"The Drowned Dog"
Home from college one summer, I went to visit my friend, Greg, whose family rented a house down at Long Beach Island on the Jersey Shore. Greg and I spent the day in the water, body-surfing, building sand-castles, napping and reading. At dusk, we went on a walk far south of where he was staying. We were so caught up in our conversation, we almost didn't notice the small crowd gathered at high-tide water mark. There were a few police standing around a dark lump on the sand. Walking closer, we saw that the lump was actually a dog. A yellow lab.
At first, I wondered why he was laying there. It seemed like a strange place to take a nap. Then, I noticed its tongue lolling from its mouth, quite long and purple. It's stomach was fat, like it had swallowed a watermelon.
"Is that dog...?" Greg started.
"It's dead," I finished. The thing looked like a corpse from a television crime scene, played by an animal actor. It almost seemed like it could have stood up and shaken itself out, the way dogs instinctively do when they're wet.
We figured it must have gotten swept out into the ocean somehow, then washed up on the beach.
Disturbed, we walked back to his family's place just as the sun was setting. Over dinner, we told the story of what we'd seen. Greg's mother wasn't too happy about it--not good meal-time conversation.
Later, when Greg and I were watching television, a neighbor, an older woman, stopped by. We heard her chatting with Greg's parents in the kitchen. Eventually, they called to us. His parents were pale.
"What's wrong?" Greg asked.
They asked us again what kind of dog we'd seen on the beach. When we reminded them, the neighbor nearly fainted. She had a yellow lab. Charlemagne. He was missing.
Greg's mother asked the neighbor when was the last time she'd seen him. The neighbor said the dog had been playing in her fenced-yard all afternoon. She'd checked on him from the kitchen window less than an hour earlier and had watching him rolling in the grass, chewing on a piece of rawhide. But later, when she went out to feed him, he wasn't there. The fence had been unlatched. She was afraid someone had come by and let him out.
We explained that if she'd seen Charlemagne less than an hour ago, she had nothing to worry about, at least when it came to the dog on the beach. We'd encountered him at least three hours earlier.
But the next day, when Charlemagne hadn't returned, Greg's neighbor went to the police. They confirmed that the dog they'd found was in fact poor Charlemagne. We were all devastated.
The thing we couldn't figure out though was how the neighbor had seen the dog out in her yard, even after we'd already walked by his body washed up on the shore. Maybe her eyes had been playing tricks... or maybe the dead dog had learned a new one.
***You know the rules by now.... Vote in the comments section below... If you dare!***