Monday, September 27, 2010

The Election

for Franz Kafka

The dog was thinking about his dinner. It was Tuesday; tonight Ema would bring him fish and milk from the black market on her way from the factory. He didn’t care that it was the meal of a cat, Tuesdays were always special. Upon hearing some familiar steps, he stood up slowly and walked to the opened window. From the fifth-floor studio apartment, through the fog he could see a man from the fourth floor on the street arguing with himself about the election.

“It was a fraud!” the man said while waving his arms in the air and then stroking backward the few strands of gray hair he had on his head with both hands. Then he saw the man cry and hug a lamppost.

It began to rain.

The dog wanted to go to him and lick the man’s feet, but instead, he went around the boxes thrown about the floor of the room to lie beside an old bookcase that was crumbling underneath the weight of a stack of broken flower pots. Along with the man’s sobbing which was slowly becoming the sound of snoring, there was a faint flicker of red and blue lights mixed with the tick-tick-tick of the rain on the window’s awning. He sniffed the cement floor a few times before he fell asleep in the lullaby.

He dreamt of a woman he had met a long time ago. Ema called her Lupita. In the dream, Lupita was wearing a green dress with red flowers, her hair was a coiled snake. There was something wrong with Lupita, he could tell. She was motionless as she floated on a cloud like a bed. In her hands, which were resting on her chest, she was holding a green plant full of thorns. Ema sobbed at the cloud’s edge.

When he woke up the rain had ceased, the lights had faded under the shine of the sun as the fog cleared. Ema had not come home. Tuesday had become Wednesday but there was neither fish nor milk.

He got up from the floor and went back to the window. As he stared out he saw the empty buildings across the street. The man who had hugged the lamppost had left. In fact, there were no people at all that he could see on the sidewalk. He went back to his spot beside the bookcase, but this time he couldn’t sleep. He roamed around the room, first sniffing for food, then for anything that reminded him of Ema.

Another day went by with him making the same routine walk through the room: from the window, around the boxes, to the bookcase, to the door. At times he tried to sleep, but the noise from his stomach and the occasional wailing of a child in the room next door didn’t allow him to close his eyes for more than a few minutes.

On the third day, the baby stopped crying and the dog jumped out the window.

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