by Augie Peterson
The squad car headed out of town. We had just passed by the pet store when I saw a torn off piece of one of my fliers stuck to a telephone pole. The bottom part, preserved under some packing tape read “her name is Luna.” The rest had been ripped off. Probably by the owner of the pet store; we never did get along. When I saw it, my heart leaped into my throat and all of the memories flooded back.
My eyes filled with tears as I recalled the memory of our last night together. Her small brown eyes peered over the edge of the table, waiting for me to throw her some scraps. She would whine and sniff in my direction. Of course, I took pity and threw her a piece of my steak. She wriggled happily, gnawing on the steak as if she might never eat again.
Later that night we cuddled together on the couch. I stroked her soft short hair, and her small frame curled up next to me as I watched the evening news. It was peaceful, she was starting to get used to me after being so hesitant until now. I should have known better.
My life had no purpose until Luna arrived. I’d had pets before, but none seemed to understand me the way Luna did. The night I brought her home it had been pouring down rain. She was shivering, sheltered under a bus stop, alone and filthy. When I approached, she seemed hesitant. I took my time introducing myself, extending a friendly hand and assuring her she was safe with me. I shielded her under my coat from the rain as I opened the passenger door of my truck and helped her jump inside.
Once we were in the safety of my car, I told her she could stay at my house until we can get in touch with her owners. There was no collar around her neck, but she seemed domesticated enough to have had a family.
Luna was shy; she often hid from me around the house and cowered when I tried to pet her. I decided not to look for her family even though I had promised to do so. She was so beautiful, I couldn’t let her go. Unfortunately, when she found out, she was furious. She tried to escape multiple times. I simply had no choice, the chains were necessary. It broke my heart to bruise her pale complexion repeatedly. I had no choice, she didn’t understand yet that this was where she belonged.
I purchased several collars to try out from the pet store. The best fit was a studded leather collar with a large buckle that could be hooked up to the chains I had on my walls. Luna was less than pleased to find out she would have to be tied up indoors, but she quickly learned that it was what was best for her. Eventually, she stopped pulling on her lead and sat still until I was ready to move to another room.
I made sure to keep her healthy and fed her dog food twice a day, always leaving out a bowl of water in case she was thirsty. I let her outside to do her business and play with me as well; she was thankful to be free of her chains even for a few moments. We played with a Frisbee and chased each other around my fenced-in backyard.
Then came the fateful night she escaped. We were sitting on the couch, calm and peaceful. Since she was on the allowing me to pet her, I didn’t have her tethered to the chain in the living room. Occasionally she cooed in comfort, nestling her head into my lap. The last two months had finally come to a point and I could tell she was starting to feel loved.
That night, I decided to go to bed early. It was a chilly night and the sun was setting early so I decided to let Luna out one more time before going to bed. I made the mistake of trusting her to handle herself in the backyard. As I held the sliding glass door open, shielding myself with a blanket from the cold, she did her business in the yard. Rather than clean it up as she was instructed to do, she ran off through a hole that had been dug under the fence.
She ran down the street, naked like she always was, screaming for help and pounding on neighbor’s doors. I got into my truck and drove around the entire city before giving up my search.
The flier read “Lost pet” at the top with my phone number and address underneath. On the bottom, I wrote “her name is Luna” in big blocky letters so whoever found her could call her by the right name. The next morning I hung my fliers all over town. There were hundreds; I went through seven rolls of packaging tape.
I didn’t hear anything for a few days. No one came by, and I had begun to lose hope. I’d even scouted the area looking for another lost pet to pick up, but none were to be found.
One day, about a week after I had posted my fliers, I heard a loud pounding on my door. I jumped up from the couch and ran over, excited to see if someone had found my Luna. It was an officer, three actually. I feared the worst as soon as I saw them and my eyes welled up.
“Oh my god,” I said.
“Are you Reginald Bolton?” the officer asked.
“She’s dead isn’t she?” I replied, tears falling down my cheeks.
“I’m sorry?” the officer said, his face twisted in confusion.
“My Luna, she’s dead. That’s why you’re here, right? So I can identify the body?”
“No, Mr. Bolton,” The officer replied. “We’re here because we have a victim that claims you kidnapped her and held her here against her will. Furthermore, we have these fliers with your address and phone number on them. Along with these, we have several witness accounts to corroborate her story.”
“Oh god, she’s alive. Thank God. Where is she? Can I see her?” I breathed in relief.
The officer looked at his friends, then back at me and shook his head. He grabbed my shoulder and turned me around. Swiftly, he placed handcuffs around my wrists and led me out towards his car. “Are the cuffs necessary? I’m just going to visit Luna.” Without a word, the officer sat me down in the back seat of the car and shut the door. They drove off, headed towards the edge of town. I couldn’t keep the smile from my face. I was going to see my Luna again.