angus the demon

Angus, the focus of all this Scottie dog memorabilia, is lying on his tummy on a Scottie dog patterned rug. I’m relieved that he IS a Scottie dog, otherwise everything surrounding him – the Scottie dog toy in the white plastic alcove hung with fairy lights; the hundreds of Scottie dog pictures hanging on the walls, some as hyper-colourised 3D versions, where the eyes open and the tongue lolls out as you pass; the Scottie dog tea-towels neatly draped on a rail; the Scottie dog biscuit tin, the Scottie dog cushions, the Scottie dog puzzle half-completed on the table, with (ominously) only the eyes to complete – well, if you walked into a flat like this and found a doberman, you’d probably lose your mind.
‘Don’t go near him,’ says Jean. ‘He bites.’
‘He’s so sweet,’ I say.
‘Only when he’s sleeping,’ says Melanie, Jean’s daughter. ‘He bites me, too.’
‘Oh.’
‘I wonder what he dreams about?’ says Jean, yawning.
‘Biting,’ says Melanie.
I go to put my things down. Angus looks up. He’s so old, his fur has a rubbed, slightly greasy look.
‘Fifteen’ says Jean, anticipating my question.
‘Wow! Fifteen! Well!’ I say – then after a pause, where I can’t actually bring myself to say that he looks good for fifteen, I manage instead: ‘We’ve got a dog.’
‘Oh yeah? What sort?’
‘A lurcher.’
‘How old?’
‘I think she’s about ten.’
‘Ah!’ says Jean. ‘Long-legged dogs don’t live nearly so long.’
‘No. I’ve heard that.’
Angus may have lifted his head, but that’s as much as he’s prepared to do.
‘Angus! GET over here!’ says Melanie.
‘Oh – he’s alright’ I say. Too late. Melanie has already pushed herself clear of the sofa. She reaches down to scoop him up, and immediately his eyes spring open, revealing two black buttons of insanity. He bares his teeth, as thin and brown and horribly curved as the teeth on a deep sea angler fish, and he begins paddling furiously with his paws to turn and tear a lump out of her arm. It’s a horrifying spectacle, like watching someone pick up a scatter cushion and finding it transformed into a demon.
‘Oh no you don’t, you little bastard’ says Melanie, expertly wrestling Angus into a non-biteable position, and then sinking back onto the sofa with him, where she smothers the dog into submission. Eventually he taps out with a paw, Melanie cautiously relaxes her hold, and Angus sits there huffing and gasping and catching his breath, all the while watching me with an expression of the purest hatred.
‘Good boy,’ says Jean.

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