This week’s Friday Flash is actually more of a creative nonfiction piece. I had written it for the pet story contest hosted by the Friday Flash community, but had read the guidelines incorrectly and didn’t realize it until I went to submit. Ah, well, such is how some of these stories come about. I hope you enjoy Quillen: The Schrayer Family Thief, rated G, according tomy standards.
Quillen: The Schrayer Family Thief, by Deanna Schrayer
I was mowing the yard when I saw our seven-year-old Big-as-a-Horse German Shepherd/Labrador Retriever, Quillen, running across the lawn towards me. I stopped the mower and yelled at him, “Quillen, no! Don’t come near the lawn mower!” We’d been through this routine more times than I could recall but somehow he didn’t seem to remember, or care, that he was not allowed near the mower. I sat holding the brake, waiting for him to move back out of the way. He stood staring at me, as if challenging me to a duel, for several seconds. “Quill…” I said in a warning voice. Finally he hung his head, turned and slouched off.
Quillen sat patiently by the edge of the yard waiting for me to finish mowing, but when he saw my son come outside and grab his bike, he decided he’d had enough of the inane waiting and followed Noah at a trot towards the neighbors’ house further up the hill.
The custom is that, once at the top of the hill, Noah mounts his bike and zooms down through the neighbors’ yard, then through ours, as if playing chicken with me driving the lawn mower, (intent on giving me a heart attack I’m certain), while Quillen runs full out behind him. They did this a few times and then disappeared from my view.
About a half hour later, I saw Quillen strut across the yard with something large in his mouth. I had never seen him walk as he was walking now – quick short steps, like he was in a hurry but didn’t want anyone to notice. Suddenly he stopped and glanced around surreptitiously, like a thief who just realized he was trotting around in broad daylight with his treasure fully displayed.
Still mowing I called to him, “Quillen! What have you got?”
It was like a gunshot had whizzed by his ear. He jerked into action and sped up, intent on escaping my watchful gaze. I yelled to Noah who was relaxing in a nearby tree, “Noah, go see what Quillen’s got in his mouth!” Noah jumped from the tree and ran towards Quillen, causing him to run faster. I kept mowing.
Several minutes later Noah came towards me carrying something so big he was holding it with both hands. He was laughing so hard he had to stop and catch his breath. When I saw what he was holding I was horrified – a fully cooked, still steaming, whole chicken with incriminating teeth marks in the top. Obviously, Quillen had raided the neighbors’ cook-out.
I stopped the mower and went to find Quillen. It didn’t take long – I knew just where he’d be. He was hiding under the deck, a place he knew only he could crawl into, and no one could get to him.
“Quillen,” I said in that warning voice and he shoved his face into the ground and tried his best to hide under the dirt. “Quillen!” I used my stern voice now and he looked up at me, his eyes looking every bit like a guilty child’s. Finally he came crawling out of the hole, keeping his body close to the ground, and when he reached me he half -lay down at my feet and stuck his head between my knees. I’d never seen this sort of behavior from my beloved pet. He knew he was in trouble and was apparently ready to take the punishment.
I leashed Quillen and led him up the hill to the neighbors’ house, carrying the chicken in a plastic grocery bag, (as if they’d want it back). I felt like I was taking a child who’d stolen candy back to the store to return it.
Thankfully, when I told our neighbors what had happened to their dinner, they laughed. Seeming to think this meant everything was all right, Quillen perked up and nudged my leg, pointing his head towards the chicken. Of course no one could eat the chicken now, but I couldn’t let Quillen have it, so I led him to the back of the neighbors’ house where their dog lived. I handed the chicken over to the large bulldog and stood holding Quillen’s leash as he and I watched the bulldog tear into that delicious barbecued treat.
As far as I know, Quillen has not stolen anything since…unless you count my heart.