Robin Wyatt Dunn

Dog Boy Remembers

They call me Dog Boy because I’m small and ugly; they do it because they’re afraid. I juggle fire from my hands. To answer your question: yes, it burns. I’ve grown used to the pain.

My home is more hovel; but it keeps the rain off my head. Most days. The arch over my door is just wide enough for you to see my face, and then the flames:

Watch as blue flame arcs out of my right hand, pushing into the green sparks swirling over my head, down into the red burbling cauldron of heat that churns around my left: I am a juggler. I keep you distracted.

What would see if you weren’t distracted? (Too much.)

When my mother was five the Emperor killed her; I can tell you this because you won’t remember. Lind is like a lot of capital cities (and believe me, I’ve seen many): it likes to forget. It likes to worship the boss. Things are easier that way.

What my mother gave me is my memory, and my profession. I am an entertainer.

All entertainers serve the king, but the funny thing is: sometimes even the kings don’t know it.

“Dog Boy! Throw me a yellow wheel!” shouts a man, drunk on some trade he made today, his eyes boyish and alive, and I know where we’ll take him. “Entrepreneur” means “come in and take,” did you know that? But I come in and give:

Yellow is the color of madness and I turn up the density with my hand, burning hot firelight brilliant blinding wide over my head, a deadly rainbow, and yes, the innocent little trader does drop a gold coin or two to the ground, without even noticing, but that’s not why I do it, you see . . . I do it for my gods.

My gods live in the swamp, a thousand miles from here . . . I whisper their name in my sleep. I am a peat-man, I am who am called Dog Boy, I bear the weight of history in my hippocampus, in my heart.

I watch wistfully as they cart the entrepreneur away, quite dazed. There’ll be a sacrifice tonight.

My gods know why I do it. Why I serve the king. Why I serve all the kings. It isn’t for their sake but for the sake of my gods. Because some must see, and some can’t take it, and I’m one of those who can, just like I can bear to wear my ugly face, and get called Dog Boy, and get spat on, and laughed at, and I smile, like it’s funny, and it is, because I know what’s coming to you, what will never come to me. The peat-men will Rise, my gods promise, and every fire I light over your eyes is the promise: we remember everything. And we are coming for you.

What’s one thousand years when you remember everything? What’s one more dead man, after you destroyed a generation?

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Robin Wyatt Dunn writes and teaches in Los Angeles. You can find him online at www.robindunn.com.

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