After

Bruce Van Chan

[Bruce Van Chan sits on a bench in a park. It’s a lovely fall afternoon. The first few leaves have started to fall; the trees ablaze with autumn colors.]

“When I was young, I wanted a dog more than anything. My father hated them, so I never had one. Then, when I was twelve, my dad was killed in a car accident. I forgot all about wanting a dog for want of my father, but when my mother came home with an old greyhound, I was thrilled. Was it my dad? No, but to me, Old Bill was everything.”

[A boy and his father walk by with a dog on a leash. They enter large clearing and look around trying to see if any officials are nearby. Leash laws…]

“Greyhounds are racers. They spend their whole lives running in a circle, chasing after a bit of felt fashioned like a rabbit. Round and round they go, destined to chase, but never to catch. When they age, their speed fades, and they stop winning races, they’re pushed aside, abandoned and forgotten.”

[Bruce watches as the boy takes the dog off the leash. Dad pulls out a frisbee from a backpack. He throws it and the retriever runs after it. The dog leaps in the air and catches the disc. Wagging his tail like the good boy that he was, he returned the toy to his master.]

“My mother brought home this greyhound because he was free. No one wanted him, but I loved him just the same. The man my mother got Old Bill from warned her to never let him loose, because it was in his nature to run and chase. He had a good life with us, but always seemed trapped behind our chain-link fence. He would sit and whimper, wishing only to run once more.”

[Time after time, the boy and his father take turns tossing the frisbee, and time after time the dog brings it back. He was made for this.]

“One day, when my mother worked late, I grew sad watching Old Bill. I grabbed his leash and headed towards the park. Down the block we walked, him sniffing and peeing on every hydrant and mailpost. Then it happened…”

[The boy throws the disc once more and the dog runs after it. Bit something is different this time…]

“A neighbor’s cat was in the front yard, grooming itself. Old Bill saw the cat, and remembering his felt rabbit, he began to run. I was unprepared; the leash ripped from my hand. I never saw a thing as natural as that dog running. He was made for it. The cat didn’t see Bill until it was too late. In a flash, the old hound was on it. He sank his teeth in and whipped it around and before I could get there, the cat was dead… Bill just sat there, blood dripping from his muzzle. He’d spent his whole life chasing that… thing… and now he had no earthly idea what to do with it.”

[The dog has spotted a squirrel, and makes a beeline for the rodent. He chases it towards a tree, but the squirrel scurries into the branches. The dog puts his front paws on the rough bark, bawling after his prize.]

“I am the hound. I’ve spent my whole life chasing the prize. I’ve run circles; my goal ever out of reach, and I’ve grown old and weary. But the chase is still within me. I desire to run after victory, even though I’ve never truly reached it. I’ve run and run, and grown no closer to the prize.”

[The boy and his father yell after the dog, but he cannot hear them over his own barks. Even if he did, his instincts wouldn’t allow him to stop.]

“And then I was retired. I didn’t know what to with myself, but then I was set free. My bloodlust awakened by Edward Newton. A new prize; a cat that looked like a felt rabbit. I ran after him with murder on my mind, but somehow I stopped the monster within before I tore him to pieces, blood dripping from my teeth.”

[The boy walks towards the dog cautiously. Even man’s best friend can get lost in his desire to hunt. The boys calls his name a few times, and finally the dog heeds him. He turns from the tree, tail wagging again. The boy clips the leash on again, and they run off towards the father.]

“But now, I no longer wish to keep the monster inside. I’ve learned to call upon him as I please, and after all these years of running circles, Hysteria… No Face… unlike Old Bill, I know exactly what to do when I catch you.

[The camera pans from the family back towards Bruce. His pallor has faded to near white, and his eyes are the color of fresh snow.]