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Feels Like Summertime

By´╝ÜTammy Falkner

1


Jake


Get a dog, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.

They. Lied.

I had no idea that getting a dog would be like adopting a child. They wanted my blood type—you know, in case the dog ever needs one of my organs—and they wanted to know how much money I make a year.

Ha-ha. I fooled them. I don’t make any money. Not anymore. Not since my life went to shit.

My new dog sits in the passenger seat with his snout out the window, his tongue lolling so hard that it occasionally smacks him in the jaw when I take a turn. Why don’t I put the window up, you ask. Well, that would mean I’d have to smell the beast. I’m not one to judge, because I’ve met some unsavory characters before, and a few of them had odors I never ever want to encounter again. Not to mention that my own smell offends me on occasion when I leave the gym… But this dog, he takes the prize for most foul smell ever. It’s like sweaty ass. Sweaty ass that has been stuffed in a gym bag for days and forgotten. Then crapped on. That’s what this dog smells like.

I pull up to the police station and grab the leash, holding tightly. When I left the pound with this thing, he pulled me all the way to the car, not stopping. He sensed freedom, and I was the portal. Or at least my truck was. He hopped up in the seat, I cracked the window, and he’s been riding happily for the past twenty minutes.

But now, now he’s not happy that I want him to get out of the truck. I tug on his leash and he looks at me, hunkering down a little in the seat like a surfer might hug his board.

Then the corner of his lip lifts.

Oh, no, you hateful bastard. You will not growl at me. I lift my lip too, and I stare at him. His eyes hold mine, not breaking away. We go on like this for about two minutes, and then he stops, shakes his head, and finally gets his big ass out of the truck. He lumbers onto the pavement, stopping to stretch his great big body.

This thing is like a horse. They called it a Great Dane mix at the pound, but if it’s a mix of anything, it’s mixed with bear. Or bull. Or elephant. Because this sucker is huge. He stands at the same height as my hip, and I’m a big guy, topping out at six foot four.

I tug on his leash and say, “Come on, killer. I need to get my job back.”

We walk into the police station and the rookie behind the counter lifts the neck of her shirt to cover her nose. “What the heck is that?” she asks through the material.

I don’t answer her. Anyone with half a brain can see that it’s a dog.

“Is the chief around?” I ask her.

She shakes her head, which is not an easy feat while she holds her shirt to her face. “He just left. You might be able to catch him at his car if you hurry. Like right now.”

I lean against the wall and pretend to scratch at a stain on my shirt. “You mean like right now? This second?”

My new dog gets up, spins around, and the smell of him fills the whole front of the station. The rookie gags a little and points to the door. “Hurry, or he’ll be gone.”

I click my tongue at my new dog and he trots out the door behind me. I see the chief by his squad car, talking on his cell phone. He puts it away and stares at me through the shiny lenses of his sunglasses. “What the hell is that?” he asks, eyeing my dog.

“That, my friend, is my therapy. Get a dog, you said. So, I got a dog.” I show him off like he’s a prize on The Price is Right. “So can I get off suspension now?”

“No.” He opens his car door.

“Why not? I got a dog just like you said.”

“Three months, Jake. Three months. Not a day sooner.” He gets in his car and pulls out of his spot without even looking at me. But when he gets ready to pull away, he puts his window down. “Take that stupid thing home and give it a bath. It smells like shit.”

I look down at the dog. “It’s not that bad,” I grumble.

“It’s terrible. Go clean him up. Then learn to at least look like you like him. That’s the first step.”

“I like him,” I insist.

“Sure you do,” he says, and he finally grins and shakes his head. “Get your head on straight, Jake. Then come back. We need you, but we need you at your best.” Over the tops of his lenses he gives me one of those fatherly looks he’s famous for. Then he pulls out of the parking area.

I stare down at my new dog, who has sprawled himself out across the sidewalk and is licking where his balls probably used to be. “I’d do that too, if I could reach mine, dude,” I tell him.

He yawns and stares up at me. Then he sneezes and slings snot across my shoe. With a dog this big, that’s a lot of snot. I’m not looking forward to when he takes a dump.

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