They Call Me Trouble

I lived a good life, and this is my story— believing is seeing, the bridge is real.
I’m pushing one-hundred in dog years, and the tolls of living off the street have finally caught up to me. I have been on my own for the better part of eighty years wandering the streets looking for my best friend.
One day I woke up to find my best friend lying on the floor in a pool of urine. No problem, been there done that, but in my mind—months had passed, and he never moved. People finally came and carried him out. They tried to put a lasso around my neck, but I was too quick for them. The mean looking person said, “this one’s gonna be trouble.” He pulled out a small contraption and shot me with a dart.
When I woke up to barking—that’s how us four-legged communicate, a nice man in a white coat picked me up and put me on a metal table. “Hello Runt,” he said. “Let’s get you cleaned up and feed.”
I later heard someone call him Dr. L, and that’s when I recognized the surroundings. I was born in this place. It was where my friend picked me from a litter of five. I was the runt of the group, and that is what he called me—Runt.
I no longer answer to that name, but over the years, I would come back for visits. The nice people would feed me and clean me, but when they tried to put me in a cage—I was out of there.
I took to the streets like a champ, and when people saw me coming, they’d say, “Here comes Trouble.” I liked the moniker and rolled with it.
*
On a couple of visits to Dr L’s place, I would see people crying and holding a collar and leash. Some of the nice people would be talking about a place called Rainbow Bridge. They called it a place where pets went when they passed on. Their health and vigor restored just as they were when they were younger. They were happy and content, and needed only one more thing—their special someone to come and join them.
I had always wondered if it worked both ways, and I felt in my heart I would soon find out.
*
It had rained hard the last three days, and with each passing day—I grew weaker. I’m wet, cold, dirty, tired, and hungry. I do not have the energy to move, so I stay tucked under the cover I have found. My eyes close and I drift off—visions appear, and they always began the same way.
An afternoon sun glistening through mighty oaks and spruces sparkled upon a field where people and animals mingled in play. They roamed the great expanse searching. Off in the distance, four-leafed clovers sang and danced along a path that led to a bridge the colors of a rainbow. It seemed to stretch up over a beautiful lake with fountains and waterfalls, and disappear into the clouds.
Last night the vision ended differently. I saw my friend sitting on a bench singing with the clovers—he stopped and smiled.
The vision ended as I awoke to the first rays of sunlight. The rain had finally stopped and now I’m in search for what I expect to be my last meal. I can smell the stench from my wet mangy hair, so I’m not offended as people steer clear of me.
I turn down a side street and head toward the back alley. I know this neighborhood well. I’ve been pounding these streets my whole life.
The back door to the deli opens, and the man in the apron nods in my direction as he places a bowl of water and a plate with scraps on the ground. I nod back to him—thanking him. I can’t do much more. I was born with an oversized tongue and long jaw line, so I can’t speak, but I’ve become a master of gestures, and I’ll even do a trick or two for food.
The door closes behind him and I sate my thirst and hunger.
A couple of blocks away is the place where I was born. I feel it in my bones that the end is soon, and I want to leave with dignity.
As I approach Dr. L’s place, one of the nice people is walking a pet. She sees me as I stumbled and fall to the pavement.
“Someone get Dr. L,” she said. “Here comes Trouble.”
A young man lifts me and carries me into the building. “Phew,” he said, as he cleaned me up in a large basin. “Trouble, you stink.”
He dried me off and set me on the floor. I managed to walk the few feet to a pile of blankets laid out in the corner.
Dr. L approached and looked into my eyes. “You look tired Trouble.” He took my temperature. “Not good,” he said, and reached for an injector.
I barked twice, put my head down, and put my paws over my eyes.
“Ok,” he said. “Get some rest.”
I closed my eyes and drifted off.
An afternoon sun glistening through mighty oaks and spruces sparkled upon a field where people and animals mingled in play. They roamed the great expanse searching. Off in the distance, four-leafed clovers sang and danced along a path that led to a bridge the colors of a rainbow. It seemed to stretch up over a beautiful lake with fountains and waterfalls, and disappear into the clouds.
At the end of the path where the bridge began to rise toward heaven, a man stands next to a bench. He’s my best friend and looks great. He sees me and starts running toward me. I jump into his arms and lick his face. He rubs my head, and then we stare at each other. “I missed you,” he said.
I see the trust and love in his eyes. “I missed you, too,” I said.
He put me down on the path, and turned toward the bridge.
Best friends forever—
We walked across Rainbow Bridge together . . .

About Gene Hilgreen

Gene Hilgreen lives in Lindenhurst, NY with his faithful companion Millie a rescued Border collie. He spent thirty years in Information Technology and ITGC security audit. Now retired, he writes suspense thrillers and monthly short stories for The Writers 750 Group on Goodreads. As an ex-gymnast and freestyle skier, he lived on the edge with a devil-may-care attitude. He has authored Dragon at 1600, the first of a series in which he relives his rebellious past through his protagonist Buck Axele Davidssen—a protector of the Constitution—who reports only to God and Old Glory. In First of Jules, his second series—he spins off Jules Spenser—a prodigy child, who follows in Grandpa Buck’s footsteps. First of Jules is now available at wwwbaddaypublication.com and on Amazon. Look for the sequel Second Chances in 2018. Writing didn’t come easy for Gene, and becoming a published author was a pipe dream. Saddled with the moniker Dutch D Hilgreen in college, it was once said, “Good thing you write on a computer, because if you wrote with a pen you’d hurt yourself.” What was once a blank stage now explodes with color—living, breathing, and awaking all the senses.
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