Beyond the cracked sidewalk, and the telephone pole with layers of flyers in a rainbow of colors, and the patch of dry brown grass there stood a ten-foot high concrete block wall, caked with dozens of coats of paint. There was a small shrine at the foot of it, with burnt out candles and dead flowers and a few soggy teddy bears. One word of graffiti filled the wall, red letters on a gold background: Rejoice! For the Day of the Lord is at Hand. Next to the shrine was a small dehydrated paw.
He came up over the top and everyone saw his eye pop out. Next to me Randle didn’t budge, didn’t react, didn’t move an eyelash. Damn coonasses. Watching the thing dangle and move about I cried out internally for someone to stop the fight. That’s the problem with Mob Rule contests. No one could quit for you. You had to quit. Your corner couldn’t do it. Your wife or girl couldn’t do it, you had to quit, or your body had to quit. I watched the boys Pitt from across the expanse. One of those brutes who didn’t ever keep his eyes to himself but pushed his intent and dominance on everyone he saw. Daddy, when h’ed been alive, would have looked poorly on that type of behavior. Daddy was golden and everything he did was golden. Golden kept to themselves and were said to have come from some line of kings that had helped they king masters keep rule.
Pride I believe to be the most caustic of all the sins. It’s the chief sin according to Pastor Lynch but then pastor Lynch also says that all humans are made the same. We all know that aint right. This boy was just a regular fella from down in Thibodaux area and probably was tough and maybe had some skills but pride…nothing else was gonna make him lose his eye. All he had to do was stop the fight. For a second, he tried to put it back in. I barked at him from behind my owner leg and peed a little bit. After smelling my pee, I turned back to the fight. The rummy doctor, who’d come rushing in all self-important when one man went to the dirt, was sitting on the stool in the corner with a cup of poison…he held up his hand to stop the boy from continuing but he didn’t and in a second, we all knew he wouldn’t. He pulled real loosely at the organ and it popped off like a grape and tossed it to the ground next to him. His dog watched on his eye until the whole affair was over and then went over to it and smelled it. Probably a cannibal.
Randle whispered to me. That one-eyed boy gone win.
How you reckon? I wondered.
Randle talked to me, like regular folk. Giving me his rundown on the happenings and trying to explain away the retarded motivations that lay being the blonde obscurities and black-eyed pride. Aint none but a few alive that can do that type of shit we all just saw. Hard men. He spoke quietly to the two lanky boys in overalls standing close but always included me in the conversation with a lowered eye that I could never meet but for more’n a second. After that men get mad. Dogs too but humans is the one that need be distrusted. Mostly a soul can trust a dog, mostly.
Like you? One whispered.
Randle stood a little closer to me.
No, boy. Like my Daddy though.
Routine. I loved a routine and still do. It really is the only thing that makes sense in this world. Eating and routine. The only thing that seemed to match up with common sense. Most things in the world of men didn’t make no sense and I stopped early trying to scratch at the edges of obscurity. The ring was put together with as much enthusiasm as could be mustered for a killing sport. At the dog fights weren’t no fences at all round the fighting pair. Men would touch em with cattle prods to make em step up. Mamma’s brother Rake never had to get touched. He was self-motivated cause he was always a winner. I’d seen bigger badder dogs than he go to losing and never come back. Like someone had stole they growl or the like. Poor and pitiful dogs after they lost that thing, and usually the men’d get rid of em quick or put em on the tree for the others to practice fighting on. They never lasted too long, and I never felt too bad for em, some dogs just aint cut out for the world of men. I knew that they would have a better go of it in the nether world where things weren’t so hard and bitey. The men coming tonight would see to it that there would be some dead.
There were some local boys, but most had driven in from Texas, Georgia, South Carolina and some down from the Appalachia area. The white paint freshly applied by the Keve’s boys was the only real white thing in the room, all else was just gradient dirty, maybe it had been white, maybe it had been purple but time and disuse or conversely over-use had smudged it and smushed it and rubbed it till it took on the affected state. Most of the men wernt pure breed either just mutts all round.
It had been great once. Great men probably had spoken of elections and shown their blonde debutantes to their first pony here. Great dogs of the hunt running about the horse’s hooves, whining for go. Some dogs always stuck on go, momma warned us bout those types of dogs, who’d run plumb off a truck whilst it moving to get at what they got go over. My own go was much more measured, seemed to be I got it from my pa, but I only got to know him a day for they all rode off in the truck wit lead ropes and some guns smelling of new oil. That new oil smell was a good one, it meant we were gonna go hunting and its one of the only things men and dogs agree on in the majority. Eating, humping and hunting. Sides that men didn’t do too much that was of any good. Plumb waste of time. I always knew that they spent way too much time paying ’tention to things that were of the same value as a cat’s ball. Moving around a lot but never getting nothing done.
The vaulted barn was situated now to allow sunlight to pop through the room spending light sabers down from the roof, spaced non-uniformly. In the multiple spotlight’s bits and slips of flying debris consisting mainly of hay and its bits and pieces. Hay stood stacked in one far corner, but it wasn’t fresh and seemed to be falling in on itself due to moisture content. The full moon had come and gone, sending clouds to cover its place until it returned. There had been rain for 23 days now. They world just adapting to grey and moody weather. Outside the wide assortment of trucks were seen in various states of ill-repair. No one was wealthy here. Nor would be likely to be. Dregs. Violent men who had been in jails and prisons, who probably had some sort of addiction and whose women were worse off than they were all that came to see this type of display. Part of the deal was impressing the man next to you. How hard you were was no more, no less than what you could watch with noiseless open eyes. No one here care about much else save tough.
Smallish aint he?
I don’t know many who wouldn’t
You ever got that feeling that he won’t fight.
Naw, these dogs fight.
My owner wasn’t like them. They weren’t like him. They had always been more or less like he was but as he’d gotten older, he turned. Or maybe everyone else turned. Sure, the issues that they were facing were not like his issues. Some had turned gay, some had never been taught how trashy it was to inject substances, some had chosen drugs that required lots of money to maintain, some had gotten pregnant, some had a tendency towards being violent, some liked rap, some had a tendency to want to hang out with other racial makeups that had very little to offer, some didn’t read (which he saw as a primary problem), some were godless, some were stuck up in the ghost world that humans shouldn’t be rousting about in. Some still stuck in the denominations, some thought that being progressive meant being good and that there was no way to be good if you were a racist, some believed that being gay was a creative design by the Maker, some thought being Buddhist was the only right way to view the world, some were foreign but probably if they had been in America would have been ok, some matched their shoes with their shirts…like the same color, some were Yankees. But this new group, they were not like him. Poor, uneducated, dirty, with cutoff shirts that they wore everyday…all day long, interracial (mutts), poor diction, slouchy backs, whose parents had had jobs like exterminator or cop, they couldn’t afford their own habits so they had turned to crime or had been criminals previously, they were Democrats mainly (he thought) but it didn’t seem like anyone voted or was even aware of election cycles in their own states much less the entire United States.
Even the professionals and paraprofessionals were sub-par. I never felt as though they knew why, better than myself, how.
He stunk a bit. I wasn’t sure exactly how to describe it to Annie but I just said he smell like he’s dead.
Maybe he is.
I had actually never considered that. I wasn’t around dead folk much and as soon as they be dead for a minute someone’d come and take em out and I wouldn’t never smell em again. I’d seen my owner cleaned up his cousin’s room before he’d of ever called the authorities and he had been dead but that was family. I wondered if’n people who are infatuated with death would be if they actually dealt with death regularly. Most humans didn’t deal with it regular like, not like us. Death. It’s a bad stinky, not a good one and frankly people are kind of heavy when they die, it like 200 pounds of water in bag. 200 pounds may not be a lot but maneuvering around with 200 pounds is hard to do. I watched people struggle with dead bodies but always at night and I wonder now if they were scared of the good ghosts that only came out in the sun, or if the bad ghosts helped with the dead person.
Under the old clapboard Berean Church, he was born. Gold. They were all goldens sept momma who was Brindle. Daddy was golden. Golden Retriever the boy would tell people, but the Pa weren’t a Retriever at all. He was a prince, but he was a mutt, like Jesus. Jesus. Always knew the name in my heart. Always, before I knew food, I knew Jesus. Kind of crazy cause I don’t even know what it is, but it knows me, I heard Pastor Lynch once proclaim Jesus was a king, so I guess that’s what he is. Said man had eternity in his soul. Dogs too, I guess. Guess somehow this Jesus must match up with that. With the eternity in dogs’ souls.
They were born quiet. Stayed quiet they whole lives. Momma had spent several lifetimes tied to a tree for the boys to beat up on. She ate once a day and that was enough for her to grown but not grow strong, the black men that would come and go was quiet. The whole farm was quiet which aint the normal way for a farm to be. They had 26 bucks on the property and always a litter or two about. Tance was the mammas boyfriend’s name but they all called him Rip, the men did. They had a whole host of names that they called the dogs, but they didn’t have enough sense to call anything they right name. The prince was the only one of them that wasn’t kept on a chain. The thick collar he wore was as thick as a man’s arms, it covered up his whole neck. They men called it his security detail and when they left town with him, they’d leave the collar behind which seemed to keep the bitches in line. A camera kept em all on closed circuit and if any one of them started making noise, the collar would pinch em hard. Barking was the enemy cause it “gave em the ball” as the big black man would say with the cutoff shirt, which he wore every day. He would wear it till it started rotting then he’d go the Walmart in Rayville and buy another one.
In the mornings, the big black man everyone called T would walk about the dogs quietly whispering to them how much he loved em. We loved him too. He’d check on wound and put some squeezed out antibiotics on the wounds. He’d set his coffee down a bit with each of the main boys and cup they heads in his hands, rub his face on they faces and talk to em quiet like about how tough they were. How much they brought home for the family. He never used the word proud but proud was what he was, momma told me she used to smell the pride coming off him. Momma loved that man, daddy never knew him, but I think he would have to.
Daddy was some sort of real prince mamma would say till the boy with the expensive turck took her and Daddy away. He cried when they did it. Holding mamma to his chest, but never looking at her. Like he was sad for her. Daddy took a bit longer to round up, but they got him eventually. They all took off it the back of the truck and that was the last I ever saw a mamma. Later that they the sad boy would come and pick me up outta the trash and take me into a big house. I’d never been in a house before; the smells were overwhelming, and I remember puking. I ate it up right quick. The boy laughed sadly at this. He would always be sad, he wouldn’t never get over whatever it was, no matter how much I’d muzzle him. He put a new blue collar on me and I remember I was so proud, I would have wanted to show all my brothers and sisters, but I couldn’t find a way to get to em, to show em. That first night the boy took me and got me all wet, put some evil smelling goo on me. It burned my eyes and I cried out, catching myself too late. Nothing terrible happened and I wondered what mamma thought might have happened. She never spoke a word the whole time I knew her but she never stopped teaching.
The food he gave me made me throw up and he seemed bothered by this but never bothered enough the give him food that weren’t poisoned. In the weeks to come I reckon I learned how to take poison. I learned a lot in the next few weeks and remembered to vomit up the poison in a place that the boy couldn’t see, back into the clothes room under his boots was the best place I could find. Later I was to be told by the boy that that kind of behavior wasn’t at all acceptable and in the end the poison just stopped working and I didn’t have to get sick every time I ate.
Momma loved to tell us stories in her own way, all without talking neery a bit and always seemed to be trying to warn us of something, but I couldn’t ever figure out what it was. Mamma was full blood. She was what we all called pure blood, she claimed her people were the greatest warriors and they’d nothing that anyone, even Daddy, would ever say bout his own folk that added up to mamma’s clan. On her big chain collar was just one word, Thibodaux, La.
I had 14 brothers and sisters. By the end of day 2 I had 10. They all just sidled away in the night it seemed, I reckon now that other nice humans came to get em and bring em inside like me. For years to come I would hear Brick and Bricka howling off in the distance. It wasn’t nice howling though, always seemed like they was fighting with some other clan or fixin to. In the space of a week, all my kin was gone…mamma and daddy was gone and it was just me and the humans and the cats and the horses and the pigs and the rabbits but no more dogs. I made sure to pee around the front gate to let other dogs that may have come by where the food was.
The kid got up onto a milk crate and raised his hand. A murmur went through the crowd and then it fell silent, except for a few people shouting words of encouragement at him. The kid acknowledged them with a nod and a shy smile. In the full light of day, he looked less angry and more beautiful. He waited until people stopped shouting. A siren could be heard, maybe five or ten blocks away. The kid raised the bullhorn, pressed the button, and began to speak.
Before he could say a word though, his older brother pulled him down off the haybale. You gonna get us and your dog killed. You just cant be running round telling other people how to conduct their affairs. That’s meddling and that stupidity will get you buried back in dat swamp der.
The big men didn’t pay no attention to me, just the smaller sized men. They would spend an inordinate amount of time with sticks and ropes and balls and little bits of food. The boy who I took later as my owner was a strange thing. Every weekend he’d disappear and show up with cuts and smelling like rotten apples and be plumb mean for a day. I watched for his truck all weekend and wondered why I couldn’t go with him. Maybe I was too small. Eventually he would take me in the truck and I was to see that they was some problem wit him. Sick. I wondered when I would have to see him sleep forever. It made me sad to think about this. Like he was when they took mamma and daddy off.
The boy and I fell into a routine. We’d get up and eat and run around the perimeter to check for thieves and killers. I knew early that they were other dogs about that wanted to come on our land and even would. The boy put an big spike collar on me and I was proud. I generally was always proud of my owner, he was respected by the other men around. They would all come over with books and sit around listening to him talk about it. Me, I couldn’t never understand the importance of the book, but I always reckoned and still do that it was magic. Lots of magic about. More than not. I reckon that the magic was more than not and I would later find out that the magic was important to humans. Making em cry, like the book would. Crying wasn’t something I ever really learned to do. Momma said it’d come natural with time, but I never saw it. I managed to make it up till now with no crying jags. Instinctively I have always known it weren’t the thing to do, like giving away ones food.
Queeny was horrified by the squalor. She was horrified by the smell of smoke and the chemical smell, horrified by the humans with gas masks on they faces. Horrified by the endless supply of humans that paraded through the trailer door. Horrified by the stream of smoke she’d smell coming out of they pores and faces. Horrified but regal. She knew who she was. She had papers and that meant she was something special. Important. Well thought of in the world of men and dogs.
Her owner used to take her out when people would come over, lots of fussing about when people came over, covering the chemistry sets with towels and sheets. Spaying grass smell over the trailer, running the vacuum, generally fussing about. The woman would drink beer and slow down while the man would drink beer and speed up. Understanding why they did what they did was her main preoccupation, for the things they did were not good. Instinctively Queeny knew good and bad. She knew it like good smells and bad smells, just felt it close to her belly like shed eaten a moth ball. Weren’t never no bit of confusion bout good. When they take to fighting Queeny’d run about amok and she couldn’t stop yapping. The yapping that came was from the nether world. The ghost world that she smelled but never knew.
My owner spent a lot of time with the spirits. Lots of days crying about the other world and I wondered if she could smell it better than me. Looking at glassed-in pictures and crying and farting. Drinking more beer than usually was good for her. It was about 4 but she thought it was about 15. I could smell her innards complain, her liver letting out more than it should. Later I could tell when she got depressed and after the baby came unwanted and unannounced her depression was all the time. She couldn’t feel anything else. Rubbing up on her would slow her innards down a bit but it was what it was and some things Queeny always knew she’d die from or get real sick from. When the trailer burned down, and I had to take off for the hills, she worried that her owner’d get hungry, cause she would know where she should go to eat with the trailer gone.
I walked for about two days before I caught on a familiar smell of anhydrous. It led me down to a holler with several trailers set in a circle. Up in from two boys rolled around on the ground with some small dogs, puppies. I watched em from downwind and a small snarl would creep out of my mouth. Small choked off snarls. My paws seemed to have they own mind, like they knew I wanted to be down there with those dogs and it weren’t cause I was hungry but I was. The big bear dog came up from behind me and I ran but he wasn’t trying to catch me, so I stopped. Brown fur and browner golden eyes peered out at me and I knew he loved me. He smelled like wood smoke, grilled meat and a little bayou dapped on behind his ears. I could smell that he loved me, that he loved me enough to give me pups of my own which is the only true measure of love. Later when I had my litter and would think about my daughters having their own litters, I would cry a bit. Now I know litters just bring pain. I’d never have another.
The new men would do some pretty awful things to the bigger dogs. They’d give em some dope and they would cut em open and put bags of dope in em. When they woke up they get crated and put in the truck. Only one or two ever came back to the farm and they wernt right in the head from then on. He’d look out over the cotton field where Massa Robert land was and weep with no noise. Just a constant stream of thick mucus under the eyes. They’d take to giving they food away and let the other dog chew on they ears. Nothing could be done with em. Like they rotten in the head and couldn’t figure things out anymore. Mostly they’d just die, and I never felt too bad for them either. Like when I feel bad for the ones on the tree and the little bucks who’d get a new heavier chain ever couple of night-days. Sometime the new chain’d be so plumb heavy they couldn’t raise they head for a minute, just stuck till muscles caught up with the chain’s weight. Grew up strong this a way but it was a hard life for the little uns. Sometimes in life the best things are the things that hurt the most, a dog has to learn this though, it’s not instinct that teaches these higher lessons. Those type of lessons come from the ether, from the pale beyond but felt here in the really real world, the stuff world. How they make the journey I don’t know, passing from one world to the other is not in my power, I’m just a passive observer. I could see it and smell it but never could touch it. Sometimes I smell Nic’s parents coming from the pale, strange thing is that he can’t smell em none, though they smell like him directly.
All of these dogs were wormy. They poop moved like it was its own and I had to stay away from em or I knew I’d get em too and I didn’t want em. The wind brought with it the pigs javalinas that moved about in the thick brush rooting around. We could always catch us one if we wanted but it seemed that the older boys didn’t approve so less’n we were hungry as all get out, we wouldn’t do it. The dope the boys made it the small black trailer the try out on a pig every once and while. Pig’d go running around till its insides popped while the men smiled on and spit baccy to the rotting leaves under they boots. Seemed like the quicker it killed the javalina the happier the old man would be. These were the chain days, the days for I’d made blood and earned the men’s respect enough to get off from the tree, from then on it was my brother Lane that they kept on the tree.
Id have to wrestle with him every day where we puff up at each other and run our lines. Running our lines was just a type of fake fighting with lots of noise and posturing but no reality. Like what came on the box the men liked to look at. Real but just a bit further away than smelling distance. Hard to understand this type of thing. In the world of men there are unexplainable things, they relate to the real world, the dog world but are more akin to spirit world. Noise from the box and the truck was like this. It would make us whine and wag but couldn’t ever see it or smell it. It was that feeling that a dog’ll get when his master gives him ‘tention’. A feeling that weren’t married to anything of substance.
She wouldn’t let me lick the blood. At first, she wouldn’t, then she would. Like it took her a second to realize that it wasn’t really hers anymore. That once blood gets on the outside that ownership dissolved. In the pee room she would make carful lines on her legs, carefully always with a degree of sadness but careful to not go to deep. Deep enough to bleed but not an emergency. In these times she would laugh some, like a weight had been removed from her throat enough to let out a little guff. It made he happy that she was such way, that she had figured out on her own what was good, and the small lines of blood were that good. In time the lines formed little white patterns that she would look at, look at with the ghosts that surrounded her, all about her, crowding out the sight of her at times. Attraction to the blood I always assumed and perhaps I still do. They are attached to blood, ghosts are, or attracted to it. They love to be around it. Jealous maybe cause they ain’t have they own. Maybe it smells good to them, like two-day old fried chicken (the best day is day 2, you can keep on eating it for 6 days but its prime at 2).
Once I followed a ghost just to see where they go, and I was able to come back and tell the others that they world is laid over the top of ours, like a cage over a animal. Occurring at the same time, in the same space, for the same time but of every other consideration, quite different. Different motivations. They didn’t care nothing about food or drink or sleep and this alone made them something quite different, but humans interacted with them. Had something they wanted or had something they feared or lusted after or dreamed of.
After the trailer burned and I had to find a new food source I spent several years in the By’u just trying to stay alive. Rats, nutria rats, were tough little buggers to kill but they were plentiful and the By’u was full as a tick with them. The smells of a big city were just over the hill and I was pretty sure I needed to stay on away from there. My momma had told me men eat dogs in the cities and kept em like chickens till they were hungry. My opinion of the whole mess of em changed as this salient fact dribbled into my worldview. Cannibals. Nothing worse than that.
Little did I know the whole world was just made up of two things, cannibals and bad men, the rest of the world just standing around waiting to see which one they might become. In the end, the world makes you choose to be bad or die, to eat your own or die, aint no way of getting around it.
Cats are neither bad nor good, mostly they like everyone else but they will put out an eye given the right set of circumstances.
When the men came that night we were all asleep, or at least I was. My conscience wasn’t working right I guess cause they just came on it without me smelling much of anything. I don’t know what they got cooking but whatever it was it seems to have blown out my nose. Least that’s what I think. The Halloween masks were uniform, clowns with tears, white faced big eyes, no mouth to be seen, not much of any features but they were scary none-the less and I think somehow that they scared the youngest boy plumb to death cause he didn’t let out a scream or nothing, the big one hit him on the head with a fish bat and that was all of him. We all got to make our own way in this world. At some point the ones you’re with are yours and the ones coming on just aint. Cats don’t see things in such a black and white echo from beyond, may be that hey spend more time in that place. The next one in the trailer had some sort of bologna in his pocket and one of them treble hooks designed to run up on gators. Thunk, it sounded just like what it was, rusty iron running up through flesh. The man laughed hollow and thin through the mask and pulled the little one on behind him. Pap run up from behind and grabbed aholt of the boy’s leg, his thick fingers looking spectral over the boys darker leg when the hook tore out I heard the boy for the first time. I aint gonna never forget that terrible racket. Momma screaming, the boy screaming, the other one hunched down on himself like he was praying to some desperate god of no-account. Bella wasn’t but three I think. Still on the tit. Mamma came through hard with her on the hip, swinging at the man with an old lamp she got holt of. They took turns with her the rest of the night then burned it on down, my paw was mushed and I couldn’t see none out my right eye and I was hungry. Buried the family out by the burn pile, rightly I don’t even know if they boy was all the way dead. Rest of em were. Alone, in the world of men. Angry men with dope dreams and rotted teeth. Cabbage was all I smelt, cabbage and copper.
The high Sherriff came on about 4 am. We had been there for a minute already sniffing around the burnt-out meth shack, sniffing through Fanta bottles with dope residue all around the head, needles marron with use and clumped up in the corner of the burned out trailer like some sort of absurdist artwork. Lance had taken me to a museum once, down in New Orleans, where the man in charge had cut up some old cows and put them on display in formaldehyde. Lance echoed what I thought just standing there like an idiot…I could do that. Maybe it was more complicated than we all know the officer’s wife said.
Nope. Honey it aint. We just weren’t born fools enough to think its something special.
She giggled at him like she always would and spanked him on his thick rear side. I can see that old heifers face now, just waving in the solution like she was getting bathed for bugs in a shoot, but there wernt no bugs, just crazy humans with too much time and not enough good common sense.
At the trailer I could smell the violence that had swept through like a fire. Scared. Someone in that house had been real scared, probably the young uns. The good book tells us we aint never supposed to feel sorry for anyone else, casue gods out there looking over us but I got my doubts and I feel sorry for folks no matter what the word says. Its natural to me, like smelling or running. Just comes on out. The ghosts were already moving out with morning fast approaching and I looked at them filing past, wondered what they had seen and if we could get a statement from them or even just a pointed finger, but they all worthless…day or night…good or bad they don’t do anyone a lick of good. . He was one of the rare men who really listened to what others had to say. Mostly men just always wanting to say the next thing, aint really a lot of folk who’ll listen but the high sheriff was one of those. He rubbed back behind my eyes and spat a wad of baccy out the corner of his mouth easy as you please. Rufus, the boy Ive been cobbled with is always just making a plumb mess out of a chew, cant seem to get the stringers from his mouth the the cup. Looking just as gimped out as you please trying to manage on other folks affairs without any kind of good sense enough to spit proper.
Wed put up a decent perimeter and taped the thing out. The Dope Boys from Rappahatchy had already come and gone, taking with em some old glass brick a brac from the meth shed in the back. Weren’t no use in me just telling these boys that they was making drugs out there in the shed, they had to prove it to someone somewhere. Maybe that’s how they get they food money, with proving things. I know I was much more concerned about the little girl and the toe headed boy that had given me a piece of a Ruth Babe bar one time, sure it had made me sick as all get out but it was the thought that spurred me to remember him. The daddy and momma wernt bad really, just caught up in something that they couldn’t rightly handle proper. Now they done got everyone hurt and I expected the hurting was just started. I heard a story once from an old timer about a group of men and boys who made war with another family for 3 generations up in Missouri. 3 generations of payback was sure a barrel full.
“Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal... In truth, man is incurably foolish. Simple things which other animals easily learn, he is incapable of learning. Among my experiments was this. In an hour I taught a cat and a dog to be friends. I put them in a cage. In another hour I taught them to be friends with a rabbit. In the course of two days I was able to add a fox, a goose, a squirrel and some doves. Finally, a monkey. They lived together in peace; even affectionately.
Next, in another cage I confined an Irish Catholic from Tipperary, and as soon as he seemed tame I added a Scotch Presbyterian from Aberdeen. Next a Turk from Constantinople; a Greek Christian from Crete; an Armenian; a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas; a Buddhist from China; a Brahman from Benares. Finally, a Salvation Army Colonel from Wapping. Then I stayed away for two whole days. When I came back to note results, the cage of Higher Animals was all right, but in the other there was but a chaos of gory odds and ends of turbans and fezzes and plaids and bones and flesh--not a specimen left alive. These Reasoning Animals had disagreed on a theological detail and carried the matter to a Higher Court.”
― Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth: Uncensored Writings