SMOKEY

Tim Tucker

Smokey sat on her throne and bathed in the warmth of sunlight streaming through the open window. She was a grey pitbull puppy, her eyes deep pools of neon blue filled with a brooding inquisitiveness that had only just opened to the world around her. Her throne was a worn and battered black leather sofa nestled in the corner in the living room of the family's cramped single story home. She lounged around the majority of the day, occasionally going outside with the male guardian of the house and eating out of her favorite dog dish. It wasn't until in the day when she heard the commotion outside that her tiny ears pricked up and she leaped off of her throne in anticipation. The front door opened, the female guardian of the house standing there, the scent of perfume and cigarette smoke heavy on her body, and behind her the queen waited with open arms.

"SMOKEY!"

The puppy ran and jumped into her queens embrace. Tiny hands caressed her coat, scratched behind her ears and rubbed at her belly. Smokey returned the affection with little kisses, her queens giggles as soft as tinkering bells.

"Mama can me and Smokey go play for a bit?" the queen, Kelly, asked her mother.

The female guardian, Darlene, heaved a sigh. "Only for a little bit, you got a lot of homework to get to."

"Yay! C'mon girl let's go!" Smokey ran after Kelly into the fresh spring air where they played fetch and wrestled upon soft grass. Kelly held Smokey's face in her small hands and pressed her snout against hers. She had the same colored eyes as the puppy, bright oceans of blue with flowing blond hair that seemed to dazzle under the sunlight. Smokey kissed at her sweat sheened face, nuzzled into her warm neck and had never felt more safe in her young life.

"I love you girl." Kelly soothed. Smokey mewled.

After more playing the two girls went inside to tend to Kelly's homework. Smokey allowed her queen to sit upon her throne while she rested on her lap, the sharp smells of meat and spices swimming throughout the household. When the naming of letters and the counting of numbers was through the family gathered around the kitchen table for dinner. Smokey prowled beneath the table where Kelly snuck her little meatballs and chewy strands of spaghetti.

It was so delicious!

During the meal Darlene often coughed. The male guardian of the house, Lenny, comforted her and warned her of her condition but Darlene smiled and assured him everything was ok.

When dinner was over Smokey retreated with her queen to her bedroom where they snuggled under the covers. Kelly stroked her coat and talked. Of her school day, her friends, her teachers. Her mother. There was nothing Smokey could say back except for soft whimpering, but that was enough to stop the flow of tears that ran down her queens face and soon they both found themselves drifting into the inviting arms of sleep.

The days loped like gentle rabbits.

Smokey often found herself attached more and more to Darlene. They would go for walks around the block, the young pitbull basking in the wonders of nature, and play fetch at the park. Though the hours of fun and happiness were endless to Smokey's eyes she could sense how tired Darlene was. She would cough more, her entire body locking up in pain. Her smile was the only thing that told her family everything was going to be ok, and in that smile Smokey could see the reflection of her queen, of the woman she would never see her become.

One warm day in late Spring Smokey roamed about the house, eager to go on her walk. She found Darlene sleeping on the couch, a look of great peace on her face. Smokey gave her little kisses to try and wake her, nibbled at her shirt and nuzzled against her chest but nothing seemed to work. She then began to bark, louder and louder until Lenny burst in the room.

"Shut up you damn dog!" he shouted, but then his anger melted into concern when he saw his wife motionless on the couch. He knelt at her side, shook her shoulders and called her name, but she still would not answer. There was a great commotion of panic as he talked with someone on the phone. A short while later Smokey could hear the wailing of sirens and see flashes of light from outside. Men wheeling a folding bed came into the house and checked on Darlene as Lenny looked on helplessly. They strapped her to the bed and hurried her out of the house to the waiting truck with Lenny and Smokey in tow.

"Go on girl, you can't come with us!" Lenny chided, nudging Smokey with his foot back inside the house. Smokey resisted but was forced back inside. The lights and sirens faded into the distance as Smokey was left alone.

It was some time later when Lenny returned home with the queen. Smokey ran to greet them but was met with cold silence. Both father and daughter looked as if the light had been drained out of them, their eyes bloodshot and shoulders slumped. Smokey kissed at her queens feet, cuddled against her leg but the warmth that the young puppy had always felt from her queen was gone now. Lenny knelt and stroked Smokey's head reassuringly.

"Mamas gone. She's in a better place now." he said, his voice thick with sadness. Her queen began to cry again but there was nothing Smokey could do.

Time passed, but the loss of the family still cut deep. Smokey grew bigger, her sky blue eyes changing into dark pools of brown. Her queen also grew, her eyes changing from the look of youthful innocence to something harder. For all his hard work and sacrifice Lenny could not keep a hold of his daughter who started going out more and wearing less. He skulked about the house and garage, bottle in hand when he wasn't working, a shell of the man Smokey had grown to love.

One night Smokey lay upon her throne when a disturbance from outside pricked her ears. A car pulled into the driveway, its headlights dying. Smokey leaped off of her throne with reserved anticipation and waited at the door. The door opened and her queen stumbled inside, another man with her. They leaned on each other, smiling and laughing, the stench of alcohol heavy on their bodies. Smokey lingered around her queens bare leg, only to have her kick her away.

"Go away…" she said, her words a drunken slur.

Kelly and the man plopped on Smokey's throne. They held each other, kissed and giggled. Smokey became restless, her paws trekking across the carpet and snout to the floor. She mewled for her queen, which only got her sharp glances in return. Her soft cries grew louder, more insistent, and eventually Kelly had had enough. She got off of the sofa and grasped Smokey by the collar.

"C'mon girl, we need some privacy." Smokey resisted, and the two struggled for dominance. Suddenly Kelly's face became a mask of anger as she jerked at the collar, throttling Smokey. Defeated, the pitbull allowed herself to be led by the collar, her tail between her legs. Kelly steered her out the back door and chained her to a metal pole sticking out of the ground.

"See how you like that, dumb little bitch." she sneered.

Her queen turned and staggered back into the house. Smokey fought against the chain, struggled with all her might but it was no use. Round and round the pole Smokey sulked, her once vibrant life chained outside of a broken home.

THE END