And you will NEVER convince me otherwise.
As a result of my wife’s professional expertise,
we have found ourselves living in various parts of the world.
1990, found us in northern Canada, in British Columbia,
in a town named Fort St John.
The best that could be said of the place was that it was a bleak outpost
… for me, real “Hudson’s Bay Company” territory where the sight of snowmobiles
in the street as an essential form of local transport,
was actually common.
Here – it seemed – in order to meet people, one either went
to a ‘bar’ … or a church. We chose the latter,
and it was here that my wife met, and befriended, a local woman.
The problem for me was that, I never cared at all for her black-eyed, black-bearded, buckskin-covered-Bible carrying husband.
Yes, he was friendly enough, but … but – I could not say why,
but there was something …
I remember one day, when Ivan asked if I wanted to drive out with him
on the snowmobile to ‘check’ a cabin that they had in the woods.
My wife and his wife planned to work on some craft projects,
so, in order to give the two women that time together, I said yes.
We got into Ivan’s pickup truck and drove along one of the narrow forest roads
– stopping, after twenty minutes or so,
beside a lump of blue tarpaulin just at the side of the road.
Walking over to it, Ivan pulled off the cover to reveal a snowmobile
and a red plastic petrol container.
Within five minutes, I was being bounced along a snow-packed trail
that twisted through the thick forest trees.
After what seemed far too long, we emerged into a clearing
with ‘the cabin’ …
… a dilapidated, glorified garden shed with a lean-to,
and what appeared to be an outhouse to one side.
Ivan had just pulled to a stop when I was shocked to see
a brown German Shepherd-type dog walking – head down, towards us.
I greeted the dog, and was immediately moved to tears
to see green pus running – ( and immediately
crusting as it froze in the cold air ) –
from at least a half-dozen ‘sores’.
“He’s why we’re here,” proclaimed Ivan.
I wanted him to stop telling me the story – not merely because
I was being increasingly disgusted, and angered, by hearing it –
( this, he related, is “our dog”, who stayed here for 2 weeks at a time – alone
… with one bowl of food, and a bucket of water to last until Ivan decided
to make another ‘visit’ to “the cabin” )
– but because I wanted us to get the poor creature to the veterinarian. NOW !!!.
Then, Ivan explained the reason for what I ASSUMED had been ‘infected tick bites’ …
“The ‘kids’ in the area come here and shoot him with air rifles.”
Acid vomit rose in my throat.
I looked at the cowering dog …
… looked back to this obnoxious stereotype of a ‘woodsman’,
and struggled with my revulsion – And anger.
He was telling me that he knew that his dog
was being tortured by sadistic youths –
KNEW All About It …
and was telling me all this as ‘matter-of-factly’ as if
he were telling me that plants are green because they contain chlorophyll.
I bent down to gently lift the poor animal,
and told Ivan to get the snowmobile going
so that we could get him to ‘The Vet’s’.
“No, no” said Ivan dismissively.
“That’s not why we’re here.”
Calling the dog over, Ivan walked to the ‘cabin’.
I heard the door being opened,
heard shuffling sounds from inside the hut,
and saw Ivan returning … with a shotgun.
My mind stopped.
My Mind Stopped.
My mind … Stopped Working.
I can explain it no other way.
Ivan said … something … like,
“I’ll look after him with this”.
I could not speak. My mouth would not move.
He threw something – a dog biscuit? – out …
towards the nearby treeline.
The dog hobbled towards whatever was thrown.
I felt my self swaying – my mind, my body,
EVERYTHING … Was … Stuck.
There was a steady tone in my ears … a level tone
– like one hears from a vibrating tuning fork.
Everything stopped … ‘flowing’.
I was seeing in ‘snapshots’ – still photographs,
rather than the motion of real life.
The dog sniffing at something on the ground.
An explosion from ten feet to my left.
The dog pushed backward … wrenched into a ball,
Quivering. Legs twitching violently.
Made my body
My mind had snapped. It must have.
This was a nightmare. And I was not waking up.
I saw the dog, still moving …
suffering, I thought.
“Shoot him again! Shoot him again!”
I was screaming bloody murder.
“He’s dead” came the calm, level words of Ivan.
My voice raised an octave –
“Shoot him F*cking AGAIN !!! ” I screamed in the only language
that I thought his type of depraved creature would understand.
It was the first and last time I had used that word.
But it instantly penetrated his smug indifference.
The ‘boom’ came again. And the dog lay still.
I stood … stood … stock still – for how long, I cannot say.
I remember swaying – as though I was going to fall over.
Ivan walked over to a large pile of branches,
scrub brush, and old bits of lumber.
He had a can, this time, and poured petrol onto a section of the pile;
hefted the dog’s body, and flung it onto the wood.
The whole thing erupted into a blaze.
I wanted to speak – to say something: to tell this piece of sewage
what I thought of him. But nothing would work.
I just kept standing there, unable to move.
The fire must have burned out – ( or did he leave it to burn ? )
I have no memory of anything else except my mouth was dry with pure fear.
I was petrified at being in the presence of this creature.
I was aware of his voice telling me
that he ‘had to lock up the place’
… and then ( I do remember ) me getting on the snowmobile, behind him.
I sat, of necessity, pushed up against the back of this maniac
as he drove the snowmobile through the forest.
Then, the pickup truck … and the drive back to his house,
that took forever.
I grunted acknowledgement to whatever he said on that drive back.
No idea what he said – I just grunted.
And as always … in the middle of the truck’s bench seat,
that ever-present … Buckskin-covered Bible.
“A righteous man” – ( I thought ) –
“regardeth the life of his beast.” Proverbs 12:10.
I had memorised it as a child in Sunday School.
Whatever the reasons that this vile creature had a Bible,
a foundation for moral living was not one of them.
Arriving back at their house, I went straight inside,
walked over to my wife and said, “We’re going.” “Now.”
No greeting. I said nothing else.
I repeated the words in a trembling voice:
“We’re going. Now.”
And we never went back – although the wife, after this,
did meet and spoke to my wife about the ordeal that had been her ‘marriage’.
Not long after, we left that place.
We found out a year later, that Ivan had left his wife: he had
( somehow ) seduced some poor young woman from Germany (I believe),
and was intending to marry her. ( I always wondered if the ever-present
Buckskin-covered Bible had played a part in ‘selling himself’
to that poor young woman. )
I shall Never get over the memory of that day in the Canadian wilderness,
when an abused and abandoned dog
came running over to greet his ‘owner’ …
and was killed by a conscienceless psychopath
– who felt Absolutely Nothing.
That was 1990.
And I am writing this article now because last night – (yet again),
I was lying in bed, at 3:00 o’clock in the morning, tormented
and unable to get rid of the sights and sounds that I heard that day,
over 25 years ago.
When I was six years old, playing outside my grandpa’s shop
at 363 Beersbridge Road in Belfast, I looked up to find four boys standing around me –
one held up a thick rubber band – pulled back to its limit,
where one of those metal, U-shaped, builder’s (?) staples
was being held between his thumb and finger.
He pointed the thing at my face while two of his thug ‘mates’ searched my pockets.
It was a Wednesday afternoon, and my grandpa’s shop
was closed for ‘half day’ Wednesday, as was the custom
in the 1960’s –
I was alone.
I was six.
And I was terrified.
You may believe that human beings are inherently ‘good’
– but continual life experience has shown me otherwise.
The brutality of even “friends” is unfathomable.
Once you cease to entertain them – or happen to tread upon their vanity,
the depth of the ‘friendship’ is soon revealed.
The articles on this site that are ‘tagged’ as “Old Thoughts”
are drawn from many of those life experiences
in very general terms.
To sit down and relate instances over the past, say, 45 years
– would keep me typing, non-stop, for months.
Without even considering the utterly immature and the viciously ignorant
– I find it genuinely distressing to realise that there are militant humanists,
self-proclaimed evangelicals, and every variety
of human thought processes in-between,
who think that there is nothing wrong
with the cruelty they dispense;
who believe that their ignorance and malice is ‘justified’
because it furthers their opinion or social agenda –
or simply makes them feel that they are “right”.
The ‘whatever-I-do-is-right’ mentality,
In using the Internet during the past 18 months to ‘take stock’
of the state of modern humanity, I have been amazed
at the outrageous number of films and television programmes
which feature “zombies”.
There are even parades in cities all over the world
in which people cover themselves in make-up ‘gore’ and participate.
It is an evident obsession out of all proportion.
Does no one wonder WHY those who determine what goes onto your TV set,
and appears in your cinemas – have unleashed a deluge of “zombie” trash
over the last decade … ?
THEY are HAVING a LAUGH !!!
Zombies. As I understand it: The Dead who Walk the Earth.
The depiction is precisely what humanity is now.
No conscience. No consideration. No independent thought.
Mindless, lumbering automations – this is what has happened to humanity
in the space of just 50 years. And the human race cannot even see it.
Am I the only one on earth who keeps hearing the modern mantra of multitudes
– “I’m just doing my job” … Which is to say,
“I do not possess the moral conscience or have the principled integrity
to determine whether my job is wrong; whether what I am doing
is callous, unreasonable, or cruel.
I am a Zombie. I move … I do not think.
Give me Entertainment, Liquor, Sex – and I will do whatever you want.”
Welcome to the 21st century.
I may not be able to change the world; but I can die knowing
that I did my best to cry out for moral decency in a world
that essentially has none.
I have met “Ivan’s” throughout the course of my entire life;
BUT, with ever-increasing frequency, over the past 20 years, have been forced to realise that –
to be Selfish,
is NOW seen as being
In 1990, I watched a physically suffering, emaciated dog
struggle over to its owner for help …
… to receive the blast of a shotgun
from a ‘dead’ creature that was
utterly devoid of compassion.
Let people talk – read their ‘blogs’,
note their Internet comments,
and you will – very often – detect
that same unfeeling ruthlessness.