As I dragged my suitcase over the gravel in the courtyard towards my front door, I began to have an unsettling feeling that something wasn't quite right. It wasn't an aesthetic thing: sure, the flash cars are now gone to make way for my pick-up truck (a beacon to my new downsizing coda), but everything else seemed the same. The graffiti on the main gate was still visible despite several lengthy attempts to get it off.
What makes a person drive to my place in the middle of the night and spray-paint "Dom Joly is a wanker, from the whole village"? What makes him or her feel that they can speak for the whole village? Unless it was one of those Agatha Christie things like in Death on the Nile when everyone (oops, sorry if you're reading it) steps up one at a time to plunge the knife in. Maybe everyone in the village sprayed an individual letter. I must go to the next village meeting and confront the crowd.
Anyway, back to me coming home and everything not feeling quite right. I slipped my key into the lock and heard the kids screaming my name excitedly. In the background I could hear the familiar sound of Stacey quickly opening the upstairs bathroom window to let her handyman lover out the back. Everything normal here, but something was missing and I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Then it hit me: Huxley, where was Huxley?
Normally my loyal black Lab is the first to the door and won't leave me alone for at least half an hour. Admittedly I was carrying a 6ft stuffed lion named Alan under my arm, but Huxley is made of sterner stuff. He hadn't ever actually faced a lion so it was conceivable that he might be scared of them. Come to think of it, he had seen one once. It was at the Cotswold Wildlife Park and he'd nearly had a heart attack. I think that he'd thought that one of the neighbourhood cats had contacted some enormous foreign cousin for some payback.
I dropped my bags, hugged the kids, handed over Alan, but no sign of Huxley. Stacey came downstairs brushing the sawdust off her summer dress and trying to get her hair into some semblance of order.
"Hi," said me. "I'm back from the land of the Soviets, having resisted hookers and honeytraps..." She wasn't laughing - in fact she looked very serious. I knew something was wrong.
"Where's Huxley?" I stammered.
"He's at the vets," said Stacey. "He's being... done."
It took me a second to work out what she meant.
"Done... you mean... the chop... his... testicles..." I could barely bring myself to say the words.
She nodded. "It's for the best - he kept running away and this should deal with it."
He came back the next morning and wouldn't even look me in the eye. I know what he's thinking. First it was the cats, given away in my absence, now this... mutilation, when I wasn't there to save him. We'd been men together, Huxley and I. He'd always felt that I was there to look out for him, have a good laugh, talk about bitches and then... this. He feels betrayed, he thinks that I ran out on him and left him to his fate. Whenever I walk into a room now, he lifts one of his hind legs to show me the void, the sore pink void, with a look that seems to scream "Happy now, well... are you? Look what she did to me! You'll be next, mark my words."
I gave him double portions of Bonio to try and make things up to him. He's not having any of it. I can't say that I blame him. Things have changed between us. There's an emptiness in those once so deep, black eyes. The household balance has shifted, as well. Before, Jackson, Huxley and I formed a male dominance in the house, but now he seems less interested in us and can often be found watching Angelina Ballerina with Parker. I even caught him watching Desperate Housewives with Stacey. The shame in his eyes when I walked in was almost too hard to take.
Farewell Huxley my old buddy, welcome to no-man's-land.Reuse content