My dog wouldn’t stop barking and pawing at the basement wall.

For the whole day, he stood in the same spot, sometimes with his paws up on the concrete, barking wildly and scratching the rough surface with his nails. I tried to get him to calm down. I had to use his favorite treats to coax him out of the basement. Once I did, I locked him outside.

I put my ear to the wall he’d been obsessing over. I heard a few faint scratches, but I wasn’t particularly bothered. I’m not a superstitious man; you won’t catch me worrying about poltergeists or ghosts. If anything, I was concerned about bugs getting into the foundation. I made a mental note to buy some insecticide at Home Depot.

The following morning, I looked out the window and saw the dog had started digging a hole up against the side of the house. It was right above the spot he’d been so focused on in the basement.

Now I was starting to get pissed off. He was ruining Martin’s marigolds.

I ran outside to yell at the dog. In my rush to the door, I stumbled over one of our sons’ toys and went flying headfirst into the island countertop in the kitchen. I must’ve knocked myself out because when I woke up, it was after dark. Outside, I heard shrill barking. Memory gradually refilled my empty head and I figured the dog must’ve completely destroyed the garden by that point.

I grabbed a flashlight and went into the yard. I hadn’t been wrong. The garden was a tattered mess of soil and petals and loose bulbs. The god damn dog was down at least three feet. His paws bled and were leaving red streaks against the concrete outer wall of the basement. I picked him up by the collar and lifted him out of the hole. He dove right back in.

I didn’t know what the hell to do. None of the stores that sold pesticides were open at this hour. And the dog was going nuts. Bob and Angela’s bedroom light went on.  Bob leaned out to ask if everything was okay, and if it was, to please shut the dog up. I told him I was sorry and brought the animal back in the house.

I cleaned up his paws and talked to him, trying to get him to settle down. He seemed exhausted, and to my great thanks, he turned over on his side and went to sleep.

I trudged down to the basement and put my ear to the wall again. I heard the same, soft, scratching sounds. I swore. In a fit of frustrated rage, I grabbed the sledgehammer from my workbench and smashed a hole in the concrete. A large chunk fell onto the floor. I half expected thousands of flies or termites to swarm out at me.

Instead, Martin’s glazed eyes blinked stupidly at the light pouring into the hole. His forehead was scraped down to the skull, obviously the source of the scratching sounds.

When I’d bound his and the kids’ hands and gagged them, I didn’t expect any noise. After one more blow with the sledgehammer and an hour to reseal the wall, I made my way upstairs. It’s been three days since and the dog hasn’t barked or pawed at that spot again. Good boy.

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