My moral code, at times, can be iffy, but I draw the line at stealing someone else’s badass dog. The longer I stared, the larger he seemed to get.
The tall, sable haired woman, Claudia, smiled a breathtaking smile and then said, “Max said you would do this. Sol told me that Max arranged for the dog, and to get him here as soon as possible. You were in luck; I was doing a police training seminar in Lubbock with Alpha, and could just zip right on over within a couple hours. I was supposed to deliver him next week, but we didn’t see any point in boarding him on a plane just to be shipped right back the next week.”
“Oh, my God. I’m going to kick his ass. Do you know how to get to Iraq?” I asked facetiously.
The man was relentless. He’d been gone for two and a half days, and, already, he’d called me more than he had in the past month when he was here. He’d asked multiple times how I’d been sleeping, but I never told him the whole truth. Yes, I slept, but not very well. I’d gotten a little over eight hours total in the last seventy two hours, which was not conducive with work, or functioning for that matter.
He’d asked me, repeatedly, to move into his place, but I was adamant that I stick it out, get over the hang-up I had with being alone. Somehow, he knew that I was lying; he knew I wasn’t sleeping.
Answering the phone at four in the morning, bright eyed and panting, probably didn’t help my case. Around three this morning I’d woken up from the same recurring nightmare. The one where I was laying on the concrete, face down, with the two men standing over me. They took turns kicking me. I’d started out in a tight ball, but after a few minutes, I no longer had the strength to protect myself. My scream of pain, when one of them stomped down on my hip, was what woke me from sleep. Instead of the futile effort of going back to sleep, I started my morning workout of Insanity three hours early.
When Max had called, I’d just finished the workout and was lying on the floor in a heap. He was lucky my phone was on the floor playing the latest John Corey book on audio; otherwise, I wouldn’t have had the strength to get up and get it. He never did mention why he was calling so late... well late for me since it was four in the morning. My only guess was that he somehow knew I wasn’t sleeping. Which explained the dog now exploring my apartment. The man just couldn’t mind his own damn business.
Then a thought struck me. “Wait a minute. What do you mean when you say you were doing police training?”
She gave me another bright smile. “Alpha is a protection dog. He’s trained to protect his trainer, or, in your case, owner. He will protect you from anything you could possibly imagine. Burglaries, muggings, fires. You name it; he will protect you from it. He’s also a trained service dog. Which means you can take him anywhere you want. Max took the liberty of having you certified as needing a service dog as well. You should have something in the mail within the next couple of days. You can even take him to work with you.”
I rolled my eyes heavenward. That man. He was such a shit, as well as stubborn and annoying. He was perfect.
“I’m not sure what hospital policy is, but I’m pretty sure they won’t let me bring my dog to work with me. Probably against public health standards or something. Don’t you actually have to have a medical condition to use a service dog?”
She regarded me with sadness in her eyes.
“Honey, you have six locks on your door. From what I can see, you have alarms on the window; although somewhat flimsy, they’ll work. You have a baseball bat leaning in the corner, a stun gun on the coffee table, and a Taser on the mantle. You’ve obviously had some sort of attack at some point in time, and you’re scared shitless. A: you need an alarm. B: you probably have PTSD, but you’re stubborn and refuse to go talk with someone. That, in itself, is a medical condition, which enables you to have a service dog. C: the hospital you work at can’t refuse to let you have the dog. It’s against the law.”
What the h-e-double hockey sticks? “Wow. I can’t believe you saw all that with less than two minutes in my apartment. FYI, alarms cost out the ass, and I don’t have the money to buy one.”
I wasn’t touching the PTSD comment with a ten-foot pole. I’d heard it, time and time again, from my parents, brother, and friends. I didn’t want to talk to some random stranger about my fucked up head either.
She nodded in understanding. “Very true. I’ve had to be very observant in my life. Let’s just say when I wasn’t, I got hurt. Now, seeing as Alpha’s made himself at home on your couch, let me go over some of the commands with you. What you can ask him to do, and a little about his history. We’ll do this a little bit over the next few days until you can do it without my help. I understand you work tonight, so we can work for an hour or so today, and I’ll take Alpha back to the hotel with me until tomorrow afternoon. After that, he can stay here, even if you have to work.”
Sure enough, the dog was knocked out on my couch. Good thing I had a sectional, or there would be nowhere to sit. The dog took up two whole cushions, and then some. I couldn’t help but laugh at that. I’d always wanted a pet, but my childhood wasn’t conducive with a dog.
My dad was career Marine. Last year he retired at the age of sixty-five, at the rank of Colonel. Over the course of my childhood, we’d never been in one place more than three years. Even now, he still actively participated in a civilian capacity. I don’t exactly know what he does; then again, I’ve never really asked. He made it a point not to discuss his job with us. I didn’t want him to lie to me, as I was sure he would have to do. I was convinced he did some secret military spook stuff.
My mom was originally from Jefferson, TX. When I turned eighteen, I looked for a school that was near my extended family. Every weekend, for the past five years, I’ve had Sunday dinner with my dad’s parents, Pepaw and Nanny. It’s so nice to have roots after spending my entire childhood anticipating the next move. When my father finally retired, they bought acreage across the street from my grandparents. For the first time in my brother’s life, he didn’t have to worry about moving, which, to a teenager, means the world.