I was sitting at work today and listening to multitudes of annoying people complain about everything under the sun, but most especially the impending snow storm we are supposed to get. Suddenly, the idea for this story popped into my head. Not sure what this says about me, but am sharing it anyway.
The last snowflakes of the storm settled in Zach’s lawn as the sun was rising. They had spent the early evening hours fighting the accumulation in the driveway, but around midnight gave up and settled in for cocoa and sleep. He woke early to assess the situation. The main road of his street wasn’t plowed by the city trucks yet. The driveway was piled up to his knees. It was clear no one was going anywhere.
“I guess it will just be you and me today.” The German Shepherd wagged her tail in delight. He knew smart dogs could understand body language and it was unlikely she understood the exact words he was saying. But sometimes she made him wonder. “We should let our gorgeous guest sleep. She was up late you know.”
Zach went to the back deck to assess the firewood situation. The cover over the rack of wood had kept it mostly snow free and dry. He hauled several armfuls into the house and laid them neatly on the fireplace. He bunched newspaper and laid kindling, getting the fire started with practiced skill. His mind raced. He couldn’t believe she had come over and was even now sleeping in his bed.
“Today will be a special day,” he told Gracie, petting her head and scratching behind her ears. “Maggie will be awake by now, should we greet her?” Again the dog wagged her tail in short, quick, swipes. Her tongue lolled out of her mouth and she began to pace back and forth. She fell in place behind him as he walked to the bedroom, but dashed inside ahead of him when he unlocked and opened the door.
“Hello Maggie,” he said, smiling when he saw she was awake. Morning suited her and she was just as stunning as ever. The trickle of blood from her forehead down to her chin didn’t bother him. Nor did the dried tears streaking her cheeks. They reminded him of his power over her. That excited him. Her expression was frightened but defiant. She tried to yell at him through the gag in her mouth, but muffled sounds were all that came out. He had tied her hands to the bedrail on one side of the bed, her feet were bound as well, and her mouth gagged and taped. Any attempt at screaming would be rather pointless considering the distance between houses. Zach was very cautious though. He couldn’t let her get away.
He continued to smile as he sat next to her on the bed. She tried to squirm away but wound up tangled in the sheets. He removed the tape gently and pulled down the gag.
“You aren’t going to get away with whatever the fuck you are planning,” she hissed at him. “There are people you know. Who will look for me.”
“Oh dear,” he smiled, “I’m sure there are. But not in this snow. Not today. And all I need is today. When I saw you with that man yesterday I knew it was time. I knew I had to take you before you fell victim to him. Thanks for offering to help shovel my driveway by the way. It really made things easier for us both.”
She squinted and a look of confusion replaced the fear.
“What the hell are you talking about? The man yesterday? That was my brother!”
“That is exactly the excuse I expected you might use.” Her quick thinking was part of the reason he loved her so much. “A brother or coworker or delivery man or friend. But I know the truth Maggie. He was your lover.” He became agitated, angry that she couldn’t see the truth. “You belong to me Maggie. I can’t let him take you from me.”
The crusted tears on her face were washed away by fresh ones as she began to cry. He regretted making her upset. After today he was sure she wouldn’t want to leave though. All he needed was today.
“I will get you breakfast. You’ll feel better when you eat.” He replaced the gag, much to her protest, and put a fresh piece of tape over it. Gracie had been sitting on the foot of the bed and when he beckoned for her to follow him she didn’t budge.
“See Maggie? Gracie loves you too. That’s okay girl, you stay with Mags, keep an eye on her for me okay?” He winked, leaving the door cracked open so that when Gracie smelled his cooking she could come join him.
He tended the fire to make sure it was warm and ready for a romantic breakfast in front of it. He had already prepared most of the breakfast essentials while she had slept. He had been too excited for this day to sleep much. He had organized fixings for omelets, with buttered toast, fresh pressed coffee, and perfectly ripe strawberries. He then slept on the couch. It would have been wrong to presume she was ready to sleep in the same bed as him. He eagerly awaited the day she would invite him in. He knew it would be soon. His heart skipped at the thought.
Just as the omelets were finishing, the coffee heated, and he was almost done putting the breakfast perfectly onto plates for them, Gracie trotted in. She had the look of a dog quite pleased with herself. She sat near him and looked up at him, panting.
“What were you doing my perfect little pooch?” He knelt down and began to scratch her all over. She delighted in his affections and wiggled madly, walking circles around and around him to get him to scratch her all over.
When Zach began to grow concerned that breakfast would be cold he gave Gracie one last scratch and stood up to face the barrel of his gun. Maggie was pointing it at him, shaking.
“How did you . . .”
“You’re right Zach. Gracie does love me too.”
It only took Gracie a minute to recover from the sound of the gunshot. Then she looked up at Maggie, waggling her tail. Maggie removed the frayed piece of rope that was dangling out of Gracie’s mouth. It had stuck in Gracie’s teeth when she had helped pull the ropes off of Maggie’s wrists. Maggie stared intensely into the dog’s eyes and scratched beneath her chin.
“Good girl Gracie.” Maggie whispered.