Written for OLWG#87
Cooper sat next to Daniel who drove the old Pickup away from town. The dog rested low on the seat and Daniel remembered how he used to ride with his head out the window, ears flapping in the breeze. You’d swear that he was smiling. Cooper was old now. He and Daniel had grown up together, best friends. Now Daniel was seventeen and Cooper was sixteen, old for a Heeler.
That morning Grampa had woken him early, and hushed him; the rest of the house, still asleep. After Daniel dressed he found Grampa sitting at the kitchen table. His six-shooter resting on the table next to him was broken open, unloaded.
“What’s up, Grampa?”
“Yer dog’s old, boy.”
“Yessir,” Daniel agreed.
“I’m worried about his quality of life, son. He don’t get around real well any more, he barely eats, and he cain’t hardly see.”
Daniel looked at his Grandfather and then looked at the pistol resting on the table.
“What’re you saying here, Grampa?” he asked.
“What I’m sayin’ here is… you know how to handle this pistol and Cooper needs to be put down.”
Daniel shook his head, “I can’t do this.”
“You gotta do it, boy, he’s your dog.”
“I can’t do this, Grampa,” Daniel insisted and he went to stand but the old man clamped his wrist to the table.
Holding his grandson he plucked a bullet from his shirt pocket and put it in Daniel’s hand; then wrapped the boy’s fingers around it.
“You gotta do this boy, it’s not fair to Cooper.” Grampa talked on for a long time, he was very persuasive. “Fetch my keys to the GMC. Then you and Cooper drive out into the woods with this pistol, wherever you want. Do it in the woods though. That dog loved the woods. It’s the right thing to do. When you come back, the truck’s yours.”
Daniel had picked up the gun and slipped the bullet into his pocket. Without a word, he snagged Grampa’s keys from the hall tree and whistled up Cooper. The two of them left the house. Grampa remained at the kitchen table and listened to his old truck start up and back down to the road. He listened as it moved away from the house, headed toward the highway. Then, he cradled his head on his arms and cried.
With his dog on the bench seat in the cab of the truck Daniel moved around to the other side and climbed in behind the wheel. He backed the truck from the drive and dropped the gear shift into first. He drove slowly away from home; just him and his dog, nothing unusual about that. At the highway, he turned west and headed out of town. His plan was to drive until he found a place where people would accept a young man and an old dog as friends and let them live in peace.
This week’s prompts were:
- plucked it out
- Daniel has no idea
- I can’t do this