A Boy and His Dog!
By Daniel L Keith
I have started writing my biography, and this is an excerpt from the rough draft of an abusive childhood, year, 1961.
I was only seven I guess. Seven years old, and I loved him so much. He had thick white fur with a little black tuft around his neck. It kind of looked like a bandanna, you know, like they used to wear in the old cowboy movies. He wasn’t anything special… well I mean he was special to me, but I guess what I mean is that he wasn’t special like Tony Evans dog; Rocket. Rocket was a purebred. I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant at the time, but Tony sure seemed to think it was great. Tony’s dad had bought Rocket for him at a real pet store in Torrance. My dog wasn’t store bought, he was just a mutt, but he needed me, and I loved him so much. He had really big soft brown eyes, so that was just what I named him… Softie. I guess that’s kind of a dumb name for a dog, but at seven years old, I thought it was just perfect.
My sister and brothers couldn’t believe it when dad let me keep Softie. I couldn’t either. Dad never let me do anything, but it had been a while since he had locked himself in the back room, and I guess he was feeling alright. “You wanna keep that bitch? Fine, but you better plan on paying for all the dog food with your own damn money.” Softie wasn’t really a bitch, he was a boy, but dad never noticed. I quickly said “Oh yes Sir! I will pay for his food dad! He’s gonna be the best dog you’ve ever seen.” “I don’t give a damn if she’s the next Lassie. You just just better not let that bitch inside, Darren!” That was his reply.
Every boy ought to have a dog. I did. Good ol’ Softie, Those were the best four days of my childhood. I loved that dog so much. I could just stare into his big brown eyes, and everything was right. Brothers bleeding, play with Softie. Sisters crying because dad took her in the back room with him again, play with Softie. Dad’s screaming again, play with Softie. That beautiful dog made my life wonderful for four days. It came to an end one terrible Sunday night. Dad told me that he had heard it was going to get really cold that night, and that I ought to make sure Softie would be ok in the shed. “Should I take him a blanket or a towel Sir?” “NO! Dammit! Why don’t you think? No boy, you need something better than that, and you’re in luck. I stopped by the store today and picked this up.” “What’s that Sir?” “What’s this?! Well it’s Anti-freeze son! What do you think? We don’t want poor Softie freezing to death now do we? Now you run give her a bowl of this, and it’ll keep her warm all night.” “ Wow! Thank you Sir!” I still remember running out to the shed with the magic drink that my dad was sharing, thinking “I knew it! Dad’s really starting to like ol’ Softie!” I knelt down, my bare knees on the cold concrete, as I poured the green liquid from the bottle. “Softie really likes this stuff” I thought to myself, as he lapped it up mid stream. That dog needed me, and I needed him, and I STILL have nightmares about what he endured for the next hour while his body shut down. His trembeling, and throwing up. He couldn’t hardly whimper as he died in my little arms; the life drained from his big brown eyes. I don’t know how long I held my dog before my dad came out to get another beer. As he flung the door open, he tripped over me and looked down putting one hand over his mouth, he started laughing so hard that Colt 45 came out his nose. “Shit son! You didn’t really give that bitch anti-freeze did you? Don’t you know that will kill dogs? You need to wise up boy!”
Dad drug me outside and tied me up behind the shed, and beat me with Softies’ leash. He kept yelling that I needed to “wise up” and that I owed him for the anti-freeze I wasted. After he let me go, I went back in the shed. Seven years old, in my Casper underwear, I stayed out there all night holding my dead dog, freezing to death. I remember wanting to drink some of that magical green drink myself. Maybe I could be warm. Maybe I could go and play with Softie forever.
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Short Stories by this author.
Short Stories by this author
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Finding Gold (Tuesday, November 30, 2010)
Necessary Words (Sunday, October 24, 2010)
The Hanging Tree (Sunday, October 03, 2010)
God Doing What He Does Best (Saturday, September 04, 2010)
In Dreams (Saturday, July 17, 2010)
The Man In the Box (Saturday, August 22, 2009)
Writing My Book (Sunday, July 05, 2009)