By Carter Melrose
Illustration by Janiece Maddox
Lonny was laying out on his sectional-style couch waiting for Sunday to end when a knock came from his door. Sara was on the phone and pointed at the entrance, displaying how she thought Lonny was dumb enough to not know what a visitor sounds like. Lonny staggered to his feet and Sara put her finger over the phone speaker.
“Can you please … can you please … damnit … get the fucking door.”
“You can’t be this mad, this quickly.”
Sara practically sprints into the other room and possibly turns the corner a bit too sharply, as a thud-noise came bouncing off the walls.
Lonny didn’t look through peep-holes any longer. He was told that maybe sometime, in the near future, he’d forget to give the visitor the quick up-down and unknowingly invite in a gunslinger. He frankly couldn’t see a situation where someone is casually holding their piece with one hand, while knocking nonchalantly with the other. Everyone on the face of this earth knew about these peep-holes. It wasn’t something his family had ingeniously invented to counteract home invasions that occurred when the entire family was home, on a Sunday afternoon. So he never looked. He, in fact, had placed tape over the eyespot to remind him to take this arbitrary stance.
Lonny tossed the door open, and sealed his eyes, slightly hoping to get mowed down by an assault rifle.
“Finally, here ... I brought you a dog.”
“Lonny, I seriously need medical attention!”
Lonny unsealed his eyes to behold his co-worker, and desk-mate, Travis, straddling an actual dog. It looked to be 3-foot tall, brownish-yellow everywhere but his face, where it’s fur ran thin and led into a slice of raw-rubbed red skin around his left eye. It also religiously snarled and hadn’t stopped since it entered the new environment, not seeming to need to take breaths or recharge in between spurts; much like you don’t need to recharge your noses shape.
“Travis ... what are you doing here? And whose dog is this?”
“To give you this dog … so congratulations, here is your new dog.”
Still straddling the dog, the mutt began violently waving his head back and forth to escape. Travis, without hesitation smacked him on the snozz. The dog tried to nip at Travis’s hand as it was pulled back to safe distance, but he squeezed his thighs around the girth of the dogs neck and after whimpering, its movement slowed down to a slight-bob, noticeably from Travis cutting off the oxygen flow to it’s brain. Out from the back room, Sara continued to writhe in pain, screaming bloody-murder, filling the house with inaudible noise.
“Lonny, I think my toe needs to be amputated! Come quick!”
“Not even funny, what did you really come here for?”
“Is that the Sara I’ve been hearing so much about?”
“Don’t change the subject. How do you even know my address?”
“Good question, you see … I’ll just come on in and sit down somewhere nice …” Travis grabbed the dog by the neck and waddled himself and the dog forward towards the couch. “I was staying late like, oh let’s see … a week ago. And I came across your file in the handy file cabinet …” The dog, having been overpowered and struggling for the last few minutes, simply gave in and let Travis peruse him to the couch.
“You came across my file by chance, or you looked for it, and found it under my name?”
“And I just fingered through the file … out of sheer boredom, you know how that is …” Travis pulled out a bag of gummy worms and dangled them above the dogs head, giving it one every few times it would snap at them and miss. “And there was your address, plain as day … on the eighth page, and I thought: why not give my friend Lonny a visit soon on my off day like friends often do …” Lonny who had followed Travis and the dog into his own apartment was leaning on the television, with arms crossed, puzzled and perplexed by the entire scenario. More screeches came from off-stage. Travis mid-sentence stopped and darted his attention to where the noise was rising.
“Ahhh … is she ok?”
“She’s fine. What did you mean this is my dog?”
“I’m getting to that part … my favorite part, really. So I stumbled on your address, out of the blue, and had the idea to make a trip over here …” Travis fed the last gummy worm to the mutt and after practically being trained to look up and automatically receive a treat, it became disgruntled again, and bit the now sitting Travis in the calf. “Fuck you, dog …” and he strangled him again till the dogs eyes slowly started to close. “And … where was I? Oh yeah … I had the idea to make a trip over here but I thought to myself: Travis, you cannot make an unannounced trip, sorry about that by the way, to your pal Lonny’s house without bringing a gift …” While Travis was distracted by his story, the dog wiggled all at once and escaped his strangle-hold. Though, this didn’t seem to faze Travis as he continued to tell his story. “So I went out and got you this little shit-head, and he’s now yours to keep. So yeah, once again … congratulations.” Travis who had been planning on ways to get this man and dog to leave, became distracted as he followed the dog around with his eyes. The dog, who once seemed demonic, wandered around the apartment living room sniffing the ground, much like Scooby-Doo looking for clues.
“That is a great gesture Travis, really, but … I cannot accept this unexpected gift …” And Lonny went over to Travis putting his hand out, and when Travis took the bait, he hefted him to his feet and began pushing him towards the exit. “Our in-laws are coming over soon, so even though it was … an honor, that you came, you and the dog must really be going.” The curdling exclaims stopped from the backroom and Travis, who was now red-faced, spun off of Lonny’s arm and stood still.
“That I cannot do. I made the half hour hike up here … the least I can do is let you keep the fucking dog ...” Travis said gritting his teeth, already livid that Lonny would deny his obscure gift. The dog sprung his head up, probably finding a gigantic clue, and rushed to a different room to investigate further. “So I’m going to leave now, and you’ll just owe me one … and maybe send me a thank-you letter or something.” Said Travis as he slipped out the threshold of the door and made a break for it. Except, with fast reflexes, Lonny was able to slip his foot in the door and grab a piece of Travis’s loose-fitting LA Raiders jersey.
“You are not leaving without this fucking dog.”
“Here is the situation, buster … I am in no future taking this dog back …” Travis again showed anger and places one finger on Lonny as he talked directly to his face. “So your options are simple … you could keep the bastard, or I mean I guess you could ... take him to the pound ... even though, I’m well aware he’s been in and out of those since birth.” Travis starts pushing his finger into the sternum of Lonny, making him back-pace into the living room area. Howls came from where the dog was investigating.
“Travis we aren’t friends, you realize how irrational this is? You came barging into my house …” Travis, on schedule, ignored what Lonny was going on about and made his way over to the open-style kitchen which hugged the living room. “And you, gave me a living organism ... And then spouted off some checkered backstory to make me feel bad …” Travis poured himself a bowl of cereal and hopped up on top of the counter, way too comfortable given the circumstances, and again began to listen. “And now you are eating a bowl of cereal ... I’m not keeping this dog Travis, and I have the right mind to call the police.” A sound like drywall being dismantled sifted through the air.
“Ok Lon … I get you are upset, probably cranky or something … all I’m saying is the dog has been through a lot …” Travis missed his mouth and dribbles a spoon-full of milk on the floor, unphased he continues, “and possibly, one more hardship could push him over the edge.”
“What are you going on about? The edge of what? What dog related edge could you even be referring to.”
“Doggie-suicide.” Travis said holding a single finger-gun to his forehead, forgetting about the bowl with the other, and spilling half the contents on the floor.
“You are a brilliant psychopath.”
“Hey watch the name calling ...” He got up from counter and simply dropped the remainder of the bowl facedown on the tile-floor. “I’m not saying you will have blood on your hands for knowingly bringing back a dog clearly on the edge of a breakdown, but …” stepping over the scattered milk and fruit-loop chunks, “it might be masterfully evil for you to ignore his prior mental history in your decision on whether to keep him.”
“Stop cleaning out my pantries and look at me Travis …” As Travis is trying to grab a package of marshmallows from a high cabinet, Lonny pulls him down and rotates his head to look him in the eyes, “I am calling the police if you don’t leave in the next 5-seconds.”
“Fine, fine …” hits Lonny’s hands off his ears, “I have one more, small request.”
“He has a brother that is still at the pound in dire need of a home himself ...”
“No no no no.”
“... And when they were separated they both whimpered, loud as hail on a barn, and it really was a ...”
“... really was a disheartening thing to hear and witness, you know? Made me wanna call my brother, and god knows I hate that bastard ...”
“So I was thinking since you already committed to this pup ...”
“... And upholding his emotionally well being, I thought I might go on and pick up that other doggo and reunite them. Be beautiful. Worthy of the local news.”
“I haven’t even remotely agreed to take the first one.”
“Totally understand, but I am quite worried that if this dog goes the rest of his life without his brother, he might then, get pushed over some fucking edge …” Travis whipped his head around like a twister and rolled his eyes, “... ahhh psychologically.”
“That’s it, I’m calling the police.” Lonny walks over to the landline he still had for some reason and popped his hip out, threatening a call.
“Ok, I’ll bring over the second dog tomorrow ...” backing away, with his hands above his chin, as if Lonny had a gun pointed at him ready to blast. “One question, where is the damn pup anyway? Tip … it isn’t wise to let this fucker out of your sight … when he is alone ... he spazzes out like a possessed person, really scary stuff, bites through walls so I’ve heard.” On that Travis scampered, tripping on a couple shoes near the foot of the door, full-speeding to the door of the apartment.
“He can burrow through walls?”
“Merely rumors. Gotta go.” The door slammed shut. Lonny chased for a bit, but gave up after realizing how agile he was in space. He staggered to his couch, huffing, and plopped back onto the couch, essentially forgetting about the dog’s existence. He even started to doze off before a clamoring emerged in the hallway. The forgotten dog, appeared ass-first, dragging something into the living room. To Lonny’s dismay, it was Sara’s unconscious body, still bleeding slightly out of the squashed toe she must have stubbed. The dog dropped the section of sweater he had used to drag her with, and went back on the prowl for more evidence in the case that didn’t exist.