There’s a space between calm and disaster, a blessed space; the moment before the trial is fully understood. A deep subconsciousness that has run ahead, greeted the trouble but kept it a secret. Then the mind catches up and there’s no reprieve.
I have that moment when I ask where Roady is. Junior and I lock eyes and I know we have perceived disaster at the same time. He throws down the game controller and runs out the back door.
“Liam!” I call. “Liam!” No answer. Junior comes up next to me as I walk up the gravel driveway.
“No sign of them in the back,” he says.
My eyes are on a man with an orange fluorescent vest coming towards us. He is carrying something in his arms. It’s not a boy. My relief is fleeting when I see Roady’s head lolled to the side, his tongue hanging.
“This your dog?” He comes up the drive to us. “Shouldn’t let him run loose.”
One of his paws is sticky black with tar.
“Don’t talk to my brother like that!” Junior shouts with the bravado of a full grown man.
“Just saying,” the man said.
“Get the hell off this property,”Junior says.
Roady makes a soft, whistling whine as he is handed over to me. The man trudges off. I am frozen. I can’t move. I can’t think. I see Roady’s chest barely lifting for a breath.
“Is he okay?” Junior says his voice wavering, a tear runs down his face. He brushes it aside like a mosquito.
“I’ve got to get him to a vet.” My brain engages. I carry Roady to the car, lay him carefully in the back seat on my sleeping bag. Junior slides in next to him.
The vet tells me that technically Roady’s injuries are not life threatening. He broke his back leg in three places, has a cracked rib, heavy bruising. The problem is to put him back together is not cheap and there’s still a high risk of infection. The rib may have splintered, it could be much worse once they opened him up.
“What do you want to do?”
There’s Roady laid out on the stainless steel table. I see that small body and I see a dog who defied death once, who accepted me as a friend, showed me loyalty, comfort, a listening ear like no person ever had. I know what I’m going to do and it will cost me all I’ve saved and even my gas money stash. I came with barely a dollar in my pocket. It looks like that’s the way I’ll return. Not what I hoped for but I need this dog to live, need him more than money.
Read the “Roady Series” from the beginning by choosing it in categories at the header of this blog.