Beloved Charlie is an inspiration story about loss – losing the one thing you love can be hard. But it is possible to pick yourself up and move on. Don’t take my word for it though, read the story and see for yourself. Sip your coffee and sit tight. If you are in a plane or car fasten your seat belt…
(Monday, January 25, 2016; 10:00 AM)
I took forever to realize the source of my sluggishness. Initially I suspected the sun breaking through the curtains – scorching my bare legs stretched across the couch, but it wasn’t. And it wasn’t the sweet chili Doritos. They were too lip-smacking to have a negative effect. Neither was it the two troublemakers called my kids. They were at school already.
I stopped typing and slowly removed the laptop from my lap and placed it on the couch. Then it dawned that Charlie was the catalyst of my progress. He was barking loud and strange enough to steal my focus. It wasn’t his usual jovial barking that my ears had developed deafness for.
I swallowed a hefty dose of saliva when I recalled that the last time he barked that way was when he killed a pale yellowish cobra as tall as I in the back yard. It stood on its stomach, fixed, spitting venom. Charlie growled deeply staring at its eyeballs – mouth slightly open, gnashing his bared teeth, waiting for it to initiate.
My heart almost ripped my chest open. The air had even stopped moving.
When it swiftly descended for the kill – its mouth wide open and two long teeth ready to hit, Charlie snatched its wedge-shaped head. He growled louder and never let go until it stopped hissing and turning.
I let out a sigh of relief and whistled him to leave it and come to me for a compliment. If he was a person I would throw my arms around him and squeeze tightly. Very tightly. I felt proud of him – without him, I probably would have forgotten I was the man around here and disappeared promptly – I wonder who would protect my wife and kids then. I stroked his fur with my hand whilst giving him a bonus meal – Turkey and Chicken Formula. He jumped up and down relentlessly – joyful his heroic deed was commended.
But I thought no, no – no cobra here – I had been outside just a few minutes ago – he must have seen a cat loitering around. He hated cats as much as snakes and strangers. My mind slowed down – after all, Charlie’s frantic bark felt out of place since it was one of those beautiful sunny mornings of Rainbow. Romantic mornings actually.
I remembered the Doritos and I amused my taste-buds again.
The small jungle of flowers next to the plasma television created a sweet scent in the living room. I could not help it but began playing hide and seek with my wife in my head – we ended up in the bathtub laughing, hitting each other with towels and bubbles.
But a thought about Braydon, my new neighbor, swept through my mind and I shook my head. I put the Doritos pack on the couch. I didn’t trust him. He seemed weird in numerous ways. First, he stayed alone in a house as big as mine: four bedroom double-story. No wife. No kids. No friends.
My entire family didn’t trust him. We didn’t even know his last name. All we knew was that he was the beefy guy who was always smoking. His gold-ish hair had even lost its glory. And he started all his days by coughing for a good thirty minutes – from five to five-thirty. At times I wondered if his coughing was normal or it was scheduled – a smoker’s technique to clean up his lungs. Who knows?
Whatever. I didn’t care much about him or his lungs. All I cared about was my family’s safety and that of my dog. But I worried more about the dog, because he stayed outdoors. Also, he was compromised since he was always chained. If that weird neighbor could plan some evil against him, he could not even defend himself effectively.
I sighed and took the laptop. But I couldn’t regain my focus. The frantic barking wasn’t dying down. It had become louder instead.
I shook my head. I knew I would not regain my focus until the cat or whatever was troubling Charlie was gone. I hesitated a dozen times getting out and smashing it with a hammer. I could kill for my light brown pit bull. Charlie was my friend. When I was lonely and bored he was there to give me company and impartial attention. When I was angry he was always there wagging his tail, jumping up and down – standing on tiptoe, assuring me it’s gonna be okay – take life easy. When I came back from work, he was the first one to welcome me home. He was never too busy for me. Or too moody for me.
My wife, Penelope, must have been confused why I wasn’t running after her, begging her to come home after she left me. She wondered who the lady who had replaced her was. There was no one, unfortunately. Even the girl I was dating wasn’t making me zoom her pictures frequently – or wake at night just to think about her, her smile, dimples and all. She was young, beautiful and smart, but I didn’t love her. I only spent my days with a friend who was always a good friend to me. A friend who never annoyed me. When he did, it would be purely unintentional. But even then he would wag his tail, apologizing without any hesitation. Swallowing his pride wasn’t a big deal to him. Only if Penelope could learn from him.
I loved my friend – I loved Charlie.
The barking noise became louder and louder. It didn’t sound like Charlie was chasing a cat – it was something bigger. Another cobra? My insides quivered. I rubbed my neck and dropped the laptop on the couch again. I jerked to my feet and rushed to the veranda.
My hands rushed to my mouth as I learned that Charlie was under attack. Braydon’s two ugly bull terriers, Gus and Stella, were killing my friend. They broke my fence and came into my yard. They mauled my beloved friend. What wrong had he done to them?
I dashed towards them and shouted them to go away, but they didn’t pay attention. Charlie couldn’t even defend himself, because he was in a chain. My body temperature shot up. Heat literally flushed through my body and nostrils. I took a huge stone and threw it down again.
I paced up and down in the living room, thinking of any weapon I could put my hands on. Nothing came to mind. And things were happening fast, I couldn’t even concentrate. All I ended up doing was walking up and down, peeping, knocking hard and shouting. But nothing worked.
I wished I had a gun. I would plant countless bullets in each one of them. They ambushed my friend who was even in a chain. That’s why Gus was even able to grab his throat and never let go. He suffocated my friend for more than an hour. Stella bit anywhere she pleased. My Charlie could not fight for himself, the chain kept entangling him. Their foolishness fooled them – they thought they were too strong for him, yet it was the chain that was too strong for him. If Charlie was free, he would kill Gus and his ugly wife.
I felt awful I couldn’t rescue my friend. Only if I had a gun – then I would massacre them.
I paced up and down in my house, paging the phone book without any success. It was as if I had forgotten how to use the phone book. I kept opening and closing it. Sitting down and standing. 911 never clicked in my head. After some time I recalled I did have the local police station number in my cell phone.
My hands and body quaking, I dialed.
As I waited for them to pick up I realized that my breathing was loud and I tried calming myself.
“Hello,” I said before he could greet me. “I’m under attack on my yard. My dog is being mauled by two big dogs that broke the fence and came to my yard. It is in a chain – it can’t fight for itself.”
“Who am I speaking to?” The officer said.
“Carter. Carter Rogers,” I said quickly.
“Where are you?”
“Okay, we will be there in a moment.”
I threw the cell on the couch and rushed to watch the horror again.
Blood gushed. I couldn’t believe my beloved was bleeding profusely. I had never pictured him in such a horrific state. Blood was everywhere on the lawn. Then he went down. He looked weak and helpless. Tears filled my eyes, and fears for the worst seized my heart.
My friend bellowed helplessly like a dying cow, but the two fools continued tearing him apart, like he was an old blanket.
I doubted the police would come. I thought if I was lucky they would come after an hour or two. However, in ten minutes they were at my gate.
They jumped off the car and opened the gate. It was a male and a beautiful female officer. Both of them were in uniform.
“Stop right there. The dogs are still fighting my dog. If you come in, they will leave it and attack you,” I shouted from the front door.
They quickly drew back and closed the gate.
I had to shout to tell them what happened. Then I suggested that they shoot the two dogs that were killing my dog on my yard. But they had a different thought, they said it was best they go and get my neighbor from his workplace.
I couldn’t believe my ears. “Okay,” I said with a disappointed tone. It dawned that I would never enjoy life with Charlie ever again. I would never prepare great meals for him. I would never chase him around and take pictures with him. Surely, he was at the end of his great life. The great chicken meal I gave him in the morning was his very last. In the afternoon, after school, my kids would say, “Dad, see you later, we are going to play with Charlie.” But I would have to sit them down on the couch, and say, “My little sweethearts, Charlie died. You will never play with him again.” And they would cry and I would join in and cry with them. And we would have no one to comfort us.
When the police came back with Braydon, he dropped off his car and ran to beat his dogs away from Charlie and from my yard. But when I looked intently at my beloved friend, he was dead, and it killed me inside. I felt broken inside – it was as if time had stopped. I bit my bottom lip and tears filled my eyes. I excused myself and rushed to the house as if I wanted to take something important. But I wasn’t rushing for anything important – I didn’t want to cry in front of the officers – some people find it ridiculous when one cries for a dog.
The most painful thing in my heart was the nature of the death that took Charlie. My friend died a painful death. He was ripped apart by merciless savages, and I couldn’t rescue him. When he was powerless I believe he thought I would come and save his life, but I didn’t. My friend died tormented by confusion about when I ever stopped loving him. He surely expected me to show up and rescue him, but I didn’t. I did all the great things in life for him but I couldn’t save his life. I felt I had to kill those dogs. They had to pay the price for killing my beloved. Why did they kill my beloved Charlie? I loved him so much, and he loved me too.
Once again, I regretted not having a gun. And I hated the police’s judgment. I couldn’t understand why they refused to shoot those two savages that didn’t know their territory.
When I had regained some level of frail composure, I ran outside. Braydon joined the police and I. He apologized and promised to compensate me for my dog. He talked as if it was just about the money or getting me another dog. It wasn’t that simple to me. I loved Charlie, not any other dog he could source from wherever. And I didn’t want his money – I wanted my beloved dog, my friend. This dog was with me through thick and thin. When my wife left me and the kids, he never left me – he was always with me.
I stared at Braydon’s blue eyes struggling to remain composed – hating the cigar stink coming from his mouth and clothes and said, “Before we talk about compensation, let’s talk about safety in my own yard. I mean these dogs broke the fence and came into my yard, and killed my dog. I think, this means even my family – more especially my children are not safe in my own yard. I think you should remove these dogs until you build a wall fence.”
The police nodded their heads.
“I understand your concern and I will start building the wall-fence today, afternoon. And whilst it is being constructed, I will keep the dogs in my house, I promise,” Braydon said. “But it will be a wooden fence. That’s the best for dogs, because they climb a wall-fence since it is a little rough. That guy who stays down at number 40 found his bulldogs on the road, they climbed the wall.”
“Whatever you build, I don’t mind – as so long as it will keep your dogs out of my yard.”
The police officers then confirmed if I was sure I didn’t want to open a case against Braydon. “That won’t solve anything: it will not bring my Charlie back. Since he promised to build a wooden fence and compensate us, that’s enough for me.”
The police thanked me for handling the matter peacefully and got into their car and left.
Braydon shook my hand and invited me to his house for dinner in the evening. I agreed for I could tell he was trying to show how sorry he was. And the Jesus who resides in my heart taught me to forgive no matter what.
A day later, I buried Charlie in the forest across the road. I dug his grave and laid him to rest.
As I buried him I recalled a childhood game my brother and I would play when sent to bury dead dogs, and laughed. We would sing hymns and preach sermons before lowering the dead dog into its grave. Of course, we wouldn’t forget the famous line: “Dust to dust, ashes to ashes.”
However, on that beautiful sunny afternoon I buried Charlie, I could not play those games, instead I cried profusely. It was the first time I cried for a dog’s demise and that surprised me. I realized how much I was connected to my beloved dog. Since my wife left me, my family was reduced to four. Now that I had buried Charlie it was reduced to three. I prayed it did not get reduced any further – losing is painful. It is very painful.
I hope you enjoyed the inspirational story that was designed to inspire you to face life. It’s based on a true story by the way. If you haven’t already, subscribe so you can get inspirational stories through your inbox. Don’t forget to leave a comment below.
Photo Credit: Garden State Hiker.