My friends and I all thought it was pretty funny how my three-legged dog, Lucky, would always bark his ass off at my neighbor, Jason.
Lucky was usually pretty well-behaved. Oh sure, he would bark at people who came to the door and he also hated pinwheels, but with everyone but Jason, he’d stop barking when you came in. He’d lick you and sniff at your crotch, the usual dog stuff, but then he’d quickly lose interest and take a nap in his dog bed.
When Jason was arrested for putting roofies in the drinks of some high school girls at a party, there were a few comments made about how Lucky could somehow tell he was a rapist, but it was just us joking around about it.
A few weeks ago, something happened which made me consider that maybe it wasn’t a joke, after all. I had been taking Lucky for his evening walk when a man in a blue hooded sweatshirt walked by. He had his head down, but I could see he had a stupid Magnum P.I.-style moustache and sunglasses on. I remembered this guy because when I saw him, two things happened. First, I thought, “hey, that guy looks like the Unabomber!” And second, Lucky started barking his ass off.
In the back of my mind, I made the connection to Jason. There was a moment where I was compelled to stop the guy and question him, but then I realized I wasn’t a detective or even an honorary junior detective.
Honestly, I forgot about the whole thing until I saw the news truck in front of my house. I asked one of the reporters what was going on and he told me there had been a string of violent attacks against women in the neighborhood during the past couple of days and that the cops were looking for a man dressed like the Unabomber.
I went back inside and laid down on my bed. I couldn’t believe it. I was flooded with a range of emotions, mostly guilt. Why hadn’t I acted on my instincts? I ran to the bathroom and threw up.
I cleaned myself up and put a cold towel over my forehead. I thought about calling the police and telling them what I knew. But would they believe me? Probably not. They’d probably just laugh at me or call me crazy. More than likely, they’d just hang up.
As I lay there, pondering what to do. Lucky came over and licked my hand. I patted his head as he sat down next to me.
I called my girlfriend, Tawny and she assured me that while it was definitely a weird coincidence, it was more than likely just that: a coincidence.
As I hung up, I felt a little better. I decided to take Lucky for a walk.
As we were walking past my neighbor’s house, a man who looked like he worked at the car wash down the street approached us. Again, Lucky started barking his ass off.
I couldn’t believe it! Here was my chance to redeem myself! I let go of Lucky’s leash and he took after the guy. The rapist turned to run, but Lucky had bitten down on his pants pocket and wouldn’t let go. I grabbed him by his collar and threw him up against a tree.
“OK, scumbag!” I said, in my best toughguy voice, “You’re coming with me!”
“Huh? Where?” the rapist asked.
“Downtown!” I said.
This was great! A small crowd had assembled. Someone asked what was going on.
“I just caught a rapist, that’s what!” I proclaimed.
“How do you know he’s a rapist?” asked one of my neighbors.
“I don’t. But my dog does. He only barks at rapists,” I said, with confidence.
The rapist was still squirming and protesting his innocence while trying to fend off Lucky, who suddenly lost interest in the man and ran off with something in his mouth.
“Or people with hotdogs in their pockets!” said one of the onlookers, with a laugh.
Soon, everybody was laughing, as Lucky had indeed pulled a hotdog from the man’s pocket, which he was gobbling down on the lawn in front of my neighbor’s house.
“See? I didn’t rape anybody,” said the man whom I will no longer refer to as “the rapist”.
“Well, what are you doing carrying around hotdogs in your pocket for, huh? That seems pretty suspicious!” I didn’t want to look like a fool in front of my neighbors.
“That’s my lunch!”
His story seemed to check out, so I let him go. My neighbors dispersed, still laughing at my mistake. I was struck with the vision of them calling me “Matlock” for the next few years, but the chance for mischief instantly took my mind off of that.
I set my plan in motion, making calls to the key players. By dinner time on Sunday, I was ready!
I convinced Tawny that we should bring Lucky to her parent’s house. They were dog lovers, so she couldn’t see why not. As her dad opened the front door, Lucky flew into action.
The plan went perfectly! Lucky barked his ass off at Mr. Brubuckle. I didn’t see my accomplice, Tawny’s sister, anywhere, so I assumed she must be in a back room, laughing hysterically. As it was, it was pretty hard for me to keep a straight face.
The look on Tawny’s face was priceless! We locked up Lucky in the backyard and tried to get through dinner, but she kept averting her eyes, every time I would look over at her. She was simply too horrified about the whole thing. Anytime her parents brought up Lucky’s unusual behavior, her face would turn red and she would look down at her peas while I tried to change the subject.
After dinner, we were putting the leftovers away, our first moment alone, when Tawny broke her silence. When she spoke, she was gravely serious, her voice just a whisper. There were tears welling up in her eyes. I couldn’t help myself, I burst out laughing!
She punched me in the arm and started to go off on a tirade about how it wasn’t funny, when I let her in on my secret: I had called her sister, Amber and told her to stick a hotdog in her dad’s pocket while he wasn’t looking.
Instead of laughing along, Tawny’s face turned a ghostly white. I asked her what was wrong.
“You idiot, didn’t you notice Amber’s not here? She had to work a double shift at the hospital!”
“But what about the hotdogs?” I asked her.
Tawny turned and pulled something out of the refrigerator: a pack of unopened hotdogs.
“You mean these?” she hissed at me.
We stood there in a silence for a few moments, soaking in the gravity of the situation.
“I think we should see other people,” I told her.
I turned and walked out of Tawny’s life, forever. I wasn’t going to date the daughter of a probable rapist. I was so angry at her, I didn’t even realize that I had left my dog behind until I got home. At which point, it was too late. How embarrassing would that have been?
So that’s the story of how I had to go get a new dog.