Oh how I have criticised him in the past. How I have lambasted him, sat within the four walls of my bedroom, seething at the prospect of listening to him bark just one more time. How he has led me to question my desire to live on in this world if living means having him around for just a minute longer. Needless to say, I am referring to my one true enemy on this Earth, Lucifer. No doubt, he will have surely caused a surge in my blood pressure in recent months thanks to his continued [successful] attempts to infuriate me. Make no mistake, he enrages me like no other. Yet, over the last few weeks, I have lived a peaceful existence. My apartment building has been so blissfully quiet. Mysteriously quiet… Too quiet. What brought all this stillness in the air and thus, absence of rage on my part, to my attention in the first place? After all, a lack of a particular sound to which one is accustomed to hearing hardly grasps the attention in the same way as does the sound itself. Well, as reliably and as true to himself as ever, it was Lucifer, as he personally delivered me a noise-ridden reminder of his existence.
The other night, I was subject to a particularly violent episode of cacophony, in which I wondered, as ever, what it might take for him to show me mercy. I know Lucifer to be ruthless at heart, so the idea of him ever relenting does not strike me as a dream that is one day likely to come true. With that in mind, this most typical of outbursts of his, which I must now – taking recent proceedings into account – describe as an isolated incident, makes this whole period of relative calm all the more difficult for me to understand. Clearly he still is and has been around, as illustrated by the latest debacle, but he could surely not have decided to spare me by granting me this momentary respite. That is just not his style. Which is why so much of this makes so little sense. My default stance at this time is to exercise caution, for he may simply be toying with me; lulling me into that sense of security, so oft referred to as false, and for good reason. I am letting him get in my head, I know, but at least I am aware of it. But then again, maybe he knows that himself and wants me to know that he knows that I know that he is in my head, thereby working his tricks on me further. These appear to be the musings of a mad man, driven to extraordinary lengths by a life-long adversary. This, I think, illustrates just how far I have been pushed by nemesis. However, to my bewilderment, it is that same nemesis that has afforded me the period of tranquility of which I speak. What is his play here? And just where has he been? What has he been up to? Where many questions remain, few answers lie…
The thought has just come to mind that perhaps some of those reading will not have the faintest idea of what I’m going on about. For their benefit, let us recap briefly. Lucifer (an alias; his real name remains a mystery) is my unconquerable opponent, weighing in at around 15kg and standing at just over 1ft tall. He is, as of course many will know, a dog. A suspected English Cocker Spaniel, no less (pictured below). Now, Lucifer has spent much of his adult life tormenting the residents of my building in suburban Barcelona with his indomitable and clamouring spirit. He is, by a country mile, the loudest dog that I have ever come across and seems to hold my inner peace, most disappointingly, in the lowest of regards. I came to the conclusion some months ago, based on the countless instances of him making a racket outside my front door, that he had it in for me. Flatmates have come and gone over the course of my stay here, which has left me as the one permanent inmate to which Lucifer has been able to subject his fury. As such, long ago began the classic tale of Dan vs. Dog in which I have been driven to the brink of insanity and have yet done very little, if anything at all, by means of retaliation. I mean, what can I do? My nemesis is a dog! But my nemesis Lucifer remains, nonetheless. And he is a nemesis, in every sense of the word. And, mark my words, he knows it.
Why then, that when I bring it to the attention of my dearest readers that I have been living in relative peace of late, thanks to some time spent in blissful ignorance of my adversary’s continued existence, do I do so as if to suggest that there might be something missing in my life? Should I not appreciate the lack of Lucifer’s woofing? Should I not be positively joyous in this most victorious of moments, when I can finally enjoy some much-needed quiet in the comfort of my own home? Yes I should be and, to some extent, I certainly am. But what this period of calmness has taught me is that this war of wits that rages forever strong between myself and Lucifer, that which has suffered something of a lull, might just be a necessary evil. Like Quorn, for example.
In the same way that I count him as my nemesis, the fiercest of all the foe that I have encountered in my lifetime, including Mike Dean and that wasp which once, unprovoked, stung me in the face in the middle of Leicester Square and then proceeded to go about its day, I regretfully count Lucifer as the yin to my yang. The darkness to my light. The evil to my good. One does not exist without the other; he is the unstoppable force hurtling towards me, the immovable object, the two of us forever locked in a battle from which no man, canine, or otherwise can ever emerge the victor. Whereas once I would think of the question, ‘who shall prevail?’ with regard to my ongoing rivalry with the canine opponent, I am now resigned to the fact that there shall be no prevailing. I am forever condemned to be taunted by a noisy animal, intent on going for a walk and barking until he is granted his one request. Dan vs. Dog. Good vs. Evil. These are all but synonyms for the cogs of the clockwork that constitutes the same perpetual cycle. This is my life now.
Lucifer’s recent placidity remains, and forever will remain, a mystery to me. Who knows why he decided to play it cool, operate on the down-low, only to spontaneously spring back into my life by returning to his usual woofing ways, as if to say, “I caught you enjoying that quiet time, didn’t I?”. Honestly, yes he did. But with my enjoyment came the understanding that this novel business of quietness was a temporary gig. I could not expect for it to last, in the same way that I cannot expect the sun to never set and for darkness never to take hold. I knew that Lucifer would some day return and, for that reason, I could not enjoy the fleeting victory with quite as much verve as perhaps I should have. Naturally and so true to form, Lucifer did return this week as I was left back at square one, fighting the good fight, containing my rage as best I could, as he went about doing his best impression of a pneumatic drill. Just to make it clear to anyone that might be overlooking the glaring truth of the matter here; dogs cannot do impressions of pneumatic drills. Dogs cannot do impressions of regular drills. In fact, dogs cannot really do any impressions at all. As such, Lucifer made a lot of noise, doing his best to sound like a power tool, but succeeding only in sounding far more like a dog, and so resumed the war…
He has since slipped off the radar once again, no doubt planning his next act of retribution, the sly bastard. Who knows when he will launch his next attack. I lie in wait, living in a state of apprehensive anticipation, with Lucifer’s movements becoming ever more difficult to read. I would describe him as a wily old fox were it not for the fact that he is a dog. And dogs are rarely regarded as wily. Yet that is how I would describe Lucifer. He operates with a guile that leaves me, more often that not, second guessing. Thus, I could easily think of myself as doomed to an eternity of torment at the paws of a rowdy hound. However, I can at least clutch at the solace that, soon, I shall be leaving Lucifer behind. Soon, I will be interrupting our feud as I move out of the building in which we both currently reside. Perhaps true to the saying, this Catalan apartment building ain’t big enough for the both of us, although I must emphasise that I did have this move planned beforehand. I’m not moving out as a means of throwing in the towel when it comes to the spaniel.
Indeed, I will soon be on my way, leaving Barcelona and venturing to the capital to see what opportunities await me there. At the end of the month – how time has flown – I will be heading to Madrid as my Year Abroad regrettably draws to a close. I reassure you, fair readers, that this is not how I will be ending my account of my time in Barcelona. I will be sure to write a glowing appraisal of my experience of the city, using superlatives aplenty that will never quite do it all justice. But, for the time being, my mind is on Lucifer and what he might make of me legging it to Madrid. He may well think of my departure as a definitive victory, the nail in my coffin that pronounces me defeated once and for all, but I know the truth. I know that, one day, our paths will cross again and we shall continue to wage the war that has had me so preoccupied all this time. I don’t know how it will happen but I know, as sure as am I that the sun will set tonight, that I will see him again and that he will somehow find a way to piss me off. Do I look forward to the day that we meet and reconvene our conflict? No. But I do acknowledge that it will come and, for that reason, I must ready myself and hone my steely resolve in anticipation of this unfortunate reunion. Whilst he is undoubtedly the rival I most loathe in this world, equally he is the one which I most respect, given that it is his name which comprises my full list. Until next time, Lucifer, you provocative, exasperating mutt. Here’s to many more years of epic warfare.