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Night of the howling dogs chapter summary
The Night of the howling dogs
Molly's in bed reading about an ancient Celtic ritual to protect agnst ghosts. She takes off her shoes and walks towards the light of her bedside lamp. The soft light of the lamp spills onto her toes and she thinks how soft they look in the moonlight.
Her feet are the most beautiful part of her body, the soft fleshy things on her feet are her most private place.
Molly reaches for her phone and scrolls down her phone book, she looks at the names on the screen. She then texts the number of her friend Lucy, who is a doctor and lives in a rural part of the south of England. Lucy told Molly a few days ago that she often worked as a locum doctor and that sometimes she didn't get home until very late.
Molly texts her friend, 'Worst case scenario call me in the morning. Or if you have a car, you can drop in tonight. Lucy. X'. Molly then places her phone next to her bed and turns off her bedside lamp.
She reaches out towards the night table and places her hand on the cool leather cover of her book. Then she leans back on the pillow and wts.
When her mind starts to drift she thinks of the day she met Lucy. Lucy is a single parent who takes care of her two teenage kids as well as her work commitments.
Molly is a single parent too. Her relationship ended more than a year ago and she no longer feels the need to do any more looking after young children. However it is a responsibility that still hangs over her.
And Molly feels guilt when she thinks about her children. She was the one who encouraged their father to leave them when he started having a series of affrs. She was the one who made them live in a house with a bed in a room the size of a cupboard. She was the one who pushed her ex-partner's wife's nose in it when they were still together and the one who made him feel as if he didn't deserve a relationship with a real person, let alone a mother.
She wanted her children to have a good start in life. She didn't want them to know too much about the sort of things that her ex-partner's children were exposed to. She wanted them to have an easy childhood. She had a plan for their education and was determined they would be well educated.
And now her children have grown up and have started their own families. Molly finds herself often lonely. She doesn't talk to her parents or friends about how she feels. When it comes to her feelings about being a mother she keeps them in a box.
She takes a sip of the lukewarm water in her glass and turns to her book. It is a novel by Sarah Waters called The Little Stranger. She reads a few pages and then looks up at the light fixture on the ceiling and wonders how many people's lives have been ruined by things like this. She takes another sip of the water, but the water has been sitting on the side of the table for so long now that it tastes the same as yesterday. She gets up and pours herself a cup of coffee. She can't remember the last time she had an espresso. It must have been at the funeral.
Molly drinks her coffee black and goes back to her book. She is halfway through when her mobile phone rings.
"Hello," she says, and puts the book down.
"You have to stop this," he says.
"Stop what?" she says.
"Reading my book."
"What is it you don't like?"
"You're not reading this book, are you?"
"I don't know," she says. "I think I might be reading it a bit too much for my own good."
"It's about a woman," he says. "In a brothel."
"I know that."
"It's not about prostitution. It's about marriage."
"And she falls in love."
"Is that what you think?"
"It's all about a marriage," he says. "What kind of marriage would you say this is?"
"I'm not sure," says Molly.
"Maybe," says Frank, "you should take this into the bathroom and then you can talk to me about it while you look at yourself."
"What's going on?" says Molly.
"I'll tell you in the bathroom," says Frank, and he ends the call.
* * *
Molly goes into the bathroom and pulls the shower curtn aside and looks at herself. Her face is wet. She goes to the sink and looks at herself in the mirror. Her forehead is creased, there are lines between her eyes. She doesn't see it, but she's starting to, her skin is thinning and there's a little bit of loose skin around her neck.
Frank is the only one who knows what's happening to her, and he doesn't want her to know what he knows. She won't be a mother. She won't ever be a mother. And if this is the only thing she ever does, if this is the only thing she ever feels like doing, then it has to be the most important thing she ever does.
* * *
It's one of those summer nights when the weather is good enough for them to start the grill agn, and not just in the garage, out on the back porch. They've already eaten the hot dogs, the hamburgers, the franks, so there's nothing left to do but smoke the ribs and drink the beer.
They pass the beer back and forth in little glasses that have been wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in a freezer bag, like those little one-litre glasses that used to be sold at convenience stores. As long as you have them in your freezer, you won't be disappointed when you're out and need some beer.
Frank passes the small glass to Molly, she passes it back. She wants to go upstrs and watch TV, so she'll wt for him to pass it back to her. But Frank's on the porch with her. He says, "I want to say something."
Molly looks at him and then at the beer. She's done with it. It's too loud out here, it makes too much noise. She says, "We're friends, right?"
"That's all it is."
"That's all it is."
"I'll see you later."
"You'll see me later."
He's alone on the porch. He's thinking. He's thinking about what Molly sd. And about what he wanted to say to her. And about her hr. He wonders if he should say anything to her. Maybe he should. He should tell her what it was like to live in the world when you were a kid. It was all the same: it was summer, the sun was shining, and the trees were green, and it was hot, it was boiling hot, but it was the same all summer, even in the middle of winter.
It was just the same all summer, and there was always more to come. It was the same yesterday, as well as yesterday, as well as the day before. You couldn't help but get old. You couldn't help but grow old. But it was still the same world, and it was still summer.