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Thursday, December 20, 2012

THE STRAY copyright 2012 m.s.

“Hey!” Denise yelled at Paul. “Pull over!”
“What?” Paul yelled back. “Why?” They were driving his new-old Mercedes and were feeling more than a bit above the rest of the neighborhood. They were on Reynolds and had turned down Flyer just at Dunkin Donuts when a yellow lab caught Denise’s eye.
“Look at that dog over there!” Denise said excitedly.
A thirty-two year old woman should not act like a five year old,Paul thought.
He did as he was told, never the less, because if you didn't do what Denise wanted, it became a fight even bigger that Frazier/Ali.

“It's just a dog,” Paul said.
“It's not just a dog,” Denise opened the passenger door. “It's our dog.” She rushed out of the car and called the yellow lab. The dog looked like it had been through hell and back. Parts of fur on it's back was missing and the tail seemed to be shaped funny. Paul was not enthusiastic about acquiring a pet, let alone a mangy dog that looked like it had been abused.

“Denise...come on? Don't---”

She didn't listen. She went on calling to the lab, chased it down. She sat on the sidewalk a few feet from the Mercedes, making friends with it. Finally, after ten minutes, Denise came back to the car and opened the door of the passenger. She ushered the yellow lab in the back seat. The dog looked around, worriedly, not sure of his new adventure.

“Damn it, Denise!” Paul screamed. “I just bought this car and now a mangy mutt is getting my back seat dirty!”

“Drive, will you! Just drive!” She screamed back.
The tires squealed, the Mercedes sped off to the nearest stoplight on the other side of the street.
The yellow lab settled down in the back seat, licking it's lips and keeping it's eyes on the two humans in the front seat.

“What if this dog belongs to someone?” Paul said after several minutes of silence.

“He does,” Denise said smugly. “He belongs to us.”

They lived on Seaside, which had now become a gated community. But their house was modest and if his mother had not bought the house in eighties before the gates went up, it would have been bulldozed long ago by the community commissioner. It is run down, green paint chipping away, and the roof sagging a bit. Paul had said for at least a year he would hire someone to fix up the house.
Denise told him, “It better be soon. The community is ready to vote us out.”
The house is flanked on both sides by two very tall, luminous, glass buildings. One a bank, the other a complex of townhouses.
Still, they lived in Seaside. Trendy, and a cut above normal.

“I think his name will be Sam,” Denise said after breakfast the next day.

Paul looked up from his IPAD knockoff, pushed his glasses up on the brim of his nose. “Sam?” He twitched a little. “Why Sam?”

“Why not?” Denise shrugged, grabbing dirty dishes from the table and placed them in the sink. “I had an uncle who had a German Shepard. He was named Sam.”

“Yeah....well, I had a boss at the gas station when I was sixteen, and he was named Sam. Biggest dick I ever knew.”

Denise poured herself a cup of coffee, sat at the table across from Paul. “A boss, huh?” She mused. “Yep. Sam it is. You better get going,” She told Paul. “You'll be late and those little gas stations need to be managed or I don't get my weekly allowance and you don't get your three times a week to lay on top of me.”

Paul rose from his chair, cradling the IPAD in his arms gingerly. “You are so crude,” He snarled. Then went out the door, slamming it behind him.

Sam lifted his head up out of groggy slumber. He watched the two humans. Denise flicked off Paul as he drove off. Sam smiled sheepishly, and bit at a flea on his left back leg.

Denise turned to Sam and folded her arms. “Fucking men!”

Sam laughed. “Yeah. I bet you don't know about the other bank account he has, do you?”

Denise's face fell. Shock settled in. She pointed a finger at Sam. “The dog just spoke....”


After dinner, the house was quiet. Paul sat in his chair in the living room playing around on his IPAD, and Denise was upstairs in their bedroom watching TV. Sam was lounging in his dog bed, laying on his back, his right leg kicking once in awhile. Then he awoke suddenly. He sat up in his bed, his ears raised slightly. He was staring at Paul.

“I have something to tell you,” Sam said in a deep calm voice.

Paul looked at Sam and flashed a brief smile. Then he realized his dog just spoke. Paul slipped his IPAD in the chair beside him. He scowled.

“Did you just say something?” Paul whispered.

“Who else is in the room with you?” Sam asked.

“Dogs can't....” He began, coughed, and started over. “Animals can't talk.”

“Then what the hell am I doing right now, Paul?”

“No.....” Paul's eyes grew bigger. He let out a nervous giggle. “I must be---”

“Crazy? Well, yes you are that. And no, you are not dreaming.” Sam told him. “Can we just get on with this—get this over with, huh? I mean, you see me talking, you hear me. You see my lips moving. You don't need any other proof.”

Paul climbed out of his chair and crawled across the beige carpet, on his hands and knees toward the dog. He was dismayed. But Sam didn't give Paul a chance to revel in his possible insanity.

“Look...i like you kid,” Sam told him. “That bitch of a wife of yours has another.”

“Did you just call my wife a bitch? She really loves you.” Paul said.

“Hey, I don't really care, you know. I mean if you are okay with another woman sleeping in your bed---”

“What the hell are you saying—I'm asking a dog this? I think I am loosing it.” Paul felt tension between his eyes. He closed them and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I feel a migraine coming on.”

“Get a grip of yourself!” Sam screamed in Paul's face.
Paul blinked. He thought a second. “You said....another woman?”

“You got peanut butter in your ears?” The dog said, licking his lips.

She did have that incident in college, Paul thought. That's where they met. She was in his business class. They had the same interest: money. She had this one roommate, Gloria, a real butch cunt that always controlled everything Denise did. One night, after Paul asked her to marry him, Denise came clean. She said she was confused and really loved both of them. She wasn't sure she could leave Gloria behind.

Yeah...and that's when Paul's roommate Clive came in handy. Clive was a horrible druggie who would steal whatever he found of Paul's and sell it for crack. Paul had Clive buy some crack, fix up a glass pipe and break into Gloria' s bedroom. Paul called Detective Brownstone and.....well, Gloria was out of the picture.

“You should read her E-mail.” Sam said. “Look at her Facebook picture album. You might find--”

“I've seen those pictures of Denise and Gloria reuniting a few months ago. I approved it.” Paul told the dog. He was lost in thought, trying to make sense of it all.

“Oh,” Sam laughed. “So you know she had lunch with Gloria the other day?”

Paul snarled. “She said she was visiting her dad. She was gone until the next morning.” He stood suddenly and kicked the sofa.


“Fuck,” Richards said to Detective Brownstone. “Two days before you retire and you have to see this.”

They were in the hallway of Denise and Paul's house. The wall behind them was covered in blood. Paul lay at the top of the stairs, the right side of his face was blown off, He held a.38 snub nose in his left hand. The gun was still warm in his hand.

Denise lay on her back in the doorway of her bedroom, a large pool of blood caressing her. A double barrel shotgun held in a death grip.

Brownstone sighed, looked upwards as if to say to God, “Why?”

“You knew them, or something?” Richards began writing in his notepad describing the scene.

Brownstone nodded. “Yeah. I've known the husband for years.” He was choked up, fumbling his words.

Richards felt something lick his hand. He looked down and saw Sam standing there, wagging his tail enthusiastically. A smile came across Richards pock marked face.

“Hey!” He said in a sing-song voice. “Where did you come from? Ain’t you the prettiest thing!”
He bent down on one knee and rubbed Sam' s head and neck with his hands. “If nobody claims you, I outta take you home with me, buddy.”

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