At the Scots service station there’s a Korean restaurant serving pickles and strips of grilled beef – also a large bookstore reminiscent of Powell’s in Portland, Oregon: long, high shafts stratified with a great lode of books, and a pervasive smell of fresh paper and ink.
The family go off to find the toilets and I walk the dog along the grassy berm beside the petrol station. He throws himself on his back on the grass and wriggles. I kneel down and pin him by his paws, he says: Will we be staying the night here? And I realise that although he has always talked, until now I’ve been unprepared to acknowledge it. My wonderment is at my own denial – not the dog’s speech, but while I am lost in this emotion – which feels exalted, aerial, multicoloured – the dog slips his lead and runs away between the cars and scampers across the road. Frantic to find him, I tramp through the gardens of suburban houses, cucumber frames and raspberry canes snapping and cracking beneath my feet. I find the dog in a greenhouse; he has become a small Korean woman wearing a cheap black nylon suit and a white nylon blouse. He cowers and speaks to me… unintelligibly.