This is a short story, in 1118 words.
It was inspired by the above photo, sent to me by Kim Barker.
Vernon was a big man, and I mean big. He looked as wide as he was tall, and had hands like bunches of bananas. Okay, he was getting some flab as he got older, but woe betide anyone who took him on. Anyone who thought that ‘the bigger they are the harder they fall’ was destined to be very wrong, when it came to Vern.
A big man needs a big dog, at least as far as he was concerned. And he got the biggest and meanest dog he could find. Tank was a Rottweiler, and one of the biggest I had ever seen. He was well-named too, as he could bash through any local dogs, and didn’t even notice them as he did so. Vern kitted him out, so he looked the part. He had a spiky collar, and needed two choke chains just to make him walk to heel. It was unlikely anyone other than Vern could have managed him.
There was no doubt that Tank was the king of the canine world in our town. Most other neighbourhood dogs wouldn’t even venture out when he was around. Vern would walk him all the time, taking Tank everywhere he went. He walked tall and proud, sure that his dog was by far the best around. Sidewalks cleared as they approached. One look at Tank’s menacing stare and drooling jowls, and anyone would cross the street to avoid them. Vern lived in the rough part of town. Though pretty much most of the town was rough, he chose to deliberately live where others tried to move away from. With a dog like Tank, nobody, but nobody was ever going to try to break in.
He really loved that dog. He would wrestle it in the front yard, and the growls and snarls could be heard along the street. And that was just Vern.
Then one day he had to go to the dentist, and they said there was no way Tank could come in. Even when Vern gave the dentist his most withering look, Mr Macaulay stuck to his guns, and said Tank would have to wait outside. Vern tied him up to a bike rack, and told him to sit and wait. It would have been alright, if Duke the German Shepherd hadn’t suddenly appeared across the street. Maybe he could tell Tank was tied up, we’ll never know. But he barked and barked at his old enemy, until Tank had had enough. He snapped that leash as if it was a shoelace, and took off across after Duke.
Unluckily for Tank, it was a cement truck that ran him down. If it had been a car, he would almost certainly have survived. He might have even jumped up and carried on after Duke. But even a dog as big as Tank had his limits, and that limit was a cement truck.
Big Vern was distraught. He carried that dog home as if it was as light as a bag of groceries, then he buried him in the back yard. He marked the spot with Tank’s choke chains and a rubber bone toy, before wondering how he would cope without his best friend. The locals left him alone for a long time after that, as his mood was impossible to predict. They knew he had done some hard time in his youth, and there were bad rumours about his past. Enough for everybody to leave him in peace with his grief.
Some time later, Vern had to go to the Post Office, to send back a shirt that was too small. Even when he bought the largest size available, they were usually too small.
After checking in the parcel, he headed for home. Shoulders slumped, feeling lost without a leash in his hand, and the feel of Tank pulling hard at the end of it. Approaching the corner, he looked behind for traffic, and was surprised to see a tiny dog behind him. As he stopped, the dog stopped. When he crossed at the light, the dog crossed too, and as he walked into his street, it was still behind him. He thought no more of it, and went into the house.
After some coffee and a few sandwiches, Vern thought he might hose down the front yard, just for something to do. Standing by the gate was the tiny dog, giving him a concentrated scare. Wandering across, he loomed over it, smiling. “You lost, little one? Where’s your mom and dad?” It just stood there, with that same stare. Vern leaned forward, and scooped it up in one of his shovel-sized hands. “I s’pose I better take you to the Vet, see if you got a chip or something”.
There was nothing on the Vet’s scanner, and nobody had reported the little dog missing. He told Vern that it was a pure-breed Pomeranian bitch, and was around five years old. Vern asked if he reckoned he could find a home for it, and the Vet smiled. “Sure, these dogs cost a lot, and are very fashionable. Leave her with me, and I will charge the new owner for my time”. As Vern turned to leave, he saw that the dog was still giving him that look. Try as he might, he couldn’t bring himself to pull on the handle to open the door.
Reaching into his pocket, he removed his wallet. “On second thoughts, I will pay your bill and take her. I don’t like to think about who might want her, and whether they will look after her”.
Vern carried the dog home, and stopped off in the pet store on the way. The owner looked at him in wonder as he bought a pink leash, a collar with rhinestones, and a small dog bed. He knew Vern from old, and thought the old guy must have lost it. Vern’s next stop was the fried chicken shop. He bought a family bucket, and smiled as the dog’s nose twitched at the aroma.
Back at the house, he carefully removed the fried coating, and separated some chicken from the legs into one of Tank’s old bowls. It was big enough for the tiny dog to take a swim in, but she gobbled up all that chicken in record time. Vern went into the bedroom to take a nap, and the tiny dog folowed him, jumping straight up onto the end of the bed. He smiled at that cute little face. “I’m gonna call you Little Kimmy. You live here now”.
Little Kimmy looked straight back into the big man’s eyes.
She knew she was home.