Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

Trevor

Trevor

 

Merlin and Leland and his Euthanized Dog

(Episode 40)

 Merlin was already in town, so he dropped by Leland’s office and they walked out to the Sheriff’s SUV.

“Mind if I drive?”  Merlin asked, hopping into the driver’s seat.

Leland paused, finally taking the passenger’s seat.  “I’m just the Sheriff.  And this is the Sheriff of Kimmel County’s car.  Why would I mind?”  He frowned, pounding on the dash with both fists.

Merlin didn’t reply.  Instead, he started the vehicle and started heading north.

“North?”  Leland asked.

“That’s where the bodies were,” Merlin answered.

Leland rolled his eyes.

Merlin said, “No?”

Leland shook his head again, and indicated Merlin should keep driving.

“Okay.  Where are we headed then?”  Merlin asked after they had pulled out of town .  It was midday and the sun was high overhead.  Merlin turned on the air conditioner.

Leland never replied, his thoughts being on just what it is he might be missing.  Harriet had said, “Who are you working for, Leland?”  Which was a puzzle Leland had no answer for.  Why would Harriet think he was working for someone?  Or that he was other than he appeared to be?  He’d known Harriet since she was the lonely little fat girl, sitting in the room’s corner all through elementary school drawing pink and blue tractors, which plowed orange and purple rows.  He was guessing she owned maybe 3 dresses in all.

All Leland really knew about her in the thirty or more years that passed were that she was a lot shrewder than she looked, and that she never took bullshit from anyone.  Plus, she was a damned good shot with a rifle.  It wasn’t like Harriet to be believing random aspersions.  If Harriet hadn’t been ‘down to earth’, then no one was.  So…

Merlin pulled the car over with a quick swerve and stopped.

‘…why would Harriet say such a thing?’ Leland wondered again, grabbing the door jamb.

“Okay Leland.  I’m tired of this.”  Merlin fixed him with a look.

Leland was shaken out of his reverie.  He paused to think, as the clouds of dust dissipated around them.

“Are we breaking up?”  He smiled.

“And by the way, shut the fuck up,” Merlin said.

Leland nodded.

“I’m going to say some things, and I want you to listen.”

Leland raised his brows.

But it seemed Merlin was having a problem putting what he wanted to say into words.  Finally he spoke:  “Okay.  Here it is.  I didn’t kill your dog.  I ‘put him down’.  There’s a difference.”

“?”

Merlin raised his hands quickly.  “Let me finish.”

“I know how attached you were to Trevor.  It showed all over you.  Everyone knew it.  But he was riddled with cancer and in extreme pain and there was no denying it.  And euthanasia was the best thing we could do – YOU could do – given the circumstances.  And I don’t blame you for it.”  Merlin paused.  “So don’t blame me.”

Leland was astonished.  “I never blamed you for killing my … dog.”

“Oh yes you do!  You don’t know you do.  But you do, nevertheless.”

Leland didn’t know how a man could respond to this.

“Don’t think I haven’t seen it before.  It’s one of the commonest ways a Veterinarian loses his clients that there is around.  An animal lover loves his animal.  But the animal is suffering.  So the animal lover comes to the Vet and he asks, “What can we do?”

Leland thought about Trevor, which was interesting, as he hadn’t thought about Trevor in some time.  God he missed him.  Especially, what with all of the craziness of late.”

“Well,” Merlin turned towards Leland.  “The answer is, there isn’t much we can do.  We’re not God.  We don’t have those powers.  So we give them the choices.  I gave you the choice.”

“He was a great dog,” Leland interrupted.  “Just the very antithesis of all the craziness that has been going on around here of late.”

“And then we may even tell them what we would recommend.  But the owner makes the final choice.  And then, we put them down.”

“That’s what he was, Merlin.  That’s what Trevor was.  He was sane!”  Leland realized.

“What?”

“I can feel it so clearly now, after what’s just gone on around here.  What with all the awful, vulgar killings, and the shootings of the Weeds.  Trevor was absolutely sane.  And you just can’t say that much I’d guess for the rest of us.”  And inexplicably Leland could feel himself begin to bawl… great racking sobs.  “He was so sane.  So very sane.  He was just a great, sane dog!”

“Maybe I’m just crying for the loss of my sanity,” Leland said later, with a strangled laugh.

Twenty minutes later, Leland indicated to Merlin that he was ready to roll.  And Merlin started the vehicle and pulled out, heading north.

In another half hour things seemed in the vehicle as if they were back to normal.  Maybe even better than normal, Merlin thought, glancing over at Leland and then looking ahead.

“You know,” Leland said.  “It’s strange.  For the past few months I’ve felt as if I’d somehow gotten a chicken bone lodged in my throat.  But I couldn’t figure out where, or when.  And now, it’s gone.”  He swallowed a couple times.  “Yeah, it’s gone.”

“So you feel better?”

“Yeah.  I do.”

“Good.”  Merlin smiled.

Merlin nodded at a road sign and Leland nodded back.  They were almost there.  The Weed’s turn off was just up ahead on the left.

Photo from Google Images

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2 Responses to “Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene”

  1. Donn Trenton Says:

    This is the best chapter yet. Deep, yet not maudlin. Dogs are an effective vehicle for emotion. And it’s true that they keep us sane, because they are sane.

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