Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Parade: Part VI, Trixie's Walk

The Parade
Part VI
Trixie's Walk

Doris Hutchens opened the refrigerator and looked plaintively at its contents.  She wasn't really hungry but there was still some time until the news and she was bored.  She would go to bed after, but she needed a quick update.  Tomorrow was going to be a day long event and she'd have no time to catch up until Sunday afternoon.  She had multiple clients to see before noon and then parade preparations all afternoon.  There was still a piece of cheesecake left in the fridge from their dinner out in Hamptonville.  She scooped it up and placed it on a saucer.

At least everyone's costumes were finished.  She had finished all the sewing Wednesday.  She and Renee and Margaret, the two other stylists from the Style Shop, were all going to be dressed as 1950's housewives but with a witchy twist.  The float they would be riding had been constructed with three swings created to look like brooms.  When they sat in the swings, it would appear as though they were flying on broomsticks.  The rest of the float was constructed to look like glitter covered clouds.

She sat at the kitchen table and dug her fork into the cheesecake.  She savored the first creamy bites as they dissolved against her tongue.  Trixie, her chihuahua, came into the room and whined at her feet.  Doris dropped a small bite of the cheesecake onto the floor and Trixie quickly devoured it.  Doris leaned down and nuzzled the dogs' ears.

She realized that Trixie had not been for her daily walk.  Doris usually took Trixie out in the evening when she got home from work, but everything had been so hectic this week that Doris had forgotten twice already.  At her last veterinary visit, the vet had told Doris explicitly that Trixie needed more exercise.  Doris loved her little sausage body, but the vet said that Trixie may develop diabetes if she didn't do something to curtail Trixie's weight gain.  Doris didn't have the heart to deny Trixie anything so exercise was her answer.

Trixie was the only baby Doris would ever have.  Her and Gene had tried to conceive for years, but after her miscarriage, she learned that she was incapable of carrying a child to term.  She and Gene had rarely discussed other options.  Gene had strong opinions about personal responsibility where adoption was concerned and did not want to raise someone else's child.  Doris never felt comfortable with the idea of a surrogate.  She told herself that it was all for the best.  If the years since she lost the baby were any indication, she and Gene would never have made good parents.  She finished the cheesecake and set the saucer on the floor.  Trixie licked it voraciously.

Gene heard the clink and called from the living room.

"You're not giving that dog human food again are you?"

"Just a nibble."  Doris called back indignantly.

"Goddamn it Doris!  She's already on that expensive food to keep her from becoming diabetic!  You're gonna kill her...and you're killing me with the damned vet bills!"

"Well at least she'll be happy while she's alive!"

"Fine!  Give her some of the damned Halloween candy while you're at it!"

"I'm taking her out...for. her. walk. Eugene."  Doris threw the saucer into the sink and grabbed Trixie's leash from the broom closet.  She stomped upstairs to get her shoes and coat.

As she entered their bedroom, she spied herself in the mirror and tears began to well up.  This had been their lives since the miscarriage: yelling at each other from separate rooms.  It was as if their marriage had died inside her.  She wiped her eyes with a tissue as she put her shoes on.  Gene had become so relentless with her recently.  Neither of their businesses were doing very well and the money that had once placated their grief with comfort was dwindling away.  If they hadn't already bought the float last year, they wouldn't be in the parade this year at all.  She wasn't going to let him see her cry though.  She grabbed her heavy coat out of the closet.  Taking a deep breath, she descended the stairs.

She attached Trixie's leash to her collar and grabbed her phone from it's charger on the kitchen counter.  Gene didn't speak as she approached the front door.  He did not look up as she exited.  Small favors, Doris thought.  Before she closed the door, she grabbed a handful of Halloween candy from the nearby bowl and shoved it in her pocket.  She did not slam the door, but pulled it to soundly so that Gene would know that she was angry.

Doris walked to the edge of their yard and took a Mary Jane from her pocket.  She delicately removed the sticky orange wrapper and popped the nugget into her mouth.  Their peanut butter sweetness was her favorite.  Trixie made several fussy circles around her feet, sniffing intently.  She quickly unwrapped a second piece and chewed it with the first.  When she was nervous, Doris ate.

Gene would either be asleep when she returned or pretending to be.  It was his way of avoiding any more arguing or any kind of resolution.  Tomorrow night it would begin all over again.  Maybe not, she thought.  The parade was tomorrow and they both might be too tired to fight after.  She could hope.  Trixie tugged at the leash as she sniffed an invisible trail away from their home.  In the distance Doris could faintly hear other dogs barking.  Trixie paused.  She let out a short set of barks in response then continued following her imperceptible trail.

Trixie always liked to walk to the end of the street before she would, as Doris called it, "do her business".  Her journey was a languid one as Trixie would stop along the way to smell all there was to smell on and near the sidewalk they traveled.  There was a light fog tonight and Doris was silently thankful that she had missed her regular afternoon walk.  She imagined herself away, on the foggy streets of London or somewhere equally magical.  She straightened her posture and imagined herself as a royal lady.

The illusion was disturbed by the sound of a police siren.  Doris turned to look.  A patrol car crossed at the far end of the lane she walked, well past her home and down towards Baker Street.  Its red and blue lights were fuzzy blinking orbs in the distance.  It was gone as quickly as it had arrived.  Doris unwrapped another Mary Jane.  Trixie sniffed the bushes in front of the house they were passing and dug briefly in the dirt there.  Doris tugged at the leash and Trixie moved on.

Towards the end of the street was a large concrete drain just off the road.  This section of road had been prone to flooding until they installed the drain several years back.  Doris wasn't sure why, but it was Trixie's favorite place to go when they walked.  Doris wondered if other neighborhood dogs went in that same area.  She didn't like to come to this end of the street at night.  It was at the limit of where the light reached.  The area around the drain was mostly in deep shadow.

Just before they reached the end of the street, Doris stepped on something.  She couldn't see clearly, but it appeared that there was some kind of debris strewn across the sidewalk.  She dug out her phone and used it as flashlight.  The debris was the remains of a pumpkin.

Smashed Pumpkins!  Doris was furious.  She looked around her for movement to see if she could spy the culprit.  That kind of behavior might be okay in some of the other neighborhoods, but not here!  Trixie began to bark again.  She tugged the leash.   Doris dialed her security code and was about to hit 911 when Trixie's barks turned into growling.  Trixie ran forward.  The motion caught Doris off guard and the leash flew out from between her fingers.  She fumbled to grab it as it disappeared into darkness and in the process threw her phone into the grass nearby.  Trixie ran off into the shadows and continued to bark and growl.

"Dammit Trixie!"  Doris was overcome by an appalling odor.  It vaguely reminded her of how Gene would smell after he came back from a fishing trip and had been cleaning his catch.  This stench though was much thicker and more earthy.  She covered her mouth as she gagged a little.  She wondered if the drain was blocked or had overflowed.  In the darkness, Trixie continued to bark and growl.

"Trixie!  Get back here!  Trixie!"   They had racoons in the area and she didn't want Trixie getting hurt.  She stepped into the darkness towards her phone.  She could see its pale blue light just a few feet away.  She took several steps toward the phone.  Trixie suddenly yelped and ran past her and back towards the house.  Doris reached down to try and grab dog or leash but as she twisted, something caught her foot and she fell forward hard.  The fall knocked her breath out of her.  She writhed on the ground and gasped, her mouth thrust open in a harsh "O".  

She felt a sharp pain at her neck and the fishy smell overpowered her senses.  Suddenly she was rolling over again and again.  Her head hit the ground several times in the motion.  There was a sudden pressure all around her, squeezing her.  Her mouth made a faint clicking noise as she struggled to breath in.  She puked Mary Janes.  Her right arm was pinned but her left was free.  She grasped at the grass.  She flailed about for anything to grab hold of. 

The pain at the back of her neck intensified and her vision blurred.   She was being pulled.  The grass scratched her face as she was jerked across it.  The light of the street was moving further and further away.  Her head hit the edge of the concrete sewer drain hard as she was dragged into it.  Doris reached up and tried to hold on to the edge of the drain, but her vision faded completely as she was yanked into the darkness below.

~ To Be Continued in Part VII ~

{8x2.665, created in Adobe Photoshop}

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Eddie said...

Oof! That was brutal. Super bad day for Doris. I remember the last time I had the wind knocked out of me. It was college, I was a young, resilient twenty-year-old and I was still completely incapacitated. Definitely one of the more vulnerable states to be in while being attacked.

Jesse Campbell said...

Yeah, that was a rough one. Poor Doris. It was either her or Trixie and I didn't want to piss off all the Dog lovers by killing two dogs in a row. That and I needed to up the ante as it were, so Doris it were. Besides...there's worse to come. (bwa ha ha ha ha ha)

I fell through the rotten floor of an old building as a child. The fall knocked all the breath out of me. I lay on the ground for minutes after trying to get a breath in. The memory lingers for sure. :-O

I'd also like to apologize for the delay on new installments. Thanksgiving scheduling wrecked my world and I've been playing catch up since the second week of November. The next is coming soon. I'm finishing up the art right now. :-)


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