portion of the artwork for Daphne Buter's story

Hell Dogs
Daphne Buter

I received a flyer in the mailbox. A Dutch mail company needed a new mailman to deliver mail in my neighborhood. I needed new clogs, and a job like this. Not too long ago I had almost died and because of that I had to quit smoking and because of that my body had begun to grow. It is very depressing if your body begins to grow. It is as if it isn’t your body anymore. I was incarcerated by fluttery meat. I needed new clogs and a reason to move my tired butt. I pictured myself like a mailman. Paid to walk and paid to lose weight. Paid in rain, in sunshine, and in blizzards … I imagined myself wearing a shiny red raincoat with a logo of Dutch Mail on it. I imagined myself with a red rubber mailbag stuffed with stacks of envelopes. I pictured myself gasping for breath, but cool in a red rubber outfit and a pair of brand new wooden shoes.

They accepted me by telephone. “You’ve got the job.” A thin voice leaked in my ear. A sound from the other side of the universe. I thought this person couldn’t be real. I’m convinced many things aren’t real. We probably live in a conspiracy.

However, maybe they liked my voice or maybe I was the only one that needed new clogs, but the voice buzzed that I got the job.

“Am I the only one that wants this job?” I asked, suspicious.

“Oh no, of course not. You are simply the best …”


I asked if I would get a red jacket like the other mailmen in Holland and they promised me a red jacket with the company’s logo on it.

“Send me an XXL,” I said. “I like big clothes. And I need a red bag as well.”

“Sure, a jacket for obese people and the red bag of our company.”

A plump silence gave me some time to remember the cap.

“And a cap. The red cap with the mail logo on it,” I said harshly. “Just like all mailmen wear. Make that a big one. I have a lot of hair.”

“A big-size cap of our company. Sure, ma’am, sure …”

The next day crates with mail arrived at our house. I also received the red jacket and the red bag, but they had forgotten to deliver the red cap and that pissed me off. I had to call them again. I would look ridiculous without the cap. I wanted to undergo the mailman experience in full ornate. I wanted to be a real mailman. I wanted to show my red shiny raincoat and red bag and cap to the people in our neighborhood. It would prove to them that I was in fact a cool mailman and not a heavy shadow in a haunted house.

“You look like a ripe genetically manipulated giant strawberry,” my husband said when I proudly showed him my uniform.

If eyes could kill …

“Which means … gigantic tasty,” he continued.

“You can be so vicious,” I replied. I pointed my index finger at him. “Let me think … do I remember this correctly? The last time you ate a strawberry you screamed that you suffered from an anaphylactic shock because your throat was itching, isn’t it so?” I placed my finger in my throat and made sounds of someone vomiting heavily. “Thus, if I look like a strawberry, I suppose you are afraid of me?”

“True,” he answered. “But it wasn’t an anaphylactic shock, remember? I just panicked because my fantasy got out of control.”

“Right …”

I didn’t know what to think of it, but the conversation depressed me somewhat.

* * *

I bought a new pair of clogs with my first paycheck.

“Why in the world did you buy red ones?” my husband asked.

“They ran out of spiked clogs.”

Life is bulging with tricks. My job would have been perfect if the red dogs in Anusstraat 13 weren’t created. I’ve asked God for an act of kindness only once in my life and that was last week, when I asked Him to quit the construction of this type of modern dog. Two times a week I fight the dogs living on Anusstraat 13. The dogs aren’t natural but created as new species by breeders. Mammals manufactured to kill, and these creatures hate mailmen. Two times a week I wrestle rain and stormy weather and although the wind is often too abrupt, I climb doors to post the mail in the mailboxes of people that seem to wait for me all day because I deliver them hope to win the lottery and secrets wrapped up in packages, or sex burning inside perfumed envelopes. And surprises and postcards from Canada and sometimes rotten bills that destroy their day … but still, better a bill than no mail at all … and since I’m a mailman people spy on me from behind city-puke-stained curtains and stinky geraniums. I hate the people but I like their mail. It is stacks of clean envelopes with handwritten names like “Tineke Seksbieren van Zanten Wellega” or “Findo Puckert Jonkheere.” And I protect the letters with the roof of my breasts against rain and snow and bullets and snotty kids … I love being a mailman but it is a tough job because the red dogs hate me so deeply and it makes me sweat in the clogs. I guess I enter their gardens for the wrong reasons. I step into their world and I drive them nuts with my red uniform and then I leave again and I know it is hard for them because they do not succeed in destroying me.

Dogs, dogs, dogs … I see a lot of dogs. I can handle the small barky dogs. Peanuts. I just kick them in the ass with the nose of my clog if they come after me. But the six colossuses on Anusstraat 13 are too much. Dogs of a new species, created by the filthy mind of men. This new race is built of heavy bones wrapped up in rough carpets. Dogs with ears like batwings. Dogs with purple eyes and amethyst tongues that smell like poop linger from their beaks. The teeth of the dogs are too gruesome to describe. Hell dogs. We are talking about teeth of a species that ate several children, according to a newspaper of 2009. You get the picture? Me on my new clogs in my rubber XXL suit and six rusty beasts attacking my hand as soon as I deliver the mail. I began to fear the red dogs more and more. At night I couldn’t sleep. I was anxious for my dreams and reality was even a bigger nightmare.

Every time I had to deliver a letter on Anusstraat 13, the dogs ran towards the window and barked like maniacs. Six idiots that wanted to eliminate me. Artificial killer gear that wanted to rip off my red rubber uniform. Six lunatics that wanted to splinter my brand new clogs and gnaw my face off. Cream splattered from their lips towards the windowpane and their bodies rammed the glass every time I delivered the mail. Every day as I shoved the letters into the opening of the door the animals ripped the letters from my hand and slashed them to snippets in the corridor. There were a lot of snippets in the corridor and never ever did I see a real living human being in that creepy house. The dogs ate all the letters I delivered.

Ears of dogs are very sensitive. They always knew when I was arriving. They began to vomit barks as soon as I entered the street.

“Oh my secret father of Jesus, you can walk on wine and stuff like that. Be cool. Please kill the dogs with your magic finger!”

It surprised me how little time I needed to get deeply frustrated with my new job. I got obsessed with the dogs, almost as if I needed something to get obsessed with.

The other day I had to deliver 154 kilograms of letters. The weather was perfect, not too wet for the letters. I already had lost 4 kilograms of my body mass just by walking mail. But all I could think of was that I had to deliver mail in the house of the red dogs. I paced the neighborhood in my red outfit … My heart was beating like crazy when I finally arrived at the house. I didn’t want to be rude but now my eye was scanning the mail. It wasn’t a closed envelope, but a postcard. On the front a tacky picture of a windmill. I suddenly wanted to read it real bad. I turned it around with trembling fingers. The dogs smelled my fear and they almost fractured the window of anger.

Dear friend,

I want you to know that all the letters you ever wrote to me are destroyed right after the crime. There is nothing left, not even the word “fuck.” I want you to feel secure. I also want you to know that the dogs have nothing to do with you. They are just some characters in a story and they will vanish in the end.

Your friend,

The dying mailman.

I really wanted to deliver the postcard but I couldn’t do it. I froze on the path of the front garden. I stood there, my eyes motionless at the text of the postcard. Was God playing a crying joke on me? Then I gazed at the window. Silence was penetrating my heart. I kept my breath. I was looking for the giants but they seemed to have disappeared. The house was empty, hushed and serene. I heard rain dripping. I licked the wet stones of the boulevard and I remembered the smell of rain in Amsterdam when I was a kid. Have I ever been a kid? I guess my parents were still alive then.

It was pretty cool to be a mailman in 2010, when I was still alive. I just walked in the sun and I fed letters to houses, while BP was screwing our planet.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 29 | Summer 2010