On the day Frankie left, Tricia Lee sat in my driveway blaring the horn of her fancy, blue Camaro. I stood stony-faced and watched Frankie throw his measly belongings into a shopping bag.
“You just don’t turn me on anymore, Angel,” Frankie said. “You’re downright boring compared to Tricia Lee, and besides, look at the difference between the two of you. She’s a big star, and you flip burgers for a living”
“At least I have a job, Frankie,” I replied, feeling the first hint of rage creeping in. “You sit on the couch and drink beer all day.”
He gave me a pitying smile as I followed him to the door. “You were stupid enough to let me sit on the couch drinking beer all day. Maybe you should get yourself a dog, Angel.” With this parting shot, he was gone in the blur of the blue Camaro and Tricia Lee’s bleached, blonde hair blowing in the wind.
I didn’t feel sad. Instead, I felt a red rage so strong that my head pounded, and my heart raced. I chased the blue Camaro down the driveway with a big rock in my hand, but I stopped short of throwing it. After a while, I calmed down. My head told me I would be better off without Frankie.
Three days later, I found Jack by the side of the road. He was unconscious, barely breathing and bleeding profusely from his empty eye socket. I wrapped him in my old flannel shirt and took him to the veterinarian’s office to have him put out of his obvious misery. At the time, I felt sure he would never survive his injuries. I didn’t know all the circumstances on the day I found him, and I had never seen him before. I knew for certain only a vile and evil person could do such a thing to a dog.
For the next few weeks, I threw myself into my job and worked myself to death pulling double shifts at the diner. I brooded about the dog, and I brooded angrily about Frankie’s rejection. My boss, Joe, answered the telephone the day the veterinarian’s office called.
“Hey Angel,” He yelled out to me. “That little dog you took to the vet is ready to go home. They want to know if you can adopt him.”
“How can he possibly be alive?” I asked in amazement. And I remembered Frankie’s parting words about my getting a dog. I guess fate had listened to him even if I didn’t.
Joe and I stood in the waiting room at the vet’s office later that day talking to Shirley, the office receptionist.
Shirley shook her head, “It’s a miracle, for sure. I overheard the sheriff talking to the vet about it. Apparently, they got a tip from someone that saw Tricia Lee and one of her crazy boyfriends parked by the side of the road late one night in the area where you found the dog.”
I felt a wave of nausea wash over me, and Joe put his arm around me. “It was Frankie, wasn’t it?” I asked Shirley. “He and Tricia Lee did this horrible thing to that little dog.”
“The sheriff is launching an investigation,” Shirley replied. “He doesn’t have enough evidence yet to arrest Frankie and Tricia Lee. The best we can do is to make sure the doggie gets a good home.” I nodded numbly, feeling my head pound with rage. It seemed that uncontrollable anger was fast becoming a big part of my life.
The little dog was skinny, but he gave a feeble wag of his tail and licked my hand when I picked him up, and I fell madly in love with him. Joe called the little guy “One-Eyed Jack”, but I shortened it to plain “Jack”.
I carried Jack to work with me every day in a basket, which I placed next to the huge restaurant stove. Joe and I cook together on the day shift, and we watched over the dog together, although Joe blustered about it in the beginning. Joe is old enough to be my father and he treats me like the daughter he never had. I secretly enjoy the attention, because I have no family of my own.
“The Health Department will close us down if they find out we have a dog in here,” he groused every morning. But time passed, and Jack began to gain weight and run around a little. Most of the time, he gnawed on soup bones in his basked, happy to have the diner for a home. The sutures over his empty eye socket healed fast, and he reminded me of a teddy bear missing a button eye.
Joe and I continued caring for Jack, and he grew to a healthy ten pounds, with a shiny coat and lots of energy. He couldn’t give us enough love to thank us for saving him. However, I soon got a chance to observe his true feelings for Tricia Lee and Frankie.
I had Jack on a leash when I got off work, and I didn’t see Frankie and Tricia Lee until I heard the growl. It was not a normal little dog sound, but the kind of growl where a dog curls back his lip and sounds like a hound from hell. I stopped dead in my tracks. I looked up, and that’s when I saw the fur on Jack’s back standing on end. Frankie and Tricia Lee were standing a few feet up the sidewalk, and they were laughing at me.
“Lookie here, Tricia Lee,” Frankie said, sarcastically. “Angel adopted that little retarded dog of yours. Ain’t that the cutest thing?” Tricia Lee looked startled when she saw jack, but she laughed and I swear to God she sounded like a mule braying into the wind.
“I took her man, so she got my ugly, little dog,” Tricia Lee screeched. For the first time I noticed an ugly gap between her two front teeth. Sweat ran down her cleavage.
By now, Jack was lunging on his leash trying to fling his ten-pound body at them with all his might. I scooped him up and held him close, feeling his little heart beating like a trapped bird.
“You’d better keep that mutt under control,” Frankie called out as he swaggered away. “Or I might finish the job I started on him.”
Tricia Lee flipped her hair and turned to stare at me. She wore a smug smile and she said, “I have a brand new hot tub at my place, and Frankie and I are going to break it in tonight. Just think of that, Angel, when you are home alone with my hand-me-down dog.”
I ran furiously after Tricia Lee, with poor Jack clutched to my side. He whimpered with fear and tried to hide his face against me. “What sort of a sorry whore are you, Tricia Lee?” I hollered after her. “How could you let anyone hurt a little dog?” My head pounded unmercifully, and I felt blinded by the pain.
Tricia Lee shot me the bird with her middle finger, and ran to catch up with Frankie, wobbling unsteadily on her ultra-high heels. I hugged Jack close, and he trembled violently as we watched them walk away. It would be a dark night, and I would be in a dark place emotionally, but with Jack, at least I would not be alone.
Later that night, I paced restlessly through the house trying to calm my pounding head, while Jack looked hopefully at me with the leash in his mouth, begging for a walk. We started down the dirt road near my house under the cover of darkness. Jack was happy and full of energy, and I was lost in my own gloomy thoughts. I didn’t realize how far we had walked until too late. I looked around and saw we were in sight of Tricia Lee’s place. I could see lights blazing around the outdoor patio area. Honky-tonk music blared, and I heard laughter. Jack pricked up his ears, growling low in his throat, and pulled me toward the house.
I allowed him to pull me along like a sequence from a bad dream in which you can’t wake up. We crossed the barren fields and when we got closer to the house, I scooped up the little dog in my arms and ducked behind some bushes. The night had taken on a surreal feeling I didn’t like.
“Shhh,” I cautioned Jack. “Stay quiet.” Jack’s ears were pointed and alert, but he stayed still. I could see the patio and the hot tub. Frankie and Tricia Lee sat submerged to their necks, drinking out of champagne glasses. A big boom box sat perched on the edge of the hot tub. An old fashioned, country singer sang loudly about her lying, cheating man, and I felt a surge of sympathy for her sad words.
Suddenly, Jack saw Frankie, and he set up a racket of furious barking and growling. He leapt from my arms and ran toward the hot tub. Frankie and Tricia Lee looked up in surprise. Reluctantly, and thoroughly humiliated, I left my hiding place to catch Jack.
“Well look who’s here,” Tricia Lee called, with a sly smile. “Are you trying to bring that damn dog back to me?’
I had no time to reply because Frankie started in on me. “You and I are through, Angel!
Take that ugly, retarded little mutt, and get the hell out of here before I call the cops on you!” He rose from the water and took a step forward.
Before I could grab him, Jack charged at Frankie with a vicious snarl. He jumped up on the side of the hot tub and to my horror, he knocked the boom box in the water. I yelled and hid my face in my hands at what followed. For the rest of my life I’ll hear the sounds of the screams in my head, and I’ll remember the thrashing of the water. I knew Frankie and Tricia Lee were goners, but I was afraid to look. I was terrified Jack had fallen in the water, and I couldn’t bear to lose him.
After what seemed an eternity, I heard an uneasy whimper and looked down to see Jack at my feet with a definite “I’ve been a really bad dog” expression on his face. I reached down and scooped him up, and he nuzzled my neck. I buried my face in his silky fur and turned to head for home. My head stopped pounding and the rage was gone.
“You really are a very good dog,” I whispered, and he licked the tip of my nose, as we walked away.
Author Bio Page
Brenda Ramos resides in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and is employed in the field of educational finance. Her previously published works are children’s stories. She is currently working on a fantasy novel.