Pinter for Dogs

Livi Michael

Today, one in seven people is a migrant. This year, crossings of the Mediterranean Sea have already exceeded 300,000, and at least 2,500 lives have been lost in the process. What does it mean to be a migrant – or a refugee – in our time? What human rights can we rely on? And what hope is there for those who have fled their homes? Granta asks its authors to share their reactions to this profound human crisis. Click here to read the other responses in this collection of statements, poems, images and personal reflections from across Europe and beyond.

 

‘What’s this?’

‘A dog.’

‘I can see that. Where’s it come from?’

‘Nowhere.’

‘Nowhere?’

‘I found him. On the street.’

‘And you’ve taken him in?’

‘He’s a stray.’

‘How do you know?’

‘No collar.’

‘Doesn’t make him a stray.’

‘He looks hungry.’

‘Don’t start feeding him.’

‘I’ve already tried – he doesn’t like dog food.’

‘Doesn’t like dog food? He can’t be that hungry.’

‘I was going to see if he wanted some fish and chips.’

‘You’ve got to be joking!’

‘Well, I thought I’d get some for us and see if he wanted some.’

‘Have you won the lottery?’

‘No – I just thought –’

‘What?’

‘I can’t not feed him.’

‘You could have him put down.’

‘Don’t say that.’

‘You could take him to the RSPCA – they’ll do it for free.’

‘Give over.’

‘Either that or take him back where you found him and leave him there.’

‘I’m going to the chippie. Do you want some?’

‘ – Go on then.’

 

*

 

‘Well – he seemed to like that.’

‘He should bloody like it – you’ll be cooking him Sunday roast next.’

‘No I won’t.’

‘That’s right – because he won’t be here on Sunday.’

‘I thought he could stay here –’

‘No chance.’

‘Just for one night.’

‘No.’

‘I can’t put him out on the streets – it’s freezing.’

‘He’ll find somewhere.’

‘Where?’

‘Or someone – he found you didn’t he?’

‘Yes, but–’

‘So he’ll find someone else. Probably his owner.’

‘I don’t think he’s got an owner.’

‘You don’t think at all.’

‘Just one night, Mick – it’s freezing out there.’

‘It’s not a doss house. Though it bloody looks like one. I let you stay here – rent free – on the understanding that you’ll do the place up a bit – and look at it! I mean – what’s this? A blowlamp? A shopping trolley, a statue of Buddha on the stove – and a lawn mower.’

‘I was fixing it.’

‘What for? We haven’t got a lawn. And you haven’t fixed the leak in the ceiling yet – that bucket’s still there where the light shade used to be. What do you do when it’s full?’

‘I empty it.’

‘You empty it.’

‘I was going to fix it.’

‘You’re always going to fix it. And now you’ve brought in a stinking hound from Christ knows where. He could have anything. He could be carrying plague.’

‘He’s not.’

‘How do you know?’

‘–’

‘What’s his name, anyway?’

‘Davies.’

‘Davies? What sort of a bloody name’s that?’

‘I thought it suited him. But he doesn’t answer to it.’

‘Because it’s not his name. He’s probably called Rover. Or Vladimir, depending on where he’s from. Abdul.’

‘He’s not called Abdul.’

‘How do you know? You don’t know anything about him. He probably came in on one of them trucks.’

‘Through the tunnel?’

‘Or maybe he swam. He’s probably got one of them foreign diseases.’

‘He needs somewhere to stay.’

‘But not here, eh? Listen to it – it understood that all right – listen to it growl!’

‘It’s a he, not an it.’

‘Well it’s going out. Now. It’s vicious. I’m not waking up with that thing’s fangs round my throat.’

‘He’s not vicious. And he can stay with me – in my room.’

‘Says who? And how long for?’

‘I thought –’

‘What?’

‘I thought he could take care of the place. Like a caretaker.’

‘What – in case someone wants to steal that bucket?’

‘You never know. People are desperate.’

‘Not that desperate.’

‘There’s plenty of people more desperate than us. And plenty worse places to stay.’

‘I know. This bloody country’s overrun with them. There’s no room.’

‘You make room, Mick. It’s something you make.’

‘Jesus. One night – all right? Once bloody night.’

 

*

 

‘That bloody dog’s got to go.’

‘It’s snowing.’

‘Are you listening? He kept me up all night – making noises in his sleep.’

‘I didn’t hear anything.’

‘Don’t give me that – whining and scratching and munching his fleas.’

‘I’ll get a spray.’

‘AND he’s chewed my shoes! Look at that! He doesn’t eat dog food – he eats shoes! And what’s this, look! The light’s gone – he’s chewed through the bloody wire!’

‘I’ll fix it.’

‘Like you fixed the leak? I’m telling you he’ll have to go.’

‘There’s nowhere for him to go.’

‘I’ve got a friend who’ll take him to the river, with a couple of bricks in a bag. A fiver. No questions asked.’

‘Season of goodwill, Mick.’

‘This isn’t a charity. Or part of your bloody therapy. Is that what you think this is?’

‘No.’

‘Because I don’t give a shit – they can lock you both up for all I care.’

‘We’re not going anywhere.’

‘Whose place is this?’

‘I don’t see why he bothers you so much.’

‘He stinks. He chews everything. He costs a fortune to feed and another fortune in damages. He’s probably riddled with disease. And this is MY PLACE!’

‘I can’t just put him out. He won’t survive. ‘

‘Of course he will. The streets are full of them – lurking round shop doorways – begging –’

‘And we could give one of them a home.’

‘Why just one? Why not all of them? Just leave the door open – let them all in!’

‘If everyone let someone in there wouldn’t be a problem.’

‘Course there’d be a problem. Country’s overrun, because everyone knows we’re a soft touch.’

‘It won’t hurt to let one of them stay.’

‘You’ll be offering to marry him next. I, Aston, take thee, Davies, as my lawful wedded dog.’

‘All right, Mick.’

‘I’ve had enough of this. I’m going out. And when I get back – that dog had better be gone, or you can go with him.’

The door bangs. Davies barks, then whines and puts his head on Aston’s knee.

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