The forms in the fog don’t know that they’re forms, don’t know that they have, for instance, arms, legs, faces, in sometimes inordinate numbers. The forms in the fog are oriented bipedally, so that their smeared movement through it appears at least somewhat natural to any keen observer. Their feet are groundward, their arms outstretched. The points of articulation are the ones you’d expect.
When the fog meets and subsumes the various outbuildings around my friend’s farm, it sometimes seems like there’s a crowd gathering, that the crowd is unruly, unhappy, at the least unsatisfied. They are uniformly grey, unpersuaded by barriers. They come scrabbling up the low wall that keeps the goats in. They lap against the sides of the old barn. It’s easy to imagine torches floating in the fog. The setting suggests pitchforks.
I’ve been up the past two weeks, farm-sitting, petting Rambo when that’s what he wants me to do, which seems to be about once an hour for a period of around fifteen minutes. Then he goes and sits by the door. I’ve also been watching the fog, documenting it in my notepad through the window over the sink and from the back porch step.
Rambo’s never around when it rolls in, lucky for him. He’d have to see in it canine figures, forms lunging and snarling, presenting not as any one breed, or else Beagles and Dobermans and Afghan Hounds, all in the time it takes to cross from the cattle fence to the utility shed, major landmarks in a backyard soon to be covered, blanketed, rendered depthless by fog in which cumulates, shifting, a dog show to rival Westminster, tailed and snouted forms by the thousands, through which can be surmised, perhaps, the shape of a common ancestor, a great dogmother present only in veiled allusion, a maternal absence in Rambo’s twitching dreams by the doorside, through whose loins have passed all the Beagles and Dobermans and Afghan Hounds, but also, the Pomeranians, the French Bulldogs, the English Bulldogs.
The horses see horses when they’re in the fog. The goats see goats and bleat helplessly the whole time, so that the fog can be said to have a sound, which is their helpless bleating; though they, like me, must know that it’s coming, must have, at this point, incorporated the period of low visibility, or rather the severely impaired, form-assaulted visibility into their daily routines, which I’ll say from two weeks’ observation consist mainly of eating and shitting, things that could be done despite the fog, by blind goats even, so the helpless bleating must be a form of idle commentary, not dissimilar from what I’m doing here with the fog in the notepad.
A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT AS PROPOSED TO RAMBO:
Imagine being in the fog’s shoes, crossing once arable soil in endlessly curling crackowes, in misty combat boots on a slow march through the adjacent farmland, for which empty grain silos are mile markers and frighteningly immobile, erected once to stand and fall slowly, a fixed shape, and so alien. Imagine materializing, daily over some forest delta, through abstruse meteorological forces, so through magic essentially, to be moved on a rote track toward final dissipation with no autonomy, to dissolve at the back porch step of an unyielding structure, a farmhouse whose sole movement through the years has been a further settling, a six-inch sink into the foundation. Your farmhouse, Rambo, your home. Think of it as something foreign, in concept and essence, as I did, two weeks ago, on the day of my arrival. Remember, you wagged your tail and came with me as I wandered the property, peering at the inscrutable list of chores I’d be responsible for, squaring them with having done nothing, it seemed like, for a period of about ten years. Remember me asking you for help with the handwriting? Remember being no help with the handwriting?
RETURNING TO THE FOG:
I arrived in a fog, though one of a different kind than is localized here. The fog I arrived in relates to cognition, is metaphorical in a way that the fog now at this very moment encroaching upon the farmhouse is not; though the underpinning phenomenon is no less real. The underpinning phenomenon might actually be the most real thing I can think of at this very moment. Certainly it seemed that way in its near-omnipresence, in its always being there since I want to say, my early adolescence, or a time peculiarly coincident with, but unrelated to my early adolescence, so that it’s natural for me, when I see photographs of myself from back then, to interpolate it being there with me in the frame. The pre-farmhouse fog that I’m talking about was a tenacious thing that manifested in deftly opposable tendrils capable of gripping and pulling seemingly every errant thought into the swirling locus of its orbit. It was resistant to pharmaceuticals, talk therapy, and the well-meaning advice of people at church. The pre-farmhouse fog that I’m talking about, being a thing of cognition, was basically itself a thought, but all-encompassing and out-of-control in a way that was not conducive to my general well-being, or feeling at ease. It might be helpful to imagine the pre-farmhouse fog as exactly like the fog here, in both form and rapacity, as they are very similar, but I must say emphatically, they are not the same thing. I’ve tried to delineate the differences to Rambo, but it’s difficult, because he’s a dog and does not understand English; moreover, he’s not my dog, so our non-verbal communication does not have the benefit of years of close contact. I’m left to just gesticulate and talk and hope that my message is getting through, that this fog is not that fog, because if it were, it’d be coming in through the mail slot.
Don Television is an American writer. His fiction has been featured in Angel Rust and is forthcoming from hex, Identity Theory, and Apocalypse Confidential. Reach out: www.donatello.vision.