good ol’ Justice
Blame it on the unseasonably warm weather. Otherwise none of this would have happened and I’d still have my dog Justice here with me now. Let me start at the beginning.
If I have one small character flaw it’s my boundless rage at smokers who drive around smoking and then throw the butt out the window. I don’t care if they want to kill themselves but when they casually make the rest of the planet their own garbage can I swear I just want to pull up next to them and shoot them in their empty, selfish, inconsiderate, self-absorbed heads with a shotgun. Not even a handgun will suffice. I want something that will turn their head into a pulpy red mist. I swear I always have this fantasy that as soon as they throw their cigarette out the window their entire car bursts into flames and rolls into a ditch. In this daydream I stop my car and run quickly to their door… so I can hold it closed and watch, point and laugh as they burn. What do these scumbags think is going to happen to that cigarette butt? It’s not a fucking French fry that will be eaten or melt away in a few days. That cigarette butt will still be sitting on the ground tens of thousands of years later when men no longer sit atop the food chain and the Platypus has made its way up to the top of the evolutionary ladder. And every time the egg-laying, venomous, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammals see one on the ground they’ll remember why they wiped us off the globe when they did.
Obviously I can’t actually start shooting people so I did the next best thing.
I got a dog.
Here’s what I did. I trained Justice to bite people who throw cigarettes out of the car window. Really. He would sit shotgun as we drove around and then when saw someone leaning out of their car window, cigarette in hand, he would get all excited and press his face against the window. Once this inconsiderate fuckface would flick his used cancer-stick out into my world I would pull along side of him, gently depress the switch lowering the window for Justice and he would not-so-gently lean out and bite the living fuck out of this douche bag. They never saw it coming. I still can’t believe that after all the times that Justice reminded these smokers not to pollute I never once got caught by the authorities. I guess the offenders were too preoccupied with stopping the bleeding from their mangled hands to think to get my license plate number. I actually have a few rings from the severed fingers that Justice occasionally brought back into the car with him.
I can’t lie. There were a few hiccups before we (Justice & I) got it down to a science. There was the young woman who was waving a pen out her window, apparently she was ‘conducting’ the classical piece she was listening to, that Justice mistook for a cigarette. Truth is a girl driving around waving around something that looks like a cigarette should expect to get mauled by a vicious dog at the stoplight. If you’re going to make an omelet you have to break some eggs right?
So now the sad news. Today Justice and I were on patrol, enjoying the beautiful weather and making those tough decisions you don’t have to make in the winter. You know the ones… do you pump up the song you like or do you crank up the song that will make you look good when people drive by and hear what’s on your radio? Critics be damned, when Justice fell out of the car I was blasting out “Tears Of A Clown” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. That’s right… he fell out of the car. He was just sitting there enjoying the wind, there wasn’t a smoker within miles. It was just one of those freak things I guess. I had always taken precautions against this very thing due to the violent nature of our expeditions, I never lowered the window without double-checking that his leash was on. I had the other end wrapped around the steering column and thought this was a great way to make sure that if he lost his balance he’d be pulled right back in. The problem, in retrospect, was that I bought one of those leashes that lets out a lot of line before it stops the dog. Judging from the scene I saw in the rearview mirror it was at least 20 yards. Why do I always have to get the largest size of everything?! I can still see it in my mind… it looked like a hairy Italian midget water skiing behind my car. Except for all the blood and yelping. I froze for a second; I didn’t know what to do! Here I am on a busy 4 lane highway dragging my best friend to death.
You know how they say that when a butterfly beats its wings in Asia it causes a naturalist somewhere on the other side of the world to wonder if he shouldn’t have gone to school for physics? I saw a little of that in play because the car behind me, seeing this horrible scene going on in front of him, locks up his brakes to avoid hitting what was left of Justice being towed behind my car at 40 mph. That caused the impatient driver behind him, completely unaware of the dog-dragging going on only 1 car length away, to accelerate and pass him.
It was at this moment that I noticed the strain that the weight of hauling a large dog was having on my steering column. To be precise it was starting to come off. The wheel that is. Justice, or what was formerly Justice before speed, friction and the pavement had its way with him, was pulling off my fucking steering wheel. So now I’m trying to slow down at a responsible rate while desperately pushing down my steering wheel to keep it in place.
Then something unbelievable happens. Because I was distracted trying to keep the wheel on my car as I drove I didn’t see that most of what remained of Justice had long since been torn apart and spread evenly over the last mile I had driven and all that had been left of him was his collar. A collar that had bouncing wildly behind my car as I started to relax as the tugging on my wheel had eased and I could take a deep breath and let the panic subside. A blood-soaked collar that had bounced up and had gotten lodged in the grill of the sports car that was now accelerating past me oblivious of the drama that had just unfolded.
The panic returned… and brought friends.
I remember when I was young I enjoyed fishing and I’d get up early every Saturday morning to watch the Babe Winkelman outdoors show. I’d always marvel at how he could catch the biggest bass in the same types of lakes I use to fish but never get the same results. So I’d sit in front of the TV enraptured to his descriptions of water clarity, depth and temperature. The reason I mention this is because I had a Babe Winkelman flashback as I noticed the leash around my steering wheel start to grow rigid again. What the fuck pound test is a dog leash anyway? Will it snap before my entire wheel is ripped off? I quickly swerved behind the accelerating car that I had hooked and tried desperately to untie the leash before the line grew too tight again but as fast as I drove this other car seemed to go a little faster. Holy shit! Do I let out line, do I reel it in? Come on Babe, a little help here! The leash was taut and I started to hear a groan coming from my steering column. Unfuckingbelievable! Can you even drive a car without a steering wheel? I got ready to bail out.
Then I saw it. A tiny little white thing fluttering out from the driver’s side window. Time slowed as I watched it soar end over end towards me.
A cigarette butt.
You’re kidding me right?
“This is for you Justice old buddy” I thought to myself as I slammed both feet down onto the brake.
I guess they don’t make sports cars like they use to because this dog leash tore the whole fucking front end off of the asshole-smoker-mobile. My car ended up in a ditch. My steering wheel and my front window ended up about a quarter mile up ahead of me when they finally stopped skidding. The car holding the smoker didn’t so much as touch the brakes and went 70 mph into a large sugar maple (although to be fair, it might have been a black maple). As I staggered out of my car I saw a little smoke coming out of the car wrapped around the Acer saccharum (although, as I stated previously, it could have been an Acer nigrum) and I began to run towards it despite my bruised shins.
“Please… please don’t let me be too late” I repeated again and again as I saw the smoke grow thicker and turn from a pale white to a darker and more sinister grey. My legs pumped furiously… well, as furious as a slow guy can pump them.
I got there just as the car went up. There was no need to hold the car door shut… it was crushed beyond any capacity to open.
“Your car isn’t non-smoking I guess” I yelled to the man inside the burning vehicle. He clawed madly at the door and for a second it irritated me that he wasn’t paying any attention to my needling him but then I realized I was just being petty.
“Got a smoke?” By now the car had completely filled with a thick black smoke which obscured my view of the screaming man being burned to death and started to sting my eyes a little so I slowly turned and tried to find the front end of the car and, with it, my friend’s collar.
Before you say it I’m going to stop you right there. I’m not a hero. The real hero of this story is Justice and that’s why when I get my rental car my first stop will be the pound where I will select my new best friend … Justice Jr.
And buy much shorter leash of course.