Wednesday January 20th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the dump.

Our fridge had been teetering toward complete failure in recent weeks, with the freezer compartment not working properly since we returned from our Christmas vacation. And it was getting more and more vocal about its issues.

So yesterday Kat and I bit the bullet and went out and bought a new one. It's slightly larger than the old one, which is nice. Also: it doesn't sound like a helicopter just before it crash lands.

I took the old fridge to the dump (thus today's prompt) and the new one already feels like it's been here forever. Probably helps that it's the same colour, and we've got all of the same pictures and things on its front now.

Oh, so Kat is taking Max to music class again. Started up last Wednesday morning. He loved it and didn't want to leave at the end. This morning she was all, Guess where we're going today? Music class! Aren't you excited?

Max: But I want to go to daycare.

Kids, you guys.


I sit on the sunken couch in the living room, my only blanket wrapped tight around my shivering body. It's always cold in here. Maybe if the window in the kitchen actually closed properly the baseboards might stand a chance of making a difference.

The neighbours are fighting again. I'm not sure which ones. All of them sound the same when they're yelling like this. Maybe they're all fighting at once. With each other, even.

I'm hungry but I don't want to move. Besides, the stove only works around fifty percent of the time. It would be soul crushing to walk across the frigid floor, dig some canned soup out of the cupboards, find the cleanest pot to warm it up in, and then turn on the element only to have it do nothing.

I don't think I could handle that right now.

Ordering in isn't an option either. The pizza guy refuses to come to my street after the second time he got mugged in the stairwell. And the Chinese place won't even answer my calls. Can't say I blame them, what with the white supremacists on the first floor. Not that I've got any cash to pay for it. Plus I always feel bad when I'm not able to tip them.

I need to get out of this dump. Find somewhere better. Something safer, with working locks on all the doors and maybe some proper security measures in the lobby. A building with reliable heat and electricity and...

Who am I kidding? I don't got the money for that either.


morganna said...

Depressing to end
Up here
Matted fur, missing eye
Poor little stuffie.

Stuffie = small soft toy animal

Kyle said...

Post 1

Foreward: The below is a true story.

I've been thinking, as I watch the dogs play, about how we came across our newest addition. He has been with us for about a year now, and it's been . . . engaging. He's a mutt, favoring Maltese, named "Jack" by the previous owner's kids. We approximate his age to be about three, now. His coat is black with tan highlights on his feet, tail and eyebrows. He is small and thick, with a very prominent mustache that any Civil War officer would be proud of. His feet are fluffy and extremely floppy, and he walks around on comically short legs - almost as if he's part munchkin cat. These blunt stubs became a nickname, and we called him "Stump," "Stumpy," or "Stumps."

Stumps came from a bad situation; we never got the whole story, but his attitude and skittishness have told us volumes. When we went to check him out, as my girlfriend had been wanting a dog of her own, he was very shaggy, unkempt, matted, smelly, and extremely sheepish. We felt bad for him instantly, and basically vowed among ourselves on the spot that we would take him in, out of guilt for leaving him in that state, if nothing else.

He was very likely victim of physical and emotional abuse, as he was particularly standoffish and aggressive toward my girlfriend when we took him in. He would full-on attack her at the slightest discipline, or if he even just thought she was provoking him. We thought long and hard about finding someone else to take him in, but we endured out of guilt and empathy. He'd clearly seen some shit.

Speaking of that.

We hadn't even gotten halfway through the one-hour drive to bring him home, when he decided that he wanted to completely void himself in the backseat. He did number one, a very impressive number two, and probably made up a new number when he vomited all over the floorboards. I'd give it an 8/10, so we'll say he did an eight in the floor.

A good start.

When we first brought him home, he was extremely submissive, utterly terrified of anything. Within seconds of entering our home, he flopped over onto his back, showing that he yielded to us and oh-please-don't-hurt-me. Then he pissed in a high arc all over himself, the floor, the arm of the couch, my pant leg. Complete and utter panic-submission. We worked him out of that, but it was another unexpected surprise. We called a traveling groomer to come shave off the months (or maybe years) of neglect - he bit her soundly on the hand for her trouble.

Potty training Jack was harder than if we'd gotten a new puppy. A puppy will, after all, try to listen and to please you. Jack had no such positivity. He was not neutered, and had not been shown good toilet habits by those who mistreated him - big surprise. The floor was his toilet, and he had one particular spot that he liked to mark - so much so that now, the carpet is permanently yellow next to the corner in the open upstairs closet.

It took us weeks and weeks of the same routine, to just try to get through: show him where he'd gone, tell him he was bad, try to get him to go outside, deal with him getting aggressive, scold him more, stop him from spraying when he submits, back off and let him calm down, try taking him out again. He eventually started walking around the yard, checking things out, getting comfortable with it. Then, almost all at once, he started refusing to explore the yard, refusing to even go out sometimes. He would stand, motionless, next to the back door, for however long we left him, until we opened the door and he would dash in.

When Stumps wasn't being awkward outside or voiding himself on my carpet, he would hide under the coffee table, the end tables, the bed, and lie there for hours - not sleeping, not chewing, not playing, just staring around. We'd offer him toys, and you'd think we were trying to teach him the bagpipes for as well as he seemed to understand their purpose.

Kyle said...

Post 2

I think our other dog, our fur-kid, the Labradoodle "Tango," helped him acclimate somewhat. Over the course of the last half-year or so, Jack gradually began figuring out how to attack Tango, who would play back (with a gentleness that would melt an ice heart). He eventually figured out how dog toys work by watching Tango, and watching us with Tango. Now he loves knotted ropes, and will flop those fluffy paws all around the living room, chasing one or flailing it around in playful triumph.

His mood is better. He's not scared of the house anymore, and finally exploring and utilizing the back yard as a dog should. He plays more; he wags more. He's gotten better with the girlfriend, too. He still has grumpy moments, but on the whole, he's shown vast improvement. He's finally a dog, and - dare I say - part of our home. He loves his brothers, Tango and our cat, Charlie. He gets excited about treats (especially his nightly reward for getting into his crate). He plays by himself without help sometimes. He doesn't hang out under furniture as much now.

As I ruminate, I realize that he's been out of my sight for a little while. I groan inwardly as I climb the stairs to check my lingering suspicion - and there, in his old favorite bathroom spot, is a fresh steamer.

The nickname we gave him, "Stump," had evolved somewhat over the months. "Dump" once again lived up to his namesake, after two months of doing his business outside. I sigh and go for paper towels. At least he's still making progress.

Anonymous said...

I had some prompts saved in an email from one of my class days that I'm just now getting around to posting. Sorry.

The Dump:

The night air was cold; icy fingers kept stroking the bare skin of my shoulders. I should have brought that cloak with me after all.

Too much clothing would be a waist where I was going. The lower streets were so caked with filth that I would most likely have to resole the boots I was wearing after. Any cloak of mine, even the shortest, would have to be discarded shortly after my visit. There was no return from the stench of waste and death.

As an added safeguard, I bustled the back of my skirt higher than normal. I hoped I would not have to discard that as well. Keeping this in mind, I kept an eye out for any puddles on the cobblestones while I glanced around for signs of life.

Those you do not wish to find in a dark alley were typically the only souls awake at that ungodly hour.

Greg said...

I'm sure you're missing the kitchen helicopter by now, but the new fridge sounds like it's a big improvement over the old. Especially if you can freeze things inside now, instead of having to leave them outside overnight ;-)
Ah, I wasn't expecting you to take a metaphorical approach to dump, I was definitely expecting something more literal. Still, I like this tale, especially the details about the delivery guys and the white supremacists... a real classy neighbourhood!

The dump
The steps to the basement are concrete, but they're clean and well-lit. There's twelve of them, and I always make sure I count them when I go down, just in case. I know it's probably silly, but still. The next flight of stairs, down to the sub-basement, are rotting concrete; chips of stained grey break off as I go down and there's a smell like week-old fish from somewhere. I count these stairs too, but I never get the same number twice. Today there are fourteen steps.
At the bottom is a door with an impressive brass lock that I've never found used; and within is the dump.
The dump is where we put things we don't need or don't want any more, but it's also where things are hidden, where things are put because we're embarrassed about them, and where things go when they mustn't be seen anywhere else. It's a dump, but I can't help myself; I keep coming down here, fascinated by the things we throw away, and wondering what would happen if I took something back upstairs.
Today I'm looking at a book: "The atrocities of the apostles". It's a page-turner and an eye-opener and... and I think I can see while it's down here. Perhaps it might be better if it were fiction, but it doesn't read like it. I found it on a pile alongside "Fairy crucifixions: a picture-book" and "Fifty easy legal ways to commit a murder". I really want to take that one back upstairs, but I think I know better.
I put the book down and turn to go, and as I do another piece of junk catches my eye. A Donald Trump voodoo doll.
The temptation to take that back upstairs is overwhelming.

Marc said...

Morganna - aw :(

Kyle - I love the description of Jack in your opening paragraph :D

And that sounds like quite the car ride bringing him home. Horrible, but fantastically described. There's obviously been enough distance between then and now for you to have a sense of humor about it!

Thank you for sharing this story with us. It's a lovely insight into your life and I'm left cheering for you, your girlfriend, and Dump to make it :)

Ivy - great opener to a scene. Some wonderful imagery and atmosphere too.

Greg - yeah, it's quieter now. Almost too quiet.

Your dump is a fascinating place. I think I would have trouble staying away from it as well.

Also: bring the voodoo doll back up! Doooo it!

Ahem. Sorry.