The Rocked That Walked
Chad Lofton first met a dog was when his uncle brought Stone, a white pit bull puppy, over to a family gathering. At the time, he was five years old, and had only seen animals in books. The two stood in the small kitchen of his parents apartment, surrounded by his aunts, sitting beside him at the square wooden table across from the stove, refrigerator and freezer, preparing the food and chatting about his mother’s pale, over weight neighbor Ms.Tates and how horrible the fruit cake that she recently dropped off was. Frigid winds crept through the cracks of the fogged window behind them, giving chills and shudders to whoever decided to look out beyond the thick chunks of ice dangling from the roof to see cars, stop signs, mailboxes, even other yards scattered throughout the still neighborhood blanketed in snow.
“Thing taste like cow spit and ass,” Said his aunt Regina, a lanky woman with curly dark hair, who sat at the table, chopping lettuce and shaking her head, trying to hold back a chuckle. The rest of the women burst into laughter, throwing their heads back and slapping their knees.
“You old bat, watch your language ‘round the kid,” Grunted his uncle, a stubby bald man.
“Go on, nephew, Stone don’t bite.”
Before apologizing she retorted, “Hell, he hear and see worse everyday!”
Their argument was drowned out by a loud yell that erupted in the living room. The rest of the uncles clanged beer bottles together and celebrated as a player from the Bears team scored a touchdown on the flat screen television sitting in the corner in next to them. All his cousins hung out in his room in the back of the apartment, to avoid the cigarette smoke and alcohol, playing Nintendo video games.
Hesitantly, Chad reached down to pet the dog and it licked his hand, jumping on his chest to continue, it’s warm tongue covering his face in drool. It tickled him. He laughed and picked it up.
“See nephew, he likes you!” his uncle joined in the laugher. He barely played with his cousins on that day. All of his time was spent with the puppy. Then it was time to leave and he threw a teary tantrum, wrapping his arms and legs tightly around the dogs’ body. He refused to let go. The puppy gagged and whimpered while a few of his cousins and uncles held him down and wrestled it from him. Since then, he has been obsessed with getting a pet of his own, becoming depressed whenever he saw someone with a dog. He begged his parents again and again for one but they always said that a dog was too expensive. He wished that he could get a job to go pay for a pet himself, but he was still too young. His uncle would often let Stone, who had grown into a huge dog with strong jaws and droopy brown eyes, spend a few days with him. Still, he was unsatisfied. Now in fifth grade, most of his friends have dogs, cats, birds and other pets. Even Kevin Vantrease, a bully at Horace Elementary had a vicious Rottweiler named Spike. He let it chase cars, joggers, mail carriers and terrorize other pets.
Little did Chad know that he would get more than he wished for during one warm afternoon. His father, Mr. Lofton, a short mustached man much like his brother, Stone’s owner, had just finished lunch at Burger King. With extra time to kill on his break, he thought he should bring some food home to his wife and son. After ordering, he quickly carried the bags to his car across the large parking lot in front of the small restaurant. Not watching where he was going, he suddenly felt his foot hit something hard and it moaned loudly while he stumbled some inches before regaining his balance. Spinning around, he saw that had tripped over a rock. It wasn’t like a normal rock one would see. It was round and a big as a baseball chipped with tiny craters in it. He scanned the parking lot and thought to himself, I coulda’ swore I heard some noise. He shrugged it off and turned around to continue to his car when he heard a loud bark. Whirling around again, he screamed and dropped his bags at the sight of the rock below him walking. It ran up to his paper bags full of cheeseburgers and fries and sniffed cautiously.
“No! Get away from that!” he yelled, kicking at the rock. It growled, jumping back baring sharp teeth. He flinched, stepping back. “Good Lord”, He began.
Maybe he actually did fall and crack his head on the pavement and this was the result. Barking rocks. Glancing around the parking lot again, he noticed that he was alone. He really needed a break from work if he was seeing what he was seeing. Snatching up his food, he checked to see if anything had spilled. The rock stood patiently in front of him, its tongue swinging out of its mouth.
“What? These ain’t for you, beat it.”
Lying on the ground, the creature groaned lowly and stared solemnly at the man. The look had won him over.
Mr. Lofton frowned. “Fine. If I give you something, will you leave?” Not answering, it remained moaning on the ground.
He pulled out a fry from the bag and waved it in front of the rock. Without warning it jumped up and gobbled the morsel down, including his hand. He cringed and jumped back, feeling the cool breeze against his slimy fingers, not even wanting to wipe the saliva on his leather jacket. Watching it swallow down the food gratefully, an idea flashed in his brain. There wasn’t a collar on the rock. He remembered his son’s constant and aggravating pleads to get a dog, now one (or whatever it is) comes along and sucks a French fry from his hand. Maybe he should take it home and surprise Chad? Then he imagined his wife’s disapproval and her obscenity filled rants. “We don’t even know what the hell that thing is and you bring it here, endangering me and my son? I hope it bites you in the ass and gives you blue hebbie-jebbies!” He heard her bellow. Then he imagined PITA and giant crowds of people protesting in front of his house, beating down his door for taking in a wild creature and trying to tame it.
The splash of warm liquid rolling down his leg snapped him from his thoughts. Looking down, he hopped back, dropping his bags again and let loose a wild yell from his lungs.
“I’m not no fire hydrant you little—” he growled, veins throbbing in his forehead. Grabbing his bags and kicking at the rock again, the creature ran off and he stormed over to his car, pulling out his keys, murmuring to himself in annoyance.