The Story below is brought to you from, More Than Best Friends, an anthology in support of guide dogs for the blind. It is a collaboration of stories put together by Kevin Morris with contributions from, Sally Georgina Cronin, Valerie Ormond, Meredith Dixon Hayes, Sue Vincent, Alienora Taylor, Gary S. Watkins, Anju Lavina, Shaun Dickinson, Denise Buckley, Robin Leigh Morgan, Tim Baker, Kevin Morris and myself.
Many thanks to David Higgins, Editor and to Chris Graham for the book cover and other promotions, both of whom offered up their services and time freely to help make this anthology possible. And of course Trigger, Kev’s faithful companion. http://newauthoronline.com/anthology-to-raise-money-for-guide-dogs/
My hope is that you will enjoy my story below enough to consider contributing to the charity and downloading a copy of the anthology so you can enjoy all the other freely contributed, wonderful works within.
A Life for a Life
The small Fiat pulled over clumsily to the side of the road. It was a deserted place, dry grassland covered in frost in the middle of nowhere, deep in the night. Stretching for miles, were the treacherous moors.
A large silhouette opened the boot of the Fiat. The moonlight shone down to betray a two-year-old Golden Retriever, little more than skin and bone that whined and looked up with sad bloodshot, brown eyes. He’d already been beaten several times, so cowered further into the corner of the boot, shivering and whimpering.
“Come ‘ere you worthless mutt!” Rough hands grabbed hold of the Retriever by the scruff of the neck and dragged him out of the boot. Lifted up and then thrown, the dog hit the ground with a crack as one of its legs broke under the force of the impact.
The figure slammed the car boot shut, walked around the car, and shuffled back into the driver’s seat. Taking a huge gulp from a beer can, the person crushed it, chucked it out the open car window, and pulled the tab on another can, before lighting a cigarette. The car screeched as it sped off into the night.
The dog whimpered and nursed his leg as best he could. He attempted to stand several times before finally managing, with intense pain, to drag himself across the barren land in search of food and shelter from the cold.
In the distance came the sound of a screech followed by a huge bang as a driver lost control of the vehicle. The Fiat had veered out of control and crashed into a huge oak. Having failed to secure the seatbelt, the driver was catapulted at a high velocity and was killed within moments. The body was thrown head first, through the windshield and landed face down on the glass covered, blood-spattered, half crumpled bonnet which was crumpled by the impact of the tree.
A moment can be a hell of a long time and that’s all it took for the driver’s life to flash before her eyes.
In the first scene, she stood and watched as a child, while her father kicked their dog for chewing his shoes. She cried, “No, daddy!” but that was met with a backhand across her face and harsh words about how children and pets should be taught obedience and know their place.
The second scene showed her as a teenager happily bringing home a new puppy. Her mother, upon seeing her said, “You better train it right or your father will make you get rid of it. And what you expect to feed it with? Money’s tight enough as it is! Don’t be looking to us for hand outs! If I were you, I’d be thinking twice an’ taking it back to where you got it from. Be better than the alternative.”
That evening a black-eyed, teenage girl is forced to let the puppy go, as she is instructed forcefully to throw it into a river. “When you got your own place, do as you like, but as long as you’re under my roof…”
In the third scene she is much older, has her own place, and brings home a beautiful Golden Retriever. He is given food in bowls that are never cleaned and inevitably becomes ill. Upon vomiting and having diarrhoea, he is beaten and left with nothing to eat. This goes on for several days. Finally his owner is tired of the whimpering and decides to make an end of it. She roughly picks up the whining dog and throws him into the boot of her Fiat.
The final scene before drawing her last breath is that of dragging the poor dog out of the boot, throwing him with brute force into the ice-cold wilderness and leaving him for dead. Then, all is quiet in the stillness of the night as if nothing had happened.
A Life for a Life
It’s morning and the Jones family are off to stay with Grandma Jones for the Christmas holiday. They set off early as it’s quite a trip. As they are driving along the country road, seven-year-old Edward, who has been peering out the window, suddenly cries, “Dad stop!” His dad begins to slow down.
“What on earth are you doing, John?” says Edward’s mother, to his father.
“Ed never tells me to stop, Sal” His father responds.
After John pulls over he turns around and says, “What’s up, little fella?”
“There’s something near the road just back there, I saw it.”
“It was probably just a big rock or something.” interjects Sally, his mother.
“No, no, it wasn’t, it was a dog, I think, a big one.”
“You must be mistaken,” says his mother, “there’s nothing around here for miles.
“No, it was a dog, I’m sure it was!”
“Come on Sal, let’s take a look. It can’t hurt anything.” says John.
John turns the car around and slowly drives back down the road.
“There! There he is!” cries Edward.
“Oh my god…” begins Sally as John pulls up beside it. Edward rushes out of the car.
“Edward don’t touch…” It’s too late.
“Mom, Dad, quick he’s still alive!”
“You get the winter blanket out the boot while I take a look at him Sal. It’s bloody freezing out here,” says John as he makes his way over to Edward and the dog.
“Can you help him dad?”
The dog’s breathing is shallow and he’s badly hurt.
“I don’t know Ed, I’ll try, but I can’t do anything here.”
Sally puts the blanket on the dog and John lifts it carefully. The dog moans slightly.
“He’s in pain and starved by the looks of it, not to mention the cold. Right Ed, young fella, he’s going to have to lie beside you…” says John
“Yes!” Edward interjects.
“Make sure he keeps this blanket on. If he survives until we get to grandmas; he might just stand a chance. We’ll see.” continues John.
As they move on, Edward carefully squeezes some water from a bottle into the side of the dog’s mouth and it swallows slowly. His mother turns and sees it. She smiles.
“You can’t go drinking from that bottle anymore.”
“It’s ok mom, I don’t need it.”
Sally nudges John, who glances in the rear view mirror at Edward tending the dog, grins at Sally, and puts his mind back to the road ahead.
Driving up the country road again they pass a place where a small car has veered way off the road and had crumpled into an old oak tree. The body sprawled across the bonnet is hidden from view by the back of the car. With all attention on their new passenger, it goes completely unnoticed.
A couple of hours later they reach grandma’s house and unload the car. “You and Edward take the dog to the animal hospital in town; he’ll want to go with you. Your mother and I will unpack and everything.” says Sally. “Besides, it’ll be easier with you men out of the way.” She winks.
The vet looks at the dog as John lays him on the table. She nods her head in disgust.
“Broken leg, couple of other fractures, dehydrated, and on the brink of starvation…” She gives and exasperated sigh. “God knows what kind of other damage as a result. He would have died either from hunger, the cold or both had you not found him. He’ll have to stay in a while. The best I can do right now is put him on an IV for help with pain and nutrition. Once he’s asleep I can fix up the leg, and check more thoroughly for any other problems and bring him up to date with vaccinations. What do you plan to do with him? Since you’re from out of town, I can contact a shelter if…”
John interrupts, “That won’t be necessary. Sally and I have been discussing getting a pet for quite some time now, but didn’t want to rush into it, being a big decision and all. Nothing winds me up more than people who treat pets like Christmas presents that can be discarded when you get tired of them or they don’t live up to expectations.”
“Tell me about it!” says the vet.
“We want Edward here to learn a sense of responsibility and from what he’s shown us in the past few hours, since first catching sight of the dog, I think he’s ready for that. So what do you say, little fella? Shall we keep him?”
“Yes! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!”
“In that case,” says the vet laughing, “You can start your big responsibility by giving him a name. What shall we call him?”
“Ok, well there’s nothing more you can do just yet except maybe do a bit of shopping for doggy goods. I’ll keep Toby in a few days and keep you updated with his progress. Meanwhile, Edward, try not to worry about him and enjoy your holiday.
A Life for a Life
A young boy about nine years of age is flying his kite along a river bank. A Golden Retriever watches the kite happily as it strolls by the young lad’s side.
“Edward, don’t go too near the river bank. Bring it back over here,” calls his mother. The retriever barks at Edward and heads towards his mother, in the hopes that Edward will follow.
It seems to work: “Ok Toby.” And louder to his mom: “Ok, I’m coming!” Then everything happens so quickly. A gust of wind picks up the kite and the handle is pulled from Edward’s hands. The kite flies off towards the river. Edward runs; arms in the air, and reaches to grab the string. Looking upwards, he forgets all about the edge of the river bank and loses his footing. He goes tumbling down the steep bank into the river.
“Edward!” screams his mother. She knows he cannot swim and goes running towards the river bank.
Toby gets there first, barks and disappears over the edge of the bank. Sally screams again, “Edward!” She reaches the river bank and can do nothing but watch as Toby swims after Edward being pulled slowly by the river.
A couple, who had heard her scream run over. The young man tells Sally to call 999 and scrambles down the bank. Pulling out her phone, Sally runs along the bank.
Toby reaches Edward and drags him back to the edge of the river. Getting through to the emergency services, Sally tells them what’s happening. She makes her way carefully down the bank to where Edward lay with Toby beside him.
The young man reaches him first and listens to his mouth and chest for breathing. Getting no response, he begins CPR.
The young man casts his mind back to a course he’d taken the previous year and mutters quickly to himself, “30 and two, 30 and two.”
It was what the young female instructor had taught the small class and reiterated at the end of the course, “If ever you’re in doubt, always remember 30 and two and the rest will come back to you.”
He pumps Edward’s chest in rapid succession, puts his head back, pinches his nose and breathes into his mouth twice.
Sally drops the phone and runs over, “Edward!”
The Young man pumps his chest again.
“Oh my God, Edward… Edward!”
He continues again with mouth to mouth.
“Why isn’t he responding?!”
More pumps to the chest followed by more mouth to mouth
“Baby! Ed… Sally falters and falls to her knees and watches, helpless.
“Why isn’t he…?
Sally is cut short as Edward sputters up water and begins to cough.
“Edward, Edward, oh my God!”
At that moment the paramedics arrive and take over the scene.
“Thank you!” says Sally to the young man.
“It was your Retriever that saved him, Ma’am. I would never have got to him on time.”
The emergency services take Edward to the hospital for a check-up. Sally followed with Toby in the car after exchanging numbers with the couple.
She rings John while she is waiting in the hospital and explains what has happened. After explaining the facts, she starts to blame herself and walks back and forth exasperated.
“All of this is my fault, John…” she begins tearfully. He cuts her off.
“We’ll talk about this later, after I get there.”
He arrives, looking worried while they are still at the hospital.
“He’s ok. They’re just following routine to make sure of things.”
John embraces her.
After they get home, Sally rings the couple expressing her gratitude and invites them to dinner to thank them properly. She then fixes a frugal supper, after which she tucks Edward in bed and stays until he falls asleep. Toby lies at the foot of the bed. “Thank you so much, Toby,” she says patting his head.
She goes back down blaming herself for everything that has happened. She almost lost him. “How could I have been so careless?”
John consoles her:
“You cannot control everything. You didn’t make the kite come out of his hands and like you said, he was heading back to you before it happened. You did nothing wrong.”
“If it hadn’t been for Toby…” mused sally.
“Do you remember what Edward a couple of years ago?”
John smiled in an effort to lighten the mood.
“Yes!” She smiled back and then it hit her. “How strange. It’s a life for a life.”
by Kevin Cooper
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