“Hate is good as any to keep a person going, better than most.“―Sandor Clegane to Arya Stark
I’m going to tell you a story about a man I once knew, if he was a man. Some say he was born a beast, birthed dark, a black sheep with its throat cut open to curse us for all the reasons he could not belong to the light. He wasn’t right to be a man and yet he was. I saw it in his eyes when he died, that one small piece of humanity.
People called him The Hound, but he looked like a pit bull with half his skull torn to hamburger. The flesh was a mangle of meat riddled with meal worms. His scars looked like maggots forever feasting on face, and then there was his other side, strangely soft, prepubescent to agony, unmarred. The same was true of his soul, but to be twisted and burned. That’s the thing about torture. It’s an adaptation of spirit even before the skin begins to blister and boil. I wonder what part of him cried out first as the hand of his kin held his face to fire, soul or vessel. I see the memory of his maiming in manhood, but he was just a boy when he was mutilated to life. What an introduction it was, with no courting. Face withered to near death by five. It took one childhood hand to hold his head to ruin, tiny by years but stronger than a favorable fate. If he’d only been born bigger than the mountain.
Do you know what sound a hound makes? It bays to scent, deep, a prolonged howl. Imagine that howl along with the pitch of rabbit screaming death’s hollow. That is what it sounded like when he changed from boy to beast, that was the sound he made when his brother burned him. The story told near legend with most asking, “Why?”
“Why did his brother burn him?”
I must admit that I’ve heard the story told with so many versions that I can no longer settle on one truth. I believe them all, even the simplest. The simplest truth came from The Hound himself. He said his brother held his face to the fire to burn over a toy, one that wasn’t his to play with.
“Over a toy?”
Yes, a toy, or so it was presumed as punishment. There was no altercation before the tragedy and it was tragic. Little Sandor, yes he had a name before ‘infamous dog’, was only curious when he bent to pick up the toy belonging to his older brother. He had it in his hands long enough to look up and into fire. He was burnt as quickly as if the toy itself was lit, without word or warning. Jack opened the box, it went boom, and when it did all of the king’s horses, and all of the king’s men couldn’t put poor Sandor back together again. Hell, they could barely free him from the fire and it was but a boy holding him there: in hell’s fire. Gregor was a boy with Lucifer’s strength. It took twelve, a dirty dozen angels, to pull the little pup from flames, the dog Gregor had been roasting like a weenie with baby buns, or was that his baby brother Sandor?
I can only imagine the healing and all the years that happened after to pile on scars, each one a new identity to a forever changing mutiny. The Hound a mask of horror painted by the nightmare of his brother. They grew up together after that. I never missed that part of the story by all the ways that I imagined it, even if none of it is real. Is any part of this story true?
I stopped writing to invite my boyfriend to listen to what I’d written so far. He laid on the sofa next to me with his eyes closed as I read aloud my story of The Hound. When I was done he sat to ask, “That’s from The Game Of Thrones? Are you trying to retell the story in your own words?”
No, I’m trying to tell my own story through fiction. I know The Hound, a man who meets that reflection. He is hateful, near dead save one sliver. I’ve studied this man for the sum of my whole life much like Arya Stark in a goblin squat above her fallen hound. My eyes, glass in an empty head, carved to save sight for the pleasure of hope. This man is my friend and I hate him for all he wants me to hate and he has always wanted that for me. Hate, the fire to purge pain and wouldn’t he love to spare me from the torture of before. Go straight to hell with the wrath and fury of the unforgiven and they do not deserve it. Forgiveness, once is already too much. They deserve to rot as you rise from ash, and if you’ve been hurt then you deserve it. I warned you. I told you to kill them all, women and children, but you’ve always been too kind. I hope I’m there to ask you how good it feels to die with a knife in your back, how dying feels. How kind will you feel then, when you are choking on good-bye.”
How is it that I’ve known these words in real life and I promise that I have, in this, our most civilized time. I wondered why my lessons were so brutal. Even know he is preparing for his last breath, my own hound, hoarding food, with talk of compounds and end of days. If only I could be smart enough to see it coming because he warned me to pay attention.
I could get lost in the details of the end except that I am still here and what is real can only be what is before me. Right now I’m sitting in front of a computer screen in desperate need of a shower. My coffee is cold and near empty and I’m writing because I enjoy it. As to the retelling of what has already been written, why would I bother to try to see it differently? It’s what I hold onto by message that I meant to account for.
I see the word and come back to…
I only want one of those to win, but hate is the easiest. The hound wanted me to hate him before he died. I started writing this blog on the day I killed my dog for protecting my own house, unless he bit the woman for enjoyment. I can’t really say. I only know that the city wanted him destroyed and so he was, by our hand and so it had to be. It was an honorable thing to do if there is honor in killing a friend and he was that to us. He was our cherished and adored friend, our protector. We loved him for what he was. He was a hound with a beautiful snow white face. Our dog’s name was Oly and he is ached for.
Sometimes I hate to look at myself. The scars looked like maggots forever feasting on face.
Then there are days I feel beautiful, prepubescent to pain.