Tuesday, 17 May 2011

In memory of Merlin, a very special dog.

Merlin the dog died yesterday, so here’s an excerpt from a colyoom I wrote back in 2003. Thanks Merlin - happy wanderings!

Did I dream the dog in the darkness?

The storm blows at its full force around four in the morning, when a thumping gust wobbles the walls of the house. I open my eyes, and feel my arms and legs pinned inside a sleeping bag. Seconds drag by, like sweat-on-the-brow-inducing hours, as I lie in the darkness, struggling to remember where the hell I am.

Thoughts race around my brain like shelled peas in a bucket. Where did this particular slice of mayhem begin? ‘Twas a manly handshake after a meeting in Salthill a few days ago that let loose a couple of empty days. Grabbing my chance to take a break, I flee south out of town before the morning rush hour. The rising sun sears blood red lines through the black clouds that hang over the half-built rooftops of Oranmore.

By the time I reach the ferry at Kilimer, the same sun shines supreme in a sky bursting blue.
Breathing in the breeze on deck, my chest puffs up with excitement. Off to the Dingle Peninsular, to visit Yoda Casanova. with whom I enjoy a great friendship, a mutual admiration, 43,844,782 cups of tea and the odd wee pint.

Aha! So that’s where I am.

I’m on top of Yoda’s mattress-less bed, wrapped up in a sleeping bag inside another sleeping bag in an effort to keep warm. Too many sessions and not enough kip, and now too awake to go back to sleep.
I switch on the light, swinging my mummified torso off the bed.

Cold air hits my bare knees as the 2 sleeping bags slide down, and I head for the darkness of the hallway. My body is demanding water in exchange for all those whiskies I gave it earlier. The kitchen is downstairs, but for some sadistic reason, my brain decides to deny my body coordination, conspiring with gravity to send me tumbling down the steep stairs. Screaming pained Homer Simpson-isms into the darkness, my body bounces ¡Doh! off the walls, crashes ¡Fuurrrrkeeegooooo! onto the stairs, slams into banisters ¡Oowwmoofffhh! and falls head-first downwards into the void


On arrival at the bottom, I lift my bruised and bewildered living corpse off the floor. Through the window in the front door I see the world outside flung into chaos by a raging Atlantic storm.
Usually I love a good gale, but suddenly I’m now gripped from head to toe by a cold sharp spear of fear.

Inside this room, I can hear thumping.
Weird rhythmic thumping, coming out of the pitch darkness, from the other side of the room.
Thump thump thump.

Thump thump thump.
Yoda is asleep in his truck outside.

Thump thump thump.
I’m alone in the house, so what the bloody hell is that noise?

Thump thump thump.
Always fond of the simple and lazy route, I ask the universe to make the bad thumping go away, and rather amazingly it does. Trouble is, (from the makers of ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’) there comes, from the same place, the sound of low-down dribbly slavering breathing.

My mouth goes dry with terror, my hand scrabbling around, sliding blindly over the walls, looking in vain for a light switch. Taking in a deep breath, I race in the direction of the kitchen. Managing to limit the number of collisions with unseen low-lying furniture to only three actual skin-gashing bleeders, I flip on the kitchen light.

At once, all is peace and joy.

The phantom thumper and breather is none other than Merlin, Jenny and Andy’s dog, from down the way. A beautiful big black dog with a heart of gold and a mean way with a muzzly nuzzle of the knees, Merlin is as smart as his namesake. Not only had escaped the storm by opening the front door, he somehow managed to close the door behind him, against the full force of the wind.

Evidently Merlin is well used to seeing eedjit humans falling downstairs in the middle of the night. He walks over, licks my hand and wags his tail (thump thump thump), and I climb back up the stairs into my cotton cocoon, to sleep better for the knowledge that I’m not alone in the house after all.

The next day Andy explained, “He’s not stupid! He knew it was in his best interests to keep the cold wind out, so he closed the door behind him, even though the wind was against him! God knows how, mind!”

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