August 25th, 2019 by Patrick Starks
There’s nothing like the smell of fresh cut grass, the warm touching of the sun, and the drool of a life-size Rottweiler to get you up in the morning. Yup, me and V.J the Rottweiler were an item, partners in crime even, best friends, we did everything together. And at the time that we met, I was just a toddler, and as was he. It was easy to say that we were both pups during those years, new to the world and eager to learn about all its mysteries; although, as the months passed on, V.J would double in size, now becoming somewhat of a big brother to me, second big brother to be exact, couldn’t forget about Giovani.
Where I was from, most parents would have cringe at today if they ever had their little ones near, but not my parents, not Tarzan and Jane. Mom and Dad were something else. They were everything a child could ever want in a parent—sympathetic, strict, positive, strong, wise and loving. And even though my family and I were what some would call country, we truly enjoyed those moments while we had them.
Our home was built by the hands of my dad, on an opened field, with only tall grass to surrounded it, along with the creatures that hid in them. As dangerous it was to roam the field, there beside me stood my bodyguard as always; a Rottweiler whom most would run from today if they ever saw such.
Rattlesnakes, scorpions, black widows, even cougars were what V.J and I were up against. Sure, we felt we could defeat all that were on the list, however, the cougar would have been frightening, and a deathmatch if encountered. My brother Giovani told me the story about dads wrestle with the giant feline, how he took him down, but as I’ve gotten older I really doubt that such ever happened. Dad does have that big scar on his shoulder though. And every time I ask him about it, he just dances around the question to Stevie Wonder.
Like dad, me and V.J were not afraid. After all, we had our cat Sylvester for the snakes, as cats are known to have in their spreadsheet of professions. On most days, mainly weekends, Dad, VJ, and I would make our way to the barn. There in the barn we had a horse, who we named Copy. Still to this day I have no idea the meaning behind why dad gave her that name, but yup, that was her name, Copy. Dad fed her the typical apples and carrots, and she would waste no time to work her way down to the bottom of the bucket. I usually would feed her hay, but mom made me stop after Copy had accidently mistaken one of my fingers for a piece of that hay. But don’t worry my fingers are still intact. V.J as well had learned a valuable lesson from the black beauty, the bump on his head still left him memory of it. Dad would try to warn V.J, more than he could count. Vj’s courageous soul would get the best of him, and in the end, Copy would show V.J just how much courage he had in his furry body.
The bell would ring. That was a sign from mom that supper was ready. And man was the supper good, just thinking about it makes my stomach growl. Flame broiled hamburger patties, complimented by homemade fries. Giovani was already in the kitchen with his face stuffed as much he could stuff him. In my family food was an Olympic sport, if you did not get to the table in time, you would lose, and be left with an empty stomach to show for it. Me and V.J without hesitation headed in right after Dad.
—Sorry son, but you know the rules. No dogs or pets in general, at the table.
—Come on dad.
—You know the rules. Plus you know it ain’t sanitary to have that dog around all this good food. All those flees and mess.
I took V.J to the garage where we kept most of his things. He had the patio to stay too, but last time I left him there he was surrounded by thousands of scorpions. I couldn’t leave my buddy out all alone. So, the garage was always our second alternative. I took a handful of fries with me and a patty on our way to the garage. I wasn’t going to let my friend starve. He did have Mud Bay, but come on, if you were a dog, is that honestly something you would be okay eating ever day, no variety, no nothing, just pellets in a bowl along with a bowl of water—I don’t think so. Once I gotten VJ settled I headed back inside, but just before doing so gave him a big hug, for assurance that I would be back. He gave me a hug back, wrapping his gigantic caramel-colored paws around me. I was still little, but VJ was a gentle giant, an intelligent one to be frank. There aren’t too many dogs out there that know how to jump up and hit the garage door button to let themselves out, but somehow our VJ did, and because of that I knew he could take care of himself.
Me and the fam would say our prayer and then eat, regardless of what greedy ass had eaten already, we still prayed and still ate. And after kicking my brothers ass in Mario Kart 64 afterwards, it was time for me to hit the hay, as most children at that time were told.
—Time to go to bed baby. Go brush your teeth, you to Giovani. We got a long day tomorrow and I want to get ahead of all the chaos. People are like ants nowadays. Everywhere. You know, there use to be a time I could drive down the road and have it to myself. But I don’t miss those days. Getting pulled over, your daddy being harassed by cops was enough. I’ll admit, we live in a good era, don’t you two forget that. Now get going.
What mom said, mom got, and we didn’t dare challenge it. Not even dad, and he was freakin’ Tarzan.
The next morning was descent, not to cold, not, to hot, but just right. For once we were given a break from the southern hospitality of the sun.
—Mom do I have to go. Why can’t I go out with my friends. I’m in high school!
—Don’t raise your voice at me Giovani. You are not going, and that’s that. I need you to help me with your little brother this evening.
Mom gave Giovani the look. And when she gave that look, it be wise to not even think of a challenging plea or it be your last. Giovani became silent. Overtime we would finished getting dressed, and were on our way out for a trick or treat time. Before mom could even get to the garage, the door was already opened, VJ had let himself out into another day of adventure.
—That dam dog.
Mom had figured it out. Not like it was hard though, the claw marks near the button clearly identified who the culprit was, and his name was VJ. As we drove down a sandy road, I called out his name, hoping he would chase after the car to say goodbye to me, as he always done. There was no VJ. I called again, still nothing. And then I called for the third time, but this time with more ump, and there he was revealed, subtle, but I knew it was him.
VJ had the saddest look in his eyes, like he didn’t want me to leave. He limped his way out to reveal himself clearly, along with the injuries he had gotten. I’d ask mom to turn back around so that we could take him with us, something was wrong, but vision of him faded before I even got the chance to speak.
—He’s fine baby, we will be back later today, I’m sure he knows that.
That Halloween night was long, it was perfect, I had a full bucket of candy, even a new toy as additional bonus, but little did I know when I came back home things would no longer be the same. It was dark, cold, something was different about home. It was quiet. Too quiet. I called out VJ’s name, this time more than I had done before. There was still no sign of him, no paw steps, no bark. Just silence.
Mom yelled for dad. I rushed over to see what was going on as we jumped out of the car, but then Giovani stopped and held me tightly. Tears rushed down my face, just as fast as I had gotten to the scene. It was VJ, laying on the ground, in one of his favorite spots, only he wasn’t a sleep. I called his name again, Giovani held me even tighter, then mom joined in.
—I’m sorry baby. I’m so sorry. Everything will be alright.
—Mom what’s wrong with VJ…
Mom became speechless. She looked at dad, and dad looked to ground. He was speechless as well.
—Well… baby you see VJ is a sleep right now. And he will be for a long time.
—B-but when is he going to wake?
Mom this time just rocked me back and forward, saying nothing. Dad let me say my last goodbye. It felt like a whole day had gone by standing there, but I knew it only had been a few minutes. Dad picked VJ up and carried him off, I cried harder. I could tell dad wanted to as well, but he always dealt with pain differently then most—dad loved VJ like a son.
—Damn Cougars, sons of bitches!
Dad had already assumed what happened, the swears in the background told me that.
—It hurts, I loved that dog. Little shit. Even through his death he found his way back to us, back home.
At the end of it all, I at least got to see my best friend one last time, and for that, I am blessed to have gotten that chance, as I know many sometimes do not.
Rest In Peace my friend. May we be rejoined once more in the next life.
—Love you always