7 AM on Saturday.
It was another Saturday morning and as usual, the sky is blue, the sun is high and it’s so humid when you walk outside the lenses on your glasses get steamy.
Ben jumped on the bed and licked Grace’s face. He needed to go out for a walk before she is ready to leave for work.
“Get off me!” Grace yelled at Ben. He put his little head down and whimpered.
Grace stared at him and then thumped him on the head with her pointer finger. Glaring at Ben and with the most contempt, a person can have said, “If that old witch hadn’t died I wouldn’t have to get up so early and take you for a damn walk. I don’t even like dogs. Cat’s are more my thing. They don’t need anyone. You can get on with your life and leave them to do their thing. Stupid dog.”
With another whimper, Ben jumped down and stared at Grace.
“Stop staring at me!”
With that last yell, Ben walked out of the messy dingy bedroom into the equally messy dingy living room and stood by the front door.
Grace crawled out of bed, put on some gray sweat pants, pink hoody, brushed her hair and dabbed on a little pink lipgloss.
She may not want to go out but, she also knows that it’s around this time she runs into Jack. One of her neighbors. Jack is gorgeous and always seems to be leaving on an adventure or coming back from one. Even when he excuses himself for looking scruffy he’s gorgeous. This is about the time he’s leaving for a run.
“You’ve really been standing next to this door since you left the bedroom? Stupid dog,” Grace sneered.
Ben had been standing at the front door. Next to the dent on the door that Grace had made when she threw his food dish at it one evening in a fit of rage when she realized he wasn’t going back to her grandmother’s house.
Ben had been Grace’s grandmother’s dog. Grandma Pearl wasn’t a mean. She was always very loving and kind. She had always wanted the best for Grace and tried to do her best for her.
Grace was an only child. When she and her parents would visit Grandma Pearl she always had all of her favorite foods and she was never at a loss for a new toy or book. Grace just never cared what kind thing was done for her. She just wanted what she wanted and if she didn’t get it she threw fits and broke things. Like doors, toys, tv’s and on possibly one occasion someone’s arm.
When Grace was sixteen Grandma Pearl did come to realize it was not love that Grace needed. It was a psychiatrist and possibly handcuffs. Grace was just batshit crazy.
Grace finished college and went on to be a nurse. Her parents were quite proud of her. For a while, they weren’t sure what was going to become of her. But, then again, a lot of what she did as a teen could just be put down as “growing pains”?
When Grace was twenty-four her parents passed away, in what seemed like a double suicide. They were found in the garage, in their new two-seater sports car, with the windows rolled up the hosepipe in and the windows taped up.
When the autopsies were done they were found to have both taken enough tranquilizers to make a few very healthy racehorses fall asleep and never wake up.
When the police asked a somewhat not distraught Grace why would two seemingly happy empty nesters with a new sports car and trip booked for France kill themselves? Grace said, “Who knows why old people do what they do? If you’re done I’ll be cleaning up and putting the house up for sale. Oh, and when will the car be released? It’s paid and for so I’ll be having it. You know.. to remember them by.”
Grace put the bright blue leash on Ben and yanked on it to get an already standing Ben out the damaged front door.
As luck would have it Jack was walking down the stairs.
“Hi, Grace. How are you and Ben today?”, he asked.
As always he was gorgeous and getting ready to go out for a run.
“Just taking Benny out for a walk by the little lake by the park. After that, I’m going to work. I’m so tired. Why do I have to work today? The old witch, that does the scheduling, has it in for me. I hate working in that damn care home. I never get to have an entire break to myself. They’re old and sick or sick and old. It’s not as if they notice when I don’t answer their call bells, within the first 2 minutes.” Grace replied.
Jack lied and said, “Well, I’m sure they’re happy to have you there to take care of them. See you later little Benny!”
Grace bent down, picked up Ben’s right paw, made a waving motion with it and said, “Bye Jack!”
And when Jack was out of sight yanked on Ben’s leash, to make sure he knew how much she really does hate him and walked out the building.
Grace and Ben walked down the sidewalk and made their way down the street to Mills Park. Mills Park is three acres and is a popular place for dog walkers. It’s always green and lush and filled with birds and squirrels.
People always stop to bend over and give Ben a rub on his head. “What a sweet little thing.” They would say. Grace would smile back, lie and say how happy she is to have him.
As they reached the park Grace looked down at Ben and said, “Come on stupid. Hurry up and get your business done. It’s freezing out here. That’s why we’re the only ones here except the damn ducks. Is that Jack over there? It looks like him on the exercise equipment.”
Grace waved her arms over her head and yelled, “Hey Jack! Didn’t think we would see you here too!”
“Oh shit. How did she see me!”, Jack asked himself.
And then to Ben, with a small kick to his side Grace said,” We’ll just stroll over there and say hi when you’re done stupid. Hurry up.”
Ben looked up at Grace with sadness in his eyes. He missed Grandma Pearl.
While Ben was thinking of Grandma Pearl and Grace was smoothing her hair down, a group of ducks flew at them both.
“Agghhh,” Grace screamed and dropped Bens leash.
With this moment of freedom, Ben jumped into the small lake after the ducks. Happily splashing behind them.
Grace screamed at Ben, “Get out of the water you little bastard. I hate you! I’m not coming in to get you!”
Jack heard the screaming and started to walk over. Grace may be a nasty piece of work. But, what would it look like if he didn’t see what was happening?
Grace decided that maybe she should get Ben out of the water. It was getting late and needed to start walking back to the complex to get ready for work. She walked to the edge of the water. “Get out of there you f’ing idiot! Come on.”
By the time Jack got to the lake, Grace was in the water up to her knees and throwing rocks at both the ducks and Ben. Some of the rocks hit the ducks and some hit little Ben.
Grace finally got a hold of Bens leash and was yanking it. With each pull, Ben would whimper. Jack said, “Stop pulling on his leash. It’s hurting him. He’ll come back in a minute.”
But, Grace kept pulling and cursing at Ben. Grace didn’t care. He knew she was bad. But not this bad. Strangling a dog to get it out of the water.
“I said stop pulling on his leash. He’s just playing with the ducks. He’ll come back!” he screamed.
All of a sudden the ducks grew louder and louder, Ben started to bark and started to paddle back to the water’s edge.
With wide bewildered eyes, “What the hell is going on? What’s that?” he asked.
The ducks flew away and Ben made it back to land.
Grace let out a blood-curdling scream, “Alligator! Help me! Drop the f’ing dog and help me you dumb f..”
Grace went under the water.
Jack picked up Ben and watched Grace be pulled under the water.
Grace shot back up to the surface and screamed again, “Help me you asshole!”
“What do you think Benny? We stand here in a conundrum. Is doing the right thing to try to go in there and save the evil bitch? Or is the right thing to let nature take its course? What do you think Benny?” asked Jack.
Ben looked up, with his big brown eyes and snuggled into Jack’s warm dry dark blue hoodie.
“What do I do with you, Benny?”
Ben looked up at Jack and licked his face.
Grace’s pink hoodie bobbed to the surface of the lake. Along, with her leash pulling right hand.
“Let’s go home, little buddy,” Jack said with a smile.
Text from Maggie: “How in the hell did an alligator get in there?”
Text to Maggie: “Who knows. Sometimes people get these things and then when they start to get too big they dump them. At some point they finally turn up. Here’s the best part, then her tacky little jacket popped up to the top of the water. Along with her hand!”
Text from Maggie: “LOL!! Why can’t exciting things happen to me? I can’t wait to meet Benny”