The Black Lab
The lab was coal black with just the slightest dusting of fine white hairs on her slender snout leading up to her nose. She was the most affectionate companion that he had ever known. She nuzzled her cold nose up to the back of his bare knee and even though the sudden sensation was uncomfortable, he smiled to himself. They had been together for many years now.
He turned in his chair and ran his hand over the length of her smooth coat. She looked up at him with the deep brown eyes the color of a cup of coffee with two teaspoons of creamer in it. They sat under peaked lids and seemed to him to resonate a sense of fulfillment and contentment.
The small wooden Thomas mantle clock chimed off the time and brought the man from his tired reverie in front of the laptop. The hour was late and it was dark outside the window. He had been working diligently and tirelessly for hours now. He redundantly looked at the silver watch on his wrist to confirm what the clock had already told him. The hands pointed even with the twelve. Another night had almost past him by.
He swiveled the chair around and stood up with creaking knees. The dog tried to stand but struggled so he walked over to her and leaning down with gentle hands, picked her butt up from the wooden floor; holding it as she straightened her legs setting her feet into motion. She followed him into the bedroom.
The man stood in the doorway, shrouded by the light from the hallway, which dimly illuminated the already slumbering figure deep under the covers. As quietly as he could, he called to the dog to lay down on her own bed before he discarded the days clothes into the laundry basket. She turned three or four times before finally settling into the right position and kind of fell into place as her tired legs folded under her, before tucking her tail up under her chin.
He lay down and closed his eyes, letting the needed sleep overtake him; taking him deep under the depths like a vessel sinking beneath the waves of a vast ocean.
The sun was shining brightly and warmed his face. The scent of steaks sizzling on the barbecue grill as the smoke wafted through the air. He flipped two of them gently before placing the tongs back on the side table. He distinctly heard the side gate open and close from the far side of the house with a clink.
He turned to see a large German shepherd with a pale blue collar come bouncing around the bushes from the gate side of the house. He seemed to be a puppy bursting with energy but was at least a hundred pounds of lean muscle and course brown and black fur. The man looked directly into the dog’s eyes and was reminded of his own black lab. Walking over to the back door, He turned the handle opening it and letting his dog out from the confines of the house. The two bounded through the lush green grass, playing like two puppies.
He heard a whistle come from what seemed like far, far off into the distance. The German shepherd turned to the man and looked directly into his eyes. There seemed to lay a profound intelligence in the sandy brown depths of them that said a thousand silent words, tickling the lobes of his memories and senses all at once. His own black lab came bounding over to him. He leaned down, scratched her chin, behind her ear and under her collar.
“It’s okay. I will always love you. Thank you for all the years you’ve been there.” He said with the smile of a small boy.
The black lab turned to the German shepherd and then the two ran off along the side of the house. The man heard the gate close again with another soft clink. Off in the distance, he heard a deep laughter of an older man. A sense of peace then washed over him as he took a deep breath of the scent of the steak on the grill, turning back to his task at hand.
The next morning, the man woke with a sigh. He then remembered his dream and sat up sharply, looking over at the dog on her bed. He threw back the covers and stood up, but instinctively knew what he would find. Her still form was as silent as a still ocean in the late night. No waves moved on or off the beach as no air refreshed her lungs. He crouched down and her form and hugged her to him, her legs stiffened already stiff with time.