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Strays

October 5, 2010

by Holly Anderson

So you know how a stray dog will dip its face into any dirty bit of puddle? Well, when Taller began doing the very same to Smaller people screamed real loud that they were out to swindle us somehow or bring the railing wrath upon us. Take your pick.

And didn’t we all think they looked suspicious and shifty, walking right up to our triple-strand razor-wired barrier with their swollen lips and sun-damaged eyes. No Identity card, no permanent address, not even vaccination or gender verification marks. No acceptable explanation for where they could have been. We’re looking to share something so valuable with all of you. Their wild eyes blinked slowly as we gathered in the center of our compound, unable to decide should we beat them straight up, or immediately banish them or be the audience they seemed to want. We were bored and the Pheedwagon was still hours away from arrival. They praised something out there in the murky blue beyond the furthest gate when we said we’d watch.

First we’ll lay down the golden ground said Smaller as she unfurled a moth infested length of yellow colored, old style fiber blanket. They paced it out in half-steps, then stood dead still and both of them went into a wheezing, winding story about a roaring comet of flying trash they’d been hit by out on some unnamed plain. They said they’d been plastered in torn or burnt pages and read many of the old words that had been eliminated by a series of court orders.

We’d sold off our names for credit vouchers long ago in the earliest days of The Curtailment but we had our assigned logos and we had the might. So then we roared in unison start it now as the swarms of black flies chewed us and left their trail of poisonous Braille across our faces and tattooed limbs.

It was right about then that Smaller took Taller into her arms and started rubbing against her in a shape like a wagging tail.

We looked hard at each other and some of us were falling to our knees, throwing our arms up high and begging forgiveness. Contact of any sort was routinely forbidden. Every one of us knew that.

After all the talking they pressed their mouths together tight. We heard some humming, then some moaning sounds. They stripped right down to their smallest, barest gestures even though the wind was scrubbing all of us raw. Taller made that Smaller shake real hard when she slipped one thin as a new moon hand between Smaller’s legs. It was then that the dogs started howling like they always do on days when the sun doesn’t come up and stay pasted tight right there in the sky.

By this time the very last of their strange words had stopped. There was a sound from somewhere we couldn’t see like that long drawn out sigh before a dust storm gathers itself up into a high, spinning mass. Our eyes lost their focus but our fists knew the way.

The dogs tore their filthy tongues out first. The dry ground was soon dimpled with dark spots like rain. It hasn’t rained here in memory.

But now green things grow where we laid them out.


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Some of Holly Anderson’s most recent work can be heard on Peg Simone’s 2010 record Secrets From the Storm (Table of the Elements/Radium), or visit her at SmokeMusic.tv.

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