The Dog Stealer


I just wanted to thank you again for letting me use Grandpa’s house. Things haven’t really turned around since I got laid off, and being able to stay here has been a real blessing. Jen stops by to give me a lecture and make sure I’m still on my meds, which I am, and takes me to job interviews every so often, but nothing has worked out yet. It’s pretty quiet here, with no car, no phone and no internet, but that gives me the chance to perfect the lost art of letter-writing.

I think about Grandpa a lot these days, of course. And I don’t think we know the whole story.

A lot of people have been saying that he was getting old. And that the police couldn’t find any signs of forced entry, and they keep talking about footprints. But I saw him not even a week before he vanished and I’m telling you, he was clear as a bell. He didn’t just wander off.

I’m not sure if you’ve heard about all of the missing dogs around here. I know that Grandpa told the family that Bess’ liver went out and he had to put her down. But that’s not what he told me the last time I was here. Sorry for not mentioning it before. I should have trusted you.

Grandpa’s house is at least a hundred years old. A lot of the hallways are really narrow and the doors don’t fit exactly right. He kept the bones for Bess in a pantry across from his study where he read his paper. Grandpa said that Bess had a nightly habit begging for a bone while he was reading. The hall was so tight that Bess could put her paws up against the pantry and her butt up against the study door, and there was a gap under the door big enough for her tail to stick through.

Grandpa would tease her a little. He’d say, “Bess, is that you? Is that you, Bess?” and she’d wag her tail at the sound of his voice. Then after she’d proven her patience, he’d go and give her a bone.

So one night, he was reading his paper as usual, and he heard Bess scratching against the pantry and saw her tail pop under the door.

“Bess, is that you?”

Wag wag wag. Pant pant pant.

“Is that you, Bess?”

Wag wag wag. Pant pant thump. The tail fell over and went limp.

So Grandpa opened the door to make sure she was okay. But Bess was gone. All that was left was her tail, with a knot of dry gristle at the end, no blood or anything. And that was the last he ever saw of her.

So I admit, when I moved myself in here, the first thing I did was hunt for dog remains. Maybe Grandpa had really gone crazy. Maybe he was the Dog Stealer and all the neighborhood pooches were in a shallow grave under the tomato plants. But I didn’t find any dead dogs or any tails.

I thought I would when I checked the basement, though. His clothes were all over the place, neatly folded; a shirt here, some pants there, no piles, just individual articles of neatly folded clothing on the washer, the dryer, the dusty chairs, the floor. Not just his regular laundry, either. There were his good suits, his crazy paisley stuff from the seventies, some of Grandma’s old clothes. Some of the stuff lying around wasn’t even theirs, unless Grandpa became a hardcore AC/DC fan while we weren’t looking and started collecting tour T-shirts.

I had no idea what he could have been up to, but my first thought was that these were dog graves, so I basically tossed the place. No corpses or body parts. The only thing I found was a hole behind the dryer. It surprised me, because especially in a house this old, you’d expect moisture problems, but it was dry as a bone. Smelled a little…I dunno, spicy. It looked like it went pretty deep, but there was no blood trail or anything. So I figured that’d be the end of this. I left the clothes in a pile in the corner.

But they were back today. All folded in the same spots as before, perfectly neat. And right in front of the dryer was a was a new set, a folded up bathrobe and a pair of shorts. Also there was a weird little fleshy gray nub thing on top. No blood, looked mummified. And now I get that Grandpa’s never coming back.

Because Grandpa was born with a vestigial tail. He never mentioned it, but I know he had one, because I’ve seen Dad’s. Also I have one.

And whatever this thing is, it doesn’t like me.

But there’s nowhere for me to go. So I may vanish. If I was you I would sell this place. Don’t wait for my nub to show up.

It’s not like I was headed anywhere anyway. Give my love to the girls.


Credit To: Z.S. Davies

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