Rocky, the hyperviolent canine/wolf menace, spent the better part of the night engaged in a fierce, vocal debate with the neighbor’s remaining dogs. The conversation consisted mainly of Rocky letting out three of his patented guttural, bowel-shattering Woo Woo Woo barks followed by a coordinated reprisal of smallish sounding yippy-type barks off in the distance – as if gay guys and old ladies from New York had abandoned all their abhorrent mini-pets next door.
My guess is that the neighbor’s canine court convened; Rocky was tried in absentia and sentenced to a lifetime of being yapped at – the result of his murdering two of their own. Rocky seems perfectly capable of handling such a sentence. I do not, as the exchange of barkfire woke me up more often than the New York Fire Department, which routinely overreacts to smoking toasters at 4am with a 150 decibel medley of ear-piercing sirens and nerve-racking air horns.
During my stay in rural Poland, Rocky has dispatched two of the neighbor’s dogs. There is also evidence, scattered around the farm, that he was complicit in the early demise of no less than a basketball, soccer ball, plastic planter, door mat, several mole hills and a styrofoam block. The plastic squeaking pig I purchased as a goodwill/don’t-kill-me gesture has surprisingly been spared. So, the one thing that Rocky was actually supposed to chew to bits is in great condition, aside from being filthy. Rocky takes it with him at night and leaves it somewhere around the exterior of the house for me to find during my morning stroll.
This morning when returning the squeaky pig pal to Rocky’s daytime holding pen, I was approached by a farm worker named Stefan. He had previously stared at me from a distance, probably wondering why I was taking a picture of a plastic pig in the grass – for which I have no good answer. Stefan suffers from a very disabling birth defect that affects his speech and crippled his limbs. The good news is that in the last few decades the disease has gone the way of polio, the bad news is Stefan missed that train fifty years ago. As a result, he has the normally hard life of a farm hand rendered much harder by cruel happenstance.
Rocky hates Stefan, and it was quite obvious that if he were freed from his pen, Stefan would have been absolutely torn to pieces. The reaction was unusually violent even for an insane wolf/dog. Rocky performed what I will call the Rocky Is Very Angry routine. This involves running loops around the cage, barking all the while; every so often he jumps into the wall on one side of his pen, bounces off of it and addresses his potential victim with a hearty assortment of terrifying barks before resuming the routine. He’s jumped into the wall so often that the paint has been removed, revealing a 3×2 foot oval of paw-polished aluminum.
Stefan approached me for a little conversation. Conversation with him is not at all easy. Even Polish people have a very hard time understanding him on account of the effects of his debilitating birth defect. When he speaks, it’s coming from a disfigured palate and everything comes out in a burst of slurred words, some amplified and some muted, a la The Elephant Man. On top of all that the words are in Polish – not exactly my native tongue.
Our conversation was in Polish and was amazingly uncomfortable. It lasted what felt like an eternity, and had I known some of the family members were watching me squirm from the living room window I would have called for backup. The entire time Rocky performed the Rocky Is Very Angry routine and the obvious target of his venom was Stefan. Stefan seemed unfazed by the fact that death was only a thin wire fence away.
Me: Good morning.
Stefan: no idea
Stefan: no idea
Stefan: no idea dog no idea dogs.
Me: I do not speak Polish very well.
Stefan: no idea Polish no idea
Me: I do not understand. I speak only a little Polish.
Stefan: What no idea English?
Me: I speak English.
Stefan: I no idea English.
Me: I speak English. I speak some Polish.
Stefan: no idea Are you from England?
Me: I am American. I live in New York.
Stefan: Ah, American. no idea waiting no idea terrorist?
Me: Am I waiting for a terrorist?
Stefan: no idea terrorist no idea New York.
Me: I don’t understand.
Stefan: no idea terrorist no idea dogs.
At this point, Stefan waves his shovel at Rocky. This does not please the mad wolf/dog, and the barking escalates in volume and violence.
Me: Oh, no, no.
Stefan: no idea dogs no idea.
Me: Very well. I will go to the house now. Good bye.
At first I thought Rocky had been trained to hate disabled people, but I later learned that Stefan regularly tormented the already unstable and dangerously violent wolf/dog. I don’t think this is a good idea. The family acknowledged that Rocky would undoubtedly attack the man if it had a chance.
I hadn’t thought to ask why a tree trunk was leaning against the house outside the kitchen window. It had been there since I arrived nearly two weeks ago. Last night I discovered why it was there when out of nowhere a furious Rocky repeatedly dove into the window, howling and pawing at the glass. It was his way of notifying us that he was in the mood for a pre-patrol snack. This morning I noticed there is now a bicycle leaning on the tree trunk leaning on the window. That passes for self defense measure, I guess.
We leave for London tomorrow. It was decided that since we’re not near the airport, we’ll have to leave the farm at 2:30am. Concerns about getting up and out of the house on time were secondary to the first thing that occurred to me: Rocky’s going to be out there, somewhere, unleashed. I hope he remembers the pig.