When the dog died, I carried his corpse in my arms around the block ’til my running shoes were filled with blood and my toes loaded with blisters. The last time I saw my sister was after the argument that foreshadowed her catapult from the Golden Gate Bridge. I hear her bones cracking in my head as she hits the water. I feel the breeze and blood in her nose and imagine how the inertia took its toll. Men in white hazmat suits fishing for her corpse. She almost landed on a kite surfer.
When the pigeon passed away—after crashing through the kitchen window while we were washing dishes, I dug a hole in the backyard and we held a funeral—the whole family filling the grave with fertilizer. There are tombstones made of cardboard and Styrofoam with the dying dates scribbled in crayons by the children, nibbled by squirrels often with a question mark in front of the hyphen because nobody knows for certain when an animal is born.
I can hear her crying as she somersaults from sunset into the Bay. Strangers pry the running shoes from my blisters. New neighbors greet me in their front yard with my sister’s dog displaying all its rigor mortis in furry fashion. The woman peels the sweaty tennis socks from my ankles. She smells like my sister after jogging. The children hide behind their father, away from the dog dangling from my shoulders. The veins on my forehead are throbbing through my headband.
My wife pulls up in the station wagon and the neighbors escort me inside. She fixes them lemonade and vodka as she pops the blisters with a freshly-sharpened golf pencil. He drinks yellow Arnold Palmer’s with pulp; she prefers pink lemonade. I am hurting, certain these matters could wait ’til the dog was buried. My crotch itches. She should be sniffing their crotches as we speak. It kills me thinking about this.
Our souls are being trotted upon by giants. My blisters ooze into blue Kleenex. The dog is covered with a blanket so the children cannot see what a toll death takes. The barking from neighbors’ yards is too much to handle, so throwing chicken and hamburgers on the grill is the only solution: losing myself in the black smoke exuding from charcoal briquettes smothered with lighter fluid. I caress the patties into heart shapes. My feet are bare; grass cushions the blisters.
Drowning in blood—imagine what it must feel like. The puddles of pink bubbles collect on the blackening patties. The spatula sprinkles them into the charcoal like a wave washing upon the shore and plumes of sizzling smoke kiss the air.
Matthew Dexter is an American author living in Baja California Sur, Mexico. His fiction has been published in hundreds of literary journals and dozens of anthologies. He writes novels and abhorrent freelance pieces for exorbitant amounts of pesos to pay the bills while drinking cervezas in paradise with tourists.