Friday, June 7, 2013

At Bay

The yard stank of mud.  Of dried blood.  A hint of fear.  A soft, permeating rain fell steadily, soaking through canvas and flannel, turning the ground into a squelching morass that sucked at the sportsman's boots.  The butt of his whip clattered against the bars and links of the ramshackle pens that lined one side of the perimeter fence, agitating the dogs even more.  One mutt threw itself at the bars, roaring it's complaint, nearly at a height with the hunter, who shouted back and cracked the dog on the nose with the whip handle.  It retreated, but continued to bark, jaws slavering with frustration.

All along the wall, the dogs were baying in near frenzy.  Lips were pulled back, spittle flew.  Here and there, eyes rolled and blood was spattered about the cages as certain bitches and hounds began throwing themselves at the less-than-sturdy doors of their pens.

These are not like that mangy mutt your grandma keeps around that doesn't like men.  They are not like the rottweiler owned by that one family you know in the Bronx.  These are not coonhounds or foxhounds or bloodhounds or wolfhounds.  These are not poodles or ridgebacks or shepards or mastiffs.  The beasts in the pens along the perimeter wall in the mud of the rain-soaked yard are just dogs.  Bred for generations with only a few characteristics in mind: aggression; determination; hardiness; violence.

The dogs could smell the fear.  Through the rain, through the haze of blood and meat and chase that filled their simple dog minds.  It was right there.  Front-and-goddamned-center in the yard, unsheltered from the rain and the barking and the murderous eyes.  Taunting the beasts.  Filling their nostrils with visions of the hunt to come.

Tiny, vulnerable, and utterly terrified, the fox huddled in the center of its little wire box.