09
Jan
20

Not a Dog

It looked like a dog, but it wasn’t one.

I should know; I’d been watching it for a week. It wasn’t a dog. Just like the things that looked like little girls skipping rope up the street weren’t little girls, how the flickering lights in the office building around the corner wasn’t an electrical malfunction, and how the rattling fence in front of juvie over on Saliman wasn’t just the wind.

So I watched it. I sat outside the Qwik Stop all day and most of the night, pretending to be just another panhandler. I was invisible to most folks coming and going, even the staff. To a few, I was a figure of ridicule, getting an insult, a dirty look, or sometimes a kick if no one else was looking. To a handful, I was something to be pitied, handed one of the godawful things the store claimed were cheeseburgers but tasted like styrofoam, or maybe a few spare coins. None of them concerned me. I preferred to be invisible, but the occasional cheeseburger kept my stomach from growling and the kicks or insults kept me awake on the long nights when the dog-thing either didn’t show or did nothing but stare back at me.

Why did I do it? A simple question, with a simple answer: I had to. Someone had to, anyway, and nobody else was volunteering. For a little podunk wannabe city, this place was lousy with ghosts and spooks of all flavors, and if someone wasn’t keeping watch and cleaning up the messes the unsolved crimes part of the police blotter would be a hell of a lot bigger than it already was.

So I wait. I watch. The dog that isn’t a dog is up to something – waiting for something, maybe – and I need to be ready when it happens.


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