Stepping from the waiting room into the sterile quiet of the surgery was like stepping from a rave onto the moon. In the waiting room the door had been open letting in all the sounds from the busy street outside, traffic, people shouting and all of the general white noise expected on a busy Saturday afternoon. The receptionist’s voice had been shrill on the telephone, her fingers clacking keys. There was noise from the second surgery, where the sounds of staff dealing with an emergency seeped though.
Sometimes, Shelly listened to the noise around her and tried to hear it as Sammy did. She heard voices that were just sounds. They differed in pitch and tone, and merged with every other noise that is blanked out of the conscious mind of the rest of us. It was no wonder Sammy was overwhelmed.
Walking into Mr Langley’s surgery and shutting the door behind them, the noise was muted, not gone, but the whiteness of the room helped. Sammy saw noise in lurid colour. White was a neutral quietude for him. His body lost some of the tension and his own noise reduced to a keening hum.
Mrs May? Yes, we spoke on the phone. I’m Graham Langley and this must be Carthenage, the money box.’ He grinned at his own joke.
‘Carthenage is not a money box. Graham Langley Veterinarian is mistaken Carthenage is a dog, a German shepherd cross.’ Sammy spoke his one sentence and reverted to his whining.
Langley looked up from the notes he was reading from a computer screen. ‘And you must be the young man who was making all the racket. Well we don’t have any of that in here. So you can cut it out.’ He looked Sammy firm and square in the face. Sammy’s eyes retreated to their usual focus, top right, standard but Shelly was amazed that he shut up.
His mouth was open. He gave one last rebellious squeak and then lapsed into total silence, allowing his fingers to come up to play in front of his face. Langley was a no nonsense vet with a stern but kind voice. He was used to calming skittish animals. Shelly reasoned that handicapped children weren’t so far removed from what he was used to. She wouldn’t have argued with him. His tone cut through all of the clatter in Sammy’s head, he’d given a clear and concise direction and somehow he connected with the boy.
‘That’s better I can hear myself think now.’
And that’s all that Sammy wants, thought Shelly, to be able to hear himself think. Langley had turned his attention to Carthenage. ‘You’re a bonny lad, aren’t you?’ he stroked him and then lifted him deftly onto the table. He asked Shelly to hold Carthenage steady while he examined him. Carthenage had his haunches lowered in a half squat, his ears flat to his head, the whites of his eyes rolling, terrified, and his tail clamped between his legs. He was trembling violently.
‘Graham Langley Veterinarian must not hurt Carthenage.’
‘Don’t you worry, sonny, I’m not going to hurt him.’ He talked as he checked the dog’s eyes and then took a light and shone it into each of his ears in turn. He opened his mouth and checked his teeth and gums, taking note that the gums were pink and not white indicating signs of clinical shock or blood loss. All the while Carthenage backed into Shelly’s belly in an attempt to escape this indignity.
‘Graham Langley Veterinarian must not hurt Carthenage.’
‘No, no, it’s all right. I’ve told you, I’m not hurting him.’ He reached behind him and picked two instruments up from a tray on the counter. He winked at Shelly before looking steadily at Sammy. ‘I don’t seem to have enough hands here. I need you to hold these for me. Can you do that? It’s very important that you don’t drop them because they’re sterile, you see?’ He offered them to Sammy, who ignored the vet.
‘Sammy take the, um, things, and hold them nicely for Mr Langley, please,’
Langley walked around the table to Sammy. He took hold of his hands and one at a time he pressed the instruments into them. Sammy’s eyes flitted to the metal in his hands for a second and then returned. He didn’t drop the instrument with the tube attached or the one that looked like some kind of probe. Shelly was glad that he hadn’t bitten the vet.
‘Good lad,’ said Langley. He returned to Carthenage and was rubbing his hands firmly down the dog’s throat. ‘There’s nothing lodged in the thorax, that I can feel.’ He wrenched up Carthenage’s tail and inserted a thermometer into his rectum. The dog squealed and thrashed to get away while Shelly did her best to hold him still. ‘Okay boy, hold still for me. You are a silly dog aren’t you?’ the vet soothed.
‘Carthenage is not silly dog. Carthenage has thermometer up his bum. Carthenage is telling Graham Langley Veterinarian that his bum is sore.’
‘No Sammy, it’s not hurting him, it’s just an unusual sensation for him, that’s all. If he’d just relax he’d probably even like it.’ Langley told him in the same tone that he used to calm the dog.
When Sammy next spoke, Shelly was horrified. ‘Beastiality is brutish or beastly character and behaviour. Beastlike appetites, instincts or impulses, Sexual relations between a person and an animal’
‘Sammy,’ screeched Shelly, shocked. What the hell had her son been reading? ‘I am so sorry, Mr Langley, he doesn’t know what he’s saying. Be quiet now, Sammy, please.’ But Sammy kept right on talking.
‘Bestiality is human to animal sexual activity. Not all sexual acts with animals are performed by zoophiles; and not all zoophiles are sexually interested in animals.
‘Sammy, that’s enough. Stop it now. We’ve talked about unacceptable conversations before, haven’t we? I can’t tell you how sorry I am, Mr Langley.’
Langley’s face was screwed up, contorted and twisted. His eyes watered and then he let his breath out on an almighty guffaw. His professional demeanour crumbled and he laughed until tears squeezed out of his eyes.
‘No, I’m sorry, Mrs May.’ She could still hear the laughter in his voice when he spoke to her. ‘Very childish of me, juvenile humour, unprofessional. I do apologise but he doesn’t hold back, our Sammy, does he, eh?’
‘Modern society is generally hostile to the concept of animal to human sexuality. Author Peter Singer, argues that zoophilia is not unethical if there is no harm or cruelty to the animal, this view is not widely shared; sexual acts with animals are generally condemned as "crime against nature" and animal abuse.’
One thing that Shelly didn’t do after years of bringing up a handicapped child was get embarrassed. She thought she’d seen and heard it all. She was wrong and on this occasion, she was. Sammy had pulled some corkers in his time. He had no social gag. If something came into his head he blurted it out, no matter what it was. Shelly had apologised for him on many occasions but she couldn’t remember a time when she just wanted the ground to open up and swallow her as she did now. She managed a weak smile, her cheeks on fire. Thank goodness, she thought, that Mr Langley was taking it so well.
Under control now, Langley tried to continue his examination of Carthenage. ‘Well after all that, you’ll be pleased to know that his temperature is normal.’ But still Sammy talked.
‘There is presently considerable debate in psychology over whether certain aspects of zoophilia are better understood as an aberration or as a sexual orientation.
‘That’s good,’ said Shelly, taking her lead from the vet and ignoring the monologue to the side of them. She just hoped that he realised that her response was in reply to what he was saying and not to her son.
‘My opinion hasn’t changed from what we said on the phone. I expect the money to pass though him without my having to be too invasive.’
‘The sexual perversity or desire itself is no longer classified as a pathology unless accompanied by distress or interference with normal functioning on the part of the person.’
‘However,’ the vet raised his voice slightly above Sammy’s drone. ‘I’d be lacking in my professional duty if I didn’t warn you that if there is a complication, it could be nasty. I’d still like to get an X-ray done just to be sure, but it’s costly, and probably not necessary, so it’s entirely up to you. It’s your decision, Mrs May.’
‘According to research a human to animal relationship can go far beyond sexuality, and animals are capable of forming a genuinely loving relationship’
Langley was struggling to maintain his self control again and Shelly was still horrified by the words coming out of Sammy’s mouth. She had no idea that he’d been reading such literature. What the heck had possessed him to even look it up in the first place? ‘Yes, please. I’d rather be safe than sorry. Sammy’s devoted to the dog and I want to know that he’s going to be all right, so we’ll go with the X-ray.’
‘Right, we can do it immediately. I’m hoping that it’s going to be simple. If young Carthenage here plays ball my nurse will be able to hold him on the X-ray plate and we can get a decent picture. But again, it’s not always plain sailing. If he’s over excited and won’t lie still we may have to put him to sleep.’
At last Sammy broke out of his echolalia, or his literary version of it, and left the subject of bestiality. ‘Shaking Carthenage is not be put to sleep. Graham Langley Vetinerarian can take X-ray of Shaking Carthenage, not over excited, and bring Shaking Carthenage back to Samuel May and Shelly May in just a moment. Graham Langley Veterinarian not put anything up Shaking Carthenage’s bum.’
‘No Sammy I won’t be putting anything else up –I promise you that I’ll do my very best to get the X-ray while he’s awake, it should be okay.’ He turned his attention back to Shelly. I notice that Carthenage hasn’t been microchipped, yet, would you like to discuss that while you’re here today?’
After Sammy’s reaction to a simple thermometer, she dreaded to think what he’d be like with a bloody great needle. ‘Er, no thank you, I think we’ve all suffered quite enough for one day. I do need to have him done, though. I’ll ring to make an appointment with you through the week if that’s okay.’ She smiled when she said it.
‘Of course. That probably will be for the best.’ Langley smiled too.
He led Carthenage through to the treatment rooms. Shortly a sign came on in the surgery saying X-ray in operation. She heard raucous laughter coming from Langley and a female voice. Her cheeks burned again and she could only imagine what he was saying to her.
Five minutes later Langley brought Carthenage back and the dog went wild in his greeting of Sammy. It was as though they’d been parted for weeks. He was given a clean bill of health. ‘We located the deposit, Mrs May. It’s well down in the bowel and you can expect a withdrawal tomorrow at the latest.’
‘Thank you Mr Langley and I’m sorry again for—you know.’
‘Don’t give it another thought. Sammy’s quite a character and you must be very proud of him.’
‘Yes,’ said Shelly resolutely,’ I am.’