Dogeater in order from the beginning

Dogeater layout: wood panel, 36 x 28 inches.

Dogeater: The real story of my Divorce in Gold Leaf and Bas Relief

My ex-husband sent me a story called Dogeater. It?s about him, of course. He?s living in Korea, where he actually lives. He rescues a dog.

He walks across a rice paddy to rescue a dog trapped in wire. It?s Sunday morning. He?s drunk and afraid of dogs. While walking he talks about 1) Mongolia, where he developed his fear of dogs. [roving packs of wild dogs.] 2) Borneo, where they kick dogs. [kick.] 3) Breugel?s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus [cliffs, harbor town, guy ploughing, ship, sheep and a dog, Icarus’s legs, part of a wing.]

(Detail of panel 3 showing Breugel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus.)

4) W. H. Auden?s poem describing it. ?The dogs go on with their doggy life.? 5) Charles Mingus blasting on his stereo back at the apartment, loud enough to teach the neighbor?s TV a lesson in manners or taste. Or at least the person reading the story. 6) Some other shit. 7) Me. ?The wife.?

The wife.

?The wife had a goob job.? (This part is true.)

?I came home from construction jobs, ditch-digging, snow-shoveling, dead tired, half frost bit. She couldn?t stand the sight of me.? (And part of this is true.)

(And this is the part he left out): The wife came home from her job as, let?s say, a librarian. And she has more librarian work to do that night that she brought with her, let?s say about 4 hours? worth. He yawns, stretches, says: ?What?s for dinner??

He says he hopes the story isn?t hard for me and he?s not bitter. ?What do I have to be bitter about,? he says. I was the bad one.? He means that ironically.

Speaking of irony. The 2 major & recurring themes of our rending asunder:

1. ?Explain why you?re leaving again??

& 2. ?Please don?t write about me.?

?I promise.?

My husband, according to him, via Dogeater, paraphrased by me: The usual stuff. Brilliant but misunderstood, existentialist and tragically flawed. Untouchable like Hemingway, Thomas Pynchon or Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces. Taker of chances, thinker of thoughts, lover of women, saver of dogs. And P.S.: He?s sure I now describe him as a bum.

And a little more about me: (again, paraphrasing)

I?m one of those unfathomable women in his stories now. Part Mary, Queen of Scots (doomed, and not worth listening to), part Salome (stone-cold terrifying and dragging our platters with us wherever we go, dripping with blood).

OK OK! I?m getting away with myself.

I don?t call him a bum. I try to just say what went down. As honestly?as factually?as possible. No editorializing. I almost never succeed.

Still crossing the rice paddy (it?s not as easy as it looked from his 10th-floor apartment & there are other wild dogs now taking notice of the first), he thinks about: 1. How to get the dog home invisibly. He spies an alley and a peach orchard that might come in handy for subterfuge. Because if people see him with the dog, they?ll assume he?s going to cook it up with some kimchi and rice, and he doesn?t want them thinking that, even if it isn?t true and they wouldn?t think twice if it was. And 2: His marriage with his second wife.

He starts by saying how my mom wasn?t at the wedding. (She was.) His daughter wasn?t, or his nephew who was bringing her, because his car broke down just outside of Phoenix. His brother lives in Colorodo. But his sister was there. She just happened to be in Sedona attending one of the local New Age metaphysical conferences. We planned the whole thing in four days.

In Oak Creek on our honeymoon we were mutually bummed the picnic basket we got from one of my friends contained non-alcoholic wine. We both needed a drink.

Flash forward to the following summer, his hotshot crew drove by our honeymoon place on their way to a fire in Oak Creek. Riding in while the townspeople fled. ?Damn hot day for a fire,? is all he is thinking and for rhythm says again, ?Damn hot day for a fire.?

[Note: He may be happy leaving you with the impression he was so cold-hearted but I’m not. I know he writes a better story than this. Stuff he left out: any reason he might have married me. Why this is bad: because it makes me not care about this narrator who is wasting my time talking about this brainless passionless toothless ex-wife, or (care) about Dogeater, which is a shame because it’s such a great title.]

He cut three cords of wood for our unwinterized cabin south of Flagstaff. [Half a cord, and we both did it. He taught me how to use a chainsaw. His daughter was with us. We had fun that day.]

He says he was tight with his crew buddies but that?s all he says about them. He describes what he thinks make have been the last straw for me:

finding him in bed in the morning still in his clothes and covered with soot, beer bottles and a wad of chewing tobacco on the floor.

[Actual last straw was more night than day, less Van Winkle more Morgan Le Fey. A regular white-trash shock flick bleach-basted souffle. An eyes-open all-nighter. Mine glued to a stranger. More cracks than veneer. And the last bottle of Jack to make my husband disappear.]

One night we went to a ?nice restaurant in town.? [Beaver Street Brewery, south of the tracks.]

?Me and the wife.? [He talks like a hick in his stories. Also when lying.]

He said, ?I?m going to take you here on our anniversary.?

I said, ?This is our anniversary. I want a divorce.?

[Close, except for the part where I spill the beans about the day.]