Next up in the Summer Short Story Writing Challenge is RJ with Lucky staring Ben and Max. You can find the picture that inspired this story here.
“I’m going to kill someone,” I said for the twentieth time since we’d been called out. “Point me in the right fucking direction, and I will punch the fuckers lights out.”
Ben had been quiet since we got back in the rescue van, eerily quiet, which is how he got when he was processing his temper. Me, on the other hand, I wanted to grab hold of someone, anyone, who thought it was okay to dump a dog out of the car on the freeway when moving.
“I swear if I ever see them—”
“I’ll help you,” Ben interrupted me, and I gave him a sideways glance before I looked back at the road. That was a new one. For all the temper inside me, all the ranting about the depths humanity will sink to when they hurt animals, he usually let me get it all out of my system, knew I had to keep talking, but today he’d been different from the minute we’d got the call. This was new, and I didn’t quite know what to say.
He continued in an icily calm tone, “Of course I won’t be able to pound on them, not like you can, but I can hold them down, or call the cops. Or I know, drive them down a freeway and shove them out of a car at thirty miles an hour, see how they like it.”
The dog in his lap, some unidentifiable mass of twisted fur, whimpered and burrowed deeper into Ben’s hold. Our veterinarian was waiting for us at home, and Ben wanted to leave the pound that had picked up the puppy, I could see him visibly shaking with misery at what he was seeing. The new unnamed pup was one of four dogs we took from there today, but he was the only one that Ben didn’t put in the cages we had in the van. This little guy had lived through the worst of something, and he’d been born blind, and breeders couldn’t sell a blind puppy; they’d thrown him out of a car, and we only got to him first because a friendly cop helped us out. When we pulled up outside the gates of our no-kill shelter, I was relieved to be home, and an overwhelming sense of calm fell over me. Home. Our home. The place was growing so fast, and it was more than just dogs, but cats, donkeys, goats, and last week we even took in a box of baby rabbits.
“They would have put him down,” Ben said, and his voice hitched, “and he’s only a baby.”
I reached over and petted the pup’s head and then squeezed Ben’s knee.
“He’s safe now.”
We went directly to the care center, a new addition that a few of the guys on the Railers had put together for us last month, and Mitchell our veterinarian-on-call was waiting. The pup didn’t want to leave Ben’s arms, whining piteously—so much that emotion choked my throat and tears pricked my eyes. I took care of bringing in the rest with a couple of the staff, but Ben stood with the new puppy and watched, assisting in bathing him, soothing him when the scrap of a thing grew agitated. Emerging from the dirt was a black Labrador puppy, the scrapes were superficial, all apart from one cut behind his ear that had to be taped, and the x-rays showed no broken bones.
“Hey Lucky,” Ben whispered to the pup, and I knew at that moment we had a new addition to our family.
Five dogs, six including Lucky, three cats, a pig, five rabbits, a donkey, goats, and chickens.
And right in the middle of all of that was Ben and me, loving each other, and loving our new lives.
“You know that the Railers are looking for a hockey-dog,” I reminded Ben, who winced.
“Not Lucky, he wouldn’t be able to see things,” he said and scruffed the puppy’s fur. Lucky gave a full-body shiver and then rolled over for belly rubs, and my heart melted. I kissed Ben gently and then hugged him and Lucky close.
“Nah, not Lucky. He’s our family now.”