A Short Story on the Website of
the Red Dirt Writers Society

Doggone It
by D. J. Russell (Mar 2007)

            I pulled my old Chevy off the road and onto the shoulder.  Turning off the engine, I kept the heater running.  Even with the streams of warm air continuing to issue from the vents, the interior of the car was frigidly cold.

            I hated to do what I had to do next.  Tears ran in slow icy rivulets from the corners of my eyes.  Doing whatever I could do to stall, I removed my wallet and opened it, staring at the very first photo.

            Blonde, beautiful, and with incredibly expressive eyes, she looked back at me with only the purest of love and trust.  I was about to close the wallet when I noticed a smear of red on the plastic coating of the wallet’s picture holder.

            Looking at my hands, I saw that I had forgotten to wipe the blood from my hands.  Much of it had dried, but enough had gotten on my fingertips that it still had a tacky feel when I rubbed the pads of my fingers together.

            There were bloody fingerprints on the steering-wheel cover, the inside door-handle, and God only knew where else.

            My mind flickered away temporarily from the grief and guilt of what I’d done, and I thought about how long it would take for me to clean up the mess caused by today’s mishap.

            Deciding that bloodstains were the least of my worries at the moment, I braced myself against the outside’s icy winds and opened the car door.

            Storms had been rocking the area for the last week.  Although it had been warm during the initial days of moisture, a cold front had come in during the previous night and now thin layers of ice covered the ground.  One of these patches nearly brought me to my knees.  I placed my left hand on the top of the car and used the vehicle to brace myself.

            It had been such a horrible, horrible accident.  When I had felt the gun jerk in my hand and seen her spasm with the impact, it had seemed that I was feeling the pain almost as vividly myself as she must have.

            I prayed that she knew, where she was, that I never would’ve done it intentionally.

            I summoned my courage and placed the key in the lock and turned it.  As the lid swung upward, I saw her there, fragile and expose.  With the exception of the bloody wound, she looked almost as beautiful in death as she had once in life.

            Poor Cassandra.  She had been mine for almost nine years.  I picked up her limp body, which seemed heavier now in death than it had in life, and headed toward a stand of trees a hundred yards from the road.  Upon reaching a spot that looked liked a good one, I laid Cassandra’s body upon a thick pile of dead leaves.


            One hour later, I was sitting with my back against a tree, exhausted.  Cassandra’s corpse was only a few feet away, next to a fresh mound of earth.  I never dreamed that I would ever take a life.  I bowed my head and said a small prayer for the deliverance of this soul.

            I used the nearby shovel to help pull myself to my feet.  Within twenty more minutes, goodbyes had been said and the lifeless form placed in the grave.  Returning the displaced earth was much easier than removing it.

            I was about to pick up the shovel and return to my car for the ride home when an idea occurred to me.  Bending on one knee, I removed the shoelace from the sneaker of my right shoe, then picked up two thick twigs.  Forming the twigs in a cross shape, I used the shoelace to tie them into place.  Once secure, I speared the long end into the now soft earth.  Was it an appropriate gesture, I had no idea.

            Before turning toward the car, I looked at the grave one last time.  I had really cherished Cassandra, my beloved golden retriever.  I think the only thing I regretted more than killing her was missing my wife.

Site Map

HOME           ShortStories           Essays           Poems         Websites      

Meetings         Comments         ContactUs         Members

This is the website of the Red Dirt Writers Society.
Revised March 2007.