#135 Another Molly Story
Raphael finished his shift at the foundry, hot and thirsty; he sauntered into Hungarian Joes as a tear jerker country and western song played on the old Wurlitzer Jukebox. He tore the electric cord from the wall. The music whined to a halt as he strode to the bar where Hank sat at the end.
“That was my favorite Charlie Pride song you pulled the plug on. What’s eating you, acting like that?” Jay the bartender asked.
“Nothing, I told you before-I ain’t listening to that shit kicking music Jay. Now give me a beer and one for Hank there too.”
“Thanks,” Hank said and raised his glass in salute from the end of the bar.
“You know I don’t butt into nobody’s business, but looks like you’ve got a hair across your ass.” Jay said, as he opened two bottles of beer and served them. He stopped in front of Raphael. “Hank said the next one’s on him. So tell me, what’s going on? How come you storm in here bitching about some harmless song?”
“I thought they trained bartenders to mind their own business.” Raphael drained his beer.
“Don’t mean to pry-just when someone looks as downhearted as you do, it’s usually woman trouble.”
“Trouble, my woman was never trouble, she died three months ago, second wife who up and died on me.”
“I remember Helen, good woman, helluva loss, but we didn’t get to see much of you other than on Saturdays while she was alive.” Hank said.
“Couldn’t stop for a beer after work when I knew she’d be home waiting for me. After all that time of her being there, I still expect her to see her waiting for me every time I open the door. After a half dozen beers, it’s not so bad when I open the door and she’s not standing there.” Raphael sniffled as a tear ran down his nose.
“Goddamn Raphael, you’re getting all teary eyed on me. Suck it up, people die, but we go on drinking beer until our time comes.”
“You can be such an asshole Hank; it’s my allergies that make my eyes run. Jay, give me a couple of napkins to wipe my nose with will you.” Raphael held out his hand for the napkins Jay handed him and wiped his eyes and then blew his nose.
“Don’t let him get to you, after my wife died, every time someone mentioned her name I could barely hold the tears back. Some jerks think men don’t cry, but they do,” Jay said. “Believe me, I could name a hundred guys that sat on that side of the bar and cried into their beer.”
“I’m not crying into my beer, it’s just that I’m lonely as hell, but after two died, I don’t believe I can marry a third time.”
“Third time’s the charm.” Jay said.
“Hell, I’ve been married three times and the third one was the worst ever,” Hank said. “The hell with this woman talk, turn on the TV and observe what’s going on in the world.”
Jay turned on the big screen TV behind the bar, all three sat watching TV in silence, and after a short time, a program came on about hunting dogs, and how smart and loyal they were.
“If I ever got married again, I’d marry a dog,” Hank said, “and I don’t mean no ugly woman either, I mean a real four legged dog. Dog’s got qualities none of my wives ever had. If one of them had been as smart or as loyal as one of those there dogs on TV, I’d still be married.”
“Got something there, ain’t no woman as loyal as a dog, or nearly as smart. I’m turning the sound up so we can hear what they’re saying.” Jay said.
“Goddamn, I’ve seen this commercial at least a hundred times, so turn the damn station to a ball game or something, will you.” Hank told Jay and Raphael. “They’re announcing a special this week at the downtown animal shelter. For a total of fifty bucks a guy can have any dog in the place, shots included.”
“The dogs seem to be happy, running around and playing with one another.” Raphael pointed to the screen that showed several dogs rolling around and playing.
“Happy? My ass,” Hank said. “In a couple of days they’ll all be dead. Ain’t none of them dogs suffering enough to justify killing them.”
“What else are they going to do with them?” Jay asked.
“Dunno, but it ain’t right, killing them and making cosmetics, and other shit out of them.”
“Ever dream that pretty soon they’re going to round up homeless humans and treat them the same way?” Jay asked
“I don’t assume they’ll be doing that anytime soon. Let’s drink to that they never do.” Raphael raised his glass in a toast. Hank and Jay raised theirs and all three drained their glasses.
“Maybe having a dog waiting for me to come home is a good idea-at least someone will be waiting for me after work.” Raphael said. Think I’ll run over to the shelter and get myself a dog.
“Hold on, you don’t know nuthin about dogs. I’ll come with you to be sure you get a good one that ain’t goin to give you a lot of trouble,” Hank said.
“Okay, we’ll take my truck.”
After a short drive they walk through the glass entrance door at the animal shelter, “Man, what’s that stink?” Raphael said.
“Help you boys?” An old feeble security guard asked them.”
“Lookin for a dog.”
“Special on this week.”
“Yeah, we know.”
“Go on in and look around.” The security guard directed them to a door that led to the kennels.
“God, don’t they ever clean this place?” Raphael said.
“Used to, but cut-backs, ya know. I’m the only one works here now.” The Guard said. “Couple a volunteers, but they don’t like to clean much. Ya’all want to do some cleaning, go right ahead.”
Hank opened the door leading to the kennels. Behind the door where the dogs are kept they found over a hundred dogs crowded into twenty cages built to hold two or three dogs each.
“Damn I had no idea they kept these dogs locked up in cubbyholes that ain’t big enough for a cat. And the stink, I may puke it’s so bad.” Raphael put his hand over his mouth and nose to block some of the stench and in the dim light there’s a cacophony of barking and yelping. Dogs were jumping up and down, trying to get their attention. “I can’t believe they’d kill all these dogs just because they’re homeless.”
“You better believe they will.”
“Can’t we just open the cages and let them run free?” Raphael said.
“We’d get thrown in jail.”
“Wonder if they know the executioner’s waiting for them?” Raphael said. “Look in that cage. A poodle just had her litter, boy are they cute.”
“Poodles are ankle biters,” Hank said. “You want to get a real dog, not some toy.”
“I don’t want to see those little puppies killed.”
“Don’t be such a woose, the puppies will get adopted. Everyone wants babies, cats, dogs, humans. It don’t matter cause they’re all cute, it’s when they get older that the problems begin.” Hank said.
“Look at that one.” Raphael pointed to a little skinny wisp of a dog in the next cage so thin it could be a greyhound. “Wait Hank, that dog, see her soft brown eyes? They kinda remind me of Helen’s.
“Helen didn’t have dog eyes, you’re imagining things. Sign here says this dog’s name is Molly, and she’s three months old”.
“Helen died just three months ago,” Raphael said. “Do you think there’s any connection?”
“Sure, if you want to believe in that reincarnation bull-shit,” Hank said, “but if you do, I’ll think you’re kinda weird.”
“That’s the one I want.” Raphael stared at the skinny dog.
I can’t believe the way they treat these unfortunate dogs,” Raphael said.
“You didn’t know how strays got treated?”
Need to open your eyes Raphael, lot’s of shit going on all around us that we don’t see unless we look for it.”
“I want that dog,” Raphael pointed to his chosen dog, and the security guard reached into the cage and picked up the trembling pup. Raphael wrapped the puppy in a blanket and cuddled her like a newborn baby. He knew the puppy must be a her with a name like Molly. He paid the security guard who was also the night manager and carried Molly to his truck and laid her gently on the front seat.
The next day Raphael walked into Hungarian Joes, strode to the jukebox, ripped the electric cord from the electrical socket, the music whined to a halt. He sat beside Hank at the bar.
“Goddamn it that was my favorite Patsy Cline song. Gonna start charging you for every song you interrupt from now on.”
“Here’s the money for your song,” Raphael threw a dollar bill on the bar, “Two beers for me, and one for Hank. Don’t you get any business in here, Jay? This is the second day in a row Hank has been your only customer.”
“Nighttime, business picks up.”
“Thanks.” Hank said as he drained his beer.
“Couldn’t sleep, Molly whined all night.”
“How n the hell would I know.”
“Didja feed her?”
“Gave her a piece of steak, didn’t eat it though.”
“She’s just a pup.” Hank said. “She needs special food.”
“I’m going to the pet store. Come with me. You know what a dog needs.”
“You’re cutting into my drinking time.” Hank said.
“If you’re my friend, you’ll help me. You know I don’t know anything about raising a dog.”
“Pull that friendship shit to get what you want, and before you know it, you won’t have any friends.” Hank turned his back to Raphael.
“Don’t do it for me, do it for the dog. If you don’t help me, I may choose the wrong kind of food, and she may die of starvation.”
A look of exasperation crossed Hanks face. He spun around, faced Raphael and got up from the barstool.
“All right, let’s git it over with.”
They went to a pet-smart store. Hank grabs a shopping cart and starts throwing many objects into the cart.
“Hold on, what’s all this stuff for?”
Shit you’re going to need and books that tell you how to potty train her and the others tell how to raise a healthy pup.
“You don’t know nuthin about raisin a dog, so I’m getting everything you’ll need to learn how to potty train her.”
“Yeah, what do ya think, a dog’s born knowing she ain’t spossed to shit in the house?”
“Never thought about it.” Raphael picked up the book and glanced at the introduction. I’ll train her, and I’ll be the best master a pet ever had.
“Master, you think you’re going to be her master? You really don’t know nuthin bout dogs. They’re so smart they let you think you’re in charge, but you end up doing what they want. Same as a woman does to a man.”
“Can’t argue Hank, never had a dog, so I don’t know.”
“Ya know you need to get up at six in the morning and take her running don’tcha.”
“Maybe I should have gotten a wife instead.”
A week went by and Raphael hadn’t been to the bar, but on Saturday morning he strolled through the door smiling. Walked to the bar and handed Jay five dollars. “Go’n play some of those tearjerkers you like so much.”
“Whatcha do, get lucky last night?”
“No, nothing like that. I’m just happy with Molly.”
Hank walked in while they were talking and said, “Knew you’d like having a dog once you got one. He walked to the bar and stood beside Raphael. You can buy me a beer if you want.”
“Yeah sure, can’t believe I’ve never owned a dog in my entire life. Must be because my mother said she was allergic to animals.”
“Been running her?”
“Who, my mother, or Molly?”
“The dog dummy.”
“Every morning at six sharp, and she’s gained five pounds in one week, no matter how far I run her she gains weight and I lose it. She’s getting me in shape.”
“Be a real dog before you know it.” Hank grabbed the beer Jay put on the bar and took a long swallow. “Dogs’ have been known to do that.”
“This may sound weird, but when I’m sitting home and get bored I gaze into the painting hung over my fireplace. Helen and I spent many hours just looking at that painting and imagining we were in it. Now Molly studies the painting as intently as I do.”
“You’re bullshitting, right? Dogs don’t care nuthin about pictures.”
“Molly does, come over and see for yourself, and while you’re there, you being an artist and all, maybe you can tell me if the painting’s an original or not.”
“You know I quit painting years ago and swore off it once those critics tore into my work. I’ve deprived them of ever seeing any of my paintings again.”
Raphael remembered the exhibition. He and Helen had attended it and both thought his work outstanding. The day after, Hank got a stream of bad revues from the critics who attended. He carried all his paintings close to the river the next day, piled them one atop the other, poured gasoline over them and lit a match. “Want to see some hot paintings?” he asked no one in particular as he set them on fire.
“You okay? Gazing at a painting with your dog instead of drinking beer ain’t normal,” Hank said.
“Hell yeah, Molly’s there every day waiting for me to come home, just like Helen used too.”
Hank gave Raphael a funny look as though there was something wrong with him for equating his dog with his dead wife. “Maybe I’ll stop by later tonight, take a look at that painting for you.”
“Yeah, okay, anytime. Molly will be happy to see you.”
Hank went to Raphael’s house that night. They sat by the fire in the living room, drinking beer. “See how she just gazes into the painting and has her doggie dreams?”
“What makes you think she’s dreaming and not just lying here soaking up the heat?”
“She loves to swim in the river, and I think she’s looking at the vast expanse of ocean, wishing she could swim in it.”
“Got bad news for ya, that ocean she’s looking at is a copy of one of Monet’s, and the original was painted in Europe.”
Two years passed since Molly was adopted. She’s now an eighty pound Retriever. Raphael allowed her to run without a leash in their small community, and no one cared because Molly was friendly to everyone. One day a five-years-old boy wandered away from his mother who was distracted while buying an antique painting. He was about to run into heavy traffic. Molly saw what he was about to do. She nuzzled him backwards onto the sidewalk. The boy tripped on the curb and scraped his hands when he hit the cement. He started to cry. Raphael saw what Molly did and figured she deserved a reward for saving the boy’s life. The boy’s mother heard him cry rushed out of the store followed by the shopkeeper.
“My god, did you see that dog attack my son?”
“Did he bite you sonny?” The shopkeeper asked.
“He’s bleeding.” The boy’s mother said. “Call an ambulance.”
Darting in and out of traffic Raphael ran across the street. He avoided getting run over and arrived on the scene breathless.
“There’s a leash law in this town ya know,” the shopkeeper said.
“Lady, Molly just saved that boy’s life. If she was leashed it wouldn’t have happened.”
“Of course you’d say something like that. You’re liable for injuring my son. My lawyer will be talking to you.”
A police car arrived at the scene. An officer got out to investigate. “Is the boy all right?” He asked.
“I want that vicious animal locked up.” The mother pointed at Molly.
“Raphael always ignores the leash law and lets that dog run loose,” the shopkeeper said.
“Is anybody hurt, did the dog bite the boy?” The cop grabbed Molly by the collar, she didn’t resist, not a growl or a bark came from her as her big brown eyes were set on the boy as he cried.
“That dog attacked my boy for no reason.”
“She was inside while the boy was about to step into the street.” Raphael pointed at the boy’s mother. “Molly saved his life by knocking him back onto the sidewalk.”
“Is that what happened?” The cop asked the boy.
“He was only a few steps in front of me when that dog came out of nowhere and attacked him. I want that vicious beast locked up,” his mother said.
“You know that’s not true.” Raphael said.
“You calling me a liar?” She asked.
“Please tell the truth, I can’t have Molly locked up. She means as much to me as your son does to you.”
“Then why don’t you obey the law and keep her on a leash?” The shopkeeper asked.
“Same reason she doesn’t have her boy on a leash.” Raphael said.
“Sorry, got to get animal control to impound the dog for five days,” the cop said, and opened the door of his squad car to put Molly in the back.
“But she saved a life, and you’re going to lock her up?” Raphael said.
“Got to follow the law,” the cop said. “A Potentially Dangerous Dog is one that bites, scratches or bruises any person.”
Raphael reached through the car’s window and patted Molly, “Everything will be all right. I’ll come and visit every day until you get out.”
Raphael, Hank, and Jay stood at one end of the crowded bar at Hungarian Joe’s discussing the day’s events. “Dogs are required by this city to be kept on a leash and under control of their owner. Says so right here in the city code.” Jay pointed to a section of the handbook he read from.
“Ain’t right, that bitch having Molly arrested.”
“She’s not arrested, just put in the pound for a few days to be sure she doesn’t have rabies,” Jay said
“Probably going to sue Raphael for damages.” Hank pointed at Raphael who had his head down and looked like he was about to cry. “That’s why she insisted on Molly going to the pound.”
“Could be, I read where half of all homeowner insurance claims are for dog bites,” Jay said
“But she didn’t bite anyone,” Hank said.
“The cop didn’t have any choice once Molly was accused of attacking the boy,” Jay said
Raphael sat up straight and said to no one in particular. “That’s it; I’m breaking her out, tonight.”
“You’re asking for trouble.” Jay said.
“You sure that’s what you want to do?” Hank asked. “Where will you take her?”
“Never been surer about anything. There’s a spot out in California I know that looks a lot like the painting Molly likes so much. I’ll take her there for a while and I’m sure these assholes will forget all about her after a few weeks.” Raphael said.
“Okay, if that’s what you want to do,” Hank said. “let’s go get Molly.”
“You don’t have to help.”
“I know, but I’m hankering to go to California and see that spot you say looks like the one in the painting,” Hank said.
Raphael and Hank went to the pound where Molly was being held. The cages the dogs were kept in are made from chicken wire. They brought wire cutters, located Molly, and when they did, she jumped for joy at the sight of them. Hank was about to cut a hole in her cage. Raphael grabbed him by the arm. “Hold on for a minute. If we cut a hole in the wire they’ll know we broke her out.”
“The hell with what they know, we’ll be in California before they can do anything,” Hank said as he cut a hole big enough for Molly to squeeze through. Unseen by anybody they got in Raphael’s truck and headed for California.
Molly was so happy, she wouldn’t stop licking Raphael. “It’s okay, calm down, nothing to worry about now,” he said, as he rubbed her back and patted her head.
“Think she understands? ” Hank asked.
“Sure she does.”
“Hope no one saw us,” Hank said.
“Do you think they’d charge me with a crime for releasing my own dog?”
“Stupid question, of course they will.”
“She didn’t belong in there anyways. Damn people always blame dogs for their fuck ups.”
“What do ya mean, what fuck ups?” Hank asked.
“That woman who accused Molly of attacking her boy, she was just passing the blame on to Molly.”
“Blame, for what?”
“For not watching her kid like she should have been instead of getting all googly eyed over some antique.”
“I thought she smelled a good lawsuit when she said her lawyer would be talking to you. Not that she felt she had fucked up,” Hank said.
“Maybe it’s both. She fucks up, but thinks she can make some money from it.”
“Crazy world,” Hank replied.
They drove up route 101 in CA and came to the spot Raphael said looked a lot like the scenery in the painting. There was a redwood forest on the east side of the road densely populated with trees and shrubbery. Molly saw the ocean from the parking lot and got impatient to be let out. As soon as Raphael opened the door she ran down the path leading to the ocean and jumped in and swam for a long time.
“You weren’t lying. This looks identical to the painting,” Hank said. “Let’s gather some wood for a campfire – Molly’s going to be cold when she gets out of that cold ocean water.”
“Are you kidding? She jumps into the Mississippi river in the middle of winter and her fur is coated with ice by the time we get home. Cold don’t bother her none.”
“Hell of a dog.”
“She sure is. Other than you Hank, she’s my best friend. Don’t know what I’d do if anything ever happens to her.”
A man, woman, and several kids were camped on the beach. Molly ran over to them and the kids started playing with her by throwing a stick into the water and Molly swam out to retrieve it.
“Howdy boys. Nice dog.” the man of the family said as they approached the family gathered to watch Molly retrieves the sticks.
“Yeah, that’s my dog, Molly. Best dog ever.” Raphael said, his face beaming with pride. Two boys rushed into the campsite. Raphael had seen them coming from the woods across the road.
“You kidding?” The father asked
“He was right behind us, and suddenly he wasn’t there anymore. We looked all over for him, then figured we better tell you,” one of the boys said.
“We better go look for him,” the woman said. “Right now,”
“Where do we start looking,” Hank asked.
“They followed that trail.” The man pointed to a trail across the road leading into the dense woods.
“How old is Eddie?” Raphael asked.
“Five,” the woman said.
“Boy that small could get eaten . . .”
“Quiet Hank.” Raphael gave him a soft punch on the arm to let him know he shouldn’t be saying what he was about to say to the boy’s mother. She had enough to worry about without thinking her son may be eaten by wild animals.
“Better call 911 and get some help. Them woods’re full of wild animals.”
The mother broke out in tears at the mention of wild animals. The boys all huddled around her with a look of fear on their faces. The father gathered up flashlights and said, “Everyone grab a light and lets go. Stay within shouting distance of me, so we don’t have anyone else lost.”
Hank reached into his pocket for his cell phone and called 911 and attempted to hand the phone to the father. “You tell them where we are,” the father said. “I’m going to start looking right now,”
“Yeah, operator, we have a five year old lost in the woods. Yeah we need help to find him. Can you get some help out here? We’re at highway marker 249 on 101. There’s a trail right by the marker leading into the woods. Yeah, that’s where he was last seen. We’ll all be in the woods looking for him. I’ll call again if we find him. Goodbye.” Hank folded his phone and put it in his jacket pocket. “They’re sending search and rescue right out, should be here within the hour. Said the temperature would go down to freezing tonight, let’s go find that boy.”
Hank, Raphael, and Molly came across police cars with flashing lights and a dozen men in a circle on Highway 101. The family’s flashlights can be seen glowing in the dusk as they searched through the nearby trees. Fog rolled in from the ocean. Visibility was down to about ten feet.
“You the one that called bout a missing five year old?” The Search and rescue commander asked.
“Yeah, that’d be me,” Hank said.
“We better find him fast, lots of mountain lions round here,” the commander said. “and the temperature’s dropping fast,”
“Then what are you waiting for?” Raphael asked.
“Dogs, won’t find anybody in the dark without dogs.”
“Use Molly,” Raphael said.
“Never took her hunting, don’t know how good a tracker she is,” Raphael said.
The boy’s father came out of the woods to talk to the rescuers. “Found his jacket, poor kid must be freezing.”
“Give me that.” The commander grabbed the jacket from his arms, bent over and held it in front of Molly. She sniffed it a few times and took off up the trail with Raphael, Hank, the father, and members of the rescue team following. After a few minutes Molly whined, barked and ran off the trail into the heavily wooded area of the woods Molly led them to Eddie sitting under a tree, cold wet, and hungry.
The boy’s father ran to him and picked him up, wrapped his arms around him, “How many times have I told you not to be running off on your own?” he asked as tears of relief flowed from his eyes.
A newspaper reporter arrived on the scene and took a picture of Molly and the boy. “Picture will be in the Examiner tomorrow. Want to give me the dog’s history?”
“No,” Raphael said. “And don’t you publish her picture either,”
“It’s a long story.” Raphael told the reporter what happened and why he didn’t want the picture published.
The next morning Molly was licking Eddies face and Eddie hugged Molly. Eddies family treated Molly like the heroine she was. “She deserves a medal for what she did.”The boy’s mother said and looked at molly with adoration in her eyes.
“Glad you appreciate her.” Raphael said.
The boy she rescued opened a package of hamburger meat and lays it in front of Molly, and she wolves it down in three big gulps. The boy puts his arms around Molly’s neck in a gesture of love.
“Least he appreciates what she did. Not like that bitch back in Galena,” Hank said.
“Damn, I wish you wouldn’t have reminded me.” Raphael said.
“Sorry. Can’t get those scumbags out of my mind.”
“Molly’s loves it here. From now on when she looks into that painting, she’ll remember this place.” Raphael said. “I’m thinking it’s safe to go back now. Been long enough for them to forget about a little dog incident.”
“I guess,” Hank said, but his face showed he didn’t think they’d forget so easily.
Raphael, Hank, and Molly drove straight through to Galena, and the first place they stopped was Hungarian Joes.
As soon as they walked in Jay said, “Cop’s been in here looking for you guys.”
“What for?” Raphael asked.
Jay pulled the Examiner newspaper from under the bar and showed them the picture of Molly displayed on the front page and a story telling how Molly had been locked up when she saved a boy’s life in Galena Illinois, and how she found a lost boy in the woods in California. “If Molly would have been held in detention in Illinois, this little boy would probably not be with us today,” the reporter had said in the story.
“The cop showed me this picture, and said, ‘They’re making us look like idiots. I’m going to lock that damn dog up as soon as I see her.’”
“Damn, we told that reporter not to publish her picture,” Hank said.
“Don’t know if telling someone like that not to do something, only makes them want to do it all the more,” Jay said.
“You’d think the cop would want to thank her, not lock her up,” Raphael said.
“Think the cop’s related to that bitch who’s suing. Probably needs Molly as evidence to sue Raphael’s ass for letting her run loose.”
“I ain’t going to let them lock her up again. Hell, she saved a life in California, don’t that make a difference?”
“Think anyone here gives a shit?” Hank asked.
The next day, Raphael, Hank, and Molly were in Hungarian Joes when the cop who had been looking for Molly walked through the door.
”Knew you’d come back sooner or later. Your dog needs to be impounded.” The cop reached for Molly’s collar.
“Don’t know what you’re talking about. Just got this dog in California,” Raphael said.
“Nice try. We chip every dog that comes to the pound. Think when I scan her, I’ll see that I have the right dog.”
Okay, I lied. I just can’t have my dog locked up. You know what she did in California don’t you?
“Don’t make no difference here. Law says she needs to be locked up.”
“Told ya,” Hank said.
The cop had Molly by the collar, but Raphael yelled, “Run, Molly run.”
Molly broke free and took off through the door with the policeman in hot pursuit. He couldn’t keep up with her and returned to the bar.
“You know I can jail you for interfering with a police officer?”
“Go ahead.” Raphael said.
“One more stunt like that and I will.”
Raphael went to the lawyer’s office across the street. He told his story to a sharply dressed man showed him the newspaper with Molly’s picture in it and the story about how she had saved a boy’s life.
“Dogs don’t have any legal rights, but you do. I can file a counter suit. I’ll accuse them of conspiracy to defraud your insurance company by misrepresenting the facts,”
“Do that then.”
“I’ll get an injunction too, so they can’t take Molly to the pound. I’ll need a $2,000 retainer before I can start the paperwork.”
“Today is Friday, I’ll have to wait until Monday to get the money from the credit union.”
“Okay, I’ll file the injunction Monday morning, as soon as you pay.”
Raphael left the office, and went home, changed into running clothes, and took Molly for her daily run alongside the river that was fast flowing from recent rainstorms. As they ran along the river bank they saw a crowd gathered. A woman screamed that her son was drowning. Raphael saw a boy in the water being swept down river by the fast moving current, too fast for any of the men who ran along the bank trying to catch up to him. Molly ran along the river’s edge passing up the men trying to catch up to the drowning boy. She got ahead of the boy and jumped into the water and swam to the center of the river where he was being dragged along in the swift current. Molly got her teeth into the boy’s shirt collar and swam to shore. She was dragging him up the river bank when the men who had been chasing the boy arrived and took over. They all patted Molly.
“That dog should get a medal for what she did,” one of the men said.
“Yeah, and a life-time supply of steaks,” another man said.
Raphael and the crowd of people who watched the rescue arrived at the scene. Raphael hugged and patted Molly. He became aware that the boy she saved was the same one Molly had prevented from wandering into the traffic. Raphael recognized the boy’s mother who held the boy and cried in relief.
“Spose you’re going to accuse my dog of trying to drown your boy.” Raphael said.
“I’m so sorry. Your dog is a real heroine. Thank you, thank you.”
“She saved the same life twice. Bet that belongs in the Guinness world’s record book.” A bystander said.
“What can I do to thank Molly?” the mother asked.
“Drop the lawsuit for number one.”
“Done, what else can I do?”
“Maybe let your son walk Molly now and then.”
The police officer who had been looking for Molly arrived on the scene and saw Molly. He tried to catch her, but Molly took off running with him right behind her. Raphael and several other people chased after him.
“Wait, she just saved another life.” Raphael shouted, but the cop ignored him and all the shouts. He was intent on catching Molly. She ran across the main street trying to get away from him. Tires screeched as drivers slammed on their brakes. Molly was narrowly missed by two cars, she turned around to run the other way, but a truck hit her and threw her to the center of the road. She struggled to get up when a driver who didn’t see Molly, ran her over. Raphael ran to where she lay, picked her up in his arms. Tears flowed from his eyes. He looked at the cop who chased her into the street, and sayid “Fucking murderer.”
The crowd that had followed the chase started berating the cop, “Killer, Pig, Asshole, Should’ve been you that got run over.”
Tears flowed down Raphael’s face as he dug a hole in his yard to bury Molly. Later, Raphael sat in front of the fire, drinking beer and staring at the painting he and Molly used to look at and daydream. He fell to sleep in the chair.
The next day Raphael walked in to Hungarian Joes, yanked the jukebox cord and Elvis’s heartbreak Hotel whined to a stop.
“Anybody don’t like what I just did, say so.” Raphael appeared angry and was looking for a fight.
“Have a drink on me.” Jay said, attempting to calm him down.
“We’re all with you, no need to be upset with us,” Hank said.
“Can’t believe she’s gone. Jay give me a shot of Irish Rose and leave the bottle.”
Raphael quickly downed three shots of whiskey. Everyone avoided him because of his belligerent attitude.
“Stupid cop. All his fault for chasing her into the street,” Raphael mumbled.
All the patrons at the bar look at the intoxicated Raphael with sorrowful looks. Not a one disagreed with whose fault it was that Molly died.
Next Morning, Raphael woke up in the chair in front of the fireplace, rubbed his eyes and looked twice at the painting. He washed his face and looked at it again. He couldn’t believe what he saw. He wrapped the painting with left over Christmas paper and carried it to Hungarian Joes. He walked through the door, and Jay rushed to the jukebox and yanked the cord from the receptacle. Elvis’s “You Ain’t Nothing but a Hound Dog” whined to a halt. Raphael gave Jay a grateful look and carefully set the painting on the floor in front of his usual bar stool.
“Give everybody a drink on me.” Raphael said.
“Feeling better?” Jay asked.
“Don’t know, depends.”
“What dya mean? Depends on what?” Hank asked.
“If I’m seeing things or not. Any of you believe in God?”
“I do.” Jay said.
“Sometimes when I’m in a jam, I’ll pray. Why you want to know?” Hank asked.
“Seeing you believe Jay, I’ll ask you.”
“Do dogs go to heaven?”
“Don’t know, but if they do, Molly sure as hell is there.”
“What makes you ask something like that?” Hank asked.
“First tell me if you see what I see in this here painting.”Raphael picked up the painting and walked behind the bar, set it on the back bar against the mirror and ripped the Christmas wrap from it. Jay and Hank stared at the painting. An image of Molly, soaking wet from swimming lied on the hillside with a happy look on her face.
“You had an artist paint her picture on the painting?” Jay asked.
“Nope, her picture just appeared out of nowhere.”
“Must be her way of letting you know she’s happy in doggie heaven.” Hank said as he put his hands in his pocket so Raphael wouldn’t see the dried paint on them.
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dog > Molly > short story