---Air Traffic Mike
The house felt empty.
It was like all the life had been sucked out of it in one fell swoop. The mornings were the hardest. The morning routine had been broken.
I'm an early riser. Always have been, unless bedridden ill. Because I got up early, I took on the responsibility of putting Rhondo on his tether and letting him out into the backyard.
"Gooooooood morning Mr. Rhondo, you're usual table today?", I'd mockingly ask him as I fumbled with his tether and collar. Rhondo, like most dogs, couldn't wait to get outside first thing in the morning. Little dog, little bladder. The math as pretty simple. Besides, he was always on "patrol" for the numerous squirrels and the occasional possum that wandered in and out of the yard.
The possum was something that REALLY bothered him. Twice he cornered it by the garage. The first time, Christine was out with him. It was well past sunset. She couldn't see what it was he had cornered. All she knew is that she'd never seen him so agitated before. I heard the noise from inside the house. It startled me.
The second time it happened, I was here with him. This God awful ruckus was taking place by the garage once again. Rhondo was under a pile of leaves and he was fighting with something in there. A smart man would have just pulled him out by the tether. Not me. I reached in and scooped him away. Rhondo promptly thanked me by biting my hand. It was dark, he couldn't see what was what in the confusion. I reached in again to scoop him out of there. He got my hand pretty good again, but he was clear of the pile. I carried him back inside. He was shaking almost uncontrollably. I was bleeding pretty good. I put him out in his kennel. I was supposed to play in a poker league that night. A little soap, a little water, some antibacterial cream and some bandaids later, I was fine. Sore, but fine.
I texted Christine and told her what had happened. Rhondo was really shaken up badly. I figured it would be best to let him settle down. I left him in his kennel with the door open and went to play cards.
Sometime after I left, before Christine got home, Rhondo evacuated his bowels by the back door. He hadn't done that in a very long time. Christine found him by the pile, shaking, near the basement door. It took him hours to finally settle down.
The next morning, I raked out the leaves destroying any means of a possum nesting there again. There was an area that was dugout under there. Rhondo ran right to it when I let him out on his tether. Apparently, he was ready for another battle. He sniffed all around, looked at the dug out area, and peed on it.
He was satisfied that "his" yard was back under his control.
That was months before.
Now the pervasive silence was all we had.
No morning greetings.
No afternoons chasing the sunlight from sofa top to easy chair top.
No big greetings for "Mom" when she came home.
Life goes on, though. Christine had hired a guy to come out and replace a couple windows on the west side of the house. He called and said he'd be out this Tuesday past.
Ron showed up, as promised bright and early. I woke Christine up to let her know Ron had arrived with the windows. She looked up at me and said, "Good. By the way, the dryer repair guy called last week. He'll be out sometime today to put in the new part he ordered.
That made my plans pretty easy for the day. I'd be staying home, overseeing repairs. Good work if you can get it, in my opinion.
Ron worked through the day. The windows gave him little trouble, but there was a lot of other work. At one point he ran out of caulk. That was around noon. He took off for the hardware store. I was wondering when the dryer repair guy was going to show up. I had a few errands I wanted to do and hanging around the house was starting to bore me.
The afternoon wore on. Ron returned to finish the windows. By 5:00 pm, Ron was cleaning up the debris. Christine arrived home from work around 5:15 pm. She spoke briefly to Ron and came in. "Has the repairman been here yet?", was the first thing out of her mouth. "No.", I replied, "Not even a phone call.". We figured he'd had a long day.
Chris had a meeting that night. She changed, grabbed her meeting stuff, and headed out.
Then, the repair guy pulled up out front. I was glad to see him. I was envisioning another day of having to hang around the house, the thought of which was putting me into a bad mood.
He went downstairs, cut off the power to the dryer, and set to work. With one of the mounting screws dropping into the dryer's cavity, the job took about 35 minutes. He came back up into the kitchen and presented his bill. The price was very reasonable, but most importantly, the dryer was finally fixed back to original specs.
We got to talking about some small stuff as I was paying the bill. He said, "Wow it's quiet this time.". I asked, "What do you mean?". He said, "The last time I was here, the dog was barking at me when I came up."
I told him what had happened to Rhondo.
At some point, talking about the life Rhondo had led, his lineage as a "Dorkie" (Yorkshire Terrier/Dachshund mix), his being born with bad kidneys, and his demise, I mentioned, "He was rescued by Christine's youngest daughter. She told her Mom he was a Dachshund.".
I finished saying, "He looked as much like a Dachshund as I look like a fitness model.".
That's when Billy the repairman told me his story.