Sunday, September 5, 2010

My Longshot

This short story was written as a submission to Longshot Magazine's 24 hour contest, the challenge theme being, "Comeback". It's based upon real events.

Fence Fight--Cee Martinez

This Morning

My reward for taking a different route from my normal walk came when I happened upon a backyard complete with a snarling Chihuahua behind a chain-link fence. Cream colored, stout of chest, and with a well muscled little trot that would make any cart horse envious. He hit the fence with murderous gusto. My dog, about fifty pounds of silvery Nordic fluff, locked eyes with the little stinker, and they commenced the oldest of dog traditions: snarling through the fence at each other in a way that if translated would probably equal Tarantino penned dialogue for a Mexican standoff.

I pulled on my dog, the leash so taut it vibrated but the damn dog's feet may as well have been sunk in mud. I finally had to nudge my dog with the toe of my sneaker to get him moving. We were halfway past the fence, Chihuahua still in deadly pursuit, when a large black Lab burst from the open porch door of the house. My dog dug in again, puffed and prepped for the second battle. My tight forearms trembled, and I put my back into pulling my dog from the fence.

Too late, however, because the Lab hit the fence, snapping and snarling and running over the Chihuahua in the process. I was nearly past the fence, but the Lab's barks faded in favor of the increasingly desperate tin-whistle scream from the Chihuahua. I stood for a moment, scowling, staring. The Lab left off his barking, and his tail dropped as he sniffed at the screaming Chihuahua. The squeals leaving the little dog's body now trilled and warbled, hitting scales that approximated the tone of a car alarm. Even my dog let the leash fall slack and as I walked back to the fence, he did not want to follow.

I looked at the prone dog. I saw his white teeth flashing, his tongue lolling, and his legs and tail were not moving. It made me think of that one time when my dad tried holding my pet hamster, almost dropped it and in his fumbling, pinched it against the glass of his aquarium home. When he put it back into the aquarium, it lay motionless on the litter shavings. its mouth flopping uselessly until it died seconds later. I stared with increasing dizziness at its head, thinking of that one time I saw those freaky videos of Russian scientists reanimating severed dog's heads.

I swallowed hard and looked up, staring at the open back-door of the house, and I yelled, "He's hurt! He's hurt!"

A pale as pudding wisp of a woman came running, "What happened? What happened?"

We never made eye contact. She lifted her dog into her pink mottled pale arms. His body hung limp. His neck twisted as his agonized chortles turned into rasping, gargled groans. "Dad!" She screamed, "Dad!" And then her voice deepened, became an accusatory stab, "What happened?"

If I hadn't have walked this way, I thought, if I'd just stayed on my normal route. My voice felt cold and empty as I spoke. "The black dog... it ran over the little one."

She didn't answer. She carried the whimpering Chihuahua back to a white-haired man who stood with his fists clenched on the back porch. She slid the dog into his arms; he cradled it over his thick forearm like one would an infant. The dog's neck hung over his arm as it began a fresh set of howling screams.

The black dog stood vigil, staring. Its pink tongue hung from its mouth as it growled.

I sobbed all the way home, my dog's tail between his legs.

This Evening

I bought flowers and a giftbasket after deciding that writing, "Sorry your dog died because of me" on an unsigned card and leaving it in their mailbox would be kind of cowardly. The woman answered the door and upon seeing me, broke into a broad, apple cheeked smile. "He's okay! Killer is OKAY!"

I blinked. Of course the damn dog's name is Killer.

"How...why?" I said with a gasp.

She said the dog was seemingly paralyzed so she and her dad took him to the vet to be put down. Then, on the table, just as the vet gets near him, the dog recovers and bites his hand. Basically, he's okay. Bless the saints! All of that.

I squinted. She continued to tell me that the dog checked out completely fine, and they all think he just had his feelings hurt from being trampled, and had thrown some kind of tantrum. You know, just to let everyone know the extent of his emotional pain.

I pursed my lips and pointed at her, "I don't think I like your dog that much right now."

She laughed and snatched the gift basket. "Killer has a girlfriend," she said as she carried the basket to her kitchen, and I followed. "She's another Chihuahua. She's pregnant." Her pale eyes lingered on me, her lips pursed. Cue the expectant pause.

I held up my hands, "Oh no, no, no, I am NOT getting a puppy!"

Her smile was small, content, like the Mona Lisa's. "Well, when you see them, I'm sure you'll love them."

I grimaced, "Are we best friends now?"

Killer appeared. Killer Lazarus, as I shall forever know him. He snarled. His big, bulging, Chihuahua eyes sparkled, and he strutted, and kicked as if prepping for a fight.

I'm glad the dog is okay. Hell, I believe in miracles, and I'm glad for that as well. I just want to know what frigging lesson I'm supposed to learn from this.

Signing out.

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