A Good-hearted Killer

"Martin, Martin, wake up,' Tommy barked to the motionless body in front of him.

But Martin was too quiet.

Tommy sniffed him around until his nose met a warm dark red liquid pouring from a deep wound on Martin's head.

'Oh my gosh, what have I done?' Tommy kept barking frenetically.

'I think he's dead,' Skittle, the parrot, cawed from his cage.

'No, that can't be.'

Tommy loved showing up behind his owner and put his front paws on this shoulders. And this time Martin had lost his balance. He was a big mastiff but he still believed he was a pup. Had he gone too far this time?

'Can't you see all the blood?' Skittle went on. 'He banged his head against the ground when you jumped on him. Now he's dead.'

"Shut up!" the distressed dog howled in disbelief.

Skittle just let out an offended shriek. The dog loved Martin so much that it blinded him. But Tommy howled and yelped for hours. He must have caught the neighbours' attention because a few hours later someone knocked on the door.

'Police, open right now.'

Both animals turned their heads to the door at the same time. Tommy darted from his spot and scratched the iron knob hopelessly trying to open it.

'Open right now.' the cops repeated.

Skittle joined the cacophony.

'I'm too old for this,' he scolded Tommy.

'If you don't open we will.'

Not two minutes later the cops tore the door down, guns in their hands just like those guys Tommy often saw Martin watching on TV. They immediately saw Martin's body lying on the kitchen floor, his head an island surrounded by a sea of blood.

'He's dead,' one of the officers said. 'Search the flat.'

'What for?' Skittle sighed. 'It was you, Tommy.'

Obviously, humans were deaf to animals' real talking. All they ever heard was barks, meows, caws, moohs and whines.

'There is no one here. He must have lost his balance and hit his head against the ground.'

'But how?'

'Well, the autopsy will tell us. Let's call the ambulance.'

Tommy just whined like a puppy. Not fifteen minutes later, he saw four men in white uniforms and masks enter the flat with a gurney. They covered Tommy's body with a sheet and carefully placed him on the white, thin mattress.

'What do we do to the animals?' someone asked.

'Let's just take the body to the hospital and when we inform the family, maybe they will come get them. Else, we'll place them in a shelter.'

Tommy whined. He knew what a shelter was. That's where Martin had taken him from three years before.

'No...' he cried, placing his muzzle between his paws.

'Well,' Skittle started as the men left and the flat plunged back into silence. 'What a lovely day... Look what you put us into, you mutt.'

'I didn't meant to...' Tommy kept crying. 'It was an accident.'

'I know... but all that jumping... you should have known...'

'Stop that, please.'

Skittle obeyed, not because he allowed Tommy to give him orders, but because deep inside he admitted he was being too harsh on his companion.

The flat was in deep, but tense silence. Tommy was too sad and too tired to keep yelping. He would never jump again on any human if he was allowed a chance other than going back to the shelter where enclosures were full and the few humans around too overwhelmed with the ever growing number of dogs and the ever decreasing number of food bags.

Slowly, slumber took over his body. He welcomed it. In his dreams, he was either playing tug and pull with Martin or fetching a tennis ball. But he would never do it again now and it was his fault. He would never forgive himself. Maybe he actually deserved to go back to the shelter.

He woke up with a soft hand petting his head and a sweet voice saying his name. He looked at her. He had seen her before. She was like Martin.

'Can we keep them, mom?' a child's voice asked eagerly.

Tommy didn't know how long he had been asleep. He heard the woman sigh and noticed her red brimmed eyes, as if she had been crying. Guilt took over him. She was devastated and it was his fault.

'I guess that's all we can do for Martin now.'

Tommy wagged his tail and licked her hand as the child hugged his mother in gratitude. He remembered them now. It was Sheila, Martin's sister and Chris, his nephew. She got up from him to get Skittle's cage and then she put him on a leash and gave the other end to Chris.

'Let's go, sweetheart. We have a lot to do.'

Skittle gave him a confused look. Tommy bowed his head. What if Sheila found out? She would be so angry that she would kill him too. He certainly didn't deserve this third chance but was happy that at least the parrot would be in good hands. As to himself... he didn't eat for days, too distressed with the recent events. Sheila took him to the vet who just said he was in some kind of post-traumatic stress and prescribed some tablets that Tommy always refused with the food. He got weaker and weaker until his body was nothing more than a skeleton covered with fur.

'What are you doing, Tommy?' Skittle asked from his cage one day, perched too tightly on the branch.

'Just let me go... I don't deserve to live after what I did.'

'Dying will not bring Martin back.'

'But maybe I can join him.'

The old, grumpy parrot had no words for this. He used to love teasing the dog but now he was seriously worried. Until one day... he was the only one who witnessed Tommy's last breath. In fact, he saw a white, thin cloud leaving his body. A dog-shaped cloud. It ran towards the open window, towards the sky.

Skittle bowed his head, in silent grief. At least now the careless but good-hearted dog was in peace.

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