On the Run with Victro
By Mike Stevens
He was free as the wind. He was beholden to no man. He didn’t have to be anywhere, and not at a certain time, and he was miserable. Victro the dog had recently run away from home; away from a not-so-nice master, but also away from everything normal to him. At first, he was happy to get away, but now the cold hard reality was setting in. Where was he to go? He lay shivering with cold and fear, his stomach a mish-mash of nerves, and growling with hunger. He was soaked to the skin with the driving rain, his half-closed eyes staring out bleakly on an unforgiving landscape. He tried to sleep, but there was no point, so he reluctantly got to his four paws. Somehow, he had to find food, if he was going to have the strength for the journey onwards. It was so early in the morning, the sun hadn’t yet made its appearance, and it was still dark out, but that was fine with Victro, he would need the black veil of night in order to not be seen, as he scrounged though a tipped-over garbage can for something to eat.
He stayed in the shadows of the streetlight that illuminated the dark street. He had spied a particularly odiferous garbage can that was overflowing with trash. It was well within the circle of light cast from the streetlight, but that couldn’t be helped. He dashed across the street, leaving the safety of the shadows, he got up with his front paws on the top of the can, and let his body weight pull the can over, where it landed on its side, making a terrific 'crash'! He quickly glanced around at the houses on the block, but saw no lights come on in alarm. Trash was all over the street, and he dived right in. He was unbelievably hungry. Here was some meat. He has just picked up the beef in his slobbering jaws, when from behind him, he heard,
“Oh, you stupid fricking mutt, get out of there!” and he felt the blow, as the angry dude swatted his butt. Somehow, the angry homeowner had caught him unawares. He dropped the beef, and scampered back to the safety of the shadows. Man, he had been this close to a free meal!
Sally Vernon was sitting on her parent’s front porch, cowering under the canopy that kept the rain off her, and gazing longingly up the street. Oh, how she ached to head up the street, to destinations unknown. Her parents made her sick! They pried into her private life, embarrassed her in front of her friends, and tried to control her every move. She felt more like a prisoner than a daughter. It was then, as she was gazing out on the street, she noticed a black and white dog slinking across the road. It looked pathetic, with matted fur hanging off him or her, because it was soaked, and it was exhausted-looking. She immediately felt sorry for it, and called out,
“Here, dog, over here!”
He was so very tired and hungry. He’d almost had a good meal, but some mean man had yelled at him so he had taken off running, without eating, after he’d managed to tip over a garbage can. He didn’t know where to go, as he trotted across the road. When he was about ½ ways across, he heard a voice saying something. He couldn’t understand any of it, but he did know that 'dog' meant him. He stopped in the middle of the road, and looked at her excitedly. Maybe she had food! Suddenly, he was startled out of his fantasy by the blast of a horn and screeching tires. He froze, and a car swerved around him, sliding in the dirt on the shoulder, fishtailing, until at last it regained traction on the cement, and sped away. Shouting came from the passing car.
“You fricking…” The shouting faded and disappeared with the car, as it rounded a bend. Being yelled at by an angry person didn’t bother Victro at all, he couldn’t understand. He resumed staring at the girl across the street. She must have food.
Sally Vernon felt horrible. The dog had very nearly been run over because she had called to it. It had been crossing the road, when it had stopped right in the middle to look up at her. A speeding car had to slam on its brakes, and swerve to keep from hitting it. But, luckily, the car had missed, and now the dog was staring directly at her.
“Come here, dog, come here!” she encouraged it, after making sure no other cars were coming. After a couple of seconds, the dog came trotting towards her.
Victro heard the girl calling to him, debated whether it was very wise to approach a stranger, and decided the search for food was worth taking the chance. He trotted up to the girl and sniffed the air. Nothing, the girl had nothing to eat.
Sally Vernon petted the dog’s head, and wondered why he/she kept sniffing the air, eyes looking frantically for, what? She kept petting the dog, but it seemed to lose interest after a while.
Nothing, not so much as a stick of gum, although he had no idea how he even knew what that was. The girl kept on touching him; what was that?
After a few minutes of tying to make friends with the unfriendly dog, Sally had given up and rose to start for home. After she’d taken a few steps, she realized the dog was following her.
“Shoo, go home, dog!” she shouted in her best commanding voice. Still, the dog trotted behind her. Great, her parents would love this. Then, she realized she would be more than happy to piss them off. “Come on then.”
Victro followed the girl to a rundown dump of a house. Gray paint was peeling off and hanging in huge strips. Several junk cars littered the small front yard, and overgrown grass snaked its way up their dented sides. He saw the front door swing open, and a man wearing an old, brightly-colored hat came roughly through a battered door, which slammed into the outer wall, making a tremendous noise.
“Where the hell you been?” demanded the staring man.
Victro couldn’t understand, but he knew that tone of voice. He only hoped the angry guy wasn’t talking to him. The girl in front of him replied,
“I’m sorry Daddy; I was watching the street, just zoning out, when I saw this dog. It doesn’t have a tag, so maybe we could keep it?”
Her dad snapped, “Keep it; are you out of your mind? We definitely don’t need that mange-ridden beast constantly underfoot. Not a chance!”
Vitro couldn’t understand a word being said, but he could tell by the man’s posture and tone of voice, whatever was being said, it was about him, and it wasn’t good.
Sally had heard enough. It was more of the same from the worthless lump that was her father. God, did she ever hate him! Look at him, red face screwed up with hate. He went on talking, saying he was going to call the pound about the dog. There was no way she could allow that to happen. She resolved that as soon as everyone else was asleep, she and the dog were running away.
Sally and Victro, whom she called Bandit, for some reason which was a mystery to him, were miles from her house, and getting colder as the night progressed. Victro didn’t know why he had hung around; maybe it was because he had nowhere else to go, maybe it was because, and he hated to admit it to himself, he actually liked her a little bit.
They huddled together for warmth, and stayed that way throughout the bone-chilling night. Victro awoke with stiff, sore muscles, and looked over at Sally, curled up in a little ball, shaking. Victro laid back down next to her, and did his best to help her stay warm, even though he was still unbelievably cold himself.
At last, Sally stirred, and woke to a frozen landscape, under a gray, sullen sky that promised snow. She had never been this cold in her life. She looked around and saw Bandit curled up beside her, shivering from the cold. He looked like he was still asleep, so she lay still, in order not to wake him.
Come on, get up, woman; Victro was pissed. He was freezing his doggy-n**s off. He was all for friendship, but this was ridiculous!
At last, they had both gotten up. Victro has casually rolled into Sally, and she had said loudly,
“Bandit, you up?”
Of course, he couldn’t understand, but he had bounded to his paws, making sure he gave her no opportunity to go back to sleep. Man, if he had learned one thing since meeting her, it was that she tended to be lazy. He was bursting with excess energy, but, because she was not, he had had to reign it in. Again, he thought about ditching her, but, as she so far had proven an agreeable traveling partner, other than the laziness s**t, he had decided to slow up so as to stay with her. That, and the fact he had no fricking clue where he was headed.
They were both famished, but had nothing to eat. Victro was tired and hungry, but so far at least, dry. The only thing that could make him even more miserable, was rain--- and suddenly, the skies opened up, and drenched him with water. Well, now his misery was complete.
Sally was looking up to the heavens, like, why me? Her dress was completely soaked. They was so hungry, she had even thought about stealing the eggs from some nearby farmhouse, breaking the shells, and eating the yolks, but that was something she wasn’t desperate enough to do, at least not yet, but she knew it would only be a matter of time, and she would be.
They had stumbled along, both of them super-tired, and dreading the thought of spending another miserable night in the open. Sally was keeping a close lookout for a barn they could sleep in. At least that way, they would be out of the rain, which had kept falling all day. She couldn’t remember ever being this miserable.
Victro had to fight to keep his legs moving forward. This blew, but there was nothing else to do. He was lost in his misery, when he heard a distant voice. Sally heard the far-away cry of her name, and whirled around to see her father frantically waving to get her attention. At first, she was ecstatic, but then she remembered how pissed off she was at him. As her father drew closer, Sally got ready to be screamed at, but when her father caught up to them, he cried,
“Sally, thank goodness; we’ve been worried sick about you!”
They were? “You were?”
“Of course we were. You were gone overnight, and I spent it trying to find you. I had all-but-given up hope, but at last I spotted you. Please, come home. We miss you, and love you!”
They did? “But I thought, with the way you treated me—”
“I apologize for the way I treated you. From now on, I’ll never treat you like that again.”
Sally couldn’t believe what she was hearing. They actually loved her, even her father. “Okay, I’ll come home. Come on, Bandit, we’re going home!”
Immediately, her father exclaimed, “Bandit? We’re not taking that mutt.”
“But Dad, I won’t go without him.”
“S**t! Okay, I guess if that’s what it takes to get you home, he can come.”
“Do you hear that, Bandit? You can come home with us. Come on, boy, into the truck.”
“Oh no, he can ride back here,” her father answered, pointing to the bed.
“But nothing. That’s my rule, and if he’s coming, that’s where he’s riding.”
“Oh, okay, in the back, Bandit,” and she gestured to the bed of the truck. Was she kidding, in the back with no protection from the wind and rain? Well, if this didn’t blow. Reluctantly, he jumped into the back. He’d put up with her old man’s s**t just long enough to get warm, eat something, rest up, then he was gone. He’d miss Sally, but he wouldn’t miss her father. What a b*****d!