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The visitation of the black dog had somehow fused many of the electrical appliances in my apartment. My wife Polly was in my bedroom taking apart the radio, which since the appearance of the dog had been entirely unresponsive. Whilst she was working her eyes came to rest upon the photograph of my grandmother which is framed on the cabinet beside my bed. The photograph is yellow with age and it shows my grandmother sitting in a deck chair smoking a cigarette. Polly asked me about my grandmother and I told her a story. When my brother and I were infants, my father had attempted to drink himself to death, out of sheer petulance with a world which had failed to care for him in particular. My grandmother had tried to take custody of us, but my father had refused – I think that he wanted us to witness his destruction. One morning my grandmother had marched determinedly up to the front door of our house. My brother and I had presumed that she was coming to take us away, and we were delirious with happiness. My father was incandescent, but he was too drunk to physically throw her out of the house. He lay on the kitchen floor and the house filled with his horrible, guttural cries: “…is that witch still in my house?… is that witch still here?… is she interfering with my boys?” Grandmother had bundled us into the bathroom and locked the door. The cold tap on the sink was jammed and – unwilling to use hot water – she had baptised us with water from the toilet. We clung to one another, appalled, whilst she sloshed water over us and recited “This servant of Christ is baptised…”

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