Princess was Flo’s dog, not mine, and too big for our apartment, which wasn’t big enough for the mice that visited. It didn’t matter. One night, after drinking and losing at cards, I went home to find I’d also lost Flo.
But Princess was there. So was a note in Flo’s flowery handwriting.
I’m going home to Schuyler Falls. Need a fresh start.
Take care of Princess until I can find a place; I’ll be back to get her.
Only Flo would leave behind a farewell note with a smiley face – and a dog big as a truck.
Princess stared stupidly, not realizing her meal ticket had jumped ship. A standard sized, steel-gray poodle, she was dumb as she was big.
Maybe it was the drinking, but it came to me how to fix Flo’s wagon and ‘take care’ of Princess at the same time: Princess was going to take a moonlight ride in the desert.
“C’mon, Princess, let’s go!” Idiot dog started wagging her tail, all excited. Hopping into the back while I slid into the driver’s seat, Princess whined happily as we sped off into the night.
An hour later, it was just me, Princess and the desert. I killed the ignition.
Princess stared at me, suddenly uncertain. Maybe she wasn’t as dumb as she looked.
I was about to drag her from the car, but intense light from an object in the sky suddenly passed over us and the air sparkled with electricity.
Just as sudden, the light vanished, leaving us in darkness.
“You aren’t really going to leave me, are you?” asked a female voice.
I whipped around, but there was only Princess.
She looked at me sadly. “Don’t leave me…”
The shock of hearing a dog’s voice in my head rattled me. Then I got an idea.
There was a poker game the next night at The Greek’s place. Maybe Princess was my lucky break.
“I could help you out.” Her eyes were hopeful.
Yeah… maybe she could.
Soon, rolling in dough, Princess and I were showing up at all the gambling joints. Like royalty, she’d visit each player at my table. The bums, patting her head, never guessed she was feeding me the cards.
Few weeks later, The Greek wised up and I had to take care of him. As he went down for the count, I glanced at Princess.
“That was wrong.” Her eyes reproached me.
Christ, who knew dogs had a freakin’ moral compass?
Dumping her back at the apartment, I decided to celebrate. The next morning, wasted, I woke up next to a broad I didn’t know. Hung over, I stumbled back to my apartment.
Princess was gone, but there was a note.
I’ve taken Princess, found a place that allows dogs.
Thanks for taking care of her.
Goddam Flo. Goddam Princess. Goddam smiley faces.
Now I spend nights driving around the desert, a mutt I picked up from the pound in the backseat, searching the skies…
Author’s Note: This is written in response to Thain in Vain’s flash fiction challenge to write no more than 500 words in connection with the week 19 prompt, “A man’s dog develops the uncanny ability to communicate telepathically with him.”