Photo: Easter Island Statues
Vidal is stoic. He likes to sit and stare at distances. In Port Townsend, Washington, he sits beside me in the strange, weak sunlight of the American northwest and he sits so still I think he’s turned into a statue. He’s having a rendezvous with Chinese ghosts. But then, as my imagination starts working on his general state, he turns back into Vidal and eats a slow moving bee. I’m talking to a poet when it happens. “That was artful,” says Sam. “He just plucked it out of the air.” So Vidal is part guide dog and part something else. The something else eludes me.
This is the wonderful thing about dogs. We know them but only just so. Their pulses differ from ours.
Vidal’s pulse reinforces his hunger which is tuned to allotments and rubbish. His hunger upon which he concentrates completely until it becomes a third party in our life together.
At the home of friends he sneaks away from me and eats five pounds of Chinchilla food. Later that night as I’m sleeping in a guest room I hear him in the dark. He stands up and lets out a single moan, then proceeds to vomit wildly with long hacking coughs and convulsions. I stagger to my feet and cry for help.
Chinchilla food is alfalfa and inside a dog it expands—Vidal has turned into a field, a farm, he’s a staggering barfing alfalfa ranch.
As he stumbles around the room he produces whole statues of alfalfa, monuments sculpted by his digestion. They look like the Easter Island stele. And they’re strangely dry as I lift them. “Ready mades,” I say to David, whose house has been defiled. “He’s a regular Marcel Duchamp.”
Groucho Marx famously said: “Outside of a book, a dog is man’s best friend. Inside a dog its too dark to read.”
But Groucho was wrong. Inside a dog is a room with votive alfalfa demi-gods; where moonlight shines down on green and knobby figures of pure appetite.