The bartender at the Surly Goat used to walk his dog after his shift at around 2:30 am. It was a good time to walk his dog because no one else was out walking a dog. The bartender’s dog, whose name was Governator, did not get along with other dogs. Worse yet, when he spotted another dog on a walk, Governator would lie down and pretend to be submissive and eager to play. Other dogs would be fooled by this ploy and come near enough for Governator to leap to his feet and bark angrily in the other dog’s face, sometimes even biting them. As a dog, Governator was a dick.
Usually during these walks the off-duty bartender would take Governator strolling down an unpaved alley. It was a sandy road with a high wall on one side behind which were a Tudor house that was the home of an aged ingenue and a grove of magnolia and sycamore trees. On the other side were two big estates with gated driveways letting out onto the alley. The gates were sliding walls that opened electrically.
Each gate had about four inches of clearance at the bottom. When the backyard lights were on, that light would come through the clearance space at the bottom, and whenever Governator would walk past these gates his paws would be illuminated. The surrounding night was often dark enough that one could almost imagine those paws were disembodied animal feet strutting along by themselves in the shadows.
Sometimes the bartender would stop and look up through a rear window of the Tudor home of the aged ingenue. There was only one window visible to him. It appeared to look in on a small room. When the light in the room was on he could only see only the ceiling of the room, as he was looking into the window from at least fifteen feet below. It was a vaulted ceiling symmetrically divided into four teardrop-shaped vaults, very medieval in appearance. This went along with his feeling that the aged ingenue was some sort of witch.
She was extremely pale. She had been just as pale when she was younger, when she had been the romantic partner of an actor who began his career playing an old west gunfighter in many Italian westerns and an extremely violent cop in slightly later films. She was so pale her skin verged on transparency, like that of a fetus. It was an especially frightening look for an elderly woman. Her age, transparency, reclusiveness in the Tudor house, and the vaulted ceiling together contributed to a ghastly, spectral air about her being. To the bartender she was not just a witch of some kind, but a witch half in and half out of our plane of existence.
Our bartender, whose name, by the way, was Hadrian, had never met the aged ingenue, yet for some reason he had a feeling she disapproved of him. All the bartenders at the Surly Goat were unpleasant people, and Hadrian was no exception. He was brusk with customers and had no time for questions. When anyone had the temerity to ask one, he often lied if he didn’t know the answer, and sometimes even when he did.
Hadrian was impatient with Governator now and then. He tried not to be, but sometimes he just couldn’t help himself. Governator was a rescue dog, and his previous owner must have beaten him, because his first instinct when anyone reached out their hand to him was to cower. But he always came around to being amiable, at least with people. Hadrian was careful to respect Governator’s boundaries, but not always as careful as he should have been.
One day Governator was fussy about eating, about going out for a walk, and about having a bath. Hadrian wasn’t being mindful of his own temper. He sort of shut down while dealing with Governator on this fussy day and didn’t notice if he was being impatient or short with the dog. On the evening walk, Governator bolted away, pulling the leash from Hadrian’s hand and darting out into the street where he was struck by an Amazon truck and killed. During the events of the accident and death of Governator, the yanking and darting and screeching of brakes too late and the striking down of the dog, Hadrian could swear he saw somewhere in his field of vision a flash of the image of the transparent aged witch. He knew her animosity toward him must have played a part in the awful proceedings of the day, culminating in Governator’s death.
For weeks afterward, Hadrian mourned the death of Governator. He didn’t change his behavior, though. He was still a dick to customers at the Surly Goat, but his heart wasn’t in it. He was a dick to everyone. Mostly, though, he stayed in his apartment in Studio City, moping and brooding.
I wish I could say Hadrian was a big fan of Elon Musk, but he wasn’t. I wish I could say he was a fascist, but he was more of a centrist Democrat in spirit and political leaning, which is certainly bad enough. Really, though, he wasn’t an evil sort, just a bit petty at times, but often quite generous. He could even be a delightful friend when he put in the effort. He certainly didn’t deserve his fate. But does anyone deserve their fate?
You see, one moonless night he was walking back from picking up a jug of cheap vodka from the Mini-Mart. He was walking through an alley, not the one where he used to walk Governator, more of a typical urban alley with garbage and asphalt. There were no lights in the alley, and what luminance spilled in from the perpendicular streets abutting it was sparse at best. It was all the more eye-catching when Hadrian’s peripheral vision picked up a flash of light. He turned his head and saw disembodied paws walking in a perky gait through the alley.
He followed the luminous paws all the way to the end of the alley and out onto the street, but the rest of the animal’s body wasn’t suddenly revealed in the light. It remained only the feet, glowing about twice as bright as any other object in the area, strutting jauntily down the sidewalk. Hadrian asked a fellow pedestrian, “Do you see that?”
“See what?” asked the transparent elderly ingenue, whose sudden manifestation shocked Hadrian so much that he began to gag on his own spit.
At that point a crazed entourage of well-to-do tweakers beat Hadrian to death with lengths of rebar. It was such a meaningless end. The entire trajectory from Hadrian’s adoption of Governator to his being pummeled by a tweaking entourage was an amoebic blob of random moments without a shred of sense to their happening.
Even his bitchy friend Agnes, another bartender at the Surly Goat, who had an annoying habit of saying, “Everything happens for a reason,” couldn’t think of a reason for any of it. Agnes also said things like, “The energy you put out is what you get back,” and, “If you can’t take me at my worst you don’t deserve me at my best.” In the opinion of many people she should’ve been the one to get pummeled to death.
But as the Book of Job implies, justice is the creation, and therefore the responsibility, of humans. Nowhere else in the universe does it exist.