BY DEB OLIN UNFERTH
He made it to the United States at last and that was the end of it, except years later he noticed a dog on the street. Come here, dog, he said, and it wouldn’t come. He put out a little food for it, every day he put out a little food, and a little more, and the dog ate it bit by bit. Finally he got the dog into the car. He brought it home to the wife.
Already we got two damn dogs, the wife said. What we need this for?
Need? he said. Who needs? Want.
Already we got, she said. What we want this for?
So he took the dog to the pound and he said, Dog, I’ll come back for you tomorrow.
Who knows why he brought it there. Maybe so he could negotiate with the wife. Or maybe he meant to leave it and then he changed his mind. Whatever the reason, he went to sleep and woke up and went back to the pound.
I’ve come to get my dog, he said.
That’s our dog now, they said.
What, your dog. My dog.
You brought him here, they said, and they went into a long explanation about how now he would have to pay money and fill out forms and watch a video and show proof of residence and wait four days and all this, and he listened and listened and looked at the forms and finally he said, Okay, you got me. I won’t take him back. But can I just see him to say good-bye?
Yes, they said. They took him to the back, where the dogs were.
Hello, dog, he said. Sorry, old dog. He petted it. He petted it again. Good-bye, dog. Then he went to leave. I’ll just go out this back door, he said sadly, and he left.
Then he came back. He sneaked in the back door and took the dog. Stole it. He brought it to a friend’s house and put it in the garage. Then he went back to the pound. I’ve changed my mind, he said. I really do want my dog back. Can you go get him? I’ll pay and sign the papers and watch the video.
Okay, they said, and they went to the back to get him. But of course they couldn’t find the dog and they got quite upset—how could they have lost a dog?
Then they must have thought he was really crazy, because he said, I stole that dog! You robbers. I’ll tell you what I did. I stole that dog right back.
Now this is a man who had been interrogated and tortured. Each of his fingers had been broken one by one. For years he sat in solitary in the dark and for more years he cracked rocks with crooked fingers in prison mines.
They called the police on him. The police went to his house but he wouldn’t let them in. He shouted out the window, You think you take the dog! I take the dog! They got a warrant and the wife let them in, but the dog wasn’t there. The police tried to ask him where the dog was but all he would do is laugh. I’ve got that dog, he said. You thieves. You try to steal the dog!
Eventually the police left.
That dog is dead now.