are the thoughts of dog X.....for a moment, you are dog X...
The warmth of sunshine is a wonderful
gift. So many take it for granted. I love to feel it soothe and lull me to sleep
as I lay here in a meadow, quite alone. No one yelling at me...no one making
demands of me...just me, and nature! I don't have to fight the fumes of car
exhaust, furniture polish, cigarettes, hair spray, cleaners...just fresh air.
And off to the east side of the
"Who's that....? What are you
doing? Oh, it's you. I'm glad it's only you. I guess I was just dreaming again.
WAIT! Where are we going? Where are we going?"
You look around frantically....where are
you going? Why is she carrying you this way? What did you do? Are you in
Your car door slams shut and all you can
do is wait. The moment lasts forever as you anticipate her door opening.
"God, what's going on here?...Why won't she tell me?"
You feel that hard knot tighten in your
chest as you start to quiver from way down inside of
yourself...shiver...stop...shiver...stop. Your mouth feels dry and swallowing is
accomplished only by conscious effort. "It's okay, sweetheart...", she
laughs as she calmly slides in and starts the ignition. "Oh, darn! It's
starting to rain and I've got a million things to do today." Suddenly, she
looks around at you, as if it were somehow all YOUR fault. She sees the fear on
your face and it irritates her. "Cool out, will ya? It'll be alright."
You can sense the tension in her voice. She's becoming more irritated and that
only makes you feel worse. All you want to do is go home and stop shaking.
Things are going to fast. Won't this
ride ever end? You're so confused. Look at her....You're falling apart and she's
just driving along...babbling on and on about nothing, unscathed...unconcerned.
"Are we here? Where are we? Who
lives here?", you think with panic, yet excitement...maybe it's not that
As the car stops you feel your heartbeat
increase rapidly. This is it! The mystery will soon be over...you hope. Such a
strange looking place, almost sad. Your eyes become intently focused as you lose
yourself in your thoughts. "There's no happiness here." You come to
that conclusion already. "What do WE have to do with this place?"
The car sits motionless...silent. You
barely notice her sigh as she reaches over to brush the hair from your
frightened eyes, but you jump...having been startled by her touch. Your
concentration is broken. You aren't very consolable, in spite of her
efforts. For the first time in your life you don't trust her. Something in
her voice...the voice that speaks the words you can't hear...but you feel them.
"What's the matter with you?"
Her kind words of attempted comfort are now angry. "It's not like I'm gonna
kill you!" Trembling prevails. If only you could stop shaking and look
brave, happy. "Come on, I've got a lot to do today and I don't need your
She reaches for you and you feel
yourself grip the seat, "No, please! Wait! Let me think a minute more. I
need to collect myself. I feel like I'm in a terrible nightmare." She can't
manage to take you out of the car from her side, so she gets out of the car and
slams the door in disgust. The moment of silence is deafening as you wait. Your
car door jerks open and in a firm voice she says, "I said to COME ON!"
Your thoughts are racing, "I can't believe this is happening to me. Where
are we? What's that smell?" And what a horrible smell it
"No...I can't.....I'm not going in
there.....PLEASE don't make me go in there....PLEASE!" As you struggle she
grabs you forcefully and yells over her shoulder, "Can someone help me out
here?...she's scared and I'm afraid she might bite me." At once a woman
approaches and between the two of them you are rendered powerless.
Once inside you can feel them
staring...one of them even tries to touch you. Children point and ask questions.
The smell is staggering. You look up and see a large, heavy door. From the other
side of the door you hear muffled voices and the sounds of others crying. Why
are they crying? Who are they? Why are they here? Why are YOU here?
There is a thick cloud of cigarette
smoke lingering in the air. A small fan blows and circulates stale air. On a
crooked bulletin board old memos and yellowed, torn papers flap aimlessly. An
old woman with no shoes stirs restlessly in her chair while coughing. Before you
can release another thought, that big door swings open abruptly and in comes
another person. He's a large man...black...and his worn shoes are too big for
his feet. You hear them scuffle towards you. His once-white tee shirt is dirty
and stained with what looks like blood and who knows what else? Beads of sweat
have begun to trickle down his strained face. He was
interrupted...again...probably one of many times this morning...."Can't get
no work done 'round this place", he mumbles.
Without another word, he knows what to
do. There's much conversation...confusion, and it's all to do with you.
"What are they saying? Why am I here? Please don't make me go with that
man...I'm afraid....I don't want to go in there."
As a last ditch effort you strain and
fight to look back at her...one last time. The man seems to sympathize as he
pauses in the doorway and turns so you can see her. You're desperate to make
eye-contact, but all she does is give you a condescending
"I-can't-help-you" look. She lifts her shoulders and your heart sinks
as she sighs and in a child-like voice she says to you, "It's alright,
Baby, you know I love you. Now, be good....sorry." In her own guilt she
looks around nervously, searching for an understanding smile for what she's just
done, but none of the workers could look at her. They've heard it all a million
times before, and this situation was no different.
The lump in your throat makes it harder
to swallow, and you fight back the tears welling up in your eyes. You are forced
to realize that you will never see her again. It's probably just as well that
you didn't. But you loved her, worshipped her, trusted her, needed her. You've
known her all of your life. How can she let you go through this?
As you are taken beyond the door, new
thoughts and worries are born. In one moment everything you ever knew and loved
is now the past. That one door separated you from security and certainty. How
can your entire life be changed in a few moments? You are on your own, now...she
won't help you. There's no time to concern yourself with thoughts of her.
"Why are they staring at me like
that? What are they saying? They are so loud. That smell...it's coming from
everywhere...much stronger in here."
The journey seems endless as you go past
room after room. They're shouting and barking at you...heckling, glaring,
bristling....and a few are crying.
You stop at a small room.
"Well..", the man says in a tired, wore-down voice, "This one's
all yours. Be back in a minute with some grub." Under his breath you hear
him mumble in disgust
The door slams shut and you listen as
the sound of his footsteps fade away. The place has grown quieter, except for the
barely audible whimper of a few.
The floor is cold and the smell lingers
on from others who were there before you. There's water and a make-shift bed,
made of discarded shirts and slacks. You slowly look around, only to find
yourself in a corner. So, you shrink back, stay there, and wait. Wait for what?
You just wait.
The commotion stirs up again as your
door is swiftly opened and a ration of food is slid in....metal scraping against
painted concrete...spinning down to a slow, grinding turn, and stopping at your
feet. "Food? I'm not hungry! I don't want to eat."
With your stomach in knots you ease down
to a careful, semi-laying position. The smell of that food is so over-whelming
that you think you'll be sick. A soft, but steady, tremor hides down inside of
you. You're so exhausted....so scared....You just need to rest for awhile...just
a few minutes, just...
The next few days are a nightmare.
People shouting, doors slamming and always, always someone far off crying. There
are strange people always staring at you...watching you. Each day you are led
outside for a brief time. They call it exercise. All you do is stay away from
the others and hope they don't approach you. You're losing weight, confidence,
and even the will to live. All of the joys of the life you knew have been torn
Careful observation has revealed a way
out...someone must purposely TAKE you out. It has to be deliberate....you've
seen others leave. Strangers come and take you away. But you can't help but
wonder how you can achieve this. What can you do? "Maybe I can look
happier...no, then I'll look content to be where I am and I won't be able to
leave. Perhaps if I look real sad....nah!...that might be too depressing. People
like "happy"...they'll look for that, I'm sure."
These are your thoughts, day after
day....always waiting and hoping. Will you ever get out of here? Will you ever
be able to go back through that big, heavy door? The stress and shock of the
shelter weakens you and you lose even more weight. This morning you began to run
a fever. And if you get sick in a shelter...
Once, when you were sleeping, a
restless shift in your position, and the slit of your sleepy eyes revealed a
man...he was standing at your door...watching you sleep...remembering the first
time he saw you. And you remember the first time you saw him....his shoes were
too big for his feet, as you heard him shuffle his way towards you. His
once-white tee shirt stained with what looked like blood, and who knows what
else? Beads of sweat trickled down his strained face. He was
interrupted...again...probably one of many times that morning...no, he can't get
any work done around this place...he became my unlikely friend that day.
And your sleepy eyes close again, and
the sounds of someone far off...crying, lulls you back to sleep.