PET FENCES by Nathan Dragon

The phone number I have, my phone number for the last 16 years at least, used to be this other guy’s phone number—seems like he installed residential electric pet fences all around the North Shore. 

It also belonged, at some other point, to another guy, I think, named Bruce Adams. I get calls for Bruce and for the electric pet fence guy—I forget his name—all the time.

A long time ago, maybe 20 something years ago, my aunt worked for a guy named Bruce who was a licensed electrician at Wire for Hire. 

His name might’ve been Bruce Adams too. 

I could be wrong.  

But there are probably a lot of Bruce Adams’.

Around 10 years ago, I had and used someone else’s ID for a while—his name was Michael. This was back in Chicago. 

When I first lived there, one of my roommates found an ID while they were working at Sports Authority. We, all the roommates, even the roommate that worked at Sports Authority, thought it was funny that this particular roommate worked at Sports Authority because this particular roommate was both apathetic towards sports and generally anti-authority. This roommate, though, gave me this ID as a birthday present. I’d just turned 20. Or 19. But I think it was 20 if I did the math right. It wasn’t great in that I didn’t really resemble the guy. The guy was 6’4 or something and I wasn’t, still am not, even close. But even so, this ID worked fine to get a 6 pack at the 7-11 or Walgreens or to get into a little bar just opening at 4pm. But I didn’t need this ID that long, obviously, as I said, a year at most. 

Some years go by after all this, I was watching the news on a TV up in the corner of a waiting room in Western Massachusetts, waiting for an oil change. I saw that the guy whose ID I had was on the news. I recognized him and then I saw the name of some Illinois town where they said he lived. He’d been arrested for building bombs in his house somewhere outside Chicago. Chicagoland.

I felt scared for a moment and thought about being on some list now, I thought, Fuck, what if I bought beer at Walgreens or the 7-11 and what if they scanned the license and somehow the license got flagged at the scan, and a swat team busted in and got me. I thought about an unlucky series of circumstances that would connect me, one of those weird things. 

A couple days ago, in the morning, pretty early, I got a phone call from an older woman it seemed like. She left a message. She’s in Salem, she said, and has a pet fence. 

She said in the message, You put my electric pet fence in 18 years ago and some painters dropped a ladder and it severed the line, 13 Lynn Street. Remember? If not I have the paperwork.

She also said she needs two more collars for two older cocker spaniels who are good, she said, but still need the collars. 

It would make her feel better.


Nathan Dragon's work has been in NOON, The Baffler, Hotel, New York Tyrant, and Fence. He co-runs Blue Arrangements, a publishing project, with his best friend/fiancé Raegan Bird.

Art based on a design by Steve Anwyll.

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