She looked over at him and gave a silent look of reproach. He saw the look; he always saw the look. He asked her, “what?”
She asked her husband, “why would you keep this from me John?” He took a moment to study his feet, in their thousand-dollar sneakers, and said, in a stuttering voice; “I don’t know my love.”
She looked sad; and it hurt him. He had told her on more than one occasion that she was his spinach, and his kryptonite. The statement made sense in its’ own nerdy way. Just as much as his assertion that she made him so happy, that it made him sad.
She was sad because he had always been unfailingly honest with her. Not painfully honest; just honest. He was up front when they first started dating, years ago; that he was unemployed and living on his sisters’ couch. But within two years, after a karaoke proposal, they were married.
She guessed that technically he hadn’t lied to her; but he did commit the whole lie by omission thing. It hurt her.
“I’m sorry my love,” he told her. “It was such a shock finding Fido.”
“Let me see it,” she told him. He handed her the worn leather collar that Fido had been wearing when the medium gray dog first peed upon him.
She was studying it and running her fingers over the word Fido on the stylized bone, attached to the collar.
“You know what this means?” She asked of him. He told her, “it means he’s not my dog.”
“Look at it, John!” she said as she thrust the collar towards his face. “This thing isn’t that old.” She brought Fido’s collar down to hang at her waist and said in a quiet voice, “Fido’s not that old.”
He wasn’t saying anything: he just stood there slowly nodding his head in agreement. She put a gentle hand on his arm and said, with a bit of wonder, “Babe, that means there are other people out there somewhere.”
“Meeting other people didn’t work out so well for us last time,” he told her in a quiet voice.
She had to admit he was right. The last person, the only other person they had seen for literally years, had set him on fire, and tried to chop her up with an honest to goodness samurai sword.
Luckily for her, he had habitually carried his father’s pistol on his hip whenever they left their future house. He had used it to put several large holes in the crazy guys’ back.
After that experience, she noticed that he never carried it anymore, and didn’t speak about the incident. So now it seemed to be her job to take care of it, and to carry it whenever they left the house. She was ok with that.
She was studying the collar closely and noticed something. She held the collar, more gently towards his face and said: “I think there was another tag on his collar.”
He looked intrigued and asked for the collar; “let me see please.” He studied Fido’s collar and tag, and there was another little distorted bit of wire hanging next to the comic style bone on the good boy’s collar. It could have held another tag of some sort.
“My love,” he told her, “we have to go back to the firewood field and do some searching.”
She got up and headed toward their spacious pantry. “Where are you going?” he asked his wife.
“I’m going to gather up some food and drink, because this may become a sort of day trip,” she told him.
“Ok,” he said, “I’ll get the solar car ready and meet you out front in say fifteen minutes.”
The fifteen-mile drive to firewood acres, which is what they called the extensive area of felled trees, was done mostly in silence. At least they were silent. Fido panted and bounced around the back seat like a Super Happy Fun Ball. He slobbered; and yipped at random sights and sounds. It was wonderful!
The dog, which was the first animal they had seen in years, was fully outfitted. The day after the pooch had appeared in the firewood field, they had taken him and gone to a big pet warehouse that was about fifty miles from their future house. They had hitched the small trailer to their dented solar car and filled it with so much; possibly too much, stuff.
Fido was wearing a sporty t-shirt upon which her husband had hand-written; “El Numero Uno”.
He routinely drove whenever they went out. This had started years ago after her dear departed mother had made the comment that it’s the mans’ job to drive. Her mother was seriously old-school in her way of thinking. He had taken that to heart and made a point to drive all the time.
When they neared firewood acres; he slowed the vehicle to a crawl. He was intently looking at the road, and she was also looking this way and that. Neither of them had any idea what they were looking for; but figured that they would know it when/if they saw it.
The road narrowed on the way into the acres of felled trees, just as her husband had said. As he slowed even more, she saw a piece of debris off to the right of the road.
“Babe!” she called out, as she pointed to the side of the road. “Is that what you ran over the other day?” she asked him.
He didn’t respond exactly; but after coming to a stop he did say, “that looks familiar.”
Under her breath she said, “that’s what got stuck under the car I bet!”
He got out of the vehicle and reached in the back to release the hound!
The first thing Fido did after exiting the car was lift his leg on the rear tire. The trio made their way to the piece of debris. It was a thick piece of heavy plastic, light blue in color. It was several feet long, and definitely did not belong here in this field.
When they were investigating the debris, Fido was excitedly sniffing at it, and of course he attempted to lift his leg on it.
“Down boy!” he told the excited canine, at which point Fido promptly lay down.
This caused him to raise an eyebrow in curiosity.
“Did you see that?” he asked her. “See what?” was her response, as she had not witnessed what the good boy did. She had been too intently studying the debris.
He called Fido to himself, while she was watching and said “down”, when the dog got close. As before, Fido immediately lay down. Her eyebrow rose in curiosity.
She called to the canine, “Fido sit!” Sure enough, the good boy went into a classic sitting position.
They both smiled at each other, and Fido smiled a doggy smile as well.
They spent the next ten minutes trying various commands and tricks that one would think a well- trained dog would be familiar with.
After about fifteen minutes they unanimously concluded that either Fido was some sort of canine savant; or more likely, that he had been well-trained by someone.
“Babe,” she told him, “that is one well-trained dog!”
He smiled and said to Fido, “you’re a good boy!” The dog wagged his tail and yipped in agreement.
They continued to examine the debris and let Fido have his way with it. After a minute or two of frantic sniffing and scratching at the blue plastic, the dog started to strain against his leash in the direction of a particularly dense cluster of fallen timber.
They looked at each other and she offered, “maybe Timmy fell down a well.” He smiled and started to let the dog lead him away from the road and their vehicle.
Fido led them into a dense section of fallen wood and took the opportunity to sniff at many a random thing. He also lifted his leg here and there till his tank was empty.
It took them near a quarter of an hour to navigate safely through the fallen timber and then they were in a clearing of sorts.
Almost immediately she cried out, “what’s that Babe?” she was pointing across the clearing to where a decent sized blue container of some sort, lay up against a particularly large fallen trunk of, maybe oak. Scattered about the trunk and the blue container were stacks of cloth items. Blankets, and shirts made up the majority of the items strewn about the box.
As they approached the container that was roughly a four-foot cube, they could see that it had a set of doors that was open, and part of the right door was missing. If this thing was a giant three-dimensional jig-saw puzzle, it was easy for them to see that the piece that was missing from the door was a match to the piece of debris that had been in the road and may or may not have gotten stuck under their solar car after someone had run over it in the narrow road.
Fido was very excited to see the box and did his best to pull the man over to it. Everyone investigated the big cube. It was constructed of a heavy blue plastic and was scraped quite a bit on all sides that they could see. It was still nearly a quarter full of cloth goods; and after she had crawled inside it to inspect it even more closely, she came out of it with several tufts of hair that matched Fido exactly.
They looked at one another, and they looked at Fido. “What’s this about,” is what she asked her husband. For his part, he walked about the exterior of the cube several times and then stopped in front of the broken door.
“My love,” he told her, “I think Fido got Crystal Skulled here.” She looked confused, and asked him, “What?”
“You remember the fourth installment, where Indy was on that test base, and an atomic bomb was going to go off?” he asked his wife. She thought on it for a few moments, then her face lit up and she said, “you can’t be serious.”
“Granted,” he told her, “the fourth installment was the weakest until the sixth one came out, but still!”
He shrugged and said, “I think this blue cube thingie was Fido’s very own Crystal Skull refrigerator.” She shook her head in a negative manner and repeated herself. “You can’t be serious.”
“Only instead of an atomic bomb, it was one of the daily tornadoes that did this,” he told her.
She was about to repeat herself yet again, but stopped when she saw something shiny half buried on the outside of one of the doors.
She bent down to retrieve the item and then inspected it. She rubbed it like a genie was going to come out, to get it clean and make it easier to read.
“There was another tag on his collar,” she said triumphantly as she handed the tag to her husband for him to read.
He turned the tag over to check both sides and said, “an address, well I’ll be damned!”