The lost dogs…#5

Friends: The following weeks I will be posting some of the chapters of my new short story entitled, The Lost Dogs of Mercy Trap. This is the first of 6-8 stories to be published in 2016. I hope you enjoy. John
(Chapter five)

Tuesday morning of Christmas week Joseph and Jimmy talked about their adventure of the day before.

“How about we drive by mom’s memorial each day after school. It’s only a couple blocks out of the way. In fact, on my therapy days we go right by it.”

“It’s close enough,” Jimmy, “that we can drive in that direction any time we want.”
Jimmy ate quietly, gathering his thoughts. “Isn’t the city council meeting tonight?”
Joseph was surprised. “Now how in tarnation did you remember that?”

“I think King reminded me.”

“Well, I’ve raised enough stink that if I don’t show up I’ll be tar and feathered by my fellow employees.”

“Good for you dad, King would be proud of you,” the boy said with a smile.
It was the first time in two years that Joseph had heard the dog’s name and seen a smile on his son’s face at the same time.

* * * * *

     Amy Pierson knocked and opened the front door at the same time. “Babysitter on-board,” she yelled.

“I hate it when she says that,” Jimmy said.

His dad laughed. “That’s why she does it, son.”

Joseph headed for the main post office where he loaded his truck with mail and headed for his route. He had been delivering mail for 12 years, knew most of his patrons by name, and received enough homemade cakes and candies during Christmas week to feed a ravenous pack of dogs.

He parked on Manger Avenue and Seventh Street, packed his bag, locked the truck and began stuffing mail in boxes. His load was double the norm with the onset of Christmas and he wondered from whence the cards came…from friends and families separated all over the world? And he thought about Mary and the cards that would be sent no more.

“See you at City Council tonight, Joseph?”

The question came from Katy Shepherd as she and her Doberman Pinscher fought the winter wind and headed toward her mail box. He waited at the fence line…her mail in one hand and a dog biscuit for Starman in the other.

Katy and Joseph’s wife, Mary, had been friends for many years, a friendship formed through the animal rescue organization they supported.

“My son has already reminded me,” he said.

Katy laughed. Then said, “After what he encountered with King, it just might be therapy for his wounds.”

“It’s probably not good for my continued employment to make enemies…and I’ll sure make ‘em tonight.”

“Do I detect indecision?”

“No, not really. But, my boss isn’t too happy about it.”

“Take heart, Joseph. It’ll be standing room only, mostly supporting you. And I’ll be there to tell the rest of the community about what’s happening on Manger Avenue.”

“Thanks, Katy.” He handed a second Milk Bone to Starman.

Moments later she yelled at him, “Don’t forget the pictures!”

He waved at her.

Katy was a beat writer for the community newspaper. He had talked to her about what was happening on Manger Avenue. He had shown her the pictures and she had spent two days walking the route with him while gathering names and addresses.

He had stood before City Council last month and told them about the abuse and mistreatment of five dogs on his mail route. Further, he had requested that City Council direct the Animal Control Shelter to inspect each home and demand changes.\

Members of City council were uneasy about getting involved with a sensitive issue that might upset constituents, cause complaints about the rights of the animals, and ultimately cost votes at election time. So they were agreeable to turning the problem over to the director of the Animal Control Shelter with instructions to investigate and report back at the next council meeting.

Katy, however, was not so agreeable in relieving council members of their moral responsibility…and her article the following morning raised the ire of council members as well as the citizens of Mercy Trap. Letters to the editor poured in: each and everyone demanding that dogs be treated as humanly as what council members expected in their own households.

Over the next month as Joseph continued to deliver mail, he noted that no changes had been made in the conditions of each dog. All five dogs remained on chains, all were malnourished to the point of death, two had not received shelter from the wind and snow, one had no feed bowl, and the fifth supported a chain so thick that it cut into his neck.

At dinnertime on Tuesday he told Jimmy that no changes had been made.

Jimmy was thinking about King. “There’s got to be something we can do, Dad. Just think about how hard it’s been without King.”

Joseph bolted up in his chair. “That’s it, Jimmy. You’re a genius.” He kissed his son on the forehead, grabbed his hat and coat, and headed for the door just as Amy entered.

“I’ll explain when I get back. Keep your fingers crossed. I love you guys.”

Out the door his dad ran while Jimmy tried to discern what he had said that had gotten his dad so excited.

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