Friday, October 26, 2007

Pulutan by norman wilwayco (translated from filipino by kit kwe)

Doro’s been with me since he was a pup. A gift from a buddy in Bulacan. His dog had had a litter and he knew I liked dogs. In fact, before Doro came, I had three. One of them, a Doberman, was imported, while the other two were mutts. But even those two came from good mongrel stock. All my dogs were male; I don’t take in females. They’re a pain in the neck when they get mated with.

When my buddy gave Doro, that made four dogs. No problem, because we had a big yard. The wife was even delighted at how cute the puppy was, fat and lively. But it’s always like that—they’re adorable as pups but full-grown you’d think they were scamps, the type nosing around wet markets.

That’s how it was with Doro. Cuter than a teddybear when he was little. When he got older he started looking like a true stray, far from what my other dogs looked like. Doro had short, bristly fur, a skinny tail that looked like a crooked pencil and a droopy ear I wasn’t sure he had been born with or what. He was black, with brown patches, like a fake Dalmatian.

When he was a puppy—that’d be around four years ago—he was a real problem. He’d gnaw away at our slippers. He didn’t even spare the rubber shoes my brother had sent me from Saud—chewed it right down to the soles. I’d just left them by the door one night I came home drenched from the rain. The next day, goodbye Reebok. I was pissed as hell. Did I ever grab a piece of wood and clobber the life out of him. You could hear his howls down the street. He hobbled for days after that. “Dear, we’d better get him to the vet; he’s bleeding at the nose,” my wife said. Let him die, I said. If he lives, we’ll let him fatten up a bit more and then butcher him.

But the bastard sure was hardy. After barely a month, he was back to normal. Never ate another shoe again, though. He learned his lesson after the beating I gave him. Instead, he took a taste for something else. He set his sights on the laundry. The bed linen had been newly washed and hung up to dry, the wet ends trailing on the ground. But later in the afternoon, when the wife came out late to bring them in, she got the shock of her life because everything had disappeared.
We found the sheets later under the house where Doro had made them into a bed. The wife had smoke coming out of her ears. That fucking dog, she said. Go on and kill it.

Until he was almost full-grown, Doro never stopped giving us problems. He didn’t get along with my other dogs either. Maybe because they were a more disciplined bunch and hated his underhand tactics. They would snarl at his approach. At meal times, Doro would often be fed first but he still wouldn’t be content with his share. Whenever the other dogs got distracted, Doro stole their food right under their noses. I’d give him a mighty kick every time I caught him. I figured that’d learn him. But it never did. The lout would still go at it when I wasn’t looking.

We got into another mess, by the time Doro was an adult, more or less a year old, when he bit the neighbor’s kid. Although I think it was entirely the kid’s fault; he had probably stoned or goaded Doro. Why else would a dog bite you if you hadn’t asked for it? See, that kid was always in our yard. Probably because his own was filthy and untended, he had made ours his playground. Being a neighbor, he was largely ignored by the dogs in the beginning. He probably couldn’t resist messing around with them.

Motherfucker, the kid’s thigh was in shreds from the force of Doro’s bite. I’ve never been so embarrassed as I was then before my neighbor. I paid for the kid’s every medical fee. The wound was sutured and the kid given an anti-rabies shot. But they couldn’t blame me all the way because it was their fault. They had to trespass into other people’s property.

As for Doro, I didn’t have a clue what to do with him. That pest of a dog. Good for nothing, except trouble.

Once, my eldest son called me at the office. It so happened that I was out doing an errand for my boss. My colleagues told me about the call when I got back and I dialed home in a wink. My youngest answered the phone. Mom wasn’t home, he said. I asked where she was. At the hospital, was the reply.

I ran home in a nervous wreck, only to find out it was the kid next door again, victim of a second bite by Doro. It turned out his injuries were worse than last time.

This was what happened: the kid Doro bit attempted to retaliate. He waited til noon when the children were at school and the missus gone selling tocino at the market. Then the kid snuck into our yard with a slingshot, and opened fire at Doro. He probably thought revenge was that simple. Doro ran at him full-speed and lunged, aiming for the throat. Got the right shoulder instead. The kid howled. Then Doro went for the leg. Tore the skin open. When he bit into the arm, hell, he ripped a chunk off. He didn’t stop until some passersby came to the rescue—by then he had given the kid a good 500 licks. Moments after, the missus got home, since the market wasn’t too far away.

Things almost came to blows over that. I had to defend my dog’s actions since it was obviously the kid’s fault. But man, was he a poor sight. He was around ten years old. Mauled by a dog, would you think of that. And it wasn’t just a nip. His flesh was really torn apart.

The solution was to chain Doro up, which we did. But we got into another fiasco. This time the casualty was the kid’s father. He had dropped by to settle things. The guy was a pastor so he probably thought a dispute with his neighbor wouldn’t do his pious image good. So he went to my house to make up. He was pretty relaxed, knowing that Doro was tied up. What he didn’t know was we had hitched Doro by the front door. He was about to knock when he felt a slash of pain in his leg. Having long abandoned the habit of barking, Doro was in favor of sudden attacks. My poor neighbor the pastor started screaming in pain. In his outrage, the fucker grabbed a big rock and threw it at Doro. He missed. The rock flew through the window, breaking the glass. At this we all poured out of the house to see what was going on.

Fucking dog of yours fucking bit me!

The pastor kept on shrieking. But the bite actually wasn’t deep. We worked it out at the barangay captain’s. I lay down four thousand. By all accounts, I was in the right because my dog had been tied up. I couldn’t be held responsible. It was the pastor’s fault; he knew about the dog and still barged right in. But I hate having to argue so I got right down to the price. Two thousand, he said. I gave him four to shut him up. Like I said, I hate prolonged arguments.

One morning, I headed out to get the paper from the doorstep. And right away noticed Doro’s dish. It was full of food. Why hadn’t he finished it off, I wondered. I went up to him and patted his head to see if he was sick. But he was as energetic as ever, and didn’t look unwell at all. I suddenly remembered that I had fed the dogs the night before. I had watched Doro devour his food. The food in his dish left me baffled. Suspicious, I examined the food and sniffed it. Goddamn, it reeked of MSG. It had been sprinkled with a chockfull of the stuff, so much that the top glistened with crystals. Luckily, Doro hadn’t touched it. The bastard was smart. I had to give it to him. This is a hell of a dog, I thought. I started petting him more often. And to piss my neighbor off—because I knew for sure that he was the only one who’d attempt to poison Doro—I hung a sign on the wall dividing our yard: BEWARE OF DOG. DON’T EVEN TRY TO POISON DOG BECAUSE YOU WILL ULTIMATELY FAIL.

The pastor must’ve blown his top when he read the notice. My wife sure laughed her sides off. She also had no doubt that the pastor was behind the poisoning attempt.

Then, my birthday came up. They were teasing me at work. My house better be flooded with beer, they said. I couldn’t do anything but nod away. I couldn’t say no. You know how it is between guys when it comes to drinking; I’d have borrowed money just to be able to buy the drinks. My birthday was on a Monday but we decided to hold the party on a Saturday, so there’d be no work the next day.

I really didn’t want to slaughter Door because he hadn’t gotten into any trouble since we tied him up. But it was too late to back out. My buddies Jules and Robert were at my house first thing. We let Doro loose and he ran around the yard. When I called his name, he bounded up to me. I gave him a few pats on the head. He didn’t notice Robert standing behind him with a piece of wood. He gave it to Doro right on the skull. But it didn’t fell him, just made his tongue hang out. He gave a low yowl and broken yelp. Doro then tried to sink his teeth in Robert’s arm. Smart dog that he was, he went for the one that gripped the club. Robert missed his teeth. Jules, with another stick, hit him on the head. He still didn’t pass out. An ear had burst, gushing blood onto the ground. He let out something between a cry and a growl. He was still standing, as if he knew somehow that he had to put up a fight. Although his whole head was soaked in blood, he kept trying to avoid the blows. Banged up all over, on the torso, head and legs. Even in that state, my buddies were still having a time avoiding his teeth.

But Doro must’ve realized that he didn’t have a chance. He ran behind me and started to yowl. I think he expected me to defend him. His tongue was sticking out the side of his mouth but he gave a throaty howl. He saw Jules approaching and cowered at my feet. I kicked him and stepped aside to give Jules space to swing. Doro must’ve been stunned. Our eyes met. He paid no heed to Jules. We looked at each other, and in that moment he must’ve understood everything. Even as Jules hit, he didn’t move away. One bash to the muzzle was all it took, and Doro was dead.

In the yard, kaldereta steamed. We drank, ate and laughed. I was able to escape the ribbing I would’ve otherwise been subjected to.

You were asking why I don’t eat dog. You’re probably wondering why I’m ignoring the spread, and just gorging on peanuts. The truth is, man, I don’t eat dog anymore.

What time is it again? Good, it’s still early. Let’s order another round before we go home.

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