You know by now there are things the very sight of which will make my skin crawl. To a greater or lesser degree these include the leash, (kind of a love-hate relationship—I don’t like it, but it means I’m getting out of the house), the groomer’s van, (by the time I actually see it I’m practically inside it, so maybe I should direct my animosity more toward the groomer himself, or the sound the doorbell makes when he rings it, I don’t know, I need to think about that one some more), Mork and/or Mindy—my dad’s names for the two Sharpei’s next door whose real names are Ming and Mai, and the really old guy who walks up and down the street every day, looks and smells like a zombie, awful.
All of these are unpleasant but bearable. They pose no threat to my accustomed way of life. In fact, they offer the opportunity of a little entertainment from time to time. Barking at the old guy when he walks past my gate or going after the wrinkly mutts next door through the fence, for instance. But there is one thing, actually a few of them it turns out, different shapes and sizes, all diabolical, that not only make my skin crawl, but my hair stand up and my stomach turn. I believe they are called ‘suitcases’.
Before moving into this place with mom and the Doc I was living in a van. Very King of the Road. Me, a couple of other dogs, two cats, (I know, I can’t believe it either), and the lady who owned the van. It was a little crowded, sure, but I was young and it was better than being tied to a tree in the park, (different park, I kind of forget where it was exactly), hanging out with these two weirdos who smelled worse than the old guy but were a lot younger. The lady with the van sort of stole me from them. Anyway, none of this involved suitcases so the first time I saw them I had no idea what to expect. But, what I finally found out amazes and terrifies me to this day.
I’ve thought about this a lot and this is what I’ve been able to determine. These suitcases live in a closet at the foot of the stairs, down the hall from the bedroom where we all sleep. There’s a lot of other stuff in there, too, (talk about crowded), but it’s the suitcases that are responsible for all the mischief.
For months, maybe years at a time, they’ll just stay put. Quiet. Nothing doing. Then suddenly I’ll stroll into the bedroom for a nap and there they are, sitting on the floor. Sometimes only one, but usually two or three of them. Sitting there. Not moving. Like maybe I wouldn’t notice they were there or something. Right. I never see how they get there, if they somehow let themselves out of the closet or if they have help, someone on the inside. It’s creepy.
However they manage, once they are out and on the loose a chain of events begins to unfold that has now become predictable, though no less disturbing. First, the humans will start taking clothes out of closets and drawers and hanging them on the backs of doors or putting them in small piles around the room. This can go on for anywhere from a day to a week. How long seems to depend on how weird the clothes are and from how far back in the closet they are coming—the weirder and farther, the longer this lasts.
Then there is arguing. There are nuances among the arguments but in general they have to do with the clothes. Something about too many, or not enough, or the wrong ones, or ‘I told you you needed new whatever-it-is the last time’. Eventually the arguments stop.
Finally, the humans start putting the clothes into the suitcases. It’s almost as though the suitcases eat clothes and have to be fed every once in a while. Personally, I think they should just let them starve and we’d be done with this nightmare. For some reason this has either never occurred to them or they are so afraid of the suitcases they don’t dare try to bump them off. Whatever.
Once the filling is done I now know it’s only a matter of a short while before people go missing. It happens every time. I never know who’s going to disappear, or if it’s going to be only one or both of them, but for sure there will be a disappearance. Guaranteed.
Sometimes mom and dad will carry the suitcases to the car and off they all go. Other times a stranger will ring the bell, grab the suitcases, put the humans in the back seat, and drive away. I never know when this is going to happen or how long the missing person or persons will stay missing. So far they’ve always come back, and so far whenever they both vanish Jenny comes to stay with me, make sure I get fed and go on my walks. But how can I be certain this will always be so?
One day, one really horrible day, maybe only the suitcases will come back. Maybe they will be there for me. Maybe they’ll try to make me vanish. Let them try. I’ve been in fights with dogs a lot tougher than them, those evil, plastic, clothes-eating beasts. “Go for it! I dare you,” I’ll say. I’ll block their way to the closet. Then I’ll rip them to shreds.