Thursday, October 01, 2015

Instant Karma — Part 4

Instant Karma ... The Lives of Trehorn Sandhu-Smythe

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, places, or actual events is purely coincidental.

— Life 16040 —

Trehorn was somewhat dumbfounded. His ability to bark was something quite new to him. All he had to do was gulp a little air, throw open his jaws, and push his throat forward. The result was instantaneous. Out came a bark or a woof, depending on how much air he actually gulped. The more air, the stronger the bark. At the moment, he was gulping quite furiously and barking as loud as he possibly could outside the closed bedroom door of his owner, Peter "Big Pete" Pancake.

Big Pete was a giant of a man. He weighed just a little more than 400 lb, which didn't fit too well on his 5' 8" frame. Truth be told, he looked a little like a giant puffer fish, and he would especially puff up after a night of beer and pizza.

Beer and pizza made up most of Big Pete's life these days. Since his recent divorce from Elise Evelyn El-Chicory, who refused to take Big Pete's surname (and really who can blame her), he had fallen into something of a depression. The only bright spot on his bug-splattered view screen of life was "Li'l Pete," his three-month old son. Big Pete had been granted visitations with Li'l Pete on the fourth weekend of every month.

Normally, Big Pete would lay off the beer and pizza during Li'l Pete's visits to his 35 foot Shamrock House Trailer, situated on one of the premium lots in the Paradise Trailer Court, just outside Gainesville, Florida. That night, however, after he had put Li'l Pete into the boy's crib and whispered "Goodnight," Big Pete became a little melancholy.

The depression began to hover over Big Pete like a late afternoon Florida thundercloud. So Big Pete began his ritual of self-medication. He cranked on his propane oven to heat up a couple of Three Meat DiGiorno pizzas from the Walmart Supercenter out on 12th Avenue in Gainesville, and he took a Jdubs can of beer from the refrigerator. He cracked the lid of the can open and took a long draught. Then, while he waited for his pizzas to cook, he trudged into his bedroom and sprawled out on his creaky bed, where he lay watching some college football game on an 18 inch LG flat screen television.

When Trehorn tried to cheer the big guy up by jumping up on the mattress beside him and nudging the big guy's hand for a simple pat, Big Pete barely responded. He simply pushed Trehorn down from the bed with an abrupt command to "Go lie down, Diggity, go lie down." Trehorn began to slink from the bedroom, stopped and looked back as the bedroom door slammed behind him, and he went to lie down on the cool tiles in the kitchen.

That was where the fire began.

As the pizzas bubbled up in the oven, Big Pete eyes began to flicker, and in no time at all, he was fast asleep. Soon, the DiGiorno slabs of dough, covered in cheese, pepperoni, chicken, and beef, turned into molten globs of vegetable oil that found their way to the ignited propane and exploded like two rising crust grenades.

The initial flame bursting from the oven zipped over Trehorn's head, and he smelt the singe of burning hair.

Within seconds, the trailer was lighting up like a Roman candle. Trehorn realised there was little if any time to spare. He made his way to Big Pete's bedroom door and instinctively began barking.

To Trehorn, it seemed like he had been barking at the door for hours, but in fact, his barking lasted only a few minutes. Instead of air, he began to gulp smoke, and his barking approximated the dry cough of a thirty-year chain smoker. Instead of a resounding bellow, his bark became first something of a howl, then little more than a squawk, until finally the best he could muster was a dry hack.

Trehorn quickly realised that Big Pete wasn't going to make it. The fire was already licking its way through the bedroom, and Trehorn took a very brief moment to wish his master a safe journey through the spiral of lives upon which the big guy was about to embark.

In the next instant, Trehorn was crashing through the bamboo drapery that sectioned off Li'l Pete's room. He raced to the crib, threw his front paws up on its front rail, and pulled the entire baby bed over. Li'l Pete came tumbling out onto the floor. The boy's little eyes flashed open, and he began to cry the way only babies know how to do in times of distress.

Trehorn barely heard Li'l Pete's shrieks. He set his jaws firmly, but not too firmly, around the baby's midsection. He caught hold of the boy's cotton sleeper and picked Li'l Pete up in a single motion. Then, he worked his way carefully through the flames out of the burning trailer. Once outside, he dashed across the service road and gently dropped the baby boy near a corner lamppost where a crowd of gawking onlookers had begun to gather.

What happened next remains a mystery to this day.

Safe from the fire, Trehorn's instincts seemed to compel him to return to the trailer. Big Pete was, after all, his master, and a small voice in Trehorn's head seemed to will him to save Big Pete. It was a suicidal mission, to be sure, a futile act of courage, but Trehorn followed the ancient laws of kinship between a man and his dog.

As the crowd of onlookers increased to watch Big Pete's trailer quickly disappearing in a giant ball of fire, Trehorn bolted back into the flames. He felt the fire lick and ooze around him, and then, without any warning, Trehorn was standing at a podium with a medal hanging around his neck, listening to the applause of seemingly hundreds of people. He cleared his throat, and in a somewhat contrived high-pitched voice, Trehorn said, "Thank you all. Thank you all so very much."



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