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faces of david
Kayla's father wouldn't let her have a dog--she'd asked more times than she could even try to remember--so when she saw one, a hungry looking mangy one at that, wandering around the shed out behind the house, she took notice, took a break from her homework, and went outside, stopping in the kitchen just long enough to swipe a few pieces of bacon from the package in the fridge. Joe Jr asked her where she was going--he was sitting at the table, coloring. Fortunately, he'd gotten out of his curious phase, when he would constantly ask questions (why, of course, being his favorite) and wasn't too interested when she just shrugged and went outside. Kayla was glad of this. She wasn't sure if she could trust his four year old mind to keep a secret if he happened to notice where she was going and why. Daddy would find out about the dog, to be sure, but she didn't want Joe Jr telling him all about her falling in love with the mutt on sight and feeding the thing bacon meant for Daddy's breakfast. Daddy would find the dog, or maybe, just maybe, she'd get up the courage to tell him about it.
Yeah right, she thought, as she looked around for the dog. Like I'm ever telling him anything. "You'll be my little secret," she said out loud. "Now, where did you go? You were here just a minute ago."
She marched over toward the shed, past the old gutted truck that had been sitting in the yard since long before she was born, and which she was never to play around. This was more because Daddy still had some insane attachment to it and thought she'd damage it than because she might hurt herself. Glancing at the truck, she was a little jealous of her brother. Daddy had let him sit in the truck, had even let him sit in the car in the garage, the one that actually got all Daddy's attention when he wasn't busy yelling at Mommy or . . .
Kayla shook away thoughts of things she'd seen Daddy do. He had his reasons, she was sure. He was an adult, he was her father, he had to have his reasons. Mommy must deserve it.
But, that didn't sit right with Kayla, and she shook that away too, and started looking around near the shed for that dog she'd seen from inside. "Come on puppy, where are ya?"
She heard a noise from the other side of the shed, by the trees and the broken fence--which was actually off limits because she could get hurt and not because of her father's attachment to it. "Puppy?"
The fence shook a little. One board that had always been pretty loose looked like it was finally going to fall right off. Kayla took a step back, eyed that board for a moment, then stepped forward again warily. "Don't worry puppy, I'll keep you secret. Daddy won't hurt you. I won't let him." Kayla stopped, a painful memory grabbing ahold of her.
"Daddy won't hurt you. I won't let him." Mommy had told her that. Mommy had been crying that night, and she'd looked like it hurt every time she moved her left arm. Kayla hated that night. Mommy had looked so sad. But, she'd explained to Kayla that she'd deserved it. She'd broken a plate, and you weren't supposed to break any of the dishes. Kayla had been extra careful with dishes, especially plates, ever since. Once, when she'd broken a glass, she'd fallen to the floor panicking and crying so hard she could barely breathe, only to realize several minutes later, no one was home. Daddy wasn't there to punish her. She'd cleaned up the pieces of glass, and stuffed them deep down in the trashcan by the side of the house. When Daddy did get home that day, she'd just known he was going to know exactly how many glasses there should be and that one was missing. She'd sat in her room, staying quiet and still, as if that would help when Daddy came. But, Daddy never came. He never noticed the glass was missing. Or, at least, he hadn't said or done anything about it. There was always the chance he was saving up her punishment for later. Whenever he looked at her a certain way, she expected him to start saying something about that glass. She expected him to come right over and do to her what he did to Mommy when she broke that plate and then couldn't move her arm much for a couple weeks without noticeably wincing.
The fence moved again, and Kayla flinched, the sudden movement yanking her out of her reverie. "Puppy?"
She stepped closer to the fence, careful not to touch it. If that loose board fell, whether Daddy blamed her or not, she didn't want to really be responsible for it. She leaned as close to the fence as she could and looked behind the shed. And, there was the dog. Kayla held up a piece of bacon. "Come on puppy, I'm not gonna hurt ya." The dog moved a little toward her, than backed up farther than it had been. "Come on, it's bacon. It's really good." She held the piece of bacon up to her mouth and pretended to take a bite. She faked chewing then smiled at the dog. "See, yummy." The dog wasn't convinced.
The girl glanced at the fence, looked back toward the house, then at the dog. She put one hand on the fence, and leaned in so her face was right by the gap between the fence and the shed. If the dog decided it didn't like her bacon offering, it could have killed her in a matter of seconds. But, Kayla wasn't afraid of the dog. There were bigger things to be afraid of. She held up one piece of bacon again, her hand mere inches from the dog's snout. "Come on puppy," she pleaded.
The dog hesitated for a moment, then grabbed the bacon from her hand quickly, its teeth scraping against her hand briefly and making her flinch again. Realizing the dog hadn't bit her, Kayla smiled and held up a second piece of bacon, as the first one was already gone.
She heard a car door shut, and nearly fell against the fence. "Shit," she said. Then, realizing she'd said a curse word, she covered her mouth. Then, realizing only the dog had heard her, she uncovered her mouth and smiled, even laughed a little.
The dog took the second piece of bacon, and Kayla gave it the third and fourth at the same time. "I gotta go now, puppy. You stay hidden, ok. If Daddy finds you, we'll both be in trouble." She took one more look a the puppy then turned toward the house and ran, getting inside just as her father came in the front door. Joe Jr was still coloring away at the kitchen table. He paid little notice to his sister's arrival. When Daddy was in one of his moods, Joe Jr would come running to his big sister, but the rest of the time, it was like he barely cared she was there. But, Kayla was used to that. She headed for the stairs and was about to go back up to her room to finish her homework, when Daddy came into the hall. She froze at the bottom of the stairs. This was it. She'd finally hear about that glass she broke.
"Did you finish your homework yet, young lady," Daddy asked. Kayla didn't hear any anger in his voice. She relaxed a little.
"I was just on my way upstairs to finish it. I came down for a drink."
He thought this over for a second. Kayla was afraid he wouldn't believe her. She could just see his arm swinging at her. Mommy was wrong. He WOULD hurt her. She braced for the hit.
But, it didn't come. Daddy nodded, then wandered into the living room where Mommy was cleaning.
Kayla stood there for a moment, unable to move, then finally headed up the stairs and to her room to finish her homework.
Fortunately, she didn't have much homework that night, and was pretty much done with it already anyway, as she kept taking breaks to look out the window for any glimpse of the dog out there. A couple times, she thought she saw movement back by the fence, and once even thought she saw some movement through a crack in the shed door--how the dog would have gotten inside the shed, she had no idea. And, when her father went out to work on the car in the garage as he did every night before dinner, she sat at the window, watching, looking back and forth between the garage and the shed, hoping as hard as she could hope that the dog was smart enough to stay hidden while Daddy was out there.
Her hope worked and the dog made no appearance. Daddy did some work on the car, then came in and cleaned up. A short time later, Kayla was called down to dinner. She thought of trying to sneak some food into her pockets and making a trip to the backyard after dinner, but couldn't get up the nerve to attempt it. The dog would have to wait until the next morning for more food from her.
After dinner, Daddy was in a good mood, and Kayla got to stay up watching TV till half an hour past her usual bedtime. Then, like every other night, she took a bath, brushed her teeth, and dressed for bed. Then, Mommy came up to tuck her in and turn out the light, leaving the door open just an inch. A few minutes later, Daddy made his appearance, pushing the door open a little, glancing into the darkness. And, no doubt, seeing exactly how frightened his little girl was of him standing there, Kayla was sure. He never said anything, not good night, not anything, even when it was obvious Kayla was still awake. He just stood there in the doorway for a minute or two, then disappeared from view. A minute later, the hall outside her bedroom would get dark, and that meant Daddy and Mommy had both gone to bed.
And, tonight, that was Kayla's cue to get one more look out her window. She didn't see the dog, of course. It was too dark. But, she imagined she could see it sitting next to the shed, maybe even looking up at her window right then, thankful for the bacon, and eager for more, and more than willing to be her dog if Daddy would just allow it. The dog in her imagination stared up at her for a minute then put its head down and went to sleep. Kayla was about to go back to her bed and do the same when she noticed the light in the shed. She knew it wasn't Daddy, as she'd seen him head toward his and mommy's bedroom. And, though she hadn't specifically noticed which direction Mommy had gone after exiting her room, she was sure Mommy had no reason to go out to the shed this late at night, and was sure Daddy wouldn't be happy about it if Mommy DID go out there. So, it wasn't Daddy in the shed, and it wasn't Mommy. And Joe Jr had been asleep already for more than an hour, so it wasn't him either, although briefly Kayla imagined him sitting in the shed playing with some of Daddy's tools. She smiled at that thought. Joe Jr would be in big trouble if he . . . She didn't like where that thought was headed. Sure, it was funny if Joe Jr got in trouble, but not if it was big trouble. Big trouble was breaking plates, and getting hit. Joe Jr wasn't always the nicest little brother, but he certainly didn't deserve that.
So, if it wasn't Daddy and it wasn't Mommy and it wasn't Joe Jr, who was in the shed? The dog? Could it not only get the door open but also somehow turn on the light? If so, it was one smart little dog. Kayla liked the idea of the dog being really smart, and knew she'd get in trouble if she went outside to see for sure who or what was in the shed, so she just accepted it was the dog in there, and she returned to her bed.
She dreamt of that dog, and in her dream, it talked to her. But, when Mommy woke her for breakfast the next morning, Kayla couldn't remember for the life of her anything the dog had said. After breakfast, after Daddy headed off to work and Mommy went off into the den to have a drink, Kayla snuck some bacon from the fridge again and went outside to find the dog.
She found the dog laying right out in the open next to the shed. At a glance, with all the grass that desperately needed mowing, it might not have been too visible from too far away, but she was looking for it and headed right for the shed, so it was no trouble finding it.
The dog raised its head immediately, looking up at the girl. It still looked scrawny and hungry, but there was none of the fear in it visible the previous day. When Kayla held up a piece of bacon, it stood, swiped the meat from her hand, then laid right back down and had the piece down its throat before its belly hit the ground.
Kayla laughed. "You're a hungry puppy, aren't you," she said. She gave it a moment to respond, thinking back on the bits of her dream she could actually remember. The dog didn't say anything. It just looked up at her, its eyes looking at the bacon in her hand then up at her then back at the bacon again. Kayla dropped another piece of bacon into the dog's mouth then glanced toward the shed.
For a moment, she thought she saw movement through the crack in the shed door. But, she was sure it was just her imagination. She looked down at the dog again. "You weren't in there last night, were you?" The dog didn't answer her. Kayla frowned. "You can go ahead and speak up. I'm not gonna get you in trouble or being in there. Daddy won't find out, don't you worry." The dog still said nothing. "Fine," Kayla said, and she dropped the rest of the bacon to the ground in front of the dog's nose. He scopped the strips into his mouth and had them swallowed nearly whole in a matter of seconds. Then, he looked up at Kayla for more.
"No way," Kayla said. "You're not getting anything more right now." She glanced toward the old truck and thought of Daddy. If he knew she was giving this dog anything at all, he would be angry, very angry. This could even be as bad as breaking a plate. And, if he DID know about that glass, she'd be in big trouble.
The dog whined. Kayla felt bad, but knew she'd made the right choice. Couldn't steal too much food all at once, or someone would notice. She looked around the yard, maybe hoping something the dog could eat would jump out and introduce itself--she'd seen lots of birds and even a rabbit once in the yard--but none showed up. She spotted the hose curled up by the house though, and looked at the dog again. "You thirsty puppy? I bet you are. Come on." She waved for the dog to follow her, then walked over to the hose and turned it on. She held it up so the dog could drink, and laughed at how sloppily he drank.
When the dog stopped drinking, Kayla turned the hose off then sat down. She reached out to pet the dog, and he flinched and started to move away from her.
"It's ok puppy, I won't hurt you. I just want to pet you."
Maybe he couldn't--or wouldn't--talk back, but she was sure he understood her, as he sat still now and let her pet him. She scratched the top of his head and under his chin and stroked the fur on his neck and back, and he just sat there and let her. When she stopped, he moved toward her and licked her face. That got her laughing, and then it occurred to her she might be loud enough to arouse her mother's interest, and she stopped herself.
"Shhh," she said to the puppy, even though he wasn't the one making the noise, "don't want Mommy looking out to see what I'm doing. She sees you, she'll make me get rid of you."
The dog whined a little.
"Don't worry, puppy. I don't think she'd tell Daddy about you. She'd just make you leave."
The dog whined again.
"Aww, I don't don't want you to leave either," Kayla said.
She reached out to pet the dog again while she thought of what to do. The answer came to her quickly. "Hide in the shed again," she said. "That was you in there last night, right."
The dog just looked at her. She couldn't tell if that was an affirmative response, a negative one, or no response at all.
Kayla got up and headed for the shed. The dog followed after her without her having to tell it to do so. Kayla was sure from that once again the dog was intelligent.
She got to the shed, and reached for the door. Again, she sensed movement inside the shed, and she hesitated. "Puppy," she said, "that was you in here last night, right?"
She glanced at the puppy, but he didn't answer.
She looked toward the house, but that didn't give her any great sense of security. She looked down at the dog again, but he just stood there looking back at her. She took a deep breath, then yanked the shed's door open.
The shed was empty. Looked empty anyway. Empty and dirty and dusty. But, Kayla thought, there was something different in there. It didn't take her long to realize what it was. No cobwebs. She'd gotten bitten by a spider once when she'd gone into the shed, and she'd had a hard time hiding the bite mark from her parents, so as not to have to explain where she'd gotten it.
She looked back at the dog again. "You cleaned a little," she said. The dog looked at her strangely, then made a noise not quite like a whimper.
That's when the arm came out from behind her, from inside the shed, and yanked her inside, a hand covering her mouth so she couldn't scream.
A moment later, her efforts to get free thwarted, the door to the shed closed, Kayla, the dog, and whoever had grabbed her sitting in silence inside the shed, Kayla was surprised she wasn't that scared. She'd been much more scared many times before. Hell, she'd been more scared the night before when Daddy stood in her bedroom doorway.
"Are you going to scream," her captor asked. He didn't sound mean. Kayla knew what mean sounded like. She shook her head. "I remove my hand, you won't scream?" Kayla wondered why he hadn't gotten her answer the first time. She shook her head again. The hand left her mouth.
"What do you want with me," she asked.
"Silence is all," her captor said.
"You kept quiet about the dog," he said. Something about his voice actually was sorta comforting. "I want you to keep quiet about me, too."
Kayla thought about it. "You don't expect me to steal you bacon too?"
Her captor laughed. "No, that won't be necessary." He loosened his arm around her middle. "But, thanks for the offer," he said.
"You're welcome," Kayla said, her voice a little hesitant to form the words.
She looked down at his arm around her and pushed against it a little. She could get away easily, she was sure. She could slip right out of his grip. She was about to try, too, when he let go of her. She spun around to face her captor and was surprised to see a nice looking guy who didn't look much older than a teenager.
"I'm trusting you," he said to her. "My life is in your hands."
Kayla liked the sound of that. This was better than any pet dog. She had herself a human now. "What's your name," she asked.
"Well, David, I'm Kayla." She remembered the dog, and looked over at it. "So, he's yours?"
Her captor, David, nodded. "Well, I guess he is anyway."
"What do you mean?"
"He's been following me around for a couple days. I suppose that makes him mine."
"He got a name?"
David shook his head. "I think he likes it when you call him Puppy, though." He thought about that, then added, "or maybe he just likes that you bring him bacon."
Kayla smiled. "Maybe." She looked at the dog. "Puppy it is." She frowned. "Not very original, is it?"
"Doesn't need to be original," David told her. "David isn't original. Kayla isn't original. Why should the dog get the original name?"
Kayla laughed. "Good point."
"Kayla, where are you?" It was Mommy, calling from the backdoor. "I need your help."
"I gotta go," Kayla told David.
"I can trust you, right?"
Kayla thought about it then nodded. "You can trust me. Daddy won't know you're here at all. Well--"
"Don't worry about him finding me, Kayla. I'm good at hiding. You just worry about blurting out that I'm back here."
Kayla thought of accidentally mentioning there was a guy and his dog hiding in the shed over dinner and couldn't help but laugh. David looked at her strangely. She was going to explain what was funny, but her mother called again, "Kayla honey, come inside now. I need your help."
"I gotta go," she said.
"Bye." She left the shed and ran to the house, thinking again this was better than just any pet. And, she had to be sure not to let Daddy find out.