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May 6, 2023

The drug dealer's dog

In the evening, returning from work, I usually parked in the street next to mine because it was difficult to find a place in my area, but I didn't mind that much because I had the opportunity to take a stroll, get rid of work, thoughts and problems. Sometimes I stopped by my favorite bar and had a drink or a coffee. After the bar, I always rushed to my baker's to get freshly baked bread, even though it was already evening. Then I headed home. And around the corner of my street I could already hear him barking. It was Black, a Doberman. And never was it a more apt name. Like the dark night, it was really black. So black it was hard to see it if not well lit by a street lamp. In fact, Black was rarely visible, at least not from afar, because he was always with his master Mike under the only unlit lamppost on my street. Mike knew that Black strangely had, for some reason, a soft spot for me. And we had become friends or rather let's say that we had both gotten used to my friendship with Black. As soon as I rounded the corner Mike realized it was me and released Black from the leash. Black started like a rocket and if I didn't know him, I would have peed myself out of fear. He ran clinging to the asphalt with his claws making a shrill but powerful noise and a few meters from me he braked in a slide and as soon as I was at the right distance he leaped to one side and then the other side and finally, he got on two legs and tried to lick my face. It was a joy to see him. I dropped my backpack and bags on the floor and cuddled him a lot. He jumped like a cricket. Then at one point when Mike realized that maybe he was exaggerating he let out a short and sharp whistle. Black immediately stopped and started running towards Mike, as if there was no tomorrow. Halfway through Black would stop suddenly and turn towards me, as if to make sure I was also moving in his direction. However, at the second whistle he would run back towards his master. I walked towards him. Mike gave me the usual nod and smile as he put the leash back on Black. I opened my door to enter my home, but before entering I always turned around looking for Black's gaze who continued to observe me from the other side of the street until I disappeared behind the door. Every evening. Every time I came home, the same scene. Winter, summer, sun, rain, it didn't matter. But one evening, October, it was cold. Black wasn't there. And neither was Mike. And so the next evening. And the one after that too. It's been weeks now. But every time I come home, I put the key in the lock, open the door, stop and turn around for a moment, seeking Black's gaze. I know he isn't there. But I turn around anyway and for a few moments I see him there in the dark, with his dark eyes, sitting beside his master. Proud to share his existence and destiny. One evening, like many others, I stopped at the bar as usual and asked the bartender if he had any news about Mike and his Doberman. The bartender told me he'd been killed in a shootout. Bad story. And then I asked about Black. Well, he probably ended up in some pound, the bartender told me. The next day I began my search. I checked all the kennels in the city. But there was no trace of Black. I wanted to find it. I began to investigate. I asked the kids at the park, the baker and everyone I met in the neighborhood. Finally, a police patrol told me he wasn't in a shelter. But he had been taken into their custody because he was considered dangerous and would probably have been euthanized. As soon as I arrived at the command, I suggested adopting him. It was a policewoman who welcomed me and understood who I was talking about and tried to dissuade me. She told me that he was a violent dog, he didn't let anyone approach him, he growled at everyone and no one dared touch him, he hadn't eaten for weeks and that the next day the vet would come to sedate him and then kill him. While I was talking to the policewoman maybe Black heard my voice and started barking like he did when he heard me coming from around the corner of my street. The incredulous policewoman told me he never barked. It took me a while to convince her, but finally, she and a colleague escorted me to the back room. Black was in a cage and as soon as he saw me he started jumping left and right with all the joy a dog can express. Now he stays with me. He is happy. But in the evening, when I take him for his walk, as soon as we go out the door I see him stop for an instant. He turns his gaze towards his lamppost. Just for a moment.

Photo by Mario Mesaglio on Unsplash

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