By Michael Bracken
We found the first dead dog behind the shed at Wilson’s house. None of us knew to whom the pudgy Chihuahua belonged and, though it wore a leather collar, the collar had no identification tags. We probably should have told our parents about the dog, but we didn’t. Instead, we took gardening tools from the shed and dug a hole at the bottom of the ravine that ran behind all the houses on that block. After we placed the Chihuahua in the hole and covered it, Marty said a short prayer.
We returned to our game of hide-and-seek and none of us mentioned the Chihuahua again until we found the second dead dog a week later. Like the Chihuahua, the dead Toy Poodle’s collar had no identification tags, and the four of us stared at one another while we tried to remember if anyone we knew owned a poodle.
We could not think of anyone.
Chuck suggested we bury the second dead dog next to the first, so we did. Marty’s mother is a minister, so once again he said a short prayer.
When we finished, we returned to our game of Cowboys and Indians but our hearts weren’t in it.
Five weeks later we stared at the body of a Greyhound.
Chuck said, “That’s seven.”
“Who would kill a dog?” Marty asked.
“Seven,” Chuck corrected. “Each one larger than the one before.”
“Who would kill seven dogs?”
None of us had an answer.
“Shouldn’t we tell someone?”
“It’s too late,” Chuck said. “We’re part of this now. He’s using us to dispose of the dogs he kills.”
“They keep getting bigger,” Marty said. “What’s next, a Great Dane?”
“I don’t think we can dig a hole that big.”
We didn’t have to.
The next day, we found the first dead baby behind the shed at Wilson’s house.