Il Duce, the dog (excerpt)
She assured me her dog was not named after Mussolini. Il Duce was so called in honour of her ex-boyfriend, a punk singer who’d picked up the name in a squat. He was not a scholar of history. She told me he, the man not the dog, had died in a bar brawl in Brooklyn. He travelled there to perform at CBGB’s, having failed to realise that it had closed. He isn’t dead though. He lives in Neasden so he might as well be. My mate Boz knows him. He said he got a mate to tell Helena that he had been murdered as he “couldn’t be doing with her shit”. I think that was unfair. I like Helena. It’s Il Duce, the dog, I have a problem with.
Il Duce has a throne. It is gold and covered in pillows. He does not leave it when it is time for him to eat. Instead, Helena brings his bowl to him. When he has finished eating – he eats only diced, broiled steak – he barks for her to remove dish. Sometimes he craps on my bedroom carpet just because he can. Il Duce is small and there is a doggie door at the bottom of the stairs leading down from the kitchen. Il Duce can go out into the green and grassy part of his domain but he sometimes chooses not to. He is a capricious ruler.
Helena denies that Il Duce has bad intent. She says he’s cute and cuddly. I say he’s fat and nasty. He once bit my ankle when I came out of the bathroom less gingerly than he prefers. Helena blamed me for this slight against her little prince. As she was shouting at me I looked over her shoulder and could have sworn I saw Il Duce smirking at me from his throne. My friends assured me that dogs are not made to smirk. I remained suspicious. I began to worry that Il Duce was plotting against me just as his historical namesake had outmanoeuvred the king. And I was not a king…