I had a business meeting that ran way past where it should have stopped. I was late getting off work to begin with and was tired of people and talking and tired of not being where I wanted to be and tired of doing something I did not want to do. I never buy bottled water because the plastic bottles always wind up the Pacific but dehydration had begun to set in.
There was a woman in the store who was crying and she was desperate because her cell phone had just died and she had just found Frank. She wanted to borrow my phone, the store’s phone, anyone’s phone, but she wanted to call her son, who lives near Atlanta, to come get Frank.
She got Frank, a pit bull, when he was a puppy, two years ago, and she kept him tethered to a tree outside her house. Frank got away a week ago and she had looked in the animal shelter for him every day and she had put out flyers and she had waited for Frank to come home. Today she found him in the ditch near her house where the weeds were thick. I told her I would get Frank for her.
Frank had been hit by a car or a truck and he had been hit hard. A loop of his intestines hung out of his belly. Frank had survived the hit and had crawled towards home. The intestines stretched out behind him where he had crawled. The piece of broken chain attached to his collar trailed out nearly as long. Judging from his state of decay Frank had been dead for a few days. The stench was overwhelming and only got worse. His tail bones had been dislodged from the skin and stuck out obscenely straight. There were two very large patched of hide hanging down. Frank’s back legs had been crushed along with his hips. One of his back legs gave and nearly came off. The woman turned and threw up. She walked a couple of steps then when down on her hands and knees and retched. Frank was bloated and maggots were falling off of him when I picked him up and put him on my tailgate.
She asked me if I could dig a grave for Frank and I told her I would. All she had was a flat nosed shovel and it was pretty clear I couldn’t dig a grave with it. After about fifteen minutes of trying she asked me to stop and honestly I didn’t have much left. She asked me if I would take Frank out into woods away from the house and I told her I would.
Frank’s body was falling apart when I took him off the tailgate. I left him out by a beaver dam, in a place a dog would have loved to nose around and swim, I took the collar and chain off his neck and tossed it into the water. Frank was finally free and he was finally safe. I sat in my truck and tried to remember whatever else I could say, it was clear the woman had loved Frank and his death had hurt her.
Frank lived his life on the end of a ten foot long chain. He died with that much of his insides on the outside. His family had to find him in that condition and that is the only way I will ever remember Frank.