Saturday, May 15, 2010

Butch.

My sister, Dulce Macarrulla, wrote a book of stories recounting her recollections from her many trips to far away places (published by the Banco Central de la Rep├║blica Dominicana, 2001.) Sadly, we lost her to liver cancer in August of 2008. Below is my translation of one selection from her book.




Butch

By Dulce Macarrulla. Translation by Manuel Macarrulla.


Butch was the most unpleasant dog I had ever known.

He had a face just like his owner’s: wrinkled, ugly, and with a killer’s aura. He was the compound’s lord and master and no one dared cross him for fear not only of what he would do, but his owner’s reaction. The latter was the company director, and he acted (at least in this respect) just like his dog. He gave strict orders that no one may own chickens or cats, since they would certainly be destroyed by the hostile boxer. We were all very careful about both the dog and the master.

A friend gave our children an adorable little white dog with honey colored spots, whom they called Spotty, and who brought them much joy. He shared their excursions and adventures. He was sweet and kind. But Spotty now had to remain indoors constantly for fear of a run in with Butch, who had fallen in love with our terrace, and on which he would spend long hours taking some air, huffing, and fulfilling his role as lord and master of all.

The name “Butch” was derived from the English word “butcher.” I’d never seen a more suitable name. He was huge and ornery. We were so afraid of him! When he got near the terrace we would all leave whatever we were doing and we’d scurry into the house, same as Spotty, with our tails between our legs. But one day he surprised us and before we realized it he was among us. With an agility out of keeping with his corpulence he grabbed Spotty, putting his little head entirely in his huge mouth, and started to shake him from side to side, and I still don’t understand how he didn’t break his neck.

The children’s screams drowned out the little dog’s screams, and those of the maid. They all stayed against the wall letting loose such screeches that they made me grit my teeth. There was, in me, such a rush of adrenalin that without knowing how I went at the huge dog, and, grabbing the choke collar, which his owner had put there wisely, I picked him straight up and kept him aloft who knows how many minutes. The pressure on the neck made him open his huge mouth. Spotty dashed for it, followed by the row of kids, who scurried into the house, where they gave him first aid and all the love he needed. I stayed there, with the huge dog dangling from one had, not knowing what to do or how to do it.

A thousand things went through my mind: “If I hold him up for a long time I’m going to kill him; if I kill him, Henry’s going to lose his job; if I let him go, he’ll grab me and tear me to pieces....” This was my most prominent thought.

How was I able to pick up an animal weighing around 200 lb. with only one hand? You have to take into account my small size. Where did I get the strength? Maybe my children’s terror; maybe the injustice that such a huge dog would mistreat one so sweet and little. To this day I’ve never known exactly how I did it, or why.

“Let him go, ma'am, let him go!” said a distant voice, as in a dream. It was the maid who counseled me from inside the house.

And I did.

I remained rigid. The huge dog fell to the ground in a lump, lying on his side with his four legs straight and stiff. He didn’t move. He didn’t breathe. His open eyes were bloodshot. They seemed fixed on infinity. Inert.

I kept looking at him with spooked eyes, mute, trembling. And suddenly something made me move and I went into the house where I started to make absurd turns about the place. I walked quickly from the dining room to one bedroom, went through the shared bathroom and went out through the other bedroom, while I repeated in a loud and pressured voice, “I didn’t want to kill him; I didn’t want to kill him; I didn’t want to kill him...” In one of those turns I looked toward the dresser mirror and recognized the image of a hysterical woman, which shook me and made me come to.

I ran out to the terrace with the servant, and, from a safe distance, we turned the hose on the dog. With feelings of relief, mixed with fear, we saw him slowly revive and get up to stumble toward his house.

Did his owner ever find out? I don’t know. Did he learn a lesson? I don’t know that either. I only know that Spotty ran like a deranged character when he heard him nearby, even if he was a mile away, and he’d get in the house like a bullet and hide under some piece of furniture.

But I’ll tell you one thing, the terrace belonged to us from that moment on.





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