As Yet Unnamed.
I never knew my father, and had seen my mother beaten to death by a gang of men while I, too small to drive them away, had watched from behind a park car, afraid and releasing the contents of my bladder on to the road. I have been on my own ever since. I had made few acquaintances during my years on the streets, but street friendships were fraught, and your friends would sooner kill you than share a meal with you. It is dog eat dog. We are victims of circumstance.
At night I walk along the beach, hungry for attention from the youths who sit by campfires. I pray that one day someone will take me with them to a place that I can call home. I see a boy in the distance; he sits alone looking out at sea. I approach him and lay myself at his feet as has become my nightly ritual. He smells of engine oil and loneliness, and is older up close than he had seemed from a distant. His eyes are dark and vacant. The boy ignores me at first but I am use to this, he then shouts angrily at me, kicking sand in my face, he throws a beer can after me but I have outrun his range. Men are so unkind, but the streets have made me tough and so no longer cry or wet myself at their cruelty.
I spend my days waiting by the bus terminal for the visitors to come. This town has no time for me, but the day visitors often spare me scraps of food that they have brought with them to picnic by the sands. The new people have more time for me, but it is often over in a matter of minutes, perhaps one day someone will give me little more than the time of day.
I first see her as she walks away from the bus terminal. I did not see where she came from, but she is not of this town and so I follow her. I sit in her path hopeful, ready for her to walk on, but she stops and I feel her eyes study me.
She reaches down and pats my head. So strange do I feel under her gentle human touch that I bark with fright and she pulls her hand away. My tail begins moving as if under its own volition and she reaches down and rubs behind my ears. She is tall and wears a light blue dress that touches the floor, I lick her hand as she strokes my face. She smells of cigarettes and joy.
“What’s your name buddy? Buddy?”
She has given me a name. As long as I have lived I have not known a name! She walks on and I keep my pace with her. Another street dog approaches us but she pays him no mind and we continue together. She heads towards a restaurant.
There is a boy there who will sometimes save me scraps of meat, he smells of strong soap that catches in my throat, but I have not seen him for a long time. The last time I came here the chef poured boiling water on me, he smells of everything that is wrong with this town. I must be brave for her sake, I will be here to protect her, no matter what. I walk ahead and she lets me lead her to the restaurant door. I can see the cook who smells of disappointment, but he is busy and doesn’t notice me. She takes a table on the pavement outside, the waiter is another young boy, that I haven’t seen before. He still smells of hope and his mother’s ironing, and he brings me a bowl of cool water to drink. Her food smells inviting and my saliva falls to the pavements where she sits. She lets me take food from her hand. I paw at her dress grateful, but she pushes me away and tells me that I am a good boy.
We pass houses. The garden dogs that live behind the fences call out angrily as we go by but I do not flinch or bark back because I will be a good dog for her. Her good dog! As we approach the first sand dune I run ahead, coming quickly back to her letting her know that the way is clear. She rubs my side and I roll over onto the floor as she scratches my stomach and I yip happily. My angel who has given me a name and has been sent to rescue me from the streets!
Once on the sand something dark moves quickly past us and I chase it to the shoreline. I do not need to kill it as it is already dead but I take it back to my mistress to show her that it is not a threat. I drop it at her feet but it escapes from her hand and I chase it down and bring it back to her.
“Good boy!” she says “Go get it Buddy!”
We are playing a game and I am happy. Sometimes she throws it into the sea and I run into the waves to retrieve the toy. Sometimes she pretends to throw it and she laughs if I start to go after it. Such joy! Oh such joy! When we are home every day will be happy like this and she can throw it one thousand times and I will always return it, for she has already given me everything.
The air is becoming cooler now and we walk back towards to the terminal. There is pride in each step as I lead her there, past the garden dogs who bark from behind their fences, past the cruel restaurant owner and his scalding pan, past the street dogs who still search for somewhere to belong. Today I am proud because today I found my home! The terminal is quiet when we arrive and there is a single bus about to depart. It must be ours, the bus that will take us home! She scratches my head and I lick her hand greedily as she reaches down to rub my back. I bark and jump up excitedly, I tugging at her dress playfully but she pushes me away.
“Stay Buddy, be a good dog!”
I will do anything she asks, but where are you going my love? She is walking toward the long green coach and I still sit where she has asked me to stay. I call after her, she hears and turns to me.
“Stay Buddy, be a good dog!”
I will wait if I must as I have waited so long. I am a good dog, and I will wait if it is what says. I know she will not leave me here in this hell. I will be here until she returns to take me with her to a place I can call home. Our home! The coach disappears in the distance on the dusty road, and I never see her again.
- END -
When I visited Pichilemu, Chile I met a dog who I named Buddy. We spent the day together and much as described above. The restaurant owner thought I was mad befriending a street dog, and told me stories about how the people of the town saw them and treated them. As Buddy and I walked the streets of Pichilemu I had a lot of time to wonder what might have been going through his head, and so this is my tribute to my friend Buddy, and my way of saying thank you to him for keeping me company on that beautiful sunny day in Pichilemu.
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