I am worried about Tommy. He’s becoming unmanageable – and I don’t just mean his hair, which he won’t let me clip anymore. It’s in your eyes, I keep telling him but he snarls and snaps. At me! The hand that feeds him. And his clothes. They could do with boiling. They must be crawling with fleas and I don’t know what. You should take more pride in your appearance, I tell him when he sits there scratching but my words fall on deaf ears. Oh, you used to be so smart, I remind him but I’m wasting my breath. You were always the best-turned out in the area but look at you now!
He’s becoming more – animal. It’s as though all those years I spent civilising him and making him presentable were all for naught. It’s like his true nature is coming out, reasserting itself despite all my efforts to make a man of him. A gentleman’s going a bit too far, but a man, just a man, was good enough for me. And for him, or so I thought.
What a cute little boy he was! Others spurned him – and those were the kind ones. There were those who hurled abuse and all manner of filth at him, like it was his fault, like he had a choice in being the way he is. Cost me more than a pretty penny to buy him from the circus but I couldn’t leave him there, not after I’d seen him, not after he’d looked at me with those big brown eyes of his. I asked who his parents were but Scratch O’Halloran had no idea. Nobody knows, he said. I said I hoped the cash I’d paid him would go some way to improve conditions for the other poor buggers in his charge but I suspect he pissed it all up the wall or tucked it in the suspender belts of many a painted whore. Oh, if I could have rescued the lot of them, I would have. But it was Tommy who looked right at me and broke my heart.
Where would I be without him? Nowhere.
Folks tend to be a sight more obliging when you’ve got a companion like Tommy. The jackets he’s split just by flexing his muscles! The tailor made a fortune out of us. The jackets were always too tight across his chest, and the trousers too long. We had to have his clothes made special, and Tommy loved to look good. He’d comb his face and brush his teeth, slicking his mane back with brilliantine. He practically bathed in pomade.
But not no more. He’s become slovenly. Maybe it’s because it’s been a while since I’ve had to call up his services as a pacifier, you might say, as a placater of those who seek to oppose me, of those who obstruct my business, of those I just plain don’t like.
What he does with them afterwards, I never ask. Buries the bones, I expect. Maybe he gnaws on them a little bit – I don’t want to think about that.
But, like I say, it’s been a while since I had to sic him on anybody. And it’s like he’s lost interest in himself and in me. Like he doesn’t have to pay me back for the clothes and the food and the love. I don’t know; who can say what goes on in the mind of a dog-headed boy?
But I’ve a feeling I’m going to have to let him loose on somebody before much longer or I might lose my Tommy forever.