You experience something really rotten. It twists your thinking. It makes you ask the big questions. You work it through and think. Alright, got it dealt with, moving on. Then you are walking down the street one day…and it is a beautiful day…clear and crisp and perfect. You are thinking, life is good, I’m okay, the world is okay.
You keep walking, making a point to appreciate the beauty around you. You’ve been in battle, you know how priceless peace is and you appreciate it. You notice that it is getting a little darker, there might be a little rain, it might be a storm coming. You aren’t sure what it is, but you notice that the quality of the air has changed. The hair on the back of your neck goes up and you start threat scanning trying to detect any possible danger. It gets a little darker and your uneasiness has turned into pucker factor. Your thinking has turned from recognizing a beautiful day to wondering why you didn’t think to bring weaponry on your walk.
You can feel eyes on you, something behind you, you tune in but you don’t see anything, you don’t hear anything but you feel it, so you keep moving forward, staying aware. Your ears pick up a subtle panting; it’s stealthy and moving fast. You assess the area, looking for a place to duck into long enough to turn the tables. As you move for cover you catch a glimpse out of the corner of your eye. It’s a dog, feral, growling and slinging slobber and it’s looking at you. You have nothing with which to defend yourself and you don’t even have much experience with dogs, at least not this kind. Your dogs have all been golden and chocolate labs, big dopey, happy, loving dogs. Not this thing, this slavering beast.
You see a shack in the distance; you can make it if you run hard and it will allow you enough cover and time to regroup while you outwait the dog from hell. So you run, hell bent for leather. You hit the stairs two at a time, burst through door, slam it closed and lean back against it in time to feel the shuddering thud of the hell dog hitting the door behind you. You are breathing hard and working hard to slow your breath down, get yourself refocused, take a look around to see what you have to work with and plan your E&E.
Your breathing is nice and calm now but you are still hearing panting. You are filled with a sense of dread as you reach into your thigh pocket and pull out your trusty Zippo. You strike it, squinting your eyes and looking to the side of the light spilling into the room. In the flickering light from that lighter that is now growing hot between your fingers you see twenty, maybe thirty dogs. Dobies, pits, Shepards, Aussies, ankle biting rat dogs, St. Bernards, Rotts. All breeds, sizes and temperaments represented. You think this might be okay, I like dogs, they like me, I can do this. With burning fingers you close the lighter, lean back against the door and formulate a plan. And every one of those plans has one flaw. Because no matter what you do, you either go face the hell dog, or you take your chances walking through the room.
The panting has turned to growls and occasional warning barks. You marshal up your intestinal fortitude, you know any sign of fear and they will be on you. Behind you, you hear hell dog digging at the door, his frenzied barking is spreading agitation through the rest of the pack. You can’t go back, and you can’t stay at that door. You are going to have to walk through that room knowing that those dogs are going to bite. No way to avoid it. There is no way you are going to make it across the room to the back door without getting bit and you know it. And for the briefest moment you are utterly paralyzed by the knowledge. But you are made of tougher stuff, you’re a warrior, you have training, you don’t give up, no matter what, so you work it through again. The question is now not whether you will be bitten, it is will you even survive, or if after being bitten enough do you even want to?
While you are trying to work that all out and screw up the courage to push away from the door and let the bite fest begin you hear noise from outside. It doesn’t dissuade hell dog who is totally focused on you. But you hear people talking, shouting at you, and they are the people who love you, the people that you love. They are outside the house and they are calling to you…they are trying to encourage you, trying to help you find your way, telling you to go for it, they believe in you, they understand, they have everything you need outside, they’ll help patch you up. But they cannot see the dogs so they can’t really help you and after awhile, even their voices join the cacophony of the snarling dogs.
Damn, you do want to try to get to them. You want to make it back to that sunshiny day when you were relaxed and seeing the beauty in the world and appreciating peace. You don’t want to leave these dogs to bite someone else. And you don’t want them biting you anymore. So you start, one little step, in the dark, toward the door and before your fully away from the door, the dogs are on you… some bite you deep, and you can smell your blood in the air. Some you make it by with just a graze. Some just make a lot of noise. You fight your way through until you make it to the door on the other side of the house. One excruciatingly painful step at a time.
You get to that damned door, looking back to see the damage you inflicted on the dogs for taking their pound of flesh. It’s just another battlefield, one more to haunt your dreams. You get to that door and you are bloody as hell, shredded and punctured, scratched and mauled. And you are tired and in pain down to the core of your soul. You need to rest, you need to lick your wounds and give yourself the time you need to honor what you have done, the battle you have fought. You rest your forehead against the door, part of you more than willing to make peace with the dead dogs and just stay in the dark house. But you don’t. You open the door and step out into the light. It is blinding and hot and it feels overwhelming.
Those people who love you, who you love, who were encouraging you, loving you, they gather around, they want to touch you now, congratulate you, talk about your battle, your victory, the fact that you are a hero. And they want to give you a puppy. Everyone loves puppies right, why wouldn’t you? And at that moment you wonder if you wouldn’t have been better off just letting the dogs eat you. Because you know what puppies grow into.