I’m a found object artist, specializing in assemblage and creepy fucking
sculptures. Not one that you would have heard of, just one with a day job and a
weird hobby. I spend a lot of time at flea markets and peddler’s malls, because
they’re the one place you can go with fifty bucks and walk out with a mummified
deer head and a crate of old, rusty kitchen knives, all of which fit my motif
to a T. Courtesy of crazy country folk with enough money to rent booth B-4892,
I have done such magical, artistic things as help build a monster out of dog
jawbones and scrap metal and shove a cow skull in a box with serial killer
scrawlings, the latter of which is set to glow bright red at night because
Christmas lights were on sale and I didn’t realize how tacky it would be until
after the fact.
don’t always make wise decisions.
yeah, you can gather that I gravitate toward creepy things. Sometimes, though,
I’ll drift toward the stalls colored bright pink with fluffy stuffed animals
and old McDonald’s toys still in the bag, if only because a touch of cute to
something unsettling can make it ten times more powerful. Desecrating something
wholesome and pure elicits a lot of uncomfortable feelings in people, and
trashing those tiny plastic Furbies that came with Happy Meals in the ‘90s
for you, though, this isn’t a story about Furbies. This is a story about Dog.
was the denizen of one of those pastel toy booths, crammed so far into an
Easter basket that it was like somebody was trying to bury him out of sight for
the rest of his little puppy life. One look at him and it was evident that he
was probably older than my mother, crafted of a ragged brown fabric that was
threadbare in places with wide, orange/pink eyes that gleamed red in the
fluorescent light. He was bottom heavy, the majority of the sawdust inside of
him crammed into his legs from what I assumed were years of sitting on his ass.
When I picked him up he felt gritty and made my hands uncomfortably dry.
tag was dangling from his wrist. Typically, ancient stuff in this particular
peddler’s mall would have the year printed on it to entice antique hunters, but
all his said was “DOG, $5.” Strange, but hey, maybe they didn’t know how old he
instantly liked Dog, though. He was strangely cute and, despite my art’s
subject matter, I’m secretly a glitter-loving, cat-snuggling pushover. As I
wandered around looking at old Coke bottles and rusted traffic signs, a part of
me regressed to being that softhearted five-year-old who was paranoid that if
she didn’t have all of her stuffed animals on her bed that the ones left behind
would be scared and alone at night. My mind kept drifting to Dog, crammed in
that basket, looking vaguely afraid, probably overlooked because people thought
he was ratty and gross. He wasn’t even disgusting, really. He was just slightly terrifying
and showing his age.
must have looked like a sight, walking up to check-out with a goddamn meat
cleaver and a ratty toy dog, but I couldn’t resist in the end. I didn’t want
Dog to be alone. He was older than the hills and had made it this far, so it’d
be a shame if he didn’t sell and ended up in a landfill somewhere. Dumb to be
concerned about an inanimate object, I know, but again, I’m a fucking pushover.
I brought Dog home to my apartment, much to my roommate’s delight. He loves
creepy things and old things and Dog fit both of those bills. He originally
expressed some concern that my cat would be a little too interested in him
because he was filled with sawdust and smelled like outdoors, but thankfully
she didn’t really want anything to do with him. Safe from being a scratching
post, he found a new home nestled on the row of stuffed animals that we had
gradually been accumulating on the back of the couch: souvenirs from zoo and
aquarium trips, geek toys from our favorite games, that sort of thing. Dog
became the semi-permanent neighbor of an ESO mudcrab and a bushbaby.
I said “semi-permanent.” I say this because it didn’t take long for Dog to
start traveling in instances my roommate and I originally blamed on the cat. It
started with him being behind the couch, then dragged outside our bedroom
doors. Then, it evolved to him teetering on top of our headboards while we
slept or peeking from behind the milk in the fridge. We assumed the other was
just messing with us until, finally, I got a call at work after my roommate
dropped me off. His voice was shaken and I could hear the sound of traffic
rushing behind him.
after dropping me off, he caught a glimpse of movement in his peripheral
vision. He checked once, and there was nothing. He checked once more when it
happened again, and Dog was sitting in the passenger’s seat. It startled him
enough that he pulled over to call me, convinced there had to be some sort of
explanation, but what explanation could there be? I was at work, Dog hadn’t
been in the car, and then he was. Not like I could will him inside of it.
got periodic text messages throughout my shift. How my roommate got stuck in
unexpected traffic because he pulled over and his twenty minute commute turned
into an hour. How uncomfortable he was being in the car with Dog. How he put
Dog back in my room to keep from having to look at him but he was back on the
couch after he took a shower. The kicker came in the last hour of my workday,
a six car pile-up at our exit because I stopped. FedEx semi. Rolled over and
caught fire. Eight dead.”
traffic my roommate was stuck in was the result of an inexperienced semi driver
trying to illegally change lanes at our exit. I don’t know the logistics of it,
but apparently he somehow managed to tilt his cargo while trying to overcorrect
and wound up crushing the cars in the lane next to him. It caused a pile-up
because nobody on the interstate actually drives the speed limit, then, bam.
Gas and sparks ignited and the entire thing went up in smoke. It wasn’t
anything my roomie saw, mind you, because he got impatient and got off at the
previous exit, so it took him by surprise to read the local news later and
realize that Dog’s miraculous intervention saved him from burning alive.
to say, Dog got a lot more respect after that. Back on the couch he went, with
the occasional head pat for good luck and just to let Dog–or whatever
was in Dog–know
that we appreciated whatever it was that he just did. We didn’t even sit in
front of him when we played video games or watched Netflix, just in case Dog
wanted to watch, too. Whenever he’d disappear and pop up someplace else, we
always acted happy to see him, like he was a kid playing hide and seek or
sounds crazy, but we didn’t regret it when we began to notice patterns in where
he popped up.
in the fridge? He was next to expired food. Saved me a morning of rancid
cereal. An appearance under the sink? We had a mild leak and mold was beginning
to grow. That could have been bad for my allergies. We still didn’t know why he
showed up on or near our beds or outside of our bedrooms, but we thought he may
have believed that the cat was a threat and was trying to protect us from her. He is a dog,
Dog stepped up his game.
one of those days where you come home from work and are just done. Eleven
at night and it was all I could do to get out of my uniform and walk to my bed.
My typically nocturnal roomie was in the same boat, having “accidentally”
stayed up for a good forty-eight hours playing goddamn Fallout 4 because he has
the self-control of a kindergartner on his days off. We high-fived our Dog
buddy on the couch and were out by midnight.
normally, I’m a deep sleeper. Being a deep sleeper does not keep you from being
woken up by the sound of “What the fuck!” ringing through your apartment in a
voice you, unfortunately, don’t recognize. Then, I heard barking, loud and
furious, ripping through the air at a volume that seemed unnatural. It was like
cranking up Cujo on an old television as high as it would go. There was
growling and snarling, cussing and fussing, then the sound of my cat bolting
under my bed. Heavy footsteps thundered down our hallway, then back. Our
bookshelf of knicknacks rattled, I heard the door to our balcony squeak open,
Then, a thud.
male voice screamed on impact and I bolted out of my room, meeting my roomie in
the hallway with the best weapon we own in the goddamn apartment: a fucking
broom. While I’m not sure what he hoped to accomplish with that, at the time he
seemed like a knight in shining armor. I hid behind him while we edged toward
the living room.
took extreme courage to flip the light on. We both half expected to be attacked
as soon as an intruder saw the whites of our eyes. But, there wasn’t an
balcony door and screen were open, and lying in the middle of the living room
floor was Dog. A seam on his leg has split, sawdust scattered around him. While
my roommate assessed the damage, I poked my head out the balcony door and took
a look-see. It took a little help from my phone’s flashlight, but I could
assess the damage as one broken branch on the dogwood tree beside our balcony
and one grown-ass man sniffling on the sidewalk right beneath our third floor
apartment. He’d attracted quite the audience of pajama-clad neighbors with his
screaming and, after a quick phone call, the cops were in attendance as well.
wasn’t anyone I knew and he wasn’t there to burgle anything. The police seemed
to recognize him almost instantly, and I got a pretty stern warning to keep my
balcony door locked because apparently the dude had been gunning for me for a
while. He had a car parked around the block, and a nasty assortment of objects
that spelled a bad time for me. They didn’t tell me much more than that, which
I was fine with, but they did ask me one weird question before the left.
did you hit him with?”
told them the truth: Nothing. Which the officer found mighty suspicious because
the guy’s hair was full of sawdust and he was adamant that I had thwacked him
with a sock full of something. Right before my dog tried to attack him,
apparently. A dog I technically don’t have.
I spent a
lot of time patching Dog up after that–not so easy, given his age–and both my
roomie and I sat around trying to figure out the how or the why of what
happened or, more importantly, how
long that dude had been creeping around inside of our
apartment while we slept. After all, Dog always showed up whenever danger
(however minor) was near. How many times had we woke up in the morning to find
him sitting vigil on our headboards, nestled beside our heads, sitting at our
doors? Honestly, I don’t want to think about it.
he’s been pretty stationary, save when we forget to clean out the fridge or the
cat knocks something over and breaks it. I’ve occasionally found him staring
wide-eyed out the balcony door, which is unnerving, but I keep it locked up
tight anymore and we’ve upgraded our home defense from “broom stuffed in a
not too concerned. Maybe he’s just keeping watch, since rotten yogurt and
broken glass seems to be the most he has to worry about anymore.