It’s been such a long day, so much work, so much running around, I feel like a dog. Maybe I should do what all dogs do, take a nice long nap, then I’ll be refreshed and ready to go and run around some more.
I walk to my bed, curl up in a little ball and close my eyes hoping to fall asleep and let my troubles drain from my body like the current of a waterfall. Soon I’ll be fast asleep and my dreams will be peaceful and calming. For now though, I should just focus on my breathing. Breath in…breathe out…breath in…breathe out…breathe in…
I open my eyes to find Bill standing in front of me, an angry look on his face, his eyebrows arched like a fuzzy ice cream cone. For Bill, that’s not unusual, he always looks angry, maybe he should lay off the booze. I quickly rise and wait for him to tell me what he wants. I can’t say anything to him when he’s like this, he always gets so mad and then…well…then it gets ugly. A shiver runs down my spine and I try to push the feeling away.
“Look at you! You’re so lazy, do you ever do anything around here that doesn’t involve sleeping and eating? You’re so useless!” Bill yells into my ear and slaps me across the face. His voice is strong and powerful and his breath carries the smell of liquor. His hand is even stronger and it hits my face, leaving my cheek stinging as it if is being pierced by a thousand needles.
I want to scream out in pain but I suppress the sound. I know that if I do anything he’ll just hit me more. I wait until he leaves the room, and watch as he stumbles across the floor, holding himself up with one hand to the wall, and then I lie down again.
Why does he do this to me? Why? I never did anything to hurt him, I was a good boy, always faithful and obedient. Not once have I broken the rules that he had set out for me. If he doesn’t like me so much, why does he keep me around? Why doesn’t he just put me up for adoption like all the others who are sick and tired of caring for those like me? I want to know why, why?
All of a sudden I hear loud, heavy footsteps and Bill comes storming back. In his hand there is a shiny bottle with a couple ounces of liquid left. His eyes seem red and puffy and when he walks, he sways from side to side, like a little child trying to balance himself on a balance beam. He moves his giant face right up to mine and glares into my eyes.
“WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT, YOU USELESS PIECE OF CRAP?” Bill’s voice carries through the house and echoes in the empty basement. He raises his giant hand and swings the bottle at me. I try to move, but I’m not fast enough. The bottle hits me in the ribs, but it doesn’t break. The blow to my chest knocks the air out of me and leaves me coughing and gasping for air. Before I have a chance to react, Bill swings at me once again and this time hits my back. The bottle shatters and I can feel the liquid cover my back as the shards of glass fall to the floor like a hailstorm.
I start running to try and get away from this monster but he doesn’t let me. Standing in the doorway, I feel trapped, like a fly caught in a spider’s nest. I can’t move anywhere and I watch the vicious, bloodthirsty spider move towards me, ready to pounce.
This is going to hurt and I know it, I close my eyes and hope I come out of this alive. Bill swings his hand and it meets my face once more, the pain of the needles comes back and I cry out in pain. I don’t know how I’m going to live, this is it, he’s going to kill me, right here right now.
Blow after blow comes at my body. I ache all over, fall to the floor and I can’t move a muscle. Finally, the hits stop. I hear the giant footsteps walk away, each one a loud strike of thunder.
My body lies on the floor, my head feels heavy and limp. I can feel the tears form in my eyes. I can’t move and I don’t want to think if the liquid on my back is alcohol or my own blood.
I lie on the floor for what seems like hours and, finally, feeling returns to my body. I raise my head and look around. The room is empty and there is no sound coming from anywhere in the house. Slowly I try getting up. Movement is proving to be painful, with every twitch of a muscle, my ribs and back become sore. I feel them swelling like a balloon.
I manage to stand up and I look around on the floor. The rug is wet, but it’s not blood, it’s a clear substance. I know exactly what it is: vodka. Relief floods over me like a giant but gentle wave of an ocean. For some reason I can’t help but wonder to myself if there are others feeling this pain, if there are others out there who go through this kind of thing everyday. Maybe this is how life is supposed to be, I mean, I’ve never had a life different from this one. I wish Bill wasn’t my father.
I listen carefully to hear where Bill is now. Silence. The hum of the refrigerator reaches my ears and hunger fills my mind. I haven’t eaten all day, what kind of father is he, not even feeding his child? I better go find some food of my own.
I walk carefully out of the room and make my way towards the front door. It has been left wide open, the wind is seeping through filling this dreadful house with a fresh spring breeze. I look around and still no sign of Bill, maybe he fell asleep somewhere. Carefully, I peek my head out of the door and look upon the driveway. Empty.
So he’s taken the car for a drive, huh? I’ve been with him on those drives, I’ve sat in the back seat, hoping with all my might that he doesn’t kill me. When he’s drunk, he’s deadly. Nothing can stop him, he flies through traffic, hoping no police cars can see him, and so far he’s been lucky. I’m glad he didn’t drag me with him this time.
I take a step outside and breathe in the fresh air and debate whether or not to leave the house in search of food. It might be days before Bill returns, if he returns at all. But if he does come back early, he’ll kill me for leaving the house. Maybe this is a sign, telling me to run, run as fast as I can out of this hellhole. You know what, I’m going to do it! I’m going to run away, run free, live in the wild and be some sort of creature of the forest.
I look around, wait for seven seconds, and take off running. I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m going to do but I know it will be better than it was when I was with Bill.
I run for miles and finally think it’s safe to stop. I slow down and take in the view. This place is peaceful, the houses are nice and tidy and the road is quiet and deserted. Across the road, there is a nice forest, the trees are thick and the shade looks comfortable and appealing. I quickly run across the road and into the stretch of trees. I can hide out here until tomorrow.
Now to look for food. I make my way along the edge of the forest careful not to lose sight of the road, but at the same time not to be seen by the random car that happens to drive by. Soon enough I find a patch of berries. I stop to eat them and they fill me up surprisingly well. Feeling full and free, I decide to have a nap and I lie down next to a tree.
My sleep is interrupted by a loud BANG. I raise my head and see two tall men get out of a white truck. They look like they came here for a purpose, perhaps in search of something. They don’t look familiar to me, so if I went to see them, they wouldn’t bring me back to Bill. Bill, that damn alcoholic. If I ever have the chance to do to him what he did to me…well, let’s just say he’ll be sorry.
Feeling brave and adventurous I make my way towards the two men. They look at me and smile.
“Here he is, exactly the one we were looking for.” The taller man says to the other man with him.
“Hello!” I say to them. They look at each other and then the shorter one stretches out his hand, and with a friendly look on his face he motions for me to come closer.
“Come here, we’ve come to help you. Come on boy, we want to take you to a place where it’s safe and where you can find a nice, new home. Plus, there’s always plenty of food.” The first one spoke up again.
Food, yes food sounds good. Those berries don’t seem so filling anymore. I look the men up and down, questioning their intentions. Finally, I see that they look a lot friendlier and nicer than Bill, so I decide to go with them.
One of the men opens the back door of the truck and I hop in. The seats are comfortable, not like in Bills beat up Ford. And the smell, it’s fresh and clean, no alcohol, no vomit.
As the truck begins to move I look out the window. The trees and buildings are flying by and I fall asleep in the back seat.
“Teddy!! Dinner time!!” I wake up suddenly from the horrid nightmare. Why did I have to have that dream again? I haven’t seen Bill in so long, and those nice men, I haven’t seen them in a long time either.
Every time I think I’m happy and healthy and in a good home, I have to have that dream. I don’t want to remember what happened to me before, but then again, I know that it will never happen to me again. Not here.
“Teddy, come on, it’s dinner time!” I hear the friendly voice calling me from the laundry room. I quickly run down stairs and look up at my new parent. She reaches into the cupboard and pulls out my food. I watch her, happily, as she walks to my dish and fills it to the top.
“Good dog, Teddy!” she tells me, “Good dog!”