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.Frank was about to feed him, then he remembered that there was no dog food left.He thought about giving him something from the fridge, some stew meat maybe, but he didn’t do it.He just went to bed.Casey whined a little bit, but he was so glad that Frank was home, he soon forgot that he was hungry and went to sleep in his usual position at Frank’s feet.In the weeks that followed, Frank always meant to go to the store and get dog food, but he never did.He’d get up, eat breakfast, shower, dress, then chain Casey up outside and go and meet his friends.They’d hang out in the park or at a diner, then cruise Central Avenue in the evenings.If Frank ate dinner at home, he’d give Casey something from his plate, but that was all.One night, Frank woke up in the morning and found garbage strewn all over the kitchen floor.Casey had managed to force open the door to the closet where the garbage can was kept, then force the lid off the can.He’d eaten potato peel and coffee grounds, and chewed empty plastic bags.Frank yelled at him, knowing he had no right to be angry, but feeling angry anyway.Casey wagged his tail and licked Frank’s hand, thinking Frank might feed him, but he didn’t.A few nights after that, Frank was awakened by the sound of growling.Casey was standing on the bed, legs stiff, showing his teeth as he stared into Frank’s face.Frank stared back in shock for a few seconds, and then, as Casey took a step forward, Frank realized that Casey was about to attack him.Frank sat up and yelled, and Casey gave a snorting little whimper, jumped off the bed and ran out of the room.Frank sat there for a minute, collecting himself, then got up, pulled on his pants, and went out into the hallway, half-expecting Casey to be lying in wait for him, stalking him like prey.But Casey was in the kitchen, sitting by his empty food bowl.Frank noticed how thin he was.Two weeks later, Casey was little more than fur and bone.Frank no longer chained him up in the yard, because he was afraid that somebody might see him and call the cops or the S.P.C.A., or tell his parents when they got home.He tied him to the kitchen door with a leash, which he wasn’t sure was even necessary, because Casey didn’t seem interested in tearing up the furniture, or in doing anything other than lying on the floor by his food bowl.He pissed in the kitchen, and Frank mopped it up.He didn’t shit at all.Frank found some ground beef in the freezer, thawed it, and put it in Casey’s bowl.He thought Casey would devour it, but he just licked at it, then ate a little bit, and then hacked it up on the linoleum a few minutes later.Tony called and said they were in Albuquerque and expected to be back in Phoenix the next day.When Frank hung up the phone, he looked at Casey and wondered what he was going to do.He set the alarm clock, and got up just before dawn.He got dressed, and drank some coffee while Casey lay on the floor.Frank squatted down and petted him, rubbed his ears, and Casey licked his hand.Frank stood up, went to the front door, and opened it.“Hey, buddy.You want to come out with me? Huh? Huh? Yeah, come on.”Casey got up and slowly followed Frank outside.Frank could see his body trembling as he walked.Frank went to his car and opened the front passenger side door.“Come on.Get in.Get in.Good boy.”Casey made a feeble jump, fell back, tried again, and made it into the car and onto the seat.“Good boy!”Frank got in the driver’s seat, started the car, and hoped none of the neighbors were watching.He drove with his left hand on the steering wheel while he used his right hand to pet Casey.It took a half-hour to reach the place in the desert where his father used to take him to let Casey run around and piss and shit.He wondered if Casey recognized it.“Come on, buddy.Let’s go.” He got out of the car, and Casey followed.Frank walked off the road and onto the dirt, walking slowly so that Casey could keep up with him.At six in the morning, it was hot already.They walked for about ten minutes, and then Casey could walk no more.Frank picked him up in his arms.Casey licked his face, and Frank said, “Good boy, good boy,” as he walked farther from the road, deeper into the desert.When he could no longer see the road, he gently lowered Casey to the ground.He petted Casey one last time.“Good boy.Yeah.Good boy.’Bye, buddy.” Then he turned and walked away.He didn’t look back.He’d been walking for maybe a minute when he heard something behind him.He turned around and saw that Casey was trying to follow him, crawling more than walking, wagging his tail when he saw Frank looking at him.Frank turned and ran.He kept running until he reached the road and fell against his car, panting.He looked back, and couldn’t see Casey.When his heart had stopped hammering, he got in the car and drove away.When he got home, he ate bacon and eggs, took a shower, and then went to bed.He cried into his pillow for what seemed like a long time, and then fell asleep.He woke at noon, and went to work on tidying up the house.His father called at three and said they were in Flagstaff.When his parents’ van rolled into the driveway at seven, he had freshly-brewed coffee waiting for them.Tony and Becca both seemed larger than he had remembered them, but it was Becca who told Frank, “I think you’ve grown!” when she got out of the van and saw him.She was wearing a dress in a floral pattern, and Tony was wearing tan-colored pants and a sport coat over a bowling shirt.Goldwater was aiming for the Presidency that year, and Tony’s lapel had a button with a picture of Goldwater’s eyeglasses and the words ASK ME WHY I’M FOR BARRY.As they went inside the house, Frank hoped the smell of coffee would cover the smell Casey had left in the kitchen, but as soon as Tony stepped inside the front door he said, “Damn, this place stinks.What have you been doing? It smells like piss or something.”“Yeah.I tried to clean it up, but I guess you can still smell it.I have to tell you something,” Frank said as they went into the kitchen.“It sure smells like you need to tell me something,” Tony said.“It’s even worse in here.Let’s go sit down.”They took their coffee to the living room.Tony and Becca sat on the couch, and Frank sat on a chair.“There’s something I didn’t tell you when you called, because I didn’t want to upset you and ruin your vacation.Casey got real sick, and he died.”The just looked at him, and Becca’s eyes got wet.“He couldn’t walk, and he peed in the kitchen a lot.I cleaned it up.”“Oh, Frank.” Becca came to him.He stood up and she put her arms around him.“Jesus,” Tony said.“When was this?”“He was sick for a couple weeks.He died a week ago.I’m sorry for not telling you, I guess it was like lying, but –”“Did you take him to a vet?” Tony said.“Yeah.The vet said it was Valley Fever, and there wasn’t anything he could do.” Frank had already taken some money out of the family bank account so he could say he used it to pay the vet.“Jesus,” Tony said again.“What did you do with him?”“After he died, I took him out to where we used to take him for walks, and I buried him there.”When Becca heard that, she sat back down next to Tony and began to cry hard.Tony put an arm around her, but he was looking at Frank.“I’m so sorry, son.I know how much you loved that dog.You gave him a real good life [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]