Terry the terrier was barking up a storm. It was loud and vicious and very unbecoming from the well-trained dog. On top of that, it was on a weekend morning when Jonathon Caldwell desperately yearned to sleep in.
At first, Jonathon tried to ignore it. But the dog persisted. He grabbed an extra pillow from the bed and put it over his head. That didn’t work either.
“Terry,” he roared as he turned over and lay on his back. The stream of light from the half-open blinds met him when he turned over. It was this moment that the last vestige of sleep was defeated.
“Terry!” he screamed as the dog barked, oblivious to Jonathon’s growing agitation.
The dog kept going. Jonathon had a problem that required he’d have to leave the warm confines of the bed to rectify this problem.
It won’t be long before the neighbors start complaining, he thought as he pounded the mattress with his fist
With a sigh – as well as boiling anger – Jonathon jumped out of bed and scurried down the hall. He turned a corner and entered the living room on his way to the French doors that led to the backyard. He blindly made his way through this obstacle, and luckily didn’t trip over or step on the dog toys and other “presents” Terry left behind.
He thrust the door open. It slammed against the wall. For a pithy moment, Jonathon believed that violent exit from the house would get the dog’s attention. But Terry kept barking and growling.
He rushed around the corner. There, he spotted Terry near a tarp-covered stack of building material for a fence he planned to start constructing later in the day.
Jonathon was taken aback when he saw Terry. The terrier leapt and lunged at that tarp. Her teeth flashed and saliva spat out of her muzzle. There was no doubt that something had Terry’s attention.
The rage within Jonathon had subsided. Now, he was walking gingerly toward the raging terrier. Even his attempt at placating her had gone from screams to a low and hushed plea for obedience.
“Whoa, there Terry,” he said as he finally made it to Terry’s side.
Terry craned her head toward Jonathon, and calmed down. Now, the barking was replaced with a whine. It was her way to say to the human: “There’s something in there.”
Mice were vermin, but, as Jonathon peered at it, this one was young and scared. The only thing it wanted was to get out this place and somewhere safe.
Jonathon’s interest was piqued. He motioned with his hand for Terry to move aside. Like the obedient dog she actually was, she adhered to this gesture.
He whispered “good girl” before turning his full attention to the tarp.
As he did so, he began to hear a high pitched squeak. “Tiny scream” was the first thought that came to him. Those were the screams of a small animal.
Steadily, he reached for a corner of the tarp and lifted it. Near the top of the pile of wooden fence posts, a lone and frightened mouse poked its head out of an enclosure between two planks.
Mice were vermin, but, as Jonathon peered at it, this one was young and scared. The only thing it wanted was to get out this place and somewhere safe. Jonathon ruminated for a moment. Maybe, he could spare this one’s life and set it free in the front yard.
He looked around and spotted a plastic pale he could use. In doing so, he let the tarp fall back into place. He retrieved the pale and passed by Terry without giving her much thought. The obedient dog wasn’t barking anymore or scurrying around as she did only moments ago.
“Okay,” Jonathon said to the mouse as he slowly lifted the tarp. “We’ll get you out of here in no time and…”
Before he could finish his thought, Terry lunged. She snatched the mouse with her jaws and snapped its back with a loud, horrid crack. The mouse squealed one last time, before falling silent forever.
Jonathon was dumbfounded. The event happened so fast that it took time for it to register. When it did, Jonathon flailed his arms at Terry. In response, Terry let go of the mouse, letting the small, fragile body fall to the concrete.
The mouse twitched several times, and then, laid still. Its eyes were wide, but no fire of life glowed in them. Its mouth slightly open, but the breath of its existence had already exited from it.
It was fast. And, in that short time, it was painful.
Terry’s interest in the mouse quickly subsided. She scampered off to the other side of the lawn to play with a tennis ball. Jonathon on the other hand stood there.
He knew at that moment that he was not going to return to bed. How could he? Nothing could ever be the same
© 2015 Dean Traylor