Tess woke up before Jack ..... it was her habit or at this stage now of the relationship, her routine. They have been together for almost over two years now or maybe two and a half, nobody was counting. She knew if was to wake up Jack right now and ask him,
'Hey, sleepy head, how long are we together now,'
Jack would not be able to tell her the exact date.
'Hopeless, totally hopeless,'
she would say,
'and more to the point do you even remember the date of my birthday, I will give you a little hint, 12th or 13th of, think now .. carefully, 12th or the 13th of November.?'
She was teasing him and liked to watch the expression on his face change, like the clown looking for the right expression to 'put' on. Now he was up to his knees in quick sand of the mind type. He could never get it right, but she knew Jack, she just wanted to see him sweat a little and to watch that worried expression on his sweet face ..... you would think she had a shotgun to his head. He was afraid to answer in case of giving Tess the wrong date but it was all play with them. He just has not got the head for dates. Some people were born with the head for figures, remembering dates but Jack, well he was born with lots of kindness he gave out and saw no wrong in anybody.
Tess was now standing at the kitchen window waiting for the coffee to boil watching the neighbours dog, half trotting about and peeing up against anything that wasn't moving. She never saw a dog that could pee so much. She had a total dislike for that dog and would swear it killed off any decent plant she had in the garden, but you could not say it to the neighbour, the owner of the dog. He was as mean looking as the dog and was quite capable of peeing on her if anything was said about his dog. He was the living nightmare next door.
So much for the dog.
So much for the neighbour.
So much for her plants.
'Coffee boiled yet ... sunshine,'
asked Jack , as he wrapped his arms around her slim waist and pulled her towards him, playing his stubble-chin on her shoulder. She could forget almost everything when Jack held her in his arms. She never thought she could love a man as she loved this man Jack. She was always afraid of being hurt and she did not like to be hurt. Not like the last time. No more. She promised herself ... with a vengeance that could kill.
Jack and Tess were of the same age, twenty eight, with two months between them. She taught in the junior school for the past year in the same neighbourhood and mostly walked to the 'little monsters' as she called them, but today was a public holiday. No school, no 'little monsters'. Today was her day with Jack.
Free and easy day.
Just like Jack who was an easy going kind of guy and never seemed to stress himself over anything, except maybe for the neighbour, who for no reason always gave him dirty looks and never a kind word was said between them, but not the dog, no, Jack had time for the dog like he did for all human and sentient beings. He could never figure it out why the neighbour had it in for him.
'Must be a past life thing,'
he would say to Tess.
'The neighbours dog could come up and pee on sweet Jack's leg',
Tess would joke but with bitter derision tied up in it,
'and it still would be alright with Jack ..... Jack the sweet gentle giant'.
She would play with him, running her small hands through his reddish hair, trying her best to get him to do anything that might look anything but playful, but no way, Jack was Jack, no matter how she would try Jack was the gentle giant .... it's why she loved him so much. The day he came into Tess's life nothing else mattered to her and certainly not her past. She had a new life now, a new beginning and the future was looking good .... looking very good. She now thought there was a God in her world.
After a slow morning of drinking coffee and catching up on events in each others life's that does not involve the two of them together, they got ready to go to the library and then for a walk in the park and maybe to Dick's Diner for a bite to eat after working up an appetite after their walk.
Tess was doing her final year in child psychology at night and wanted to collect a book from the library that was waiting for her to be collected. She waited two weeks for the book that was out of print and with no time to spare to run around to try to find a copy the library was her best option. She was only interested in one documented account of a child of nine who killed her grandfathers twelve breeding gun dogs .. because the dogs got all of his attention and she adored and wanted the attention from the grandfather, all of the time, 24/7.
'His affection was not for the dogs but for a nine year old child.'
It was how she saw it. She wanted to hear his kind words for her alone. 'Dog-man', the nick-name he was given and as he was known far and wide was the best and top breeder in the county for gun dogs, maybe in the country. His reputation travelled without effort.
It was a warm night when 'Dog-man' was out checking on his dogs as was his habit before bedtime. This night will change everything as he knew it, as they knew it. One nine year old girl and one old man are marked for all time.
'The dogs were too quite .... why,?'
he was thinking, as he approached the twelve kennels. They knew when he was coming to check on them and always put on show for him but tonight there was no show of barking but a show of vomit and pain. 'Dog-man' never recovered to his full health after that night and died shortly afterwards never knowing who and why anybody would want to poison his pure breeds.
It was a real mess, vomit everywhere, twisted snouts, frothing at the mouth like soap suds in a fountain and dogs lying every which way possible burning inside out. You could smell the burning insides of the dogs. It was even too much for the veteran vet to stomach as he put down the dog's, one by one hanging on to life and not understanding their pain, or why.
On the way to the library Tess dropped Jack off at the station. He was chief fireman. The youngest in the county and even though it was his day off, he was still on twenty four hour call. He wanted to show his face in the station ....
'To keep the boys on their toes,'
he told Tess, smiling.
'It's only while you are collecting your book, we will meet up in Dick's in half an hour ...... you know how it is, and I think we might forget about the walk, it looks like heavy rain moving in'.
Yes, Tess knew how it was and accepted, because she loved Jack with all her energy, and they were going to be together, always, till the end of their day's. It was how she wanted it. Jack's father was also the chief fireman when he served and Jack felt he was keeping the family name good. It was the least he could do for the old man who was always with Jack when they went out on call and stood by Jack in all he did and said. They came from a long line of firemen in the family and always at the back of his mind he felt he owed it to them, the one's who went before him and maybe the one's who will come after him. Jack wanted to start a family but Tess did not see it that way, not for a long time anyway.
'Born, to put out fire and to love you and light your fire,'
he would say to Tess with his sweet smiley face.
After collecting the book from the library Tess went to the hardware store and bought two boxes of weed killer, the strong kind with all the warnings on the box, keep away from 'this and that' what to do if taken orally and what not to do and a small box of rat poison, it would be enough for the job in hand. Hiding them on the back floor of the car, she drove to Dick's Diner ... humming to herself.
'Come on baby light my fire'.....
Jack was already sitting there. Always on time. If Jack said he would be there at such and such a time you can bet your life he will be there. Steak was on the menu and steak it was, Jack's 'well done' and very 'well done' for Tess. Tess was feeling very happy with her self and it was her treat to-day,
'Never argue with the woman who wants to pay, what you say Jack',
says Dick as Tess was handing over the money. Jack just smiled and Jack was happy.
'Tess was a good woman with a kind heart, she wouldn't hurt a dog', ...
Jack thought as they walked towards the car. It was now starting to rain as they pulled out of the parking lot at Dick's Diner.
'Have everything, sunshine.?'
'Oh yes, everything,'
answered Tess smiling, patting Jack on the arm .... and home they drove.
Tess was standing at the kitchen window the next morning, feeling quite pleased with herself and drinking coffee,
'Best coffee I have made, I would feel,'
saying out the words to herself. She was now watching Jack over the lip of her cup stooping down to the neighbours dog on one knee.
The dog, frothing at the mouth, twisting it's body like a worm on a hook and all of last night's, maybe the last week's 'dogie- dinner' up in a neat pile, like dripping wet sea-sand stacked cone shaped beside him .... was it the dog's or Jack's, who could tell ..... she didn't know. She could not understand all of this as she started to move towards the kitchen door what felt like in slow motion to her.
'Dogie dinner' in a neat pile'.... It was like one of those art installations that try to shock you into feeling disgusted with the world and yourself and giving art a bad name.
It was too late for the dog and too late for Jack. All Tess could now see was Jack falling over the dog and lying face down in 'dogie dinner' with blood covering his back.
First it was white.
Now it is 'creeping' red.
Red creeping on white.
Now red all over.
Red on red.
Tess dropping her coffee cup ran from the kitchen throwing open the door with force that it gave a fire-cracker bang ..... sprinting towards Jack but never got to Jack. She dropped to the grass on her knees as if she saw an apparition .... or like she was going to pray to her new God for forgiveness. The grass was still wet after last nights heavy rain ..... red shiney blood coming from her chest, red creeping on green, and a burning sensation eating away inside her, and the last thing she saw before the side of her face hit the wet grass was the neighbour standing over Jack and coming at her again with his Winchester 12-gauge repeating shotgun with slide action better known as a 'pump-action' ..... BANG ... second shot to her ... fourth shot in all .... and all because that little nine year old girl inside her head was trying hard to understand why she disliked dogs so much to the extent of killing them. That was the easy part to understand ... but not to the little girl who wanted her grandfather to give all his love to her and only her ... it was not for spoilt dogs. His love was for her alone.
It was for her, as only she saw it.
The last thought Tess had going through her mind as she lay their gasping for air on the wet grass and warm blood on her chest and hands was remembering what Jack had said as he was going out of the kitchen door to take at look at the dog that was vomiting 'art installations' onto the grass ....
'Who would want to hurt an innocent dog.?'
and 'Dog-man' ... neighbour ... 'Dog-man' .... now standing, standing over her, legs apart, pointing the 'pump action' at her chest and saying in a demanding tone of voice or was it her long dead grandfather's voice she was hearing now, she could not tell ....... it looked like grandfather .. but she could not tell ... it looked like the neighbour too ... no .... she could not tell anymore ....
'Who would want to hurt an innocent dog.?'
asked 'Dog-man' ... neighbour ... 'Dog-man'..
'Must be a past life thing,'
she answered ... looking over at Jack and seeing her eye level at ground level, one very large black beetle busy making his way towards her open mouth ... there was nothing she could do. Her eyes rolled back into her head. She was dead now and so was Jack and the 13th dog.
The 13th dog brought it's own bad luck into this world and into the world of Tess and Jack. 'Dog-man', just about stepped over Tess with tires in his eyes and walked back to his 'bad luck' dog and fired his 'pump-action' again putting it out of his pain for good and fired again for his own pain .... putting him into the next life making all of this happening a 'Past Life Thing'.
All human actions have one or more of these seven causes;
My own seven causes;
Unknown Reasons ....for doing the things we do.
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