Saturday, August 23, 2008
They shoot dogs. (Don't they?) Guest short story by e.a. Monroe.
I was nine when the sheriff shot the Collie dog dead.
School was over for the day. The school buses and kids had all left and gone home, except for me. I was standing on the steps of the west portico waiting for my mother to pick me up.
She was late. Normally, she didn’t pick me up after school. I always rode my bike home. I don’t even remember what the reason was, only that I had to wait for her.
I was loitering at the west end of the school building and the sun was hot when I saw the collie and the sheriff in his Western gear tromping toward the stray dog. The sheriff looked one of those cowboys on television. He wore a Colt holstered on his hip, a red bandana tied around his neck and a ten-gallon hat mashed down on his head.
He must’ve come for the dog, summoned by a teacher to remove the collie from the school grounds. I never wondered which teacher, only that the collie must’ve hung around waiting for one of the kids.
But, the kids had all left and my mom was late picking me up from school. I never liked waiting much.
Our school was made from huge granite blocks quarried from the mountains that cracked through the earth along the north and curled around our town like the protective spines of some slumbering dragon. The beast guarded the treasure chest stashed on Mount Baldy. At least, that was my grandpa’s story.
The entrances of the school were inset "pigeon holes" wrapped in granite blocks and it was inside the niche of the lair that I stood spying on the sheriff trying to coax the wary collie to come to him.
But, the collie wouldn’t come. Instead, the dog crawled beneath one of the teacher’s parked cars and tried to hide.
The sheriff got down on his hands and knees in the gravel and dirt. I peeked a little further around the edge of the granite blocks and watched. After more coaxing from the sheriff, the collie still refused to crawl out from beneath the parked car.
That was when the sheriff leaned back on his boot heels and looked around. I didn’t think he was looking out for bad guys — just kids, I suspected, or teachers — anyone who might see what he was doing. He didn’t see me and even so I was just an insignificant kid and not worth his bother to notice.
The sheriff was careful about looking around and taking his time, and after deciding the coast was clear, he leaned back down in the gravel and dirt and looked at the collie hiding beneath the car.
He pulled his Colt from his holster and shot the collie. A single shot. Then stillness as blood pooled in the dirt beneath the dog’s head.
I fell back into the inside niche and hid in the shadows for everything I was worth. Terrified. He might come for me. Shoot me in the head like a collie dog for what I had witnessed.
That was when my mom drove up and parked in a vacant slot where all the teachers parked, a few spaces down from the parked car and the sheriff and the dog he had killed.
I dashed down the porch steps, my legs pumping as hard as my heart. I yanked open the passenger door and dove into the safety of my mom’s old blue and white Plymouth. I don’t know what she thought or if she even noticed.
I sat rigid in the car seat, unable to speak much less breathe and I wanted to scream at her for being late. Why was she late? She never picked me up after school. I don’t even remember why she had decided to change the routine for that one particular day that nailed its memory into my head forever.
“What’s the matter?” she said.
“Nothing.” I stared straight ahead. I didn’t want to look at the sheriff who was tromping over to my mom’s car.
“Sorry, I’m late,” she said.