Godmama Says…
a buncha stuff.

storytime, part 1

(silly short story work in progress, please excuse the sloppity…)

Junkyard Dogma ~ pt 1

The sun never managed to shine directly on the scrapyard.  The yard was large, but most of it was boxed in by massive old warehouse buildings.   The rest was closed off by a chain link and barbed wire fence.   From inside all you could see beyond the fence was more piles of junk that had yet to be sorted before being tossed into the scrap yard to die.  Everything here had been deemed completely useless long ago, and yet there were dogs here to guard over it all in case someone got the bright idea that something here might be of value.   No one ever did.

Scabs had been around the longest, but he was hardly the leader anymore.  He mostly lay in the shade under a rusted out old bus looking gimpy, old, and disappointed.
He had long ago given up on being restless like the others.  They were all so anxious for  a reason to actually guard the junk heap that was their home.  All day they sniffed and paced in a state of paranoid readiness.  Since they couldn’t  see much, they would bark at everything they heard or thought they heard.  Scabs understood this behavior, but had little respect for it.

Bullet and Stripe annoyed him the most.  A favorite pastime of theirs was to sneak attack poor Scabs any time he got up to shake the dirt off his tired old bones.   They were young and small and had far too much energy for the old dog.  Like all of them, they were very easily distracted however,  and Scabs just tried not to call any attention to himself, so as not to be bothered.    Then there was Tock,  who spent most of his time preoccupied with a horribly itchy backside.  When he wasn’t curled into a ball chewing on his own ass, he was running around and around in a small circle trying to catch the invisible demons that plagued the base of his tail.   Chilly and Bo were shaggy little mutts who more than anything else  just wanted out.   They didn’t know what or where “out” was, but they wanted to get there.  They did a lot of frenzied digging.  Sometimes they would dig at the rocks and rusted metal until their paws bled… or until a bucket of cold water was splashed at them to snap them out of it, whichever came first.

Leading the gang was Cutter.  Bossy, arrogant, and constantly on patrol,  Cutter was determined to lead and quick with a snarl.  He was lean and focused, and not nearly as smart as he thought he was, but he had a convincing growl that made any potential challenger at least pretend to believe Cutter knew what he was barking about.  The only one who ever really challenged him was a bright eyed dog named Chevy.  Chevy was attentive and wily… and missing part of an ear from the day Cutter became Alpha.

Every other day The Person would come out and fill the big bowls with food and clean water.  These were exciting times.  Even old Scabs would perk his ears and twitch his tail in a half wag when he heard the promising jingle of the chain being unlocked.  There was never much affection,  just a few swats and kicks if the bunch got too excited (which they always did)  and jumped at the Person when he was trying to feed them.  He was harsh and cold and not very attentive,   but he was The Provider, and so they danced and flailed around him like hysterical worshippers when they saw him.  In fact the less attentive he was, the more they needed him, and so the happier they were to see him when he remembered to feed them at all.  His unkind neglect was rewarded with hysterical and unconditional love.  Every great once in a while the Person would pay an extra visit bringing big bones sticky with meat scraps.   This was a rare treat, and it was important to them to win the favor of the Person so that he would never stop providing, and maybe even bless them with bones from time to time as a reward for their unshakable loyalty and faith.   Many times when the Person threw bones over the fence, there was not enough for everyone to have their own.  Whenever this happened, the wars began.  The Person seemed to find this entertaining.   It was during one of these wars that Chevy had lost part of an ear and a lot of his ego to Cutter.

The only other excitement was trash burning night.  Any excess junk that could be burned, tires and boxes and such, got thrown onto a heap right in the middle of the yard and set ablaze.  The dogs saw this as a display of the Person’s power over them.  His careless and nonchalant control of fire sent them into a state of manic bewilderment.  The smoke from the flames was thick and sickly sweet.   It intoxicated them.  They yelped and howled until they were completely unhinged every single time it happened.  All except Scabs, who would slink away and burrow himself behind the shell of a car,  safely downwind of the burning air while the other animals got high on a combination of toxic fumes and their own noisy ignorance.

One such night, dizzy with a head full of heat and smoke, Cutter had a vision.  The sky flashed in with a brightness he had never experienced before.  It was like something was breaking through the sky from another world.  He was horrified and enraptured.  Lights from heaven flashed red and blue and grew brighter and brighter…. and swelling up above their own howls there was something more.  A howl so mighty it pierced his skull just to hear it.  He howled back at it, with it and through it.  He howled involuntarily, possessed by the otherworldly roar.   He felt this great howl controlling him,  demanding to speak through him.  And as the lights from the sky flashed and flickered against the billowing black smoke from the trash heap,  a figure seemed to take form.   Cutter could just barely make out the face of the Great Howler itself… looking right into him through the smoke… calling for him… Calling through him.   In a terrifying and beautiful flash,   Cutter knew what it all meant.

The next morning Cutter awoke suddenly after a fitful sleep and ran to the smoldering smoke pile.  The Spirit was gone, but the message was still ringing in his mind.  He had seen the Howler himself and the truth had been passed on to him alone to share with the others.   This, he believed, is why he was chosen to be Alpha, it was his calling.  And since he was Alpha, the rest would believe and follow him without question.

“Brothers and sisters,  fear not, for I bring you good news today!   Haven’t we all felt that there is something more than these piles of junk?  Something greater?  Something beyond the fence?  Well there is!  I have heard the howl of freedom myself.   The Provider, though mighty and good, is not our true Master!  There is something even greater than The Person.
There is relief for all of your digging and itching.  I have found the answer for all of us!  Our howls have been heard my friends!  There is a Great Howler waiting for us among the clouds and smoke,  to reward us for our fear of the fire and our loyal protection of the junk!  He is the one who protects his canine children from the flames brought by the Person.  He is the Alpha of all Alphas, who could tear us to pieces easier than the wind can blow, but instead chooses to let us howl for him and with him!
Howl with me, my friends!  Tonight and every night, until the Great Howler comes again to free us and unlock the fence forever!”

For a long time they lived this way.  It was nice to have something to look forward to and thrilling to have something to believe in.  Howling at the burning trash became a sacred ritual.   Scabs never joined in of course, he was glad to have the time alone.  But eventually his lack of involvement drew the very attention he did not want from the howling zealots.
“Look at the faithless old dog.  Look how alone and hollow he is.   you can see how those who don’t howl remain sickly and weak.  Do not let this be your fate!” Cutter would say, encouraging growls and yips of scornful judgement.

Chevy had different ideas of the truth however, and believed he could turn Cutter’s followers into his own.   During a howling ceremony, when Cutter was barking on and on about the Great Howler,  Chevy began to ask pointed questions that he knew Cutter couldn’t answer.
“Cutter?  how can the rest of us believe in this Smokedog you have seen but we haven’t?”
“You can believe because I am your Alpha!  I am the one who was chosen to know these things!”
“Yes, but isn’t all of the smoke and fire controlled by the Provider, whom we all have seen firsthand?  Why should we wait for this Great Howler to unlock the fence, when The Provider is the one with the keys?”

Cutter may not have had an answer to the questions, but he knew when he was being challenged.  Ears pinned back, he stepped slowly toward Chevy with a low growl.  “If you wish to challenge me again, so be it… next time I’ll take more than just an ear.   But now I speak for the Great Alpha.  You offend us both… and the faithful will protect his Truth.”   With this, Bullet and Stripe took their places at Cutter’s side,  snarling and drooling their allegiance.
Chevy bowed slightly with feigned humility.  “Of course I didn’t mean to offend the chosen one.  I was only seeking more of your wisdom.   This is all so fascinating for such a simple dog as myself,  and I never realised The Great Howler could be threatened by curiosity.  I have much to learn.”
He turned carefully with his head still hung low as if defeated,  but as he trotted off he scanned the eyes of the others and in some of them he found the glimmers of uncertainty he had hoped to leave behind.

{… to be continued…}

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6 Responses to “storytime, part 1”

  1. “Look at the faithless old dog.” Love it.

  2. What happens NEXT, Mama???

  3. Don’t leave us hanging!

  4. all i can say is … they’re about to meet a cat.

  5. I like this, “Look at the faithless old dog. Look how alone and hollow he is. you can see how those who don’t howl remain sickly and weak. Do not let this be your fate!”

  6. […] to make Billy Bragg happy.  He was on Democracy Now on Thursday, teaching this “old faithless dog”(me) some new tricks.  These two news items brightened an otherwise bleak&painful 27th week […]


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