“Bailey, you son of a bitch,” Laci says. “Mason, come look at what your fucking dog did.”
“What?” Mason says.
“Look,” she says.
“Shit. Bailey. Get in here.”
Bailey crouches in the corner. Her chocolate brown body spread out along the carpet. Her brown eyes look away from him.
“I said get over here.”
He grabs her by the collar and Bailey lets out a yelp as he drags her across the carpet towards the living room.
“You see this?” he says forcing her face into the screen door she ripped apart. “No, no, no.”
Bailey yelps again as Mason pounds against her body. The strikes aren’t confined to one area. He just swings and where they land, they land. He grabs her by the collar again and drags her choking to another part of the room.
“You see that, you little shit?”
Bailey yelps again.
“Oh, what the hell?” Laci says. “These were my favorite shoes. Bad dog.”
Bailey yelps again.
“Now get out of here,” Mason says kicking Bailey as she runs to another part of the house.
“We can’t keep doing this,” Laci says. “She aint’ gonna stop. You have to get rid of her. Take her out back.”
Mason walks to his office without protest. The carpet beneath his feet is frayed where Bailey chewed on it yesterday. The stuffing of his chair is spread out along the floor. Pieces of his model cars from when he was a kid are covered in dog spit.
He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a set of keys. He maneuvers one into the lock of the gun case. He stands there for a minute staring at his collection, deciding which to use. He wants to try his new gun but it is a little too much for this job. He decides on the .22 he got from his dad when he was twelve. Gun in hand he shuts the cabinet and locks it back.
Bailey hides in the corner of the den behind a chair as Mason walks in with a treat and leash in one hand and a gun in the other. Bailey is hesitant. Mason moves in slowly trying not to scare her. Bailey tries to move back, away from him but she is stuck in the corner with nowhere to go.
“Come here you little fucker,” Mason says. “I got something for you.”
He opens his hand, revealing the treat. Bailey’s nose sniffs towards his hand, licks his fingers first then grabs the small biscuit with her teeth. Mason rubs her head and with one hand attaches the leash to her collar.
“Now come on,” Mason says.
He tugs on the leash and Bailey drops the biscuit. Her eyes and body try to pull away but her small frame isn’t enough to resist Mason’s 230-pound body. Her claws try to dig into the carpet but Mason pulls hard. The sound of ripping carpet fibers follows behind him.
Bailey yelps. Maybe asking Laci for help but she ignores her. She looks at the whole transaction as necessary. She ate her shoes, what else was she suppose to do?
“Will you get the door?” Mason says to Laci.
The pasture is immense. Some place a dog could easily run free. The brush is now knee high and a light brown. Mason walks as he has for years: long, high steps while simultaneously peering around the ground for snakes.
Bailey has taken to walking beside him now, no longer resisting. She prances. Finally outside just as she wanted. Mason stops and looks back towards the house making sure he is far enough out. He doesn’t want the smell to come back to the house.
“Alright girl, here we are,” Mason says. “If you would have just done as you were told, I wouldn’t have to do this.”
He scratches around her snout and Bailey licks his hand.
“Sit,” Mason says. Bailey leans back and rests on her back legs. He removes her collar and leash and she is free.
Mason steps back a few feet towards the house. He drops her leash and collar. He lifts the small rifle towards his shoulder as Bailey walks towards him.
“Goddamn it. I said stay.”
Bailey steps back a little recognizing that tone. She stares at Mason as he lifts the gun to his shoulder.
He fires one shot and walks back to the house. Alone.