Friendship Sad

I’m lying on the floor right in that spot where the warm air from the vent shoots out from underneath the television stand. If I position myself just right, I can get that warm air to blow in my face and it makes me all sleepy, but if my nose serves me right, dad is back with the pizza, and I can't sleep on that. It's movie night. I'm not interested in whatever they are watching, never am. I’m just laying here listening to it, wanting some of that pizza when Leslie plops down right on top of me.

My favorite girl!

She’s a cute little thing, about six-years-old, olive skin, light brown hair that she usually has in pigtails, big brown eyes, chubby cheeks, and talks with a lisp. She definitely didn’t get her looks from me. I have brown hair with patches of white and a severe underbite. My nose looks like I’ve ran into the wall one too many times, which I have, and my eyes are a little droopy. The biggest difference between her and I is that I’m a bulldog and she’s the sweetest little thing you’ll ever meet.

I love it when she plops down on me. That means we’re going to cuddle or play. This time, however, it means I’m getting all the pepperoni off her pizza. God, I love pepperoni, but it means an extra trip to the water bowl and dad’s going to have to take me out in the middle of the night, but so be it. Not only do I get the pepperoni, but she always leaves the crust. Always.

After two pieces of pizza, Leslie is ready to sing and dance along to the movie. She holds on to my front paws so that I’m standing on my hind legs, and we sway to the music as she sings in my face with that cute little lisp. I couldn’t help myself and reached out and kissed that little face.

“Leslie, leave that poor dog alone. Come sit up here by mommy,” mom says.

Leslie doesn’t seem happy about it, but she crawls up there and snuggles in with her mom. I’m left there staring at them like some loser punk who just got his date stolen from him at the dance; I mean, what am I supposed to do with myself now?

“Lay down, Motley,” dad commands.

I stand there for a moment thinking this is total crap, but I don’t argue with the alpha, such is my nature. I make that much needed trip to the water bowl. The spice from the pepperoni is still stinging my tongue. The water is at room temp, not fresh, but refreshing enough to take away the bite of the cured meat. In fact, it’s pretty good and I slurped until yelled at from the other room. I return to the living room, and everyone is cuddled up under a blanket on the couch, giggling at their movie. I make my way to my cozy spot where I get situated after a few turns and fall asleep.

The movie must have ended because dad nudged me awake with his foot to take me outside. I make my rounds, checking out who has been in my yard and marking the perimeter as a reminder to the neighbor dogs who this yard belongs to. Dad waits on the front step, flicking ash from his cigarette as I go through this nightly routine. Once I’m done, I trot on up to the porch filled with the pride of self-accomplishment.

Mom is finishing up with Leslie’s bedtime story. I follow dad into Leslie’s room and jump into my bed next to hers while dad says goodnight. Once mom and dad turn out the light and crack the door, Leslie rolls to the side of the bed. “I love you, Motley. You’re my bestest friend in the whole wide world!”

I stood up and kissed those chubby little cheeks. Her face crinkled and she rolled over giggling. It wasn’t long before we were both asleep.

The next morning, I made sure to get the good spot at the breakfast table. That spot right between Leslie and mom where more food hits the floor than their mouths, and you can still con them out of a little sausage or bacon. I even get to lick the plates clean, so mom doesn’t have to rinse them. No wonder I’m such a husky boy.

Now for the worst part of the day. Time for school. Dad lets me go to the end of the driveway and watch Leslie walk down to the bus stop. I know not to leave the yard, but boy do I wish I could walk with her. Dad finishes his cigarette and lets me back inside before leaving. Surprisingly, mom hasn’t already left, so I guess it’s the two of us for the day.

I thought this was going to be one of those laid-back days with the benefit of not having to hold it in for ten hours, but apparently mom had other plans. It started with a pair of sunglasses, then came the hats. Next were boas, tiaras, tutus, and boeties. I had to hold still long enough for mom to laugh and get her pictures. I was rewarded with lots of love and upbeat talk that made it all fun. But I’ll never understand clothes. Such a human thing.

Before I knew it, it was my favorite part of the day. Leslie was coming home, and I always got to wait for her at the end of the driveway. Mom, though, had an idea, telling me that Leslie would love it. She dressed me in a big sun hat with pearls around my neck and sunglasses on my snout. If I had any dignity, I’m sure I lost every last ounce sitting at the end of the driveway for all to see.

I could see Leslie round the corner. She was almost home. My tail began to wag with excitement, and I inched my way along the sidewalk to the shrubs that marked our property line. Leslie waved with an excited face, looking so cute in her little yellow dress and white Keds with her pink backpack slung over one shoulder.

A car pulled up beside her and stopped. I noticed it made Leslie uneasy. A man the size of dad stepped out and Leslie was backing away from him. I look at mom sitting on the porch going through her pictures on her phone and back to Leslie. The man is talking to her. She looks scared. I don’t like it. This all feels wrong. Suddenly he grabs her, and I take off. The hat flies off my head and the sunglasses fall off. Leslie is fighting him, pulling away. Leslie screams and I pick up speed. I clamped down on the man’s arm at full speed bringing him to the ground. He started hitting me and got loose for a moment, but I was able to get him by the throat. I shook my head like I would with those pesky squirrels that get in the yard. I heard a snap and the man quit fighting. I turned to check to see if Leslie was okay. She was crying and scared. Mom was with her now, holding her head in her chest.

Later, the police identified the man and searched his home finding two other children around the same age as Leslie that had been missing. However, the neighbors who saw me attack the perpetrator wanted me put down. The officer presented the warrant to confiscate me, and animal control was standing by. Dad argued and mom pleaded while Leslie cried. Mom even tried showing her pictures of me from earlier that day, but to no avail. A man and a woman in green uniforms came in with a long stick with a loop on the end. They put the loop around my neck, which was fine at first, but then they tightened it which scared me. Then they started forcing me every which way with that stick. I didn’t understand what they were wanting. I didn’t understand what they were doing. But they finally pushed and pulled me into the back of a wagon and slammed the doors shut. I could see Leslie, mom, and dad standing on the porch crying. I called out to them for help. I wanted them to help me the way I helped Leslie. But all I could hear was mom telling Leslie, “We have to be brave for Motley, just as he was brave for you.”

July 09, 2023 00:13

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