I hit a dog with my car once.
My son was in the back seat.
He was too young to know.
And I was too old to forget.
So I made a bargain with my dead mother:
“Give that mongrel a second chance
and I’ll do the same for you.”
The mutt sprung up from the mess of matted hair and hot blood just to the left of my
now-dented fender and trotted the rest of the way across the street. That was when my
son uttered his first bark.
At the time I remember thinking he was simply acting like a child. But when he neglected
to make any other noise than growls and yaps for the following three days I began to
I took him to the pediatrician, and the doctor asked me if he was eating normally, drinking water, and maintaining regular bowel movements. When I responded that yes,
he was performing a number of his usual healthy behaviours, I was told that it was most
likely just a phase and sent home. My son kept his head propped out the window the
whole way, his little tongue pressed firmly out the side of his gaping mouth.
I called my sister and she suggested that I look into therapy.
He’s only four, I told her as my fingers worried the coiled phone cord, and my son tore up
the newspaper with his teeth. Well, make sure he has all of his shots, she advised with no
hint of comedy. I hung up and thought about taking up smoking.
The next week my son still showed no signs of anything other than canine communication. I caught him squatting naked in the living room and managed to snatch
him up just before he soiled the carpet. That night he refused to eat with his hands,
instead burying his face in the mashed potatoes and tipping over his cranberry juice while
trying to lap it out of his plastic cup. I didn’t do the dishes that night.
When the lady behind the counter at the coffee shop offered my son a milk bone, I finally
decided to look into professional help. On my way out the door, I scanned the community
bulletin board and noticed a neon green page with none of the pull tabs ripped off. In all
lower case letters it read “pet psychic.” I was desperate. I took the whole sheet.
That afternoon I drove my son to the address advertised on the flyer. The dingy windows
were bare, other than a flickering neon open sign with a burnt out “e.” I walked my son
through the door, gripping his collar so that he would not take off running into the open
parking lot. I began to think about getting him a leash, then sternly ordered him to sit.