My partner has not been sleeping well these past few nights - possibly due to a potential interested male party, whom she finds intriguing. I'll not bore you with that. However, to combat interminable sleeplessness, we have had the radio on during the hours of darkness. I have heard more Christmas hits in the past 48 hours than in the entire history of my past Christmases combined. The only ones I can still tolerate are Silver Bells and Fairytale of New York - but even they are skating on thin ice.
I was cheered by the prospect of a roast beef luncheon yesterday, and my annual turkey dinner today. Because of the appalling weather, my partner's brother and his family (including delightful cherubs Carys and Ewan) are unable to journey South to join us for the festivities. A disappointment - but with some compensation, as there will be more food for me, hehehe...
Now then. 'Tis not so festive, but I feel able to release it now. Here is Part Two of the story of how I came to be Jasper and sitting here this very day: The Evolution of Jasper. Should you need it, here is a link to the first instalment: http://jasper-thedogsblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/sunday-16-august-2009.html.
The last evening described proved to be something of a watershed in the life of our puppy-hero. An uneasy atmosphere settled throughout the house. I was not beaten again, but did not feel loved - or even, at times, tolerated. Privately, I suspected that things could not continue in this hostile state of truce between my man and my lady, and it was not long before my suspicions proved correct. After making my toilet in the rear garden one evening, I crept back into the house to the sounds of screams and shouts. Mindful of what had happened on the previous occasion, I concealed myself under the kitchen table and cowered there. I heard the sounds of things being thrown in the next room, hands and fists smacking into flesh and the most awful shouting, swearing and screaming. The next morning, the lady walked out of the front door and did not come back.
The man did not deal well with this development - and, unfortunately, I bore the brunt of his temper. I began to live my life in a strange paradox. On the one paw, the man fed and walked me and took me to work with him every day. I'm not sure what he did, but he had a big white van in which he travelled a lot and I used to love to ride in the front with him. Every lunchtime, he would have some crisps and a little pie or a sandwich, which he would share with me. I would sit in the van all the time while he was working outside of it, but I didn't mind. However, on the other paw, I was regularly kicked and beaten during the evening hours. The man would drink lots of strange smelling liquid and then hurt me. In time, I learned to quietly accept my beatings. It only made it worse if I protested.
His favourite way to hurt me was to squeeze my neck and throat until everything went dark and I passed out. As I regained consciousness, gasping and wheezing, he would laugh at me as I staggered about. In fact - this is the only truly lasting scar that I bear from those times. Once established with my partner, it took around three years for me to learn that, when she or anyone else raised their arm to reach for something above my head, I was not going to receive a beating. However, even after all these years, I still fear having a collar put on or removed. I am ashamed to bark that even with my partner, when she goes to affix my collar around my neck, I regularly cower, trying to flatten myself against the ground, and scream and cry. I cannot help it. My partner, however, is always kind and gentle at these moments of anxiety for me.
Anyway, after a year or so of this life (during which I noticed that the man was drinking more and more of the strange stuff that made him cross), there inevitably came the day that the man pushed his luck (and me) too far. We arrived home at the end of the working day to a difference in our home. Taking a deep sniff, I scented that my lady had returned home! I capered around the house, scenting her fragrance in every room. To my bewilderment, however, the lady herself was nowhere to be seen. Still feeling puzzled, I trotted downstairs and noticed for the first time that around half of our furniture was missing. The television and most of the ornaments around the house had also gone. Placed neatly on the coffee table was a small stack of white papers in a large envelope, with a set of house keys on top of them. My puzzlement grew.
The man sat down and looked through the papers. He said some very uncomplimentary words about the lady and, to my surprise, began to cry. I edged closer to him and attempted to offer comfort. After a few swigs from the ever-present bottle, the man suddenly swept the stack of papers off the table and across the room. He stood up and kicked over the coffee table, shouting and swearing. He then took the set of keys and hurled them at me with as much force as he could. They struck me on the cheek and I squealed. I tried to crawl out to the kitchen to hide, but he grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and lifted me, wriggling and screaming, right off the floor. The beating I received was too horrific to describe.
The following morning, I opened my puffy, swollen eyes slowly. I ached all over. At one point during the previous evening I had been brutally kicked and heard a sickening crunch in the area of my ribs. Now, my whole side was very painful, and it hurt to move. I noted the presence of blood on the carpet and knew it was my own. There was also much pain and a strange sensation in my jaw. I heard the man coming downstairs, and tried to shuffle away to hide, but couldn't summon the strength to move quickly enough.
When the man saw me, he looked horror-struck. "I'm so sorry." he kept repeating, as he patted my head, with tears in his eyes. "You forgive me, mate, don't you? I promise I won't do it again." I wagged my tail feebly, although I had heard all these things before. I heard the man go into the kitchen and make himself a drink and then he helped me to my feet and I staggered out of the house after him. I wondered how I would manage the jump into my seat in the white van, and hesitated on the pavement. The man looked at me and then said "I think you'd better stay in the back today." He helped me into the rear of the van. I made myself as comfortable as I could amongst the tools and rags and fell painfully into a fitful sleep. I woke up to find the van empty and my broken little body struggling to be sick. With difficulty, I spat out the contents of my mouth and belly and was shocked to see only blood emerge. Feeling increasingly weak, I closed my eyes once more.
To be continued...