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There was barking. A whole lot of barking. And I’d had a glass or two with lunch and I was laid back on my bed. My wife started screaming. My son called my name. There was a fox in the garden. I didn’t put my shoes on, the grass was dry. There was the dog, with the fox cornered. All I could see was the nose and the mouth and those fucking long teeth. The fox with its teeth opened wide like some weird fish, the fox sheltered under some planks of wood where it was now cornered, not really moving, snapping its funny little mouth. The dog wouldn’t come to me, it wouldn’t budge. Was going crazy. And the fox was no wolf. Funny how a terrier comes to life, it just had the fox cornered, and darted in and out keeping it right where it was like a boxer with an opponent on the ropes. A real pro. This had been going on for 40,000 years. The dog wanted me to make the kill, she had the beast right where we needed it, all I needed to do was get a stump of wood and brain the little fucker. I got the stump of wood, and pulled the planks back, making a big show of it so that the beast had a chance to make a get away. I wasn’t down for a killing. Chaos. The fox ran, the terrier chased it, I chased the terrier, the terrier bit the fox’s legs as it squeezed through the fence – that fox was a miserable looking beast; it was old, and missing clumps of fur, its tail thin and matted – stubbornly it shook its body, and kicked, and freed itself from the terrier and dragged itself though the fence into the long wild grass of the garden next door where it disappeared. And even though it was old, battered, and worn, it had remained sleek, determined, and hungry for life. And bold enough to save itself. The dog ran up and down the fence growling, and snarling, and tearing at the earth. A usually sedate terrier, given to parking its bones on the sofa, and chewing Pal, and sleeping all day long. And she calmed down, and then looked at me, the bitch’s eyes were angry, as if she was asking: Why didn’t you kill that goddam fucking fox? That dog had a foul mouth when she was angry you could see it in the eyes. And all I could think was: Didn’t that bitch realise it was the twenty-first century? That cornering and clubbing shit was over.

You couldn’t tame a fox, not in 40,000 years. It was either too stubborn or too smart. And a dog was a dog.

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Tadhg Muller was the cover author for Open Pen Issue Six, and an Open Pen Anthology author.

He is London-based Tasmanian, on his way to France. You can find more from Tadhg Muller online.

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