Story: Sounds of Memory
By: Brian Barbeito
The dog must have had a nightmare then. The houses and streets cupped in the thick hours of dark, the dog barking- almost yelling at something. Waking up then- descending stairs, cold and then plush basement carpets to go see the dog- to quell, to calm, and to talk to. It took some time, yes, to assuage the fears of the dog- the night terrors as it were. It’s peculiar, that afterwards, – and maybe during, a person realizes, or can realize- the night is what? – terrifying? Silent? – more vacant than anything?– and with this vast vacancy- like a subway station closed- like an auditorium emptied of all souls- what will you do with it? What will you do there or project there? – Because something has to go there, no? – How can someone just be there in the night? – Maybe that is what the dog was doing- seeing something there. Maybe that is all that can be done- with the dog brain or the human brain. There was a curtain down and adjacent to a stone fireplace- left open- one that burglars went through once- and outside the world at night- iron railings painted, bottom bellies of balconies, red and dark brown- the pathways beyond that led down to the ravine and its secrets. That is where families of foxes lived. That is where a high school student suicided on a tree. That is where the yellow police cars used to drive on the gravel path wide and sure. That is where garter snakes came out from- disturbed by storms and the crashing world about them. That is where a ghost visited from once- a young boy trying to talk to me. That is where the way to school was. That is where I never felt at home. That is where old Chinese men walked. That is where pebbles and stones, big slabs of cements, and discarded bicycles went and stayed. That is where a park waiting on the far sides, sat- neutral, in the night and in the dawn and always. That is where the dog sometimes ran away to. That is where I rode a bike sometimes. That is where I walked with my kids later on in life, and tried to tell those stories. That is where maybe something came from, winding its way up, ephemeral or foggy or misty or even solid- looking lurid in the textured dark, came and saw the canine. What did the cur see? – What did it dream of? There are little lamps affixed to the walls- they quietly bark yellow out onto the white stucco there , walls where family pictures stay, where mirrors are, where coats of arms wait and wait, not really needing you- (does the night need you, to conduct its business?)– a goat tied to a tree, some swords- behind in there a furnace room- sweaters, a thousand little tools- old tennis balls . cans full of elastics- a humidifier, jars of shells, coats, wires, freezer, window with bars- instruction manuals- the pet’s den- the dogs big crate- what did the dog know or become frightened of?– barking howling growling crying there in the hours when school and sunlight, when the safety of day has fled as if forever? The dog must have had a nightmare then, by an old record player-home for old dust– albums sleeping in there- Elvis Presley, Sinatra, so on- and old books down the way behind glass blue spines and white lettering- Hemingway,– The Sun Also Rises- but so does lady night, indifferent-hollow-too vast to say- Fitzgerald, some unknowns because not timeless or the popular imagination didn’t accept them, Popular Mechanics magazines- one- How To Build Your Own House, sets of encyclopedias denoting flora and fauna, continents and countries, minerals and mines and milestones. Above all that a carved picture of King Tut, one also of all things- the dog! – and the dogs old tags and collar- real dog tags- the war of life you might say- or, the war of night-above a juke box- above strange emblems or keys, pipes from long ago countries, quiet tube lights electrical now off, off, off and sleeping- the party over. And the dog. Or the memory of such. Yes. The dog. Long gone now. Sitting on astral planes with grandmothers that crochet on forever chairs and maybe cook all afternoon for the other-world –group. – What is for dinner? What is for life? What is for night?– yup- the dog and the grandmother gone gone gone- like the old folks in New Port Richie, like your love’s knowing grin, like the hips of the love you never really knew- I didn’t know life went on after childhood. I didn’t ever think about it. The dog. The world. Life at night. The big and roomy house. A refrigerator full of soda pop. The impressionists or any other school have nothing, not an iota, on the colors of the cans under the bulbs in the darkest hours- colors that pop and sizzle rotund, curt, generous, dazzling, glamorous somehow for their ordinariness and cool, cool, cool in both ways…CREAM SODA, ORANGE CRUSH, PEPSI CO. and more. Sounds of water. Sounds of spirit, sounds of furnace clicking on- big metal monster. Sounds of memory. The dog must have had nightmare then.