So there I was… out in the middle of a field in the dead of night holding a shovel with a corpse laying next to me. The full moon hung low in the sky, nearly blotted out by the thick fog that also obscured the nearest trees. There was just enough light to see the ground as well as the branches of the trees that were creaking and moaning against each other from the very slight breeze that had just picked up. I took a deep breathe as I shrugged off the feeling of dread and lifted up my shovel, planting it hard into the ground.
Instantly, the howl of a hound within a few dozen feet of me made me leap away, crouch down and take up a defensive position next to the corpse.
The deep growling sound of something big, ready to attack, slowly growing closer. It’s paws padding ever nearer in the grass and dirt. It’s breath quick and steady.
But let me tell you how I got into this position.
Upon entering the “Single Life,” I rented a house with “The Roomie” and adopted a dog named Nomad. It was a nice sized place. It was out in the sticks a bit where I could comfortably blast music and walk around au’ natural in the back yard as long as “The Roomie” wasn’t around.
Not that I did.
But I could have!
One night, after getting in REALLY late after having fun with friends and crashing hard asleep, I got a phone call. I barely knew what world I was in, or even who I was. I’d been asleep for less than an hour. Delirious. Somehow, unable to focus enough to even see who was calling me, I mumbled, “Hel-urghmf?”
“Dude,” The Roomie said. “Nomad got hit. He’s laying in the road next to the trash cans. I would have pulled him out of the way, but I was running late for the early shift at work. Better pick him off the road before it gets messy.”
I sat up slowly.
Nomad dead? I was not only delirious, I was in a nightmare. I loved that freakin’ dog. He was always happy when I pulled up, would race me to the edge of the property in the mornings, and spin in crazy circles when getting a treat. He was a mutt, but favored a small golden retriever. And, man, could he climb! I’d often look in the fields around my house and see him up on top of a stack of hay bales.
I let out a big sigh and threw on some clothes and headed out to the street.
It was nearly 4:00 in the morning.
Like I said before, the moon was setting, a fog filled the fields, but I wasn’t scared, just….sad.
As I shuffled to the street, I saw Nomad laying on his side near the trash cans. ‘Why had he gotten in the trash cans?’ He had been hit hard enough to knock his collar off too. Luckily, there wasn’t much blood.
I dragged him off the road, and knelt down to pet him the way he used to like. His fur seemed more coarse in death, somehow. Maybe it was the stiffness of his body. I wasn’t sure.
I decided I would bury him in the backyard, so I headed to the garage to find the shovel.
I was a bad owner. I hadn’t even played with him all week. Just a quick pat on the head and off I went to work or play.
Why is it that we so often forget to take every moment we have and enjoy it and the people around us? Why don’t we stop what we are doing, quit focusing on ourselves and see what is right in front of us? Of course, dogs tend to be happy to see you no matter if you left their sight eight hours previously, or simply a minute earlier.
I swore right there that I wouldn’t continue making the same mistake. That when I thought of friends, I would call or write just to let them know I was thinking of them. Who knows what the next moment will bring?
So there I was…
out in the middle of a field in the dead of night. The deep growling sound of a hound ready to attack slowly growing closer.
My heart was beating like a sledgehammer. The whole surreal scene was like nothing I’d ever experienced.
The footsteps grew closer as I tightened my grip on the shovel, holding it like a spear ready to thrust at whatever was about to attack.
The moon began to sink as the first rays of light began to illuminate what lay before me. The quick breathing turned to the sound of sniffing.
Out of the fog strutted….Nomad.
Nomad, who was so happy to see me, walked up and started licking my completely, and utterly stunned face. I dropped the shovel and started petting him like crazy. He looked at me with a questioning sideways head tilt, then looked over to the corpse and back at me with the expression, ‘Who the hell is that, dad?’
“I have NO idea, Nomad,” I stood up and glanced down at the poor traffic victim and realized, with a clearer head and a little more light, that this dog was bigger and darker than Nomad. With much coarser fur.
Later, I sat on my back patio (with clothes on, thank you), stared across the back yard to the newly dug grave, petted Nomad who lay next to me sleeping, and watched the sun rise over the fields.
I enjoyed every moment.
© 2009 Eric Huber. The Single Guy is a work of fiction (even if the events seem familiar to everyone). All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.