Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Beast!



This story was written at the height of our frustation while living in "Vietnam"... (See story, The Letter, for explanation.)


THE BEAST


The first time that I saw him, I thought he was the devil incarnate. No really, I’m serious. It was his eyes. They were this intimidating shade of brown with lots of gold and fire in them. They were piercing, intense and watchful. He had a combination of black and gray at his temples. He was really quite handsome. For a second he flashed his pearly whites at me. I glanced appreciatively at his massive frame, he looked big, powerful and strong. The lady beside me nodded her head. I approached cautiously with my hand extended. He warily regarded me for a second, his eyes flicking with interest. Finally he leaned forward, sniffed, and quickly licked at my finger.

“Are you sure he don’t bite?”

The lady laughed, “I know what you’re thinking. He’s big and intimidating, but I promise you he’s a pussycat!”

This time he was licking my fingers with more gusto. I pulled my hand away and patted him on the head.

“Is he Doberman mixed?”

“No, actually he’s part Rotwieler and German shepherd.”

“Wow,” I marveled as I scratched him behind the ears, “and his name?”

“Bruno.”

“Great name, it fits him!” Bruno was all but lapping at my feet now. The lady was waiting expectantly. I hesitated a second longer, careful to not stare into Bruno’s penetrating gaze. My mind quickly rewound like a videocassette and I distastefully recalled the events of the previous week, the broken bedroom window, the stolen stereo system, and the missing penny jar. The creep even had the nerve to swipe razors and deodorant from the bathroom sink! My cheeks warmed at the memory and I could feel my blood beginning to boil.

“I’ll take him!” I said more firmly than I felt.

Bruno came into my life with an opened 10-pound bag of dog chow, a food dish, a collar, leash, and another enthusiastic reminder from the lady that he was as soft as a butterfly.

My husband later met us at the door with a questioning glance, “are you sure?”

“What do we have to lose?” I flippantly remarked, “and besides, he was FREE!”

Bruno warily sniffed around his new home while I situated the dog dish on the kitchen floor and fetched him some water. Every so often I would find the cool moist nudge of Bruno’s nose as he continued to return to my side, nudging at my hands. I patted him on the head, careful to not stare into his eyes.

That evening we left Bruno to lick and scratch himself on the living room rug as we headed for bed.

I awoke to the crack of thunder. The room was dark and from the occasional glimmers of lightening, I could faintly make out the shadow of Bruno standing at the side of my bed. He was whimpering and acting very agitated. For a second his presence stunned me as I foggily tried to recall if we owned a dog or not. Bruno placed his paw on the mattress and licked at my arms. I brushed him away as another crack of thunder lit the room. This time Bruno yelped and before I had a chance to recover, he leaped into the bed. With horror, I realized that his shaking claws were digging into the mattress of our waterbed. With the help of my husband, we tried to push Bruno off the bed, but Bruno would not budge. Finally in desperation, we dragged his quivering frame off to the side by the cuff of his collar. As soon as his claws hit the carpet, and our defenses were down, Bruno was back in between us again. Finally we had to drag his yelping and quivering frame into another room and closed the door.

The following morning, I opened Bruno’s door. The room was in shambles. The carpet directly underneath the door was shredded all the way down to the padding. I stared down at the walnut floor that had been excavated. White puffs of cotton drew my gaze towards the spare bed. I realized that the pillows had been shaken and tossed about, missing their contents. With a loud gasp, I realized that my antique Raggedy Ann doll was totally decapitated. The light drew my attention to the window and I realized that Bruno had yanked the curtains from off their rods. The sun streamed into the room, revealing every one of Bruno’s very naughty deeds. A steady pounding drew my eyes to the corner of the room. I met the sullen gaze of Bruno. His tail was flicking up and down against the floor. Thump! Thump!

Furiously that day I went about cleaning up the damage and made a mental note to assign Bruno outdoor duty. I figured he would be happiest, running the length of our fenced yard, enjoying the fresh cool air and possibly sharing a few intimate barks with the neighborhood pooches. But unfortunately we soon learned that Bruno was not going to play ball. After several trips to the dog pound, the hefty fines and endless nailing and re-mending our fast deteriorating fence, we resorted to bringing Bruno back into the house again. Bruno happily found himself another corner and began to lick himself.

Thankfully there had been no thunderstorms as of late, and things settled into a routine, but one day in particular, Bruno decided that he didn’t want to stay at home. Faster than the speed of light, Bruno leaped past me as I opened the front door, skittered past the gate and literally flew into the opened window of my car. I huffed over to the car, demanding that Bruno please return to the house. Bruno wouldn’t budge. He flicked his tail at me for a second and stared straight ahead. Finally after much pleading and coaxing, I opened the door and grabbed at his collar. Bruno was a dead weight as I tugged and pulled. I glanced at my watch. Finally in exasperation, I stomped back into the house and returned holding a slice of bologna.

“Come on, Bruno, that-a-boy! Come on Bruno, want something to eat? Bruno, look here! See the food? Mmmmm, it smells good. Look Bruno, see? Doesn’t it look good?” I was waving the bologna in front of his eyes. Bruno still would not budge.

“Come on boy, come on! BRUNO!” With as much sweetness as I could muster, I planted a plastic smile over my face. “Com’n Bruno, you’re a good boy! You’re soooo sweeet!” I was beginning to make myself sick. “Come on Bruno, have some meat!” I was flapping the bologna around so hard, part of it flopped apart and landed at my feet.” Bruno’s eyes darted to where it landed, licked his lips, thumped his tail, but still would not budge. I quickly glanced at my watch. “BRUNO! Get your butt out of that car! Com’n Bruno!” Perspiration was pouring from my brow.

Finally, with a big huff, I stomped back into the house, deliberately leaving the door wide open, pretending to “stay at home.” A few moments later, Bruno, taking the bait, returned into the house. I smiled at him through gritted teeth, tempted to snatch the bologna back from his food dish. I wanted to ring his flea-collar neck. As he lapped up what was left of his bologna, I sneakily dashed from the house, slamming the door.

I was furious and out of breath but I was also smug with myself for outsmarting a dog!

The engine of the car roared to life and I tore out of the driveway with barely a backwards glance.

Oh, I was probably gone about an hour or so. I purred into the driveway and noticed immediately that something was wrong. The front windows were looking strange. It wasn’t until I made my way towards the door that I realized that it was the mini-blinds that were looking peculiar. With a sense of dread, I cautiously opened the door and immediately noticed an upturned can of tuna clinking to the side. With a crunch, my foot smashed into an eggshell. My mouth must have dropped past my knees as the door swung wider. Trash was scattered all about the floor. There was half a core of an apple, some torn boxes, and shreds of newspaper scattered about. I gulped as I recognized leftover spaghetti and tomato sauce, strung in smeared heaps over the living room rug. With horror I realized that half the contents of my bookshelf was lying in a pile. The shelf itself looked like it had possibly wobbled back and forth before balancing back into place.

With a cry of shock, I stared down at the television set. It was lying face down on the floor at the foot of the stand. The cord of the television was stretched to its limit, barely attached to the wall.

My eyes stared unbelievingly at the curtains. They were hanging in shreds, ripped in strips and barely attached to their rods. The mini-blinds were torn and missing sections and barely hung by a cord. Both of my throw pillows were ripped, their guts, tumbling out in clouds of white puffs. I stopped dead in my tracks. Ohhhh nooooo! There in the corner was a big pile of (gag) NO-NO!

My mouth was still gaping open. Bruno didn’t bother to rise to his feet. He slithered towards me on his belly like a snake. He inched closer, and closer, his eyes sad and pleading. He kept searching me with his eyes.

He stopped at my feet and his tail began to thump. Drooping his eyes, he lifted his paw as if to say, OOPS!

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