The neighborhood was silent. There wasn’t a soul around this eerie town and the sun hadn’t peaked out of the clouds for days. The darkness of the land had swallowed the smiles of the population and nature had ceased to show its existence. The birds must have migrated early. The wind disrupted the branches of every tree that was in front of the houses; it left only the whisper of its presence behind.
Shadow’s alarm clock blared at the appropriate time of eight in the morning and he grunted at its ignorance. His girlfriend, Jessie, didn’t seem to care too much about his morning laziness. He didn’t even bother turning off the alarm. He simply rolled on his opposing side to ignore it. That seemed to require a larger effort than if he’d just gotten out of bed. Jessie remained motionless and wasn’t snoring like she usually did. She wore a long sky blue nightgown to bed and it brought out the true color of her blondish hair. She was lying on her stomach and her hands were tucked underneath the fluffy pillow. Shadow just peered at her through the crack of his eye as the sound of the alarm clock withered away his patience. Shadow heard his three-legged basset hound, Tripod, hobble to the nightstand and he began to lick Shadow’s left foot that was hanging out of the white silky bed sheets. The saliva dripped towards the floor and the grossness of the dog’s actions still wasn’t enough to get Shadow’s dead *** out of bed. The dog realized it had no affect on him and left the room.
Shadow had just gotten fired from his job as a technical engineer at a no-name computer store. He put computers together with both new and used parts and resold them to the customers. When he told Jessie, she was not supportive at all. They didn’t speak all last night and Shadow couldn’t imagine how this morning was going to go- another “Yes, MOTHER” conversation. He always had a problem with his temper. All hell broke loose when shadow didn’t get his way, but you’d think he had been taught not to swear at his boss when he got angry. Well, on the contrary his mind and anger had gotten the best of him. Guess Shadow saw that there was no reason for him to get out of bed. But his three-legged dog seemed to think so. He kept ignoring Tripod for some time and he **** all over the rug as a result of it.
Shadow felt a discomfort among his genitals as he stumbled to his feet to go to the bathroom. He concocted his usual bowl of cereal once he reached the kitchen across the hall and slurped up every last drop of milk. He thought distressingly about what Jessie was going to bring on him this morning. The sounds of static and distorted voices echoed through the room from the television- he walked back into his bedroom to get dressed. Shadow called out for his dog.
The job wasn’t so good anyway. Shadow was displeased with his boss from the beginning but he knew he needed to receive the checks- the pay was so good. He always had a passion for building computers and when he first explored this field, Spot would sit and watch Shadow build. Spot was his first dog, around the time when he was a teenager. He would sit there until Shadow was done and that might’ve been what caused him to like building them so much- it was the memory.
Shadow continued to call for Tripod but there was no response. The aroma of the dog **** grew more and more noticeable. The doors were closed so there was no doubt he didn’t escape again. He ran all around the house, opening doors and calling outside for him; peaking behind the furniture and the clothes within his closets for him. He spotted the pile of dog **** on the living room floor.
“What are you doing, Shadow?” Jessie asked.
“I am looking for the **** dog. He **** on the rug again.”
“What are you talking about?” asked Jessie.
“OUR dog!??” said Shadow.
The air began to blow through the rooms of the house and the papers that were neatly stacked on Shadow’s desk began to fall to the floor. Jessie sat up in bed and the wind carried her hair across her scull and it made her look even more beautiful than ever. Her hazel-green eyes remained staring a Shadow with the same goofy look of concern but she still looked beautiful.
“I don’t know if I’m alright. My face hurts…” said Shadow.
“Shadow, I DID hit you pretty hard last night. Remember?” asked Jessie. “I threw that little book-end at you and it hit you in the cheek bone. I didn’t mean it, I AM sorry.”
“It’s fine, Jess. I was being a ****. But really, where’s the dog?”
“I don’t know, he’s you’re dog. Let me get dressed and I’ll help you look for him,” said Jessie.
The window shades were pulled up so the light could shine throughout the house but there wasn’t much light to affect anything. It was still dark and moody in the sky and the storm was still passing though the area. Shadow had to turn every light on in the house to see, even though it was ten in the morning. He knew he needed to find a job, but he wanted to find this dog. He ran around the house looking for every trace of dog fur. The sounds of Jessie getting dressed were coming from the closet.
“Could you hurry up and help me, honey? I need to find this mutt,” said Shadow.
Shadow had given Jessie a special license plate for her birthday last year. It said “Jessie” on it and it was very hard to get. He had to call months in advance to purchase that plate. It was now implanted on his silver Jetta. Shadow’s job was right down the street, so he just rode a bike to work every day and let Jessie use the Jetta.
The job Shadow had used to drive him crazy. He’d work for hours on fixing or building motherboards and if it didn’t work, he’d have to start over. He’d come home in the worst moods after a hard day’s work. He didn’t want dinner; he didn’t want to hear from anybody, though Jessie liked to talk. And that’s where Shadow got very aggravated. He began to yell at her because she asked him questions and he would kick over Tripod’s food and water and storm out of the house in a rage; leaving the front door open behind him. But Shadow didn’t leave last night. He wasn’t the one who stormed out in a rage because he was too tired for that. Jessie left with the dog and claimed she was going to stay at her mother’s for the evening. They must have come back in the house late last night. The dog must be here. Shadow and Jessie kept looking for Tripod while calling out his name to come in sight. Tripod finally walked through the door form the back yard and barked a weak screeching bark.
“It’s about time, Podders! It’s about time we accomplished that dilemma” said Shadow as he looked up at Jessie and back at Tripod.
“What the ****?!” he said. The dog had blood all around his gumball nose and his droopy lips and walked away from them into the bedroom.
“I give up,” said Jessie. “You gotta clean that dog up because I am not going to go near that Blood; I already cleaned up the dog ****. What has he been through?”
“I don’t know…” answered Shadow.
In the mean time, I’m going to go shopping for some new shoes,” Jessie. “I’ll be back later this afternoon, alright?”
Shadow sat on his favorite recliner chair in the living room. She kissed his forehead, grabbed her keys and walked out the front door.
There was silence. He was alone.
Shadow immediately got up and opened the front door to grab the daily town newspaper from the steps. He noticed that the Jetta had already left the driveway and wondered why Jessie must have been in such a hurry. He looked down the gloomy dark street and saw no sign of life. He closed the front door, locked it, and sat back down on his recliner. He unfolded the newspaper and wiggled his toes to the melody of his improvisational hum.
The hum suddenly came to a halt. The toes stopped wiggling. Shadow didn’t seem to breathe. He read the front page of the news paper and couldn’t believe his eyes. There was a Jetta- or maybe it wasn’t because it didn’t look like one. Maybe that was the point. There was no hood; there was no front seat. There were two photos: one of the car and one of the whole accident. A Tractor trailer was involved and no one in the Jetta made it. Shadow started to breathe slightly again and came to his senses; tried to collect himself. He saw the license plate and couldn’t believe his eyes.
There was silence. He was alone. He was alone the whole time.
© Christopher Rossi, 2010