Vader

Klaus Papula
03.07.2019
 
Vader
I lead a simple life. I work hard, I eat meat, I drink beer, I digest. I have planted a tree, I have built a house. I have almost procreated life. I have a dog. In contrast, my neighbours have a white rabbit and do not eat meat. They drink non-carbonated mineral water, refuse alcohol, drive an Opel with a green badge, and when they see me pee in my yard, they apologise. I shake dry and ignore them even as I ignore the drops of urine on my trousers. My neighbour does not pee in his garden. He uses the bathroom. That´s ok. Also my female neighbour, a thin-skinned blond, has never peed in the yard, as far as I can tell. Nor have their twin-girls peed in the yard. Not even the boy. I wouldn´t ever apologise were one member of the family to decide to do so and I happened to witness it. I do understand. It´s their land, it´s their soil. Peeing on your own lawn evokes good feelings. A vestigial appropriation of the wilderness. To demonstrate land ownership with the land register is a matter for armchair adventurists.
The neighbour´s white rabbit is named Sissi, a spoiled thing. Sissi sits in her cute pink cage along the house wall and nibbles her organic carrots all day long. She´s a cuddly cushion for kids, not a real living being.
My dog, an honest animal, is a Serbian bulldog named Darth Vader. She should guard my property. That´s how it has always been. While the master sleeps, the dog watches over. Something is wrong with her. She is running around with her tail between her legs. Every evening a hedgehog visits the yard. Lately I have had to watch how the dog sniffs the hedgehog and starts to whine.
I took Vader to a dog trainer they call the Dogdriver. I fed her raw liver and mashed bull balls to unleash her wolf instinct. I exposed her to magnificent male dogs to provoke her most basic instincts. After a minute the male dogs started to bite each other out of boredom. The Dogdriver got drunk. The liver and testicles were eaten by the hedgehog.
“As a dog you are dead,” I said to Vader and patted her head. I was running on empty.
The surprise arrived today in the morning: a blood trail in the living room.
“Vader,” I whispered, “come to your master.”
I heard a bark – a healthy, forceful bark. Instantly the bulldog was standing in front of me: extended forelegs, distended chest, foam bubbling out of her jaw and blood dripping heavily onto the carpet. Between her teeth a red scrap of meat. The hedgehog had gone too far this time. Vader had discovered her true self. Her wolf nature. The killer instinct. Finally. This is irreversible.
“You have made your master very happy today,” I said while fighting back my tears.
She lowered her head, growling.
“Give the prey to your master.”
She dropped the bloody scrap into my lap. I saw remains of white fur. A fluffy tail, incrusted with dirt. Two stretched out lobes, once rabbit ears.
“Sissi no longer exists,” I thought, surprised. That would cause problems. A dog starting to live out her instinct. A rabbit who dies. That´s ok. That is the law of nature. It was all clear to me, but I had to explain it to my neighbour. I saw: myself, standing in the doorway of my neighbour, in my hands a plastic bag filled with the remains of the rabbit; the scared eyes of the children; the mother suddenly sobbing in the background; the father whispering repeatedly with pain the bad news (“dead – she is dead”); then again the kids, screaming; the father with tears in his eyes; the mother pointing her finger at me and shouting hysterically, “Murderer, Murderer!”
Sure, I was proud of Vader. The girlhood of my princess was over. She had become a bulldog, a merciless hunter. But I realised that this pride would not be shared. I had to find a solution.
I threw the cadaver in the bath tub and poured in some lukewarm water. After removing all of the blood smears in the house, I lathered the cadaver with carpet cleaner, let it soak for twenty minutes, rinsed the foam off and pulled the plug. I got the hairdryer and a brush from my ex which she had left behind. I took my time with great care. After an hour I was done. The thing looked tolerable. To be honest: Sissi had never looked better. I found a carrot in the fridge and put it in her mouth. She wouldn´t taste that it wasn’t organic.
I waited until dusk. Vader had fallen asleep and was snoring, as many do after a big act. I carried the dead rabbit carefully in my hands through the flat and slipped out the door. Crickets were chirping, the moon rising between the roofs. I squeezed through the beech wood fence onto my neighbours’ property. In the light of a lamp the cage seemed to glow. I ran in crouched position to the house wall. I opened up the lid of the cage and put the thing inside. Sissi was back in her place. Everything was good.

Next morning I was listening to nature´s call in the east part of the property as I heard the twins run out of the house. I winced. Pain will come soon. Inner pain. Feelings of anger, loss, grief. Tears. Questions of why. You know how it is.
“Look!” One of them called. They were standing in front of the cage.
“Yesterday we buried Sissi under the oak and today she´s back again in her cage,” the other said.
I peed momentarily on my shoes.
“Mum!” called the other towards the front door, “Come quickly, Sissi is back and she even got a carrot! A miracle!”
The boy ran out of the house, poked the cadaver with a little stick and said, “But she´s still dead.”
I felt blood rushing up into my head. The blond will soon come out now. First, she would shake her head and when she sees me, she would start asking questions. Uncomfortable questions. Embarrassing questions. Then, she would laugh. I sneaked to the back entrance door of my house.
Being in the anteroom, Vader whined shortly, jumped at me and licked my face. She probably wanted to comfort me. Then, she put her head in my lap and snorted satisfied. What should I do? That is simply her nature.

Translation by Shan Wardell
 
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