If you stand on top of the supermarket just a bit down the road, you can see all of the buildings in town. You can count them too, from the houses to the flats to the police station, all the way up to waste disposal plant that marks the town’s end. Seventy one and a half. I don’t count dog houses as wholes.
I don’t count dogs as whole people either; they don’t speak and they don’t spend money and they don’t furnish their houses like we do.
My Dad says that a dog is a man’s best friend, but that isn’t true, because that would make them whole people. As far as a dog is concerned you’re just providing him with a vicinity to eat and sleep and a way of using up all his blind love. My Mum says I shouldn’t be so bitter, and that all regular people do is eat, sleep and love too, so dogs shouldn’t be discounted as such.
But that isn’t true either, because people think as well.
In fairness, it is easy to doubt most of the people in town and their capacity to think, but I definitely do. I’ve been thinking since I was really small.
Granted, it wasn’t always about dogs, I’ve thought about all kinds of things.
When it started, Dad, Mum and I were in church. I let slip a little, breathy inquiry. I was about four. Uncertainties had been rattling round in my tiny head for a while now, but beneath the solemn roof struts and stifling prayer, one managed to worm its way out across my tongue and outwards, mingling awfully loudly with the holy words.
“Who’s God Mum?”
She told me not to ask so many questions. My response was expected.
My persistence earnt me a cuff around the ear and no milk before bed that night, but it didn’t teach me a lesson, I went on asking and wondering for years and years and years. And as I stand up on this supermarket roof I’m still wondering too, because all those years of thinking and I still haven’t been able to figure out why every single person in this town owns a dog.