Family will borrow things as though no permission were needed. I get that when it’s a three year old sibling swiping a GameBoy from a thirteen year old brother, though when Stan Junior did that Mom yelled at me for not letting him have it. But, when an adult stepfather (why I allow even in print any reference to him as a father must be due to the beating to my head I took a week ago) and a sober mother send my dog off to some kid’s birthday party to pull a cart, I’m ready to pack up and drive away for good.
“He was just hanging around whining all the time,” Mom explains.
“We’ve been feeding him,” Stan adds from his recliner throne, a six pack carton half filled with empty beer bottles at his feet. “Dogs got to earn his keep.” He guzzles the rest of another beer and adds it to the set.
“You’re getting paid for this?”
“Damn straight I am. Like I said. No free loaders in this house.” He stares at me. I don’t like the implications of that look. If I wasn’t a hobbling invalid I might just not be able to restrain myself from knocking his block off. But then in true Stan fashion, he takes it one step further. “You ought to be thanking me for saving your life. Where’s my next beer?” He yells at Mom.
“Just making sure you don’t kill each other.” She runs off to the kitchen to get the beer, barely a limp left in her gait.
“Thanks,” I say because truth be told, I do owe him my life on that count, though he might have let me die right on the couch out of ignorance. I hobble my way back out the door.
“Where are you going?” Mom says holding the beer, dripping condensation off her hand.
“I’m not staying in this house.”
“Tyler, no. You’ll never be comfortable with your injuries in that car.”
“Comfort is more than just a soft place to stretch out. My car is heaven compared to this…” I keep myself from saying what is on my mind. Stan might be half way to drunk but he is fit and able to give me some pain if I rile him up. I walk out the door.
On my way to the car, Junior comes up the drive with Roady trotting on a leash. The dog breaks away from the boy and hurls himself through the air knocking me off balance. He’s all over me. Doggy smell full blast, wet kisses all over my face, his joy so free, my physical wounds might hurt more at this moment, but a thousand heart wounds are healed as I wrap my arms around him and kiss his doggy face back.
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