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By Roger Woodson
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Roger Woodson
All right reserved.
Chapter One"I cannot believe I did not lock the door on the dog-pound van. Dog..... come here right now! No dog escapes from Catcher One and lives to tell about it," yelled Catcher One. The backdoor of the dog-pound van swung open. The escapee fell to the hot, asphalt pavement. The concrete curb caught the rolling body. Nothing stopped Catcher One from screeching his tires as he stepped on the brakes of the van.
"Catcher One to Catcher Two," radioed Catcher One.
"This is Catcher Two," replied Catcher Two.
"This is Catcher One. Dog escaped my van. It could be vicious. I have no history of the escapee."
"Catcher One, I am at the International Raceway delivering a dog identified on his tag as Big Boxer. After delivery, I will pursue the escaped, vicious dog."
"Catcher Two, I will be looking for you to assist me in the hunt. Dog is fast. Dog is smart. Dog opened the door of the dog-pound van by himself."
"Catcher One, do not blame your stupidity on an unlocked door and an escaped dog," responded Catcher Two.
The red, emergency light on the van reflected off the downtown, store windows. The red light sank deep into the dog's eyes. An empty stomach filled with hunger. A dry tongue ached with thirst. A fear-gripped heart beat faster. The escapee's paws burned on the hot asphalt. At the corner of Elm and Main Street the dog looked right, looked left, questioning himself as to the direction to run from Catcher One.
"Catcher Two.....Catcher Two.....dog could be violent. The escapee has no tags. Full identification of canine is unknown. No animal will ever escape my van and not pay the death penalty. We will destroy the dog," radioed Catcher One.
"Catcher One, give me a description of the escapee. I do need to know who I am looking for in this city," said Catcher Two.
"Dog is black and white checked. Let us call the escapee, Checkers," explained Catcher One. "Again, I repeat, let us call the escapee, Checkers."
"Catcher One, Checkers sounds like a perfect, fitting name for the escapee," responded Catcher Two.
"Catchers One and Two, this is City Police Car 99. All police units hear your call for help. We will be on the alert. Give us the name of the dog one more time," requested Officer 99.
"Police Car 99, this is Catcher One. The dog's name is Checkers. Capturing this dog is my game," answered Catcher One.
The red, emergency light on top of the dog-pound van reflected from cold water gushing from an open, fire hydrant. Checkers jumped the stream of mist, cooling off his feet. His tongue lapped at the spraying water. His legs ran fast as they could go. The green light changed to red at the corner of Elm and Main Street. Checkers ran even faster.
"Attention Police Officer 99, this is headquarters. We have a car accident at Main Street and Elm. Ambulance is in route to the crash scene. Person with a cell phone reports a checkered dog ran through the intersection causing a horrific accident," announced the dispatcher.
"This is Police Officer 99. I am nearing the crash sight. Have the dog catchers meet me at the intersection," Officer 99 responded.
"99..this is Catcher One here. I am on my way to the scene. Dog is vicious and mean," exclaimed Catcher One.
Checkers looked back in amazement. His eyes followed the steam gushing from the two, wrecked, car hoods. His nose caught the aroma of screeching, rubber tires. His ears heard the wail of ambulance sirens. His heart pounded like a hammer inside of his chest. The dog jumped to the sidewalk for what he thought would be safety. The sidewalk led Checkers away from his troubles for a moment.
Checkers' head jerked. His eyes rolled back into their sockets. Over his head flew hot, juicy wieners. Hotdog buns sailed across the sidewalk. Ketchup squirted all over his snout. Mustard smeared all over his ears. With one slobbery swipe of the tongue, the ketchup disappeared. The taste of mustard and ketchup mixed together brought the dog back to his normal senses.
"You evil dog! You mean hound! Look what you've done to my food stand. Look at my hot, juicy wieners rolling on the dirty ground. Look at the dirt covering my hotdog buns. Look at the wheels on my overturned stand spinning around and around!" yelled the upset, hotdog salesman. With his front and back paws standing on hotdogs, Checkers rolled backwards and forwards as if he were a log roller on a swift moving river.
"Take this you evil dog!" shouted the hotdog salesman. A package of cold wieners flew through the air like a missile. Hotdog buns flew over his head like rockets. Checkers was under attack. A frozen block of chili crashed into his rear. The block of cold chili forced a groan from Checkers. The wieners under his feet flipped him high into the air. Was this the end of Checkers? As Checkers descended from his flight, he gobbled a flying wiener. Checkers ran.
"Police Officer 99, this is headquarters. Elderly lady reports a frantic, hotdog salesman is being attacked by a vicious dog."
"This is 99 ... working a car accident at this time. I see the hotdog stand. Send Police Officer 54 to assist with dog attack. Looks like we have a dog problem in our city," responded 99. A final swipe of mustard did not do away with the fear growing in Checkers' heart. The dog ran down Main Street. His ears caught the vibrating sound of a motor from what he thought was the dog-pound van. His heart beat with every step. His eyes crooked to the side catching a glimpse of rotating tires along the curb. His nose caught the fumes of exhaust coming out of the hot motor. Checkers' eyes rotated around and around with the spinning tires of the van. The van moved down the road. Checkers ran down the sidewalk.
"Catcher One to Catcher Two, I have the dog in my sight. Will proceed to cut off escapee running down the sidewalk," radioed Catcher One.
Checkers' eyes spun with the spinning tires. Dog ears filled with the vibration of a hot engine. Dog nose whiffed the aroma of the exhaust fumes..............KABOOM! KABOOM!
Two trash dumpsters sailed through the air. Catcher One made a move on the dog. The van jumped from the street onto the sidewalk, sending two dumpsters crashing and banging. A lid of one dumpster opened. Checkers disappeared in a flash. Trash and Checkers tumbled and twisted inside. The lid closed with its captive lying dazed and confused among the smelly trash as the dumpster lay on its side.
"Catcher Two, this is Catcher One. Hit two dumpsters while trying to cut off the escaped dog. I have a severe problem. My radiator has just burst in the engine. I've got steam spewing everywhere. I'll have to proceed on foot," radioed Catcher One.
With one paw sticking out from under the dumpster lid, Checkers did not move a muscle. From the darkness inside, the dog peeked outside. Checkers could not run for it. He lay silently and listened intently.
"Come here little doggie. Where are you little doggie? I will not hurt you. Can you smell the doggie bone I have for you?" Catcher One's voiced filled the air.
Checkers breathed. The aroma of the doggie bone grew irresistible and swirled from his nose to his stomach. As his stomach churned, his ears stood tall. The steps of the dogcatcher grew louder and drew closer.
"I told you I have a delicious doggie bone. Little doggies need doggie bones," repeated Catcher One.
The dumpster turned right side up. Checkers fell back into the trash once again. The lid slowly opened, flooding with the light of day.
"I told you I have a bone," exclaimed Catcher One.
A large net swirled over the dumpster. The hair on Checkers' face caught the breeze. His eyes stared upward. An evil face followed the swirling net into the dumpster. Checkers leaped through the breeze, the net, and the evil face. Dumpster fumes soaked his checkered coat. Yucky, white gravy covered the bottom of his paws. A black, banana peel clung to his head. Pork and beans oozed out of a can and stuck to his rear end. Moldy sauerkraut dangled from his checkered body. Checkers' dry tongue hung low from his snout. Checkers ran.
The shadow of the swirling net, pounding footsteps from behind, and the heavy breathing of Catcher One grew closer, closer, and closer. The shadow of the net passed over the dog's eyes. Steel, pointed boots reflected the sunshine of the day from Catcher One's eyes.
"Since you do not want my doggie bone, I will catch you with my net. COME HERE CHECKERS! COME HERE CHECKERS!" Catcher One frantically yelled. Checkers ran.
The canine's ears shot straight up. Though he did not like being chased, Checkers liked his new name. In fact, it was the only name he had ever been given in his life. Catcher One's booming voice vibrated Checkers' ears once again. Checkers ran.
A green row of bushes along a building provided cover and a hiding place. As the tired dog crept slow behind the row of bushes, his eyes followed Catcher One walking by carrying the net and the delicious, doggie bone he probably would not get to taste.
"When I capture you, I will take you as fast as I can to the dog pound," threatened Catcher One.
Catcher One paced back and forth along the green bushes. From the opposite end of the bushes, Checkers escaped around the corner of the building. As the red bricks of the building rushed by, the dog sensed security rising in his heart. With a quirky smile, he turned his head for one more glimpse of Catcher One and the fresh doggie bone.
"Oh! ... Oh! ... my beautiful flowers! Get out of my garden. Give back my apron! You are a very evil dog!" Checkers listened to an unfamiliar voice.
The dog's head jerked back. His eyes covered with darkness. Checkers felt his body rolling over and over. Though dazed for a moment, Checkers fought the darkness. His nose filled with the aroma of fresh, crushed flowers.
"Oh, my beautiful flowers! Now all I have is crushed flowers in my garden. Dog, give me my apron. Where is my garden hoe? I'm going to chase you out of here!" the voice of an angered gardener filled Checkers' ears.
The voice threatening Checkers' life awakened his sense of doom and bewilderment. A quick shake loosened the grip of the gardener's apron covering Checkers' face.
"Oh, if I did not love animals, what I would do to you," declared the angry gardener.
The grateful dog smiled at the announcement. Had he met a nice person for once?
"However, you have ruined my prize, winning flowers!" yelled the gardener.
The breeze of a sharp hoe took the brief smile from Checkers' face. Fine black and white hair flew in the air. The apron fell to the ground on top of the crushed, prize, winning flowers. Checkers ran past the hoe. The gardener swung at him again.
Which way to run? Where are the Catchers? Where are the police? Questions popped in and out of the dog's mind. A place of safety needed to be found. Checkers doubled back, retracing his trail of escape. The smelly dumpster might provide him a safe haven again.
Checkers ran past the gardener, the crushed flowers, and the green hedge. His paws found the sidewalk leading to the dumpster. He wove between downtown shoppers minding their own business. Tear-filled eyes found the dumpster in the distance. With his legs running fast, Checkers jumped, glided, and landed on a stack of old newspapers. The newspapers caressed and held the fearful, sad dog.
The vibration of the downtown traffic eased Checkers to sleep. The scared dog welcomed the rest and relaxation. The soothing, gentle rhythm of the cars and trucks increased to an annoying sensation. His right eyed popped open. His left eye popped open. The vibrations grew into a rumble.
The rumbling tickled Checkers' toes and hurt his ears. He jumped to his feet. Smoky, exhaust fumes caught the twitching of his nose. A roar entered the dumpster. The dog stared at the opening. Questioning whether to jump out, Checkers listened and felt the rumbling sound.
The groaning of a huge, diesel engine shook the ground around the dumpster. Checkers fell on his back with no delight. He stared out the dumpster opening, and the blue sky rushed towards him. The groaning of the engine threw Checkers and the dumpster skywards. The garbage, the newspapers, and the hiding dog crashed into the city, garbage truck. Doom overwhelmed the dog. Checkers found himself being jostled in a rumbling, groaning, stinking, trash-filled, garbage truck. While being tossed on top of tons of smelly trash, Checkers thought of his escape from Catcher One, the downtown car crash, the mad hotdog salesman, and the hoe-swinging gardener. Checkers wasn't about to let this city, garbage truck be victorious over everything he had been through.
The blue sky and white clouds rushing past the garbage truck directed the truck towards the............LANDFILL!!! LANDFILL!!! LANDFILL!!!
The thought of the stinky landfill gripped Checkers' heart.
LANDFILL!!! LANDFILL!!! LANDFILL!!!
The dog's strength left every one of his muscles. Checkers reached deep into his dog spirit. His hind legs found new determination and power. The captive leaped toward the opening of the garbage truck. His paws caught the edge. Checkers' nose, eyes, and ears, felt the rushing wind blowing past the truck. Two roadside signs caught his eyes. The sign on the right pointed to the International Raceway. The sign on the left pointed to the landfill.
Like a squirrel leaping from tree limb to tree limb, Checkers wasted no time in his decision. Hot, exhaust fumes coming out of the tail pipe of the garbage truck hit his face. Checkers' head skidded on the black, asphalt road. The tall green, grass growing along the highway grabbed the dog's coat. It cushioned his fall. Checkers passed out cold. He escaped one more time. The city, garbage truck rumbled down the highway. Checkers lay on the side of the road gasping for air.
Checkers twitched his nose. The smell of hot, racing cars rode the wind as it blew. Though a bit dazed, the canine jumped to his wobbly feet. He remembered the skidding tires of the crash at Elm and Main Street. Checkers twitched his nose again. He remembered the sauerkraut, pork and beans, and old gravy covering his coat in the dumpster. He recalled the crushed, prize-winning flowers, an angry gardener, and a sharp swinging hoe. Checkers twitched once again. The aroma of oil and racing fuel hit his nostrils. The roar of the International Raceway crowd grew louder and louder. The dog watched a steady stream of cars entering the raceway, parking lot. With one last twitch of the nose, Checkers heard sizzling sounds coming from a concession stand. Fresh, sizzling hotdogs reminded his stomach that he hadn't eaten a meal in quite some time. The lure of the concession stand brought the hungry dog through the bustling crowd and past the main, ticket gate.
"Police Officer 99, this is Car 54. Are you looking for the dog named Checkers?" radioed the police unit.
"This is 99. Officer 54, I am told there is an angry gardener, too. You know and I know we have Catchers One and Two with several other police units looking for that scoundrel of a dog named Checkers. Does that answer your question?" replied Officer 99.
"Cool your jets, 99. I have finished investigating the overturned, hotdog stand. I am at the International Raceway working crowd control. A bit of information you need to know is Checkers has just strolled through the main ticket gate. I lost him in the crowd. No other dog in our city looks like that dog," exclaimed Officer 54.
"Car 54, this is Catcher One. I have heard your distress message. My problem is my dog-pound van. It has steam blowing and rising from its radiator," said Catcher One.
"Catcher One, this is Catcher Two. I am on my way to pick you up. We do not want Checkers out and about on the streets with all the trouble and mischief he has caused. I want him caught and impounded quickly," replied Catcher Two.
Checkers ran past the ticket gate. His tail and ears stood straight up. His eyes widened. The dog looked neither left nor right. The dog mixed with the raceway crowd.
"Checkers......Checkers........Checkers....... here little dog," Officer 54 softened his voice. One voice among the crowd rode the wind. Policeman 54 had his eyes on the dog.
Checkers stopped in the middle of the crowd. He found himself under a bowlegged cowboy. The cowboy never saw the dog. Eyes looked left. Eyes looked right. Eyes gazed straight ahead. The dog chose the building with the restrooms for a potential hideout. He chose the door on the left. The restroom was filled with feet and legs. Checkers dashed to a restroom stall.
"EVIL DOG! ... EVIL DOG!.... There is an evil dog in my stall. There is a black and white checkered dog in my restroom stall. Help, my dress is tangled around his head. This crazy dog is attacking my dress and me," a scream vibrated the restroom walls.
Excerpted from Checkers by Roger Woodson Copyright © 2010 by Roger Woodson. Excerpted by permission.
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