queeny header




Sometime in my early 20s, my little brother Freddy picked me up hitch-hiking from the beach. He was driving a low-riding lifestyle convertible, one of the four vehicles he kept on the road during the hot summer of his nineteenth year.

Feeling lithe and snarky after a day of swimming and sun, I start to complain about having been turned into a lithe and snarky homosexual by my angry,  micro-managing mother.

He pulls over and threatens to make me walk: “Maybe it’s just you. Huh? All mom did to me was growl. Mothers growl. I came out alright. I’m alright.”

I came out alright. I’m alright. As he slowly turns to deliver these biting words, the sunlight hits him and a red crust the diameter of a beer bottle becomes visible in the stitches and dried blood in the middle of his forehead.

I sigh and promise to behave, and we get back on the road.

Twenty minutes later, as we drive by the Botrop’s house, I notice that they have a new dog. Their former pet – a police-trained German Shepherd named Queeny – almost decapitated Freddy one evening a few years before.

the dogbait years


When I think about it, I can’t believe I walked by that dog every day when I was 12 and 13 when I was the neighborhood paperboy.

The Botrops were German, and my family were “French.” Almost no families in my suburb were “English” though everyone spoke English and watched American TV.

“German” herself, Queeny should have attacked me and killed me. But instead, she just growled and kept her back riding menacingly low every day as I passed by with my canvass bag full of second-rate political propaganda.

Maybe Queeny figured I was too easy a target, and decided not to risk her predatory honor by deflating a skinny gay paperboy with one fang.

Little brother wasn’t so lucky.


When I was 17 – the last year of my closeted homosexuality –  Freddy demonstrated the unrealized potential of Queeny. Late for supper one winter evening, 14-year-old Freddy walked into the house looking like a horror-movie zombie.

The open, dry gash on his neck was the size and shape of a golf ball cut in half. His exposed flesh was white and fatty, but the gash wasn’t that noticeable because the rest of his face and neck were also grayish-white from fear. His bleached skin and blank expression made him look like he was having a nervous breakdown. He also had a hard time speaking, like he was fighting for air or to focus.

It turns out that Freddy had cut through the Botrop’s yard on his way home from street hockey carrying a hockey stick on his shoulder just like guys on TV do, when Queeny jumped  him and disarmed him with a slice of her sharp jaws to the lower neck.

It’s a good thing Mr. Botrop never strays very far from the living room liquor cabinet or Freddy might have been more seriously disarmed. Drunk Hanz Botrop came out mid-attack and called off Queeny before she could finish the job.

How did I manage to get past that instinctively-hostile death jaw every day and deliver the hated newspaper? Did Queeny hate my little brother even more than he hated me?

Maybe it was just Freddy. Huh? All Queeny did to me was growl. German Shepherds growl.

I got out alright. I’m alright.

soundtrack bis


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