The Bursht Dog –

Was going about thirty when I hit the dog. There was no yelp, just a thud. Called into a nearby house. The doorbell didn’t work so I had to use the knocker. A confused woman answered. She had a face that asked: “Am I about to be robbed, or killed, or forced to buy carpets or gates?” She kept a cautious hand on the door while I tried to explain. Took a while to penetrate the haze of rural fear. Eventually, she blinked and said it wasn’t her dog, but belonged to someone around the area. I should check the surrounding houses. Walked back into the road and the rain. He was like a dog you’d call: Darkie – black with a golden streak in his neck. Bits of entrails or guts or something on the tarmac around him. He couldn’t move his head but his eyes were going back and over, trying to figure out what was going on. More cars passed by, trying to swerve around him. I called to the next house. The doorbell didn’t work there too, so I tried the knocker, but that didn’t work either cos they’d put something on the end to stop it making any sound off the wood. So I used my hand and knocked all official like a guard. A holy woman with glasses answered, looked me up and down, asked me what was wrong. There was a burst of pine and decorations behind her, noise in the kitchen. Someone telling an excited story. When I told her about Darkie she blessed herself and went to get her husband. He landed out all cheery with a checkered shirt. Frowned a bit when I told him what happened, like I’d fucked up the punch line, said he better get his coat. Back on the road. Rain fell. Overcast sky. Cars slowing down, looking, asking what happened. Another neighbour arrived. Round head. Blue jumper. Said it was probably Paddy’s dog. Looked like Paddy’s dog, anyway. And he hadn’t seen Paddy in a long time, and isn’t it awful. He told one of the passers-by where Paddy’s house was, and to drive down to get him. All three of us then walked over to where Darkie was on the road. One fella said to the other: “Is he bursht, or did he just shit himself?”
“Bursht, I’d say.’
“No, hang on. Look at that. It’s just shit.”
“You wouldn’t know either.”
He looked at me, said: “Hang on, I’ll get you gloves.”
And he did. And a flat piece of board. Then. We pulled Darkie up on to the board and lifted him over to the side of the road – out of the way of the traffic. I said: “I wasn’t goin that fast, think he was deaf, and maybe blind, definitely old.”
“Oh he was, he was, sure what can you do? Paddy’ll be here shortly, and we’ll sort him out.”
I said: “He might be ok, with some help from the vet.’
“Jez no, he’s well fucked. You can go on sure, we’ll be alright here. Fair play for stoppin, most people don’t stop at all, they’ll just keep on goin. Isn’t it a wonder I don’t have Paddy’s number?’
The other fella said: “He doesn’t like givin it out.”
“No. Funny like that.”
Darkie was panting in the corner. His breaths were getting shallow, his front paws covered in blood. I took off the gloves and gave them back to your man and he said: “Thanks.” And I left the two of them there, chatting, holding a vigil. Talking about the rain and Christmas. Waiting for Paddy.

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