The town hadn’t been the same since, Jimmy had fallen into the wood chipper, but that didn’t stop us from having a good time. I would have felt sorry about the accident, but Jim was the playground bully, and I was kind of relieved that I wouldn’t be going home with trousers full of sand anymore. Besides, who had time to be worrying about accidents from the past when you had to deal with one now. “Sammy, why did you do that?” I asked.
“It’s not my fault,” Sammy yelled back, “It was already dead when I started poking it.”
“You’re lying,” I bend down near the dog and poked at its belly. “It was alive this morning, you did something to it to make it die.”
“How could I make it die?” Sammy kicked at the ground, “I’m not even old enough to make things die.”
“What are you taking about? We’re eight, that’s old enough.” I responded, “Remember that movie we watched where the little girl stabbed her parents to death?”
“That was just a scary movie, my mom said it wasn’t real.” Sammy poked the dog with a stick again.
“Stop it,” I said, shoving him back. I lowered myself next to the dog again and tried to lift him up.
“What are you doing?” Sammy asked.
“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m trying to pick the dog up.” I said.
“Because someone will come down here and see us and tell the entire town we killed a dog.” Sammy crouched down on the other side of the dog and put his hands underneath it. “Let’s move it off the side of the road.”
“You know, this would be a lot easier if it wasn’t a German Shepherd.” We lifted the dog as high as we could, which was not that high at all. Most of its body dragged on the ground as we pulled it into the canopy of the bushes that ran alongside the road. “What do we do now?” Sammy said.
“Well, we can’t just leave it in the bushes, we have to bury it.” I said.
“Why do we have to do that?” Sammy complained, “No one will find it here.”
“Yes they will do you know whose dog this is?” Sammy looked the dog up and down.
“It’s Officer Conner’s dog, if he finds out about this, we will go to jail for the rest of our lives” Sammy leaped back in shock.
“You mean we killed a police dog?” He asked.
“What do you mean we? You’re the one-“
“I didn’t kill him.” Sammy shouted, “I-I didn’t mean to.”
“So you did kill him.” I said.
“I saw him walking on the side of the road, and he collapsed when I tried to pet him.”
“Oh yeah, like anyone’s going to believe that.” I wasn’t really sure if I believed him or not, but the way Sammy was acting made me suspicious.
“What?” he said, “I’m sure you would act all guilty too, if a dog randomly died in front of you.” I just shrugged, I couldn’t argue with that.
“I have to run to my house to get a shovel, will you watch the dog?” I asked.
“Fine, but you better hurry, I don’t want to be left alone for too long. What if someone sees me?” I could tell Sammy was nervous about this.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be back soon.” I reassured him. I gave him a pat on the back before I took off towards my house.
I ran straight to the shed and was careful not to make too much noise as I dug around for the shovel. It felt like ages, but I finally found it buried under some rope. “What do you think you’re doing?” I jumped at voice and dropped the shovel.
“I’m just borrowing this for something,” I said, turning around to face my sister who was two years my senior.
“Oh yeah?” She questioned.
“I just need it for a game, Sammy and I are playing.”
“What kind of game?” She asked.
“A fun one.”
“I want to play this game.” My sister grinned, while I sighed. Sometimes she acted as if she was my younger sister.
“Fine.” I said, “But you can’t tell anyone about this game.”
“I’m telling,” My sister nagged when she saw the dog under the bushes.
“No you can’t.” I said, grabbing her by the shoulders. “It was an accident, if anyone finds out we’ll all go to prison.”
“No, you’ll go to prison,” she said, “I’ll get all the money for turning you in.”
“We could just tell the cops that you killed the dog,” Sammy said.
“I’ll kill you if you do that.” She responded as she took a step towards Sam.
“Just stop,” I said, “We need to start digging before it gets dark.” I held the shovel firmly in my hands, “Are you guys going to help me or not?” Sammy and My sister, Angela, nodded simultaneously. “Good.”
I had dug about half the hole when the neighborhood boys came. They rode in on their black bicycles and stopped at our feet, making some of the dirt crawl back into my hole. “Look what we have here,” The leader of the bike gang said, “The elementary school losers.” Tommy dismounted his bike and got so close to my face that I swore I could smell what he ate for dinner the night before. “Eugene Phillips.” He spat.
“What do you want?” I said, wiping his spit from my face, “This is a bad time.”
“Do you think I care what time it is?” Tommy pushed me back and snatched the shovel from my hands. “Why are you digging holes on the side of the road?”
“Look, Tommy,” One of his gang members pointed to the dog.
“What did you do to my dog?” He shouted.
“We didn’t do anything,” I said, “It just died.”
“You’ll be sorry for this,” Tommy grabbed me by my shirt collar and threw me onto the ground. I held my arms in front of my face as he hit at me as hard as he could.
“Get off of him,” Sammy yelled, jumping on top of Tommy. Before long we were all in a huge pile, hitting whatever we could make contact with our fists. Angela was standing to the side telling me who and where to hit.
“Stop.” Tommy said, climbing out of the pile. “I’ll just tell me dad what you did, and then you’ll be real sorry.” The rest of his biker gang got up off the group and went to their bikes. “You’ll be in so much trouble,” he said before riding off.
“What do we do now?” Sammy put his hands on his head and began to pace back and forth.
“I don’t know.” I sat on the ground next to the German Shepherd and hoped an answer would come to me. “Maybe we’ll just go to jail.”
“Jail?” Angela said, “We can’t go to jail, we haven’t even made it to middle school.”
“Tommy will be back with his dad at any moment, and when he sees his dog he’s going to put us in handcuffs and take us straight to jail.” I covered my face with my hands so Sammy and Angela wouldn’t see me cry. I was all out of ideas and felt like I had let everyone down.
“Don’t worry, Gene,” Sammy said, putting his arm around me, “Maybe it won’t be so bad.”
“Yeah, maybe you two will be in the same cell together.”
“Shut up,” I said, “This isn’t a joke anymore.”
I didn’t bother getting up as I heard a car pull up on the side of the road. Sammy tried to pull me to my feet, but I just shook him off and continued to stare at the ground before me. I could hear Tommy yelling something to his dad, Officer Connors, but I was too upset to know what he was saying. “I see you found my dog,” Officer Connors said, “I thought this might happen.” I looked up at him in surprise.
“What-“ I began.
“My old partner was getting old, it’s not a surprise that he died.” Officer Connors got on one knee and ran a hand through his companion’s fur. “He was a strong dog, but his time was coming to an end.”
“You mean we didn’t kill him?” Sammy asked.
“Kill him?” Connors laughed, “Nah, he was nearing fourteen years, he died on his own. They say that when animals know they are about to die, they try to hide from their owners so they won’t be sad to see them go.”
“So, your dog ran away so you wouldn’t be upset?” I asked. Officer Connors nodded.
“I see that you were trying to bury him.” He said.
“We thought we were going to get arrested.” Sammy told him.
“Arrested for what? The death of an old dog?” Connors smiled, “I don’t even think it’s possible for kids your age to go to jail.”
“We were worried about that.” Angela said.
“I think my partner would have been happy that you took such good care of him.” Officer Connors picked up his companion and motioned for Tommy to open the car door. He gave us one last nod in appreciation and drove off.
“I told you kids our age wouldn’t get in trouble.” Sammy teased.
“Well we still don’t know what really happened, you could have still killed the dog.” I said.
“We’re too young to kill things.” Sammy said.
“No, we’re not.” I argued.
“Will you two stop,” Angela said, “It’s getting dark and I’m hungry.”
“You’re always hungry, but okay, let’s go home.” I said putting my arms around Sammy and Angela. I took one last look back as we started home, and sighed in relief.