I was Reading Bolaño

by Sean Lovelace

And dreamt I adopted a dog. This is what happens when you read Bolaño. As my dream unspooled, the original adopted dog (an unassuming, brown mutt) became several dogs, a surly chow with a tendency to gnaw the kitchen linoleum, a skittish Dalmatian, a fat, nosy Shih Tzu, a Doberman with persistent diarrhea, two yapping Chihuahuas, and a Great Dane with a head shaped exactly like a casket, all of these howling, tussling, chewing, shitting dogs now my responsibility. I tossed in my bed, wrapped in crystallized apparitions, my arms flailing out like spider webs (known to be the glistening saliva of demons). The following morning, in a perspiration of relief, I sat at the kitchen table and watched tendrils of fog melt off the grass and thought stupidly, dog is god turned around, and god is perhaps the first part of gadfly, and gadfly means buzzing about, and buzzing about isn't sitting here in your bare feet (your black socks worn on your hands as gloves or perhaps wayward puppets) waiting for a cup of lavender tea to cool. I fell upon the most contemporary of notions: The dream meant there is something I must do. In darkness, I plotted. My project included others, their names, occupations, places of residence hardly significant here. What did we whisper? What was our intention? No matter the specifics, the alibis, unforeseen hazards, possible mistakes. Our scheme was carried out, as they say. Certain intricacies and complications. Certain protagonists. Long shadows, shifting under clouds. A scattering when all was done...What remains with me is the image of a person (man or woman, who can say?) jumping up and running across a gravel lot (frightening a group of doves: doves must swallow gravel to digest their food) past a flatbed truck loaded with green bananas and then leaping off a cliff into a lake. This final vision: the figure swimming in the distance, a little blot of ink, getting smaller. I know the sun set and the sun rose again, and then bled away once more. An evening later I sat in bed reading Bolaño by ceiling fan light, the whirring blades. I turned off the light and huddled inside the warm blankets. For a moment, clutched tight to myself (my knees red, with several splinters), a feeling settled into place. I won't say content, only washed-out and bone-tired, a type of satisfaction in its own way. Then I bolted up, my fingers grasping night for the lamp chain. At the door, something snarled.

Sean Lovelace is on a river right now. He has a book and a beer. Other times he teaches at Ball State University. He recently won the Crazyhorse Fiction Prize and his work has appeared in Black Warrior Review, Willow Springs, and so on.

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