Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2272921-The-Lesson
by green
Rated: E · Short Story · Animal · #2272921
In animal rescue, you see lots of horrible things. This story is ONLY a fantasy.


"Mr. Johnson?" I asked, speaking to the sloppy man in the doorway. Dressed in old khakis and a food blotched tee shirt, his red eyes barely focused on me.

"I'm Jennie Monroe from Animal Control. This is about the female pit bull we removed from these premises this morning. She died before we could get her to a vet, extreme malnutrition."

Mr., Johnson leaned against the doorway, sucking a toothpick. "So?" He answered.

Flipping through the pages on my clipboard, I said, 'This is the third time we've had to remove an animal from your premises. It also states you didn't show up for court regarding a previous removal. The judge ruled you in contempt, charged you with animal abuse, and specifically ordered no more animals."

"I don't know nothing about that." Mr. Johnson replied.

"You were sent papers in the mail, informing you of the court's ruling. That was about a month ago. Did you receive those papers?"

"Could have. Ain't checked my mail lately." Mr. Johnson shifted, still chewing the toothpick.

"I see you don't miss many meals, Mr. Johnson? "You have a fairly nice house with a large if somewhat littered yard. Yet all the animals we've removed were starving. Can you explain that?"

"Lady, when I was coming up, we didn't feed the dogs, just threw our leftovers outside. They got plenty, didn't starve. Maybe you people got it wrong."

"Mr. Johnson, one of your dogs died and the other two had massive health issues. They required a lot of care to bring them back. The one who died had swallowed rocks, trying to stay alive. What these poor animals went through is unimaginable. I want to work with you, Mr. Johnson. I don't think you understand what it means to take care of an animal."

Mr. Johnson kept staring at me and rotating that toothpick.

I asked, "Mr. Johnson, would you take a ride with me? I have something to show you."

Glancing at my butt, Mr. Johnson replied," Yep. Just a minute"

Going inside, he returned, holding an open beer can.

Settling in his side of my truck, he asked, "Where we goin?"

"Right outside of town, Mr. Johnson. I hope to make you understand what a starving dog feels like."

Suddenly I brought my right hand up and plunged a hypodermic needle into his thigh.

All he managed was "What the he......." before he slumped unconscious in his seat, spilling his beer on the floor.

I'd been planning this since we removed the last dog from his yard. I had hoped I wouldn't need to do this but the call regarding Mr. Johnson this morning set it into motion.

I drove into the desert. My grandfather had left me 800 acres of uncultivated land out here. Yesterday in anticipation I'd driven a steel post in the center of this land. I attached a heavy short chain to the top. A small empty shack stood at the far right. Inside I had put a dog bowl and some water.

Going back to my truck, I searched behind the driver's seat and pulled out a large spiked dog collar I'd bought just for this occasion. I popped it around Mr. Johnson's neck, snapping it shut. Bringing a fold-up wheelchair from the back of the truck, I dragged a limp heavy Mr. Jonson out of the truck and into the chair. Wheeling him over to the post, I flipped him onto the ground and hooked the chain to the dog collar, securing both with a huge padlock. Pulling on plastic gloves, I removed most of his clothes, leaving only his yellowing boxers.

I ran to the shed, filled the bowl with water and set it just beyond the chain's reach. I sat against one of my truck's tires and waited.

Mr. Johnson moaned, trying to sit up. Scratching at his neck, he felt the dog collar.

"What the hell?" Seeing me, he growled, "What did you do?" he demanded, slurring his words. "Where are we? What's this?" touching his dog collar.

I replied, "Mr. Johnson, I figured a man like you wasn't ever going to change just because I said so. So, I thought I'd show you what your dogs went through. You are chained to a post in the middle of the desert. This is my grandfather's land, no one knows I own it. You have no family. Your neighbors will be so glad you're gone, they won't even look for you.

'You are chained to this post just like you chained your dogs. I do have water for you but, darn it, it's just out of reach. Do you know a human being can go more than three days without water? It does get kind of hot out here. Maybe two days then. You can stretch the chain over to the back side of the shed so at least you have a little shade".

Mr. Johnson interrupted me, shouting, "You stupid bitch. I'll kill you! You can't do this!"

"Oh yes, I can, Mr. Johnson. I've been dreaming about doing this for quite a while. I have to leave now; I need to check on my dogs. However, I do have some entertainment for you to help pass the time."

Reaching into my bag, I pulled out a small recorder. "I recorded the sounds your last dog made as she realized she was dying." I switched the recording on, moving the sound control to very loud. Cries from the recorded tape were nearly ear-splitting.

Mr. Johnson just stared at me, opening and closing his clenched fists.

"I'll be back tomorrow, Mr. Jonson if I don't forget. I'll bring you some food. By the way, Mr. Johnson, that post is sunk 10 feet into a concrete base. You won't be able to move it but you're welcome to try."

I heard him yelling obscenities as I drove away. Phrase 1 complete. I wondered how long this was going to take. It pretty much depended on how stupid Mr. Johnson was. Was I considering letting him starve to death? Lots of land out there, plenty of room to bury a body.

I waited until late in the afternoon the next day before I returned. Mr. Johnson was against the side of the shed. The beer sweating out through his pores swept through the air. The recorder still pierced with its pitiful sounds.

When Mr. Johnson saw me, he jumped up and yelled, "I need water. I'm so thirsty I can't breathe."

I clicked off the recorder and kicked the metal bowl of water over to him.

He asked, "Gimme a cup."

"I don't have one, lap it up like a dog."

Mr. Johnson glaring at me, bent over and slurped at the water. He drained the bowl and kicked it towards me.

"How about food? Did you bring me any?"

"Oops, I forgot the food, maybe tomorrow." I answered.

He said, "OK I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Take this damn thing off!" pulling at the collar.

"Mr. Johnson, it's not that simple. 'I'm sorry' doesn't do it for me. You can plan on being out here for at least a week, more or less. I have to be sure you really understand what's you've done. I don't know how long that will take but I'll try to keep you alive until you reach that point. OK, Mr. Johnson? Are we clear?"

"Damn you! You'd better hope I don't get free. I'll kill you for this."

He was still hollering as I drove off.

This time I stayed away for two days. I picked up some cheeseburgers and a couple bottles of water on my way out.

Driving to the area, I didn't see him at first. OMG! Did he manage to get free? Was he hiding, ready to attack me?

Whew! There he was, laying by the shed. He looked up as I jumped out of my truck.

I threw the cheeseburgers and water at him.

"Here's some food and water for you. Make them last. I don't know when I'll be back."

He didn't bother answering me as he tore the bag open and crammed the cheeseburgers down his throat. Then he drained the bottles of water. Finished he sat with his back against the shed without saying a word.

Mr. Johnson? How do you feel?"

"Awful! I'm chained to a post by a crazy woman."

"I was hoping you'd realize what you put your dogs through but I guess you still don't get it."

"Don't leave me here," he begged. "Anything you want. I won't ever get another dog. Just take this collar off."

"I don't believe you, Mr. Johnson. The collar stays on."

The next day I waited until after dark and returned to poor Mr. Johnson.

He was sleeping, his arms and legs jerking fitfully. I turned the flashlight on and shone it in his face.
"Get up! Get up!"

Opening his eyes, he looked at me, moaning softly.

I handed him a small bottle of water and moved away from him.

"Mr. Johnson, I'll ask you again. Do you get it? Do you understand how cruel you were to your dogs? Are you ready to change?"

"You stupid bitch!" he yelled as he lunged at me. "When I get free, I'll kill you. Dogs are dogs. They don't need all this crap you keep spouting." With that he lunged at me again but I wisely stayed just beyond the reach of the chain. The collar slammed him back against the post.

Looking at him, I said, "Good bye, Mr. Johnson.

I drove away, knowing I wouldn't be back. He would die out there in the desert, hungry and thirsty just like his dogs. I suppose at some point I might regret this. Maybe.

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