The Discoveries of Columbus

In Beauty, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Pets on June 16, 2017 at 3:00 AM

Rachel Muenz Writes that Lorian Has a Deep Love for His Dog Columbus - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

Rachel Muenz Writes that Lorian Has a Deep Love for His Dog Columbus - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

By Rachel Muenz

Lorian sat in the sand, his lap cold without the dog. He glared at the black and silver points of the waves. His father had no right to get rid of it. But Lorian figured he should have seen it coming because his father had never gone out of his way to make him happy.

A gull shrieked and fell, scooping at the water with the sharp bow of its wings. It shot back into the morning air, a trail of crystals dropping behind it.

Columbus had changed everything and now he was gone.

His father had no right.


Before Columbus, he had lived in rituals. He and Ray and Kate worked at Mega Market all week, a place he would never shop again after seeing how much food they dropped on the floor, and they would join the others at Marrow’s Field every Friday night to drink themselves to the truth.

They made a Circle of Hate around the fire. Ray stood up first and said how he hated living on the reserve but hated boarding on the mainland in the winter more. He said he was glad Mr. Channis’ heart and been struck still because of how he had lurked beneath the stairs, his hands scuttling forward to grab young boys’ ankles on their way down. His arm chopped the ashes and an empty beer bottle flew from his fingers and smashed on one of the stones. Ray tugged at the black spikes of his hair and wobbled. He sat down, sending a shockwave through Lorian’s ass.

Then Kate wavered to her feet and said how she hated the fucking Indians and how the whole Island was after her because she’d told one of them to fuck off when the girl asked her to get out of their smoking spot behind the high school.

The big girl had pushed her and her elf-thin bones into a garbage can. Kate had jumped up and kicked her plump thigh with a smack.

A whole mob of them came out of the trees with their fists out and their teeth bared but Kate was a fast runner. She hid in the boy’s bathroom, in the smell of piss all afternoon.

Kate’s sharp face flashed through the flames. She hated how they followed her on her way home. Clomping up the street behind her back and saying she was going to be found dead in a ditch one of these days, a piece of white meat for the coyotes. They’re going to scalp me and turn me into a basket, she said.

Ray laughed his eyes narrow and pulled at his kneecaps. Kate crumpled beside him and he curled an arm around her thin shoulders and choked on his eighth beer. Lorian always wondered how in God’s name they could be best friends. It made no sense.

He got up and said he hated how he was a hero because he was taller and stronger than everyone else. Lorian had no talent but they thought he did because he could throw a ball into a hoop. Ray was a better player than him but the coach thought he was no good because he was short. He just couldn’t get around the big thugs they put on the court. It was all bullshit.

He raised his cooler to Ray and Kate and dumped the sweet stuff down his throat. His long body folded up next to Ray.

That was the first lie he told that night. Lorian thought of the girls who waved signs that said they loved him and their screams every time he sunk a shot. If his father would only come to just one game.

Pasha must have been watching from nearby. She had left for her friends on the other side of the field after she gave Lorian the coolers. The fire painted her in orange lines as she came towards them. With her thumbs in her shorts pockets, she was the only one of them who stood straight.

“I hate this,” she said.

Whoops and yells came through the smoke from the other fires, the other groups of kids.
The blare of music filled the silence of the four of them, then they began to clap.

Ray bumped his mouth against Lorian’s ear.

“See? I told you she was too old for you.”

Ray laughed, a hard kick to Lorian’s eardrums, and leaned back into Kate’s side.

It had all been so stupid.


He had found Columbus the morning after the party.

The waves shattered on the shoreline and the wind lifted Lorian’s hair. It felt alive. Wings of cloud rose fluorescent orange from the dark slab of Big Crypt Island on the horizon. Even after sleeping in the grass and walking all the way home, he was still high enough to see the wings flap a couple times. She’s an angel.

His legs were cold and he realized he had no pants, just boxers. A lazy grin pulled his face apart. Pasha. It figured she’d do something like that even if she did always stare at him in the halls at St. Luke’s. He’d had to work all night at Marrow’s Field to get her to slip the cool blade of her hand into his sweaty grasp. They’d gone to one of the bowls of shadows beyond the campfires and lain down in the grass away from the punk rock and the other reeling and retching teenagers.

She must have kept his jeans when he’d finally stumbled home to the sunrise.

He felt godlike for lying to her. He had said everything was fine when the real answer was that it had broken. Now her two extra years of life meant nothing.

Lorian plucked at something pink on his T-shirt and held it to his face. Puke. From those coolers he’d had. As pink and girly sweet as his name, Ray had joked, but they were all he’d been able to get.

He swung his head right and saw a white mound on the stretch of beach in front of the neighbour’s mansion.

The limbs stuck out to the side, which didn’t seem right though Lorian couldn’t figure out why. The water nudged the thing, pulled it back a little and then threw it forward. He froze, stabbed with fear. Was it a body? He looked at the sky, expecting to see the long yellow form of the coast guard helicopter, to hear its rotors chopping the air to pieces.

Finally, he stepped towards it, the taste of wet sand and lake water thick in his throat.

The fur was white-blond like his own hair but matted into greyish spikes from the water. There was a black nose with a creamy splotch in the centre. Limp paws scraped the sand as the water pushed and pulled. He put a hand on its wet side. There was still heat there. A choke shocked his hand away and the dog began to move. It trembled.

“It’s OK,” Lorian said. His fingertips felt electric, like he had just given life.


After steaming off the stink of puke and weed in the shower, he led Aleck out the back door to the beached dog. His father hated dogs. There had been a German Shepherd that had shit on their lawn in the city and a Jack Russell had bit his fingers to bloody shreds when he was young.

The effects of the party were starting to wear off now and Lorian was beginning to feel afraid. Maybe he should have got his mother instead. Aleck picked his grey sweatpants out of his crack and knuckled the wrinkled lines of his eyes.

“Shit, Lorian,” he croaked.

The dog’s eyes were wide now and ringed in white. It jerked its shoulders. The eyes rolled from Lorian to Aleck. Lorian guessed it was some sort of lab mix.

“It can’t even stand,” Aleck said, rubbing the grey fluff of his hair down. “It’d probably be best to put it out of its misery.”

Lorian’s head snapped up.

“But if you want to look after it, be my guest, I don’t care.”


His father let him keep him in the shed in the backyard, where the slope the house was built into levelled out and turned into beach. It was full of canoes and kayaks, tools and lifejackets and smelled of dust and damp wood. He cleared a corner for the dog and put a blanket down.

Pasha phoned after lunch while he was pulling fleas and burrs out of Columbus’ hair. His Mom had scribbled a note in block letters: Lor call Pasha. The dog licked his fingers and looked at him from under its eyebrows, its tail sweeping the floor. Lorian felt more loved than he ever had before.

He meant to call her back but went to the pet store to buy dog treats instead just so he could see that look of admiration again.

Aleck went around to the damn rich neighbours and asked about the dog. It was obvious someone had owned him because there was a tattered rope around his neck. He printed off a flyer and stuck it on the bulletin board at the convenience store but no one called. Lorian thought he might’ve swum from Big Crypt, maybe he belonged on the Indian reserve.

“He couldn’t have swum that far,” Aleck said.

Ray came by and said he’d never seen the dog before in his life. Lorian was angry his father was right. He cut off the rope and replaced it with a blue collar embroidered with sailboats.

“What a waste of money,” Aleck said. “He doesn’t look like he’s going to last long.”

Columbus’ breath blew a little dust storm across the cement floor. His side shook.

But in a few days he started sitting up. Then he began shuffling around the shed, knocking over piles of old wood and the kayaks, sending explosions of filth into the air. He was always exploring and he came from the water and that’s why Lorian called him Columbus. His little brothers chased the dog across the beach, fans of sand bursting from their heels. But the dog only came to Lorian.

All he wanted was to take Columbus for walks even though the dog liked to wander. It was insulting how he kept running away but that was all right because the silence of nature was perfect for building fantasies. Better than pot. He wanted to fill his head with his immaculate secret until every breeze seemed to skin him clean. Until all his senses were red and torn. He could tell Columbus everything because he couldn’t talk.

Lorian didn’t feel bad about keeping it from Pasha. In that single pause when he became aware of their breathing being beaten up by the music, the secret happened.

“What’s wrong,” she asked, her eyes soft.

He looked down.


And then the music was lost again.

It was the only time he felt like he had power over her. He imagined cells growing and dividing in the red-black dark of her body, Pasha unaware. In the green shade of the forest he was apart from everyone else. The dog worshipped him with its eyes and birds and squirrels fled at his footsteps and he was king. Columbus explored and peed on every bush, claiming it for the two of them.

He knew and she didn’t.

Columbus followed the smell of nectar through the damp air. Insects chirped and scratched and something rustled under Lorian’s shoes. Condom wrappers. He kicked them away and then kicked them again for good measure, until his toes hurt. Bits of light shivered in the trees up ahead. Lorian slapped the cage of branches aside.

Marrow’s Field spread gold and green before them full of buttercups and some white and purple wildflowers. Devil’s Paintbrush stroked the grasses. Orange licks. Black and grey heaps of ash and charred logs marked out the campfires. Beer bottles hid under the shrubs and weeds next to chip bags and bent cigarettes. The brown and tan darts of birds shot around them, hunting crickets and grasshoppers.

They walked to where it happened. There was only a dent in the grass. Columbus snuffled around on the ground, flinging his tail around. He barked and tried to lunge east into the poplars.

“Shhh,” Lorian hissed, grabbing his collar.

It was almost time.

He couldn’t wait to see her eyes go scared when she found out. He would pay for everything and stay with her, whatever she decided. Lorian would go down on his knees for her and she would go down on her knees for him for being such a good man.

Everyone would kneel for him. They would see him pushing the baby down the street and say, there’s Lorian, such a brave young father. When the kid got older he would copy everything Lorian did, just like Jared, his favourite brother. He always thought his name sounded like a knight’s. Not like a girl’s at all. Sir Lorian.


For now, he just wanted Columbus back so he could discuss this all with him. Over the slap of the waves on the tilted dock he thought of his Dad coming in the front door on that day the dog went missing.

“Dad have you seen Columbus?”

His father buried his face in the fridge, clinking and rattling.

“I just took him back to his owner,” his eyes nailed Lorian to the wall. “They called while you were gone.”

The box of dog treats shook in his hand. Lorian jerked away before he could throw it at Aleck’s relaxed smile.

Kate called him later and pleaded him to go out.

“I think my Dad’s lying about Columbus. I bet he just dumped him in the woods somewhere,” Lorian said.

“Marty Shore got a keg and everything,” Kate said.

She wasn’t even listening to him.

“Great,” he said. He needed something to fill the hole left by Columbus.

But it wasn’t the same as it used to be.

Lorian felt dull and stupid all through the party with a giggling girl on his lap, asking to feel his biceps. The makeup on her face was so thick it gave off a smell. Powdery and a bit sweet. It was just crude smears of colour. He’d never noticed how primitive it was before.

“I need to go to the bathroom,” Lorian said.

He forced his way through the thrashing crowd and plastic cups, animal yells and shrieks shredding his ears. Lorian thought of the quiet dignity of Columbus. He forced himself into the bathroom and shut the noise out. He poured both himself and the beer down the toilet.

It was time to go home.


The sun marked east with a red dot. Columbus always seemed to want to go that way. His feet slipped in the sand, pointing for the trees behind the row of homes.


Lorian wiped his greasy cheek. He figured he’d been walking for two hours.

Somehow he’d ended up in the middle of a corn field. Columbus had to be around here somewhere. He’d run down the potholed roads, along the curve of the bay and through the forest, the gravel pit and the meadow full of rusted tractors, calling Bus! all the way to the corn. His breath ripped his throat. A few stalks rustled in front of him.

Jet black rags flew into his face. He shouted and fell and someone else yelled Aw! Aw! Aw!

“Fucking crows.”

He looked for a stone but couldn’t see the ground.


There was nothing but the trill of bugs and the hum of heat. The sun fried his scalp. He fumbled through the dusty stalks, spitting a leaf out of his mouth. Ahead, the slices of blue sky seemed to be getting bigger. Lorian pulled his way through the corn.

Finally, he dropped out onto a wide path that branched left and right through the crop. He thought he heard a faint arf to the right. A strip of grass ran through the centre of the packed dirt.

“Bus,” he called again, his voice cracked in two. The crows heckled him from the side of the path. This time he scared them into the white sky with a shard of stone. A jangle of metal, he broke into a run and fell to one knee as he rounded the corner and saw something hurtling towards him.

Through the rising dust Columbus bounded, a girl with pale brown hair and gun-metal eyes behind him.

She spotted Lorian and her shoes scraped to a halt.

“Hey Pasha.”

Columbus bumped Lorian’s thigh. He tipped and put his hand into the hot dirt.

“Mohawk! Stay back!” Pasha grabbed the dog’s collar.

“He’s your dog?” Lorian’s shoulder dropped.

“Yeah, he’s been missing for over a month.” Pasha rubbed Mohawk’s ears. Her eyebrows pinched together. “Your dad brought him back a couple days ago. Didn’t he tell you?”

Over a month. His blood quickened and his face reddened but she remained pale. The dog did have a mohawk, a ridge of hair that went down his head and part of his back. Lorian had thought it looked more like the feathers men wore in their hats back in the day. Like the three musketeers.

“I – how are you feeling?” he blurted, staring at her flat belly. Her eyebrows wrinkled, she looked to the side, flashing one eye at him.

“I’m fine.”

He picked up a burning stone and dropped it in the cracked dirt, rubbing his fingers together. She let go of Mohawk’s collar but he stayed by her feet, his head nodding with his breath. Lorian held his hand to the dog’s nose but he wouldn’t even sniff him.

“You haven’t been throwing up or anything?”

Pasha’s upper lip curled, her condescending smile speared him in the stomach.

“No,” she said. He knew she was telling the truth.

She turned her shoulder and whistled for the dog. It flung itself after her. The dog’s haunches and her back disappeared between the rows of corn. They left Lorian sitting in the dust, crushed with disappointment. His father hadn’t lied, the dog didn’t give a shit about him, and his secret was nothing. The world wasn’t what he thought it was.

The crows cackled on top of the corn, cutting the thick air with their wings.

Some hero. He was just an ignorant idiot.

He stood up, his pale head drifting through the dark green rectangle of field, unaware that he was walking in the wrong direction.

  1. tracking back – The Discoveries of Columbus… tracking back – The Discoveries of Columbus…

    This was originally published on Donna Magazine. (publisher’s note)

  2. […] Rachel Muenz Writes that Lorian Has a Deep Love for His Dog Columbus – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert By Rachel Muenz Lorian sat in the sand, his lap cold without the dog. He glared at the black and silver points of the waves. His father had no right to get rid of it. But Lorian figured he should have seen it coming because his father had never gone out of his way to make him happy. A gull shrieked and fell, scooping at the water with the sharp bow of its wings. It shot back into the morn See the original post here:  The Discoveries of Columbus […]

  3. […] Read the original here: The Discoveries of Columbus « Donna Magazine […].

    This was originally published on Donna Magazine (publisher’s note).

  4. […] The Discoveries of Columbus […]

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