FOOD FOR LOBO
I didn't catch Booger teasing Lobo, tied across the street, until the night the power went out because of the wind storm and the heat made it difficult for me to sleep, even when I took another two of my red pills. Booger came up to where Lobo, a pit bull/mastiff mutt, was chained. Booger was dangling a long piece of rope in his hand and started whipping the dog with it. Lobo went crazy, snarling and foaming at the mouth, yanking at his chain so hard that he sometimes flipped over backward with a thud. Booger laughed like a maniac, like he did when he was 6 and started becoming the bully he was, a laugh that sounded crazy and silly and at the same time. He beat that dog for a good 15 minutes and when he left, Lobo was left spent, his neck and mouth bleeding. Lobo couldn't bark, but his wounds spoke volumes about what he felt.
Booger came up almost every night. Lobo would get wild when he sensed Booger was near, pulling hard against the chain. Some nights, Booger would just stand there, a few feet out of Lobo's snarling reach, the long piece of rope dangling, unused. On other nights, Booger would beat the dog horribly, snapping the rope with his lanky arm's strength. A few times he tied a big knot at the end of the rope. On those nights, Lobo bled a lot. His drunken owner never saw anything, just slopping the food and water in the dog's bowls and staggered away to get drunk again or sleep.
I'm 94. I live alone, have no car, no phone, no kin, no visitors except for the Meals on Wheels woman who acts like delivering food once a week is penance for wearing too much make-up. I couldn't call the police, nor ask anyone to do it for me. The people near me were afraid of Booger, many of them old and frail as me. To rat out Booger was to ask to be hurt. Or killed.
Once a month, I'd dress up warm and take a very slow walk to Findlay's Groceries, four blocks and two hours away. I did it to buy my own food with a budget that could barely keep a body and soul together, even one as thin as mine. A stock boy once asked me if I had a lot of cats. I lied. That's why I bought my own food: fewer questions that way.
My long walk was nearing an end, the light bags now heavy in my rolling walker's basket. I could see the door to my house and Lobo, across the street, lying in the shade. Suddenly, water drenched me head to toe. A big black car, music thundering from it fit to wake the dead, drove away, Booger at the wheel, his arm thrust out the window and the middle finger rising above it.
I took a chill that lasted almost a week. I thought I'd die, what with no one to care and the Meals on Wheels woman knocking once and leaving the food on the doorstep, where I found it four days later. That same day, before the chill could stop me, I walked again to Findlay's. Bless his heart, Greg Findlay actually came out to see if I was okay, senile maybe, for making a trip back so soon. No, I said, I want ground beef. Two pounds.
He actually looked very sad. Rather than waste a word, I opened my purse and showed him the crisp tenner I had saved for a rainy day long ago. He pursed his lips, got the ground beef himself and even got his manager to give me a ride back. I didn't say no, because my legs were aching something fierce and my head was fit to burst.
It took me an hour to thaw the beef well and roll chunks of it into meatballs. My hands weren't as good as they used to be, but a ball is a ball. With the sun going down and my heart hammering to break a rib, I walked across the street. Towards Lobo.
I tossed him a couple of meatballs and went away. I did that every day, getting closer to Lobo until I gave him the last two standing right next to him. Then he waited patiently as my feeble hands sawed at the thick leather collar he wore, tears of rage at my weakness splashing his matted fur and the fear that I'd faint and be found out. I lost what little strength I had left and had to leave. I had to take four of my red pills because the pain was awful. I was sobbing from the effort. But I was awake and smiling when Booger got the smile ripped off his face by Lobo. I swear I heard that mutt howl with glee.