Raleigh was a morning person but even he had trouble getting out of bed to attend a nine am lecture with the knowledge that everyone else in the house was still sound asleep in their beds. It didn’t help that Yancy, Chuck and Tendo had talked him into playing Borderlands into the early hours because they didn’t have classes that day. He never used to have such an issue with rising early, but having to force himself out of the warmth and comfort of Chuck’s embrace on such mornings may have had something to do with his newfound dislike of early lectures.
On route back home all of his previous thoughts however, of an afternoon spent putting off impending assignments in favour of video games, TV and whatever else he could think of that equated to not studying, were drowned out by the sound of his phone.
When you get home, remember this. It wasn’t me.
If this was Yancy’s attempt at being reassuring, it did not have the desired effect.
You and Chuck only had to get groceries today, what the hell could have possibly happened?
If Chuck had broken something again, he was not chipping in for a replacement this time. How does someone even break the door of a refrigerator off anyway?
Raleigh checked his phone again, but there were no further texts from his brother. He opened the door tentatively and gave the hall a quick glance; there seemed to be no visible damage so far. And it was quiet. In any other household that might seem normal but he lived with Yancy, Chuck and Tendo; quiet was not their thing in the middle of the day when none of them had classes.
It wasn’t long before Raleigh found the source of Yancy’s cryptic warning. Chuck was sat in the middle of the living room and laying between his legs receiving a belly rub was a bulldog.
“What is that?” He demanded.
Chuck didn’t take his eyes off the animal. “It’s called a dog. You know, one of those animals with four legs and –”
“I know what it is.” Raleigh snapped. “What is it doing in our house?”
“I found him.”
Raleigh looked around in search of backup.
“Where’s Yance and Tendo?”
“They went out.”
“Of course they did.”
Raleigh pinched the bridge of his nose. Those traitors would run away and leave him with this. He just knew that Yancy hadn’t even tried to fight Chuck on the decision to bring the dog back with them. When it came to confrontations his brother had an unnatural ability of no longer being in the vicinity. And Chuck was, as Yancy often stated, Raleigh’s problem to deal with.
“We can’t afford a dog.”
“His name is Max.”
“Aw shit, you named him.”
“He’s got nowhere else to go.”
Raleigh knelt down beside him. They could not keep a dog. They were all working part time jobs; Raleigh had even picked up extra shifts on weekends he could have been spending with Chuck. Not to mention their landlords were a pair of very intimidating Russians who both looked capable of killing a man with their bare hands. He did not want to entertain the thought of their reaction to a dog shitting all over their carpets.
Chuck’s hand stilled and he looked over at Raleigh. The soft look he had been directing at the dog seconds ago was replaced by a cold, dark stare. Max whined, but Raleigh wasn’t sure if it was from the ceasing of Chuck’s stroking or the intense hostility radiating from him. He found himself fighting the urge to whimper under Chuck’s glower.
“Some wanker left him tied up behind some bins. Just threw him away like rubbish.”
Chuck had always been strangely fond of dogs. Like a small child he’d always get distracted when he saw one walk past and had no shame in waltzing up to people and lavishing attention on their pets. Dogs seemed to give off some smell that triggered something within Chuck similar to that of those people who became affectionate around babies.
The dog and Chuck both gazed at him with wide, pleading eyes. Max’s tail rapidly thumped against the floor and if Chuck had one Raleigh was certain his would have been too. The dog righted itself, shuffled closer and pawed at his leg. Raleigh groaned.
“Fine. But you’re paying for him.” Raleigh stated. “And cleaning up after him.”
Chuck’s face lit up and he launched himself at Raleigh and kissed him.
It was quiet when Yancy and Tendo finally decided to show their faces in the house again. They found Raleigh and Chuck asleep on the couch together with the dog tucked between them.
“Told ya.” Yancy smirked and held out his hand.
Tendo sighed and opened his wallet up. “Yeah but encouraging Chuck to bring the dog here instead of an animal shelter and convincing him that Raleigh had always wanted a dog is cheating, you know.”