The Curious Incident of the President in the Night-Time

presidential

When Sheen and I were very young, we had a neighbour called Mrs Gómez. She was always very quiet and small, and she was the oldest woman we knew. We calculated she must have been at least a hundred years old. She didn’t have a telephone or a television or a washing machine or a car or a microwave oven but nobody had microwave ovens because they hadn’t been invented yet. But she had a medium-sized dog called Barack. Barack wasn’t exactly like any of the dogs that came in my “Dogs of The World” book – he was a bit like a Labrador and a bit like a Poodle. Mrs Gómez used to say that her dog was of mixed race.

 

Barack was a very well-behaved dog and always wagged his tail when we saw him. Mrs Gómez never let us play with him because she didn’t want us to excite him. She didn’t think it was good for dogs to get excited. Sometimes Sheen would pull his tail and then he snarled at her but he never barked. Mrs Gómez used to take Barack for walks, down our street as far as the park, and I never saw him do any pooh although he used to wee on lamp posts.

 

I had almost forgotten about Barack until his namesake appeared in American presidential politics. I said to Sheen, “Hey, Sheen, look. That American politician is called Barack, like the dog that Mrs Gómez had.” Mrs Gómez died many years ago and our parents went to the funeral while Sheen and I went to stay with our aunt. Sheen said, “Yes, but this man’s surname is Obama and the dog’s surname was Gómez.” I protested that dogs don’t really have surnames and I think I won this argument because Sheen couldn’t prove that Barack’s father’s surname was Gómez. It might have been Obama, for all I know. Or Smith. Or Parkinson. Or McCloud. Or García. Or anything, really. The most common surname in the world is Chang, so maybe Barack’s surname was Chang, which would be surprising because he wasn’t a Chinese dog, as far as I know, but I may be wrong. And anyway, if he had been Chinese he would have been served at a banquet because they eat dogs in China. I read this in my “A – Z World Food Guide”. It comes after “dodo”, which is a plump, flightless, slow-moving African bird that doesn’t exist any more because the Portuguese ate them all. Maybe they thought they were big fat chickens or something. I like chicken very much. It is one of my favourite foods and I eat it approximately 3.5 times a week on average. I wouldn’t like to eat a dog, though.

 

When I saw Barack Obama on television for the first time, I couldn’t stop thinking that he reminded me of Mrs Gómez’s dog. Maybe it was just the man’s name. It can’t have been that he wagged his tail in the same way, because Barack Obama doesn’t have a tail because he is a human being. And Barack Obama is slightly darker than Barack the dog, who was mostly beige. Barack Obama has two legs and two arms, like most humans, whereas Barack the dog had four legs, like most dogs. Maybe it was the look in his eyes. Barack the American politician has two eyes, the same number as Barack, my neighbour’s dog, and they are the same colour. I thought this was important so I made a note of it and pointed it out later to Sheen. She said, “All dogs and all politicians have two eyes.”

 

This is the background. Now I want to say what happened. This is called the events.

 

I went to a séance last Wednesday, at Mr Franco’s house. He says he’s sick and tired of people remarking that he has the same surname as Francisco Franco, who was a general and a dictator. Mr Franco’s name is David, but I’ve never called him by his first name. I know his name is David because I looked at his letter box and there is a small rectangular paper sign that says David Franco Sauquillo, 2º B.

 

Mr Franco runs a séance every Wednesday night in his flat, which is very near our house, just round the corner, opposite the church. There is a shop underneath his house which is called “Moda Bazar Euro” which sells hundreds of things and the people in the shop are Chinese. I am always tempted to ask them if their surname is Chang and if they eat dogs. But they don’t sell dogs. The only food they sell is soy sauce and some things that are called Shanghai noodles which are like spaghetti and several other foodstuffs that I can’t recognise because all the writing on the packets is in Chinese and I don’t understand Chinese.

 

I was welcomed into Mr Franco’s small flat by Mr Franco himself. I think he lives alone. I think he should have a dog to keep him company. Dogs are very good for this. Maybe he doesn’t have a dog because the Chinese shop underneath his flat doesn’t sell them. “Shanghai noodles don’t make great pets”, said Sheen but I don’t know what she meant by that.

 

There were about 5 people in Mr Franco’s living room, sitting round a table. The table was square, so maybe I shouldn’t say “round” the table, which would only be correct of the table were round or maybe oval, but I can’t say they were sitting square the table although I could say they were all sitting square on to it, in the sense that each person was sitting on a side with his or her chair flush with the table edge. As there were five people, and the table was square, as I have said, that is, it had four sides, on one side there were two people, sitting close together. Mr Franco brought me a chair from another room and said, “What a pleasant surprise, Heen, we weren’t expecting you” and made me sit down at one of the sides of the table that just had one person. Everybody said “Hello” to me and I said “Hello” to them. I didn’t know any of them, but I recognised one woman who was tall and skinny and wearing a light green dress. I think she knew me because she said, “How’s your sister?” and I said she was very well.

 

Everybody had their hands on the table, as if they were praying or eating or playing cards. Mr Franco pulled his chair up to the table so now there were 7 of us, two on each side of the table except for one side where a bald man about 50 years old was sitting alone. The youngest person there was a girl of about 20 who had black earrings and black lipstick and I thought she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in my life but I didn’t tell her that.     

 

“We shall begin”, said Mr Franco suddenly and everybody started fidgeting. He looked at me and said, “Heen, seeing as it’s your first time here, is there anybody you want to communicate with? Your grandfather, perhaps?” I said, “I want to communicate with Barack, my neighbour’s dog.” The bald man said, “What the hell are you talking about” and I could see he was becoming angry at me but I didn’t know why. Mr Franco said, “Well, that certainly is a novel request, but who knows? Very well, then, let’s see if we can summon Bara’s spirit”. I said it was Barack, not Bara, and he said, “Oh, you mean like Barack Obama” and I said, “Yes”.

 

We all put our hands together and closed our eyes and concentrated on Barack the dog. A few minutes later I heard a noise like the wind in the trees. Mr Franco said “Barack, are you there?” and the noise got louder. Then we all heard a voice say, “Yes, I am here” and I was very scared. I opened my eyes and Mr Franco must have had his eyes open already because he said, “Close your eyes, Heen”. The voice said, “Who has summoned me from the land of the dead?” and I heard Mr Franco say, “It’s Heen, your former neighbour” and the voice said, “What? That kid that was always pulling my tail?” and I said, “No, that was my sister Sheen” and it said, “And you too, cabrito” and I said, “But that was ages ago” and the voice said, “Oh, all right then. Let bygones be bygones. See if I care. I’m just a dead pooch” and then I plucked up courage and asked, “Is there any connection between you and Barack Obama?” and the voice said “Who?” and I explained that Barack Obama was the new President of the United States and he reminded me a lot of the dog that used to live next door to me.

 

The voice sort of growled then sighed then said, “I knew somebody would pick up on that sooner or later”. Then the wind noise came again and then everything went quiet. Mr Franco said, “It looks like you scared him off with that stupid question” and everybody looked at me angrily and I just wanted to go home.

 

I said, “But I don’t understand. I just asked him if he had anything to do with Barack Obama” and the girl with the black lipstick said I was making fun of everybody.

 

I apologised as best I could and walked home quickly, thinking it was very curious that Mrs Gómez’s dog should remember me after all those years but maybe dogs have good memories, after they’re dead, I mean.

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One response to this post.

  1. […] he managed to communicate with our ex-neighbour’s dog. It’s here, in case you overlooked it: https://zaragozatwins.wordpress.com/2008/11/08/the-curious-incident-of-the-president-in-the-night-tim… What he didn’t mention was that a few months earlier, I went to see the same medium, David […]

    Reply

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