“He’s a good boy.”
“Oh I sure he is.”
There were certain lines that were always spoken when people dropped their dogs off at Kara’s. She had been offering up her land and hours for dog sitting for a long time. It helped the retirement years pass by.
“”So where are you folks going?”
“My husband is taking us up north, a week on the lake.”
“Oh. They don’t allow dogs up there?”
“Ya know, I’m not really sure. He took care of everything. It’s kind of weird though, those two are normally joined at the hip. They have a bond.” The wife said, gesturing towards her car, husband and two children before motioning towards the dog.
Then, there were lines that were not so common.
“Well, you all have a good vacation, Lenny will have a great time here.”
The border collie sat patiently by Kara’s side, uninterested in pulling on his leather leash. His ears hung a little lower and small whimpers escaped with every third breath.
“Aw, it’ll be alright boy, they’ll be back before you know it.” Kara said.
The dog didn’t move right away after the leash had been removed. It took the temptation of a family of rabbits to bring movement back to the dog’s legs.
Lenny chased the rabbits. The dog’s long strides posed no threat to the small creatures, just a bit of a scare. There was glee though, even a bit of old fashioned American whimsey.
The agreed duration was to be one week. Kara had plenty of food, but was surprised at how much Lenny ate. She didn’t mind though, after just two days she had become used to the routine. A bowl in the morning, then an hour outside where Lenny would pick up the rabbit chase again. Another bowl in the afternoon then a nap in the sun. One more at night and then wrapping everything up with evening T.V. dramas.
The fourth day brought a change. After the morning chow Lenny made his way outside but remained on the large porch. The rabbits bounced in the yard, but their frolicking provoked no obvious reaction from the dog.
Kara watched as Lenny rested. He didn’t sleep, his eyes were wide and clear. They watched the rabbits. Each movement giving birth to a twitch in Lenny’s transfixed irises.
“Go play.” Kara urged.
The dog responded with only a guttural noise formed deep in his chest, like the noise that came from polished wood warping under strain.
The afternoon nap had lost it’s peacefulness by the fifth day. The gentle snores had been replaced by whimpers and frantic jerks in Lenny’s limbs. Kara had seen dogs do this before, she always assumed that they were fantasizing about running or chasing. Yet, after Lenny’s abandonment of this activity it felt more like he wasn’t experiencing his dreams but was being afflicted by them.
The sixth day had stolen the evening hours in front of the T.V. Kara took her place, but Lenny didn’t join her. He instead took position with a view outside.
Kara had long since grown bored of the sensations the night had to offer. Lenny though, was fascinated with what it had to offer. Every ghost, spectre, horrific intention and dark thought captivated the border collie. They invited him, with spindly fingers of bark.
The morning of Lenny’s final day came slowly on grey autumn skies. Kara called for him but heard no skittering of nails on the wooden floors. She didn’t search long before she discovered the open door leading to the porch.
There she became witness to the inevitable conclusion of the dog’s stay.
Laid out before her in an organized display was an offering she never dreamed of demanding. The family of rabbits, slain. Their bodies were torn in rigid strips. The insides remained intact save for the bits consumed not by hunger but by destruction.
Their heads were left undamaged. Their final expressions cemented in death. Their eyes glassy in pain and their mouths frozen in violent screams of betrayal.
Lenny laid nearby, unashamed of the blood still on his jowls and teeth. He stared at the fruits of his labor. Pride rose in his belly, with calm breaths.
The air was still and quiet. There was no rumble or a dust cloud of a coming family car. Kara knew that it would never come.
The demon now roamed up north, by a lake. But there, on Kara’s land, it’s soul rested in the yellowing grass.