Its the only way home...

It is a dark and lonely night. I had to go to the ATM to withdraw some cash for my ailing brother’s treatment.

Its funny in retrospect. Concern clouded my judgement and I gave little thought to the various stories of mugging around the neighborhood. It was only when I was returning with the last #15,000 that I realised just how stupid I had been. I could have asked any of my friends to follow me. But I hadn’t. Which brings us to my present predicament. There’s a little alleyway just before I can get home. In truth, it isn’t the only way, but the other road has a gate which thanks to the nefarious activities of rascals and riff raff is closed by 7pm sharp. This is because at this time, enclosed or hidden places become an unholy terror.

Shaking my wrist to clear a little space to see my wristwatch, I check the time. Its 8:30pm. I don’t stand a snowflake’s chance in hell in getting home that way.
So I cross myself and utter a quick word of prayer.
“What would be would be” I tell myself as I cross the sidewalk and enter the alley. Just before I enter the alley, a big dog comes out from behind a sack of refuse. Its a beautiful alsatian but I’m not really concerned about it’s good looks. I’m more concerned about it’s teeth. It’s plenty teeth. It looks at me. I look back. Oddly, I don’t take to my heels, which happens to be my default reaction when confronted by an animal with lots if teeth and claws that could easily make me dinner. The dog is coming closer. It sniffs my feet.

Is it going to bite me?

Evidently not. It settles itself beside me like we’re longtime friends. So of course I start walking home. It follows me into the alleyway. It’s staying close to me. From the outside it must look like I own the dog. Its pretty big, coming up to my waist level. Together, we finish the short walk home. Its pretty friendly, at least to me.

I wonder how my friends would react to me bringing home a stray dog? But it’s so pretty and gentle too. I scratch it under the chin. It seems to like this so I do it more. Now I knock.

Andrew opens the door for me.
“Pat! Did you go to the ATM on your own? We we’re worried. Why didn’t you call someone? Who walked the alley with you?”

“I had Jack with me-” Yes, I know, Jack the dog, so cliché, but that’s what I’m calling him. “Its this dog, he saw me through the alleyway.”

“What dog?”

Looking down, I can’t find Jack. I look back. He’s not there. I look around. Same result. No dog.

The next day, a young man was found dead in the alley with his throat slit.
He had left his friend’s party at 8:13pm. From the friend’s to the alley is an estimated 20 minute journey. While I got home, safe and sound, he died. And I never saw Jack ever again.

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