“How about I make the best man in my life a steak, and I eat an entire pint of ice cream-” Shelly shook a pint of Ben and Jerry’s at him. “And we just call that dinner? Sound good?”
Rocky the Pomeranian gave an enthusiastic yip.
“I thought you’d say that.” A few minutes later they were on the couch watching a chick flick, the steak already a memory. “See this is nice. We don’t need more than this, right? We don’t need him, not one little bit.” She paused, losing her false bravado. The dog looked up at her with shining eyes, almost as if he understood. “Why couldn’t you be Brendon?”
Rocky gave a low growl at the sound of her boyfriend’s name.
“I know you two don’t get along but he’s a good guy, deep down. Like standing me up tonight, I know it’s going to make him feel horrible. He’ll just have trouble admitting it. He struggles with emotions.”
If dogs could roll their eyes, Rocky would’ve. He’d heard this speech a million times.
“I had to be strong though. Had to tell him I wasn’t getting what I needed. He’ll come around though. Soon.”
It had been three weeks. Three weeks of unanswered texts, short phones calls, and general radio silence. Unless you counted the time he came over half drunk, had sex with her, and then backed over the mailbox on his way out, shouting ‘sorry babe’ as he went. Rocky didn’t. He’d urinated on the man’s jacket while the two of them were busy. Brendon was too stupid to notice.
She started crying then, and Rocky gave up his bitter internal dialog to comfort her. As she sobbed into the black fur on his side he knew it was time to do something drastic.
Shelly cried herself to sleep around ten. Rocky had watched her go into work at seven, and knew she’d sleep for a while. He slipped out through his doggie door. First in preparation, he squeezed through the hole in the fence into the neighbor’s yard and stole a pair of the son’s jeans off the line, took a t shirt too. It had a skull on the front, the Punisher logo. Rocky grinned at how well it fit. It was a blessing that the neighbor boy had grown up and filled out. Stolen jeans beat the hell out of Shelly’s stretchy pants. And tonight he wanted to look menacing.
He shifted under the light of the new moon, moving the way his mother taught him, the way his father moved. Bones stretching, fur receding, until he looked only a little hairy and much, much taller. Six times his normal height with all his human muscles in perfect form. A well built Pomeranian looked soft and cuddly, a well built man didn’t. For once, Rocky didn’t mind the change.
He let the car coast half way down the block. Safely away from the house he revved the engine and indulged in the open window. Stereotypical sure, but he loved the feeling of wind on his face. The ride to McCleary’s was almost too short. He paused in the parking lot, thinking of the rules he was breaking. Almost changed his mind, but then he remembered Shelly, broken hearted, buying a pricey steak for a guy who would never show up. He slammed the car door on his way inside the bar.
He picked up things none of them would, scents and sounds, but even with a million smells swirling around him, his nose still twitched at the sourness Brendon gave off.
“Brendon, right?” Rocky walked up to him and leaned on the bar, casually.
“Yeah, who’re you?”
A slight slur told Rocky he’d been drinking since eight, just about when he should’ve been having dinner with Shelly.
“Friend of Shelly’s.”
“Yeah? I was just thinking of calling her.”
“Really? That’s funny, because I thought you two had a date tonight.”
Brendon snorted. “No way, man, I mean, she might think that, but you know how women are, they take things the wrong way.”
“Yeah? How does ‘I’ll see you next week’ get taken the wrong way?”
“Well, I didn’t tell her when I’d see her next week, did I? No. And I didn’t say how I’d want to see her.” A leer spread over the man’s face. Rocky couldn’t help himself, he growled. Brendon didn’t notice. “Maybe I’ll call her now, make it up to her, you know?”
“Don’t bother.” His leg kicked out, hooked the end of the bar stool and sent it backwards. Caught off guard Brendon fell, his chin hitting the metal edge. Rocky scented blood and lost all his self-control.
“You told her yes when she said she’d make dinner. Your word should mean something. Breaking it means you’re bad. And you know what?” Rocky bounced the man’s head off the bar and leaned in close to growl in his ear. “I think you’re always going to be bad. I think you should be put down.”
“What?” Brendon mumbled, his mouth full of blood. “What are you doing? She’s just a useless piece of-”
Rocky shoved and Brendon sprawled on the floor. The bar patrons who had looked the other way so enthusiastically looked pointedly back at the two of them.
“My friend’s a little drunk. I think he needs to go home.” Nods. People who didn’t want to get involved, not with someone as big as he was. Humans were so predictable with their pack behavior. “Come on, Brendon, let’s go outside.”
He half-dragged the man to a dark corner of the parking lot. “You’re never going to call her again, Brendon, you’re never going near her again. That’s the lesson.”
“Okay, okay, you don’t have to hit me.”
“Isn’t that how your kind learn?” Rocky smiled, then did what he’d wanted to do for a long time.
Shelly woke up and checked her cell phone. No messages, no texts, nothing. This was the last time, she decided, no more Brendon. If he could stay away from her, she could stay away from him. She put on yoga clothes hoping class would clear her head, then went for her keys. They weren’t by the door, where she was sure she’d left them. Instead she found them not far from the dog bed. She reached over to ruffle Rocky’s ears. “Did you borrow my car?”
He yipped at her.
“Yeah, right.” She shook her head. For a second, it was almost like he understood her.