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Dead Dogs

Joe Murphy
Liberties Press

My tongue turns to clay and I'm sitting watching him watch­ing the fire and I can't do anything. I don't know why this is. I am a vegetable. I am an empty void.

I don't know how long I sit silently with Davey watching the fire climb the wall, watching the smoke make a black rose upon the white ceiling. I don't know how long I sit watching Davey watching the melted CDs eat into the carpet like a cancer. I don't know how long it is until the very very attractive girl starts to stir. Then she's coughing in her sleep, coughing in little rattling barks.

Then Davey's moving. He's picking up two nearly full cans and now he's pouring them down the wall and now I'm yelling, 'Fire!' and now I'm screaming, 'Fire!' like a fucking broken record. Davey's pouring more beer to drown the fire and now he's using someone's jacket to smother the burning CDs. I'm watch­ing Davey do this and then I'm on my feet and helping him.

I'm angry at myself for sitting there so long. I'm angry at myself for letting Davey play out this little charade. I'm angry at myself for being shushed and staying shushed. Davey's grinning again and he winks at me through the smoke. In spite of my anger my mouth grins back.

Everyone else is awake now. They're getting up from the floor like extras in a zombie movie. They are all stiff-limbed and loose-faced. Most of them are wide-eyed with terror. You can see the whites of their eyes the whole way around and now they remind me of frightened horses. Through all this Davey is still grinning and the fire's almost out and for the first time in my life I see something terrifying behind the smoke of the everyday.