Kurt the Cur
By T. Dalton
Dennis Young discovered Kurt on his deathbed. Overrun with mange and infected wounds, the dog (a Korean Jindo) was no different than anything else delivered to Doc Young, the Vet in Midland, Atlanta. It was on death’s door and it was up to Doc Young to push him on through. An unfortunate scenario, but one necessary to the modern age. Euthanasia was an obligatory fact to being a vet. That didn’t bother Doc Young. In fact, it was exactly what attracted him to the profession.
Doc Young readied the needle full of sodium pentobarbital. A wonderful drug, used for summary executions of prisoners throughout the United States, it never ceased to impress Dennis with its debilitating effects on the respiratory system. Despite the protests of those idiots at Lundbeck. When injected into the animal, it works away until it no longer breathes. The animal’s eyes go grey, often wide open. There’s a tiny little push, the animal’s last struggle for a breathe, before it’s body gives out, often with urine or feces. That push, the death push, was the most wonderful thing of Doc Young’s day.
As he readied to witness the last moments of the Jindo sick and exhausted on his operating table, he spoke out loud as if the animal understood him. “Jindo, eh?” he asked the animal. “Never been to Korea, myself. Hell if I would want to. I prefer the Caribbean during my vacations. Hot weather to heal the cold.” Dennis examined the animal. “Been living on your own for awhile, then? It happens. Humans, we’re not your best friend. Not by a long shot. You see, we used you, tricking you with table scraps, as a kind of biological alarm system for those who would enter our domains.”
The sound, so close to human, through Young off his game. He almost stumbled and tripped on his syringe.
“What’s that?” he asked.
Had it spoken? Had it just said the beginnings of a word, an English word….no?.
“Nonsense,” he said out loud. He crept closer to the dog, looking over its cuts. “Animal bites and scratches. Different sizes. How many you take on, you cur? Cur. I’ll call you Kurt the cur.”
He began to inject the animal, the string nearing its skin when Kurt reached its snout over to his arm. “Ah-ah-ah,” Dennis said. “Time to sleep.”
He prepared the plunger and the dog, in a last burst of energy, gripped Dennis’ arm in his teeth. “Oh ho!” Doc Young said, glancing down at the dying animal’s survival attempt. “A last bit of fight left in you?”
“Don’t want to die?”
“Not broken yet?”
The dog glared at him with his single remaining eye. Dennis saw a fire there, a burning life from a primordial time. Dennis, intrigued, made his decision then to save the animal’s life. “That fire,” he said. “I want to make it grow.”
Dennis brought the English speaking dog home. Once belonging to his parent’s, the third storied manse grew out from a single majestic staircase in the living room. Stylized in the French Baroque style, Dennis’ childhood home was his lavish empire in the suburbs of Buckhead.
He kept by Kurt’s side throughout his recovery, telling him stories of his life. Of how he strangled his sister’s cat Mr. Pumpkins in the garden outside. It was Mr. Pumpkins that taught Dennis the joy of seeing life end. It was the corpse of his sister, Nichole, that taught him about his feelings. Or, his complete lack of them.
No. He didn’t do it. Pneumonia did. But he found her, a frail and pale corpse in her bed, squeezing the stuffed teddy bear with the missing eyes. He played with her hair, cut off a lock for safe keeping, then told his parents.
Growing up, Dennis understood who he was. A sociopath. And that was dangerous. The television shows with police explained enough. They caught killers. They caught crazies. They always did. And Georgia was a death penalty state. But Dennis enjoyed the sensation of the struggle, the pulsing heart, the moment where life ceased entirely because of his own volition.
The day Kurt regained his strength, Dennis fed him a steak. Then he brought him to the basement and beat him repeatedly with a whip. He raged until the dog spoke English. "Again!" Dennis shouted. "I want to hear it. That life of yours! I want to hear your voice."
"N-n-n-n." Kurt stared back at him, his wounds healed and scars trailing over his face and body like vines. In his eyes, a rage. What Dennis couldn't have understood was that the dog had listened to every word. And each day, when Doc Young returned from his veterinary day job, he returned home with the smell of death. A dog needed no explanation for that smell. This human, who'd been so close to stabbing him with that metal, who Kurt thought was enough to survive, had other plans.
It was no surprise for him, then, that the beating began. What Dennis didn't know was that as Kurt healed, he developed his own plans.
Dennis readied his whip. "Come on! I'll break you. My own little Bâtard! I'll see your life break, and when it does then we've only be-" Kurt charged forward, biting Dennis in the ankle. Dennis kicked at the dog as it chewed away. Kurt took the time then to run away upstairs as Dennis tended the bleeding bite marks.
"I'll kill you, you little mongrel!"
Kurt waited for him at the bottom of the grand stairs. Dennis stumbled from the basement, pistol in hand. The shot missed and Kurt ran up the stairs. Dennis, shouting at him, reminded the animal of his coming death. Dennis reached the top of the stairs, smiling at the dog waiting for him.
"Fool," Dennis said. The Jindo sat on his hind legs, his tail wagging. "Think I love you?"
"No," Kurt replied with a bark.
Kurt raced forward as Dennis fired away. It was enough. The dog's dead weight brought him crashing down the stairs, breaking his bones on the way and snapping his neck on the marble floor.