I didn't leave the library until ten minutes before I was supposed to meet with Claire. I spent almost every moment trying to make my boring cheesy writing not seem so.... well, boring and cheesy. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried, I was unable to get anything that didn't look like it was written by Romeo or Juliet (which wasn't necessarily a bad thing, I enjoyed that play, but that wasn't what I was hoping to come across as.)
Before I went outside, I decided to go to the bathroom. Not because I needed to empty anything from the inside of my body, but because I wanted to look at myself in the mirror. Now, I was never one to care about my appearance, and I was never one to actively try to impress females, so this was a little weird for me. Nevertheless, I found myself attempting to "pretty" myself in my school's crappy bathroom. The grooming process included the following:
- I thoroughly cleaned the sink, so that step two would not be mad uncomfortable by spit, snot, or anything else that made me go yuck.
- I turned on the facet and stuck my hair under the running water.
- Both under the facet and out of the sink, I scrubbed the ever loving hell out of my scalp, making it nice and not dandruff-y.
- I fashioned my hair into a style that Johnny Depp would be proud of.
- I spent the next two minutes snapping my fingers into guns and going "Hey good looking" at my reflection.
I easily would've continued to make compliments about myself, but I began to feel my dignity slowly slip away, so I jogged my way out to the courtyard.
I checked my watch when I got to the courtyard. "It's 2:29," I thought to myself. "Where the hell is she?" I looked all over the courtyard for any conceivable sign of the crazy girl who called me here, but all I was able to see was a bunch of trees. And as the trees were not able to keep my interest for very long, I began to lie on the grass and looked up at the sky. I thought I saw a cloud that looked like a train, but then it began to morph.
I had no issue with spending the rest of class looking up, but about a minute into my escape to the sky, a small person jumped on top of my torso and started to shake me. My head was elsewhere at the time so it took me a moment to realize that this person was much hairier than most people. Their hair was literally almost everywhere on their body. Also their hands and feet felt a lot smaller, rougher, and had much sharper nails than any other human nails that I've experienced. Furthermore, most people that I've met are not dogs, but this person definitely was.
"Hey you," the voice did not come from the dog. "Sorry I'm late, Shasta kept running in the wrong direction." I didn't know that it was Claire, but I chose to anyway, as it might help to get the dog, presumably Shasta, off of me. Claire was wearing black jeans, a purple t-shirt and sunglasses, an outfit that I agreed with profoundly. The key ring she had found two weeks ago was hanging from one of her belt loops. I stood up and brushed myself off.
"No trouble. Where were you?"
"Not here, I was sort of bored by the idea of school today."
"You must be bored a lot, because I almost never see you there." Shasta went back over to Claire, where she was pet as much as a dog could be pet by one person. I decided to join in, and this made Shasta a very happy dog.
"You got used to her quickly." She changed the subject. To be fair, she probably had a very good reason why not to tell me why she isn't going to school, but I still wanted to know. I looked up at her, she was already smiling. "Shasta's one of the dogs that we rescued. She's a four year old chocolate lab with a lot of energy."
"You make it sound like you're giving her to me." I giggled a bit, but I saw that Claire's expression was not one of jokes. "I'm sorry, do you mean to tell me that you are giving me a dog?"
"Surprise!" She exclaimed and let go of Shasta, who immediately decided to run around the track. "She's getting to be too much for me, it's really hard to take care of thirty dogs you know. Given how you're one of the only people I trust in this town, you were my first choice. You CAN take her, can't you?" I didn't want to look at Claire, I knew she was trying to guilt trip me, I did not like it. Unfortunately, my eyes wandered, and I caught a look that made me feel like I was the worst human being in the world for even questioning this girl.
"Of course I can, I'm just not sure how my parents would take it."
"What are they going to do? Tell you to kick the dog out on the street?" She had a point, plus my parents were both dog people.
"Fair enough. All right, she's mine then." Claire pounced at me and ended up tackling me to the ground. At first I thought she was trying to kill me, then I realized that this was, in fact, a hug.
"Thank you so much!" She then turned over and began lying on me. Apparently she was another person who liked looking at the sky. I liked this.
"Anytime." I wrapped my arms across her torso (making extra careful that I didn't accidentally grab her boobs), and then realized that she said something earlier. "Did you say that you were looking after thirty dogs?"
"Yeah, all of the dogs from that night. Who did you think would look after them?"
"I don't know, it just seems a bit impossible that one person can look after so many animals. Where do they sleep? How do they eat?"
"I have my ways. I don't think it's right to show you yet." She rolled over to look at me again. "I like you. And I would eventually like to tell you. But I think if I hit you with everything all at once, you might explode."
"Yeah that sounds fair." She rolled off of me and stood up. I did the same. No sooner than the time I straightened myself up did the bell ring, and the flash flood of teenagers came roaring out of the school. I looked back at Claire. "You planning on coming to school tomorrow?"
"Of course. I'll need to calm the dogs down before I leave of course, but don't worry, I'll be there." She turned around and looked away from me. "Thanks again for taking Shasta. It means a lot to me. I'll see you tomorrow." She began walking into the woods.
_____________ ________________ _______________
My parents had absolutely no objection to Shasta being in the house. Turns out they had been looking for a dog for a while, and Shasta was exactly what they had in mind. And because she came spayed with a collar and dog tag, they didn't have to do too much paperwork.
The arrangement was that they would buy the toys, and the food, and any other accessories. I was left to cleaning the dog, cleaning AFTER the dog, feeding the dog and so on. She was to sleep in my room, on the floor or bed, and she was to be walked at the crack of dawn, and then four more times later in the day. It's a good thing I love dogs, or this would annoy the hell out of me.
I gave Shasta the option of sleeping on the floor, but she seemed to prefer snuggling next to me. I spent a good ten minutes of time I could've been sleeping petting her to a nice rest. As she finally went to sleep, I scratched around her collar for a moment before I planned to go to sleep. While I was doing this however, a note fell from Shasta's collar. The note was folded with words written on the outside of it. I picked it up and tried to read it in the dark, which I was able to do, and saw that the note read:
"Do not open this until you see the golden bird."
"Oh lord." I mumbled. "What has Claire set me up for now?" There was little time to ponder this, however, as I noticed outside my window there was a figure. Much like Claire had done before, only this wasn't Claire.
"Hey Jason? I need your help." Derek began, holding a backpack in one hand. The smile he made to me seemed to completely understand my expression at the time.
"Oh for God's sake!"