"Dog Run Moon" by Callan Wink Originally published in the September 26, 2011 issue of The New Yorker.
Wink is a debut author from the west, where I grew up, and for whatever reason those types of short stories usually work for me. On the one hand, I really liked this story. It’s quick and fun and interesting. On the other hand, I’m not sure the ending worked for me — so please let me know your thoughts in the comments.
“Dog Run Moon” has a simple premise. Sid, the narrator, is running naked in the moonlight alongside a dog, while Montana Bob and his accountant, Charlie Chaplin, chase him down on an ATV. Sid’s feet are getting torn on the rocks. Here’s how the story begins:
Sid was a nude sleeper. Had been ever since he was a little kid. To him, wearing clothes to bed seemed strangely redundant, like wearing underwear inside your underwear or something. And that was why he was now running barefoot and bare-assed across the sharp sandstone rimrock far above the lights of the town. It was after two in the morning, clear, cool, early-June night, with the wobbly gibbous moon up high and bright, so that he could see the train yard below — the crisscrossing rails, a huge haphazard pile of old ties, the incinerator stack. He was sweating, but he knew that once he could run no more the cold would start to find its way in. After that, he didn’t know what would happen.
The dog, technically, is Montana Bob’s, but after one bad day Sid “liberated” it. So, in a way, this is all about a dog, though there’s a subtext. Here’s a glimpse, when Sid is worried the dog will give away their position:
The problem was the dog. Sid would have to cut a wide path around to keep the dog from straying close to the lights, and, if the dog was captured, then what was the point? Another thought: might the dog return to its former owner willingly? Sid was unsure. He kept running.
The day Sid liberated the dog he was on his way home after a failed visit to “her,” a nameless woman Sid had spent “years of nights” with. They were both naked sleepers, but one night she got into bed with some clothes, and the next she didn’t come to bed at all. So, who knows if this dog needed liberating or whether Sid is even good for it, but he likes to run. As the night goes on, Sid’s mind waxes poetic and imagines what he’d tell her:
Since we dissolved I’ve been a spectre running blind and naked in the desert. Is that melodramatic? Well, that’s what is happening to me now.
At any rate, even though I’m not sure how I feel about it, I really liked reading it and I’m anxious to hear others’ thoughts. How does this all tie together? What’s with the dissolving and the evaporation — and the feet?