Black Lab

Travis Triplett walked his mutt of a dog four times every day, from his small cottage home tucked back in an early 20th century neighborhood to a nearby park, and dutifully picked up the piles of shit she left behind along the way. He didn’t mind it at all. After five years of this routine, he honestly didn’t even notice that he was doing it anymore as he walked along beside her all while kids and women stopped to admire his black Labrador mutt named Katey.

Katey had shown up one day after a viscous storm had blown through and sat on his door step looking wet, pathetic and hungry and so Travis gave her some scraps of ham that he was going to have to throw away soon anyway. The next morning she wasn’t there. He didn’t even notice her absence until that evening when he arrived home and found her by the front door wagging her tail and greeting him warmly. As he approached to enter his house, after collecting his office papers from his rather plain gray yet sensible hybrid car, he scruffed up the top of her head and said,  “I don’t have any food for you today, dog,” he told the yet unnamed pooch. She just turned her head sideways and kept wagging her tail. Travis stood up and measured this situation with a similar head tilt. “Well, I do need to run to the store. Maybe I’ll get you something while I’m there.”

This went on for a few weeks until finally, as cold weather approached, he did the responsible thing and took the dog to be spayed, tagged and groomed. The vet had informed him that she had already been spayed and he spent the saved money on a rather stylish and slick bright green rhinestone studded collar. He decided to name the dog Katey for no particular reason,  except perhaps her rich black fur color reminded him of his aunt Caty’s hair.

Katey was a funny breed of dog. She barked at odd things and often at new things in her environment. If Travis brought home a box from work, Katey might come around the corner, hunker down and bark menacingly at the intruder. Other times, you could put something new in a room and she never acknowledged it’s existence at all.

Five years of time had passed and Katey had never wavered as being less than a rambunctious dog. She frolicked and played with kids, other dogs and any playful teens at the park that was always busy no matter the time of year or the weather.

On one day, in the late afternoon, as a storm rolled in and the sky turned green with gusts of wind threatening to take down branches, Travis and Katey rushed to get their walk in before a deluge occurred or alerts and sirens start going off interrupting their normal schedule. During storms was about the only time that people avoided the park except for him and Katey. This day was no exception.

Thunder rolled in the distance and Katey dropped her head and ears as well as tucked her tail between her legs looking back at Travis to make sure he was still with her. A moment after Katey dropped her business in the grass,  Travis turned out a doggie bag to pick it up and was ready to dispose of it in a nearby trash bin, when a thunderclap and bolt of lightning struck nearby causing both of them to jump. Katey turned back to the cottage and as Travis began to turn, he saw a wall of wind picking up leaves and debris right towards the two of them. Behind it was a wall of water pouring down and obscuring everything behind it in sight.

They both began to run, but within a moment, the wind caught him causing him to lose balance, spin around and knock him to the ground where he hit his head against the concrete so hard he felt dazed and unsure of what happened. The next moment, as he lay on his back looking towards the sky, buckets of water poured over him causing him to choke and have to sit up. It was so strong that it stung his skin. He sat there not quite sure where he was, water pouring across him, as lightning criss-crossed the sky above him causing such thunderous roars that he was unsure if there was a tornado coming or not.

Suddenly, it stopped.

Travis sat for a moment staring at the ground between his crossed legs where he sat and noticed something red dripping down from his head onto the ground. He reached up carefully and felt a painful and tender spot on his head. He pulled his hand back and found it covered in blood.

After a long while, he finally attempted to stand and noticed he still had Katey’s leash and that she had snapped her rhinestone covered green collar loose. She was no where to be seen. He decided she must have run back home. Slowly he woozily made his way back home as well.

Upon arrival, the first thing he noticed was that his car was no longer in the driveway. “Where the hell is my car?” he said confused. Some relief came, however, when he noticed Katey who sat on his door step looking wet, pathetic and, strangely a little bit hungry. Normally she spotted him a mile away, but this time she stared longingly towards the driveway.

As Travis started to cross the road, he saw his car pulling up into the driveway. “What the hell? Who took my car?”

It was then that Travis watched as a man stepped out of the car. A man that not only looked exactly like Travis, it was Travis.

Travis sat down hard and reached up to touch his still bleeding scalp and watched himself enter the house leaving Katey outside. She had tried to enter the house, a fact Travis now remembered he had quickly closed the door to keep her out five years ago. He looked down at the leash he still held and tried to figure out what was happening. He heard his front door open and watched himself toss some scraps of ham out to Katey who, once again, happily devoured them.

“How is this possible?” he thought as he slowly faded away leaving only a dog leash, collar and a bag of dog shit.

The End of the Story