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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 12 page 22

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Staring up at him is a large, powerful, black and brown dog. It looks nothing like the tiny, weak animal that in his mind he pictured himself torturing, then rescuing. The dog rushes toward him. Still shaken by the difference between reality and what he had imagined, the man steps back until his retreat is blocked by a banister.

The dog stops just short of crossing the threshold of the open doorway. It sniffs several times before unleashing several barks in the man's direction. The man waves his hands and whistles in an effort to entice the dog to come toward him, to leave the dungeon that was its home. When he has the dog's undivided attention, he takes a step back, and the dog, mesmerized by his presence, breaks the invisible partition separating them, and comes toward him.

The man makes his way down the stairs until he reaches the ground floor. The dog follows. The man opens the building's front door. The dog stares out, enthralled by the smells, sounds, and sights beyond the building. The man waves his arm toward the chaos of the world beyond and watches the dog dash past, through the open door. Without looking back, the man shuts the door, locks it, and makes his way back to his apartment, a prideful grin etched across his face.

Once inside his apartment, he sits on his sofa, smiles, and enjoys the silence permeating the small box he calls home. It's a silence he believes is but a small reward for the righteous act of granting the dog the liberation it deserved.

A knock on his door shatters the silence. The man grunts, rises from the sofa, opens the door, and looks down at the face of a little girl, no older than six, maybe seven, her eyes filled with tears.

"Sir, I'm sorry to bother you, I don't know how, but my dog got out. He's black and brown, and pretty big. Have you seen him?"

The man watches the girl's tears splash on the ground in front of his door. While moved by her sorrow, it is not enough to sway him. The dog’s freedom was worth her tears. He considers telling her what he did. He considers explaining the reasons, but knows she wouldn't understand. She is too young, too naive. Instead, he keeps his actions a secret, maintaining the selflessness of his deed. He kneels, looks the young girl in the eye, and replies, "No, sorry, I haven't."

In a shaken, whimpering voice, the girl thanks him, walks to the next apartment, and starts knocking on that door. Not waiting to see if anybody is going to answer, the man closes his door, walks to his chair, sits, opens the laptop on the table, and gazes at a screen that stares back at him blankly.

Jonathan R. Rose's novel Carrion is available on Amazon. He invites reader feedback. His Facebook fan page is https://www.facebook.com/JonathanRRose.