull that gray guy down and gnash off his head.”

I’d begun saying things out loud when I only meant to think them. At the sound of my voice, the Akitas began doing frenzied, squatting hulas. It was so grotesque that I stopped, and the dogs collapsed on their bellies—whining, snorting, sneezing, and wallowing in the dust like mendicants. When I put my fingers through the fence, they jabbed their muzzles into the wire and shoved each other out of the way.

To keep them from ripping open their dumb noses, I stroked the top of whichever head I could reach and told them to settle down. This made all two hundred pounds of them smash into my fingers and bend them up against the fence. I managed to work them out from between the metal and fur-covered muscle before my digits were broken, but it was close.

After that I had to stop and say hello every time I passed. I did it twice a day, every day: once on my way out, and once on my way back. If I didn’t, the Akitas ran in circles and shrieked because they thought I’d abandoned them. The arrangement we came to was that they’d sag into the fence or lie on their backs with their paws in the air, and I’d scratch them through the wire. I hummed and burbled, and they closed their eyes and moaned. And I had to give all three equal attention.

Every afternoon I saw them waiting with their heads cocked, their ears perked forward, their bodies taut. They sat in a row, peering through the wire, aching for me. I was the high point of their day. The high point of their lives. I began thinking of penned-up, shadeless, desperate Akitas all the time. When I tried sneaking past on the other side of the street, they saw me and panicked. They raced back and forth and wailed.

I studied maps, scouted in my car, and wracked my brain for days before I gave up. There was no other route I could take.

After about three weeks, the Akitas gave me an out. When I first stopped to talk with and scratch them, they were so besotted that they didn’t worry about which of them hogged the limelight. Gradually, they started snapping and growling at each other as I tended to them. I thought they’d work things out, but the opposite happened.

Not only did they not reach a compromise, they graduated to attacking each other as soon as they saw me. At my approach they merged into a snoring mass that spun, rolled, and kicked up dust. They yanked each others’ coats up into tents and bit each others’ mouths, one set of fangs clicking and clacking against another with a brittle, palpably dental sound that made my own teeth hurt.

Two would pin one down and go for the throat. It was only a matter of time before somebody got killed.

Stop it!” I yelled, but they didn’t know what I wanted because they’d never been trained in any way. I could’ve been shouting, “Cocoa! Elf!

So I started ignoring them. I hadn’t asked for any of it; I just wanted to take my walks in peace. As I marched past on the first day of paying them no attention, the Akitas ran beside me, scared and confused but still taking time out to bite each other. I did it to them again on the way back. The next afternoon they didn’t fight, but it was too late. I never stopped and talked to them again.

Though I didn’t even glance at them anymore, they still sat waiting for me every day. Their optimism was unyielding, indefatigable. They trotted beside me, wagging their tails, whining, begging for a reprieve.

Forgive us, they begged. Please come back to us.

I didn’t. Because of them I was about to stop taking walks, and because of me, they were about to kill each other. But I wasn’t angry at them. It wasn’t their fault; it was mine. For not minding my own business.