DIABLO • by Nina Roselle

What are they doing in there? It’s late, I’m hungry.

I paced the hallway, thumped against the closed door. I barked.  No one came. They were making too much noise.  I had no choice but to ignore my empty stomach and wait. I stretched out on the hardwood floor in the hallway.

This one has been here too long. Something must be done.

The others had been easy targets. A low growl, or a soft-mouth bite to the leg when she wasn’t looking, was usually enough to get them out.  When I heard the words “love” “me” “Diablo” and saw her crying, I knew things would be back to normal, the two of us would be together again.

This one smelled different; there was no fear in him.  When my usual tricks didn’t work, I feigned adoration for him until I could think of a plan. I allowed him to take me for rides or happily ran beside him during his morning jog. I played, fetched, licked his face, and appeared to be delighted when he said, “Good boy, Diablo!”

I was with him at the park when the idea came to me.  How simple! How absolutely brilliant! I was sure I could pull it off.  All I needed was patience and the right opportunity…

“Diablo, ready to play ball?”

Yes. Yes, throw it, please!

“Here it goes boy, go get it!”

I caught the ball and ran toward the street.

“Here boy.”

I kept running.

“Come back boy.  Come on now!”

He chased after me.  I sprinted toward the road, carefully watching the traffic, letting him almost catch me, then I made one final bolt toward the other side of the street.  I heard a scream.  That was the last I heard from him.

She didn’t leave the house for days.  I stayed by her side every minute, mourning with her, refusing to eat.

“Oh my poor baby, I know you loved him too.” She was sobbing.

I hated to see her so miserable. I nuzzled at her neck. Don’t cry, my lady. Diablo is here. Diablo is here.

Nina Roselle lives in North Carolina. Her stories have been published in With Painted Words, Dew on the Kudzu, and 50-to-1.

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