I woke this morning to thick humid breath in my face. I opened my eyes to a large black snout just millimeters from my nose. In my fevered state I was barely able to sit up let alone stand, yet I found the strength to jump out of bed and grab my gun. I stumbled to the floor by the bed, but still managed to hold onto the gun and keep it pointed in the general direction of the intruder. A pair of large brown eyes stared back at my from a rather blockish canine head. It took me a moment to recognize her.
She had filled out a bit since the last time I had seen her and there were a fresh pair of scars running down one side of her face. But it was the same Rottweiler I had released at the pound. She stood on the bed just staring at me with her head cocked to one side. When she did not attack I relaxed somewhat.
I lowered the gun and waited a moment. She calmly laid down on the bed looking at me. I collapsed back into the bed not really expecting to wake up again.
I'm afraid I let the infection in my leg get a little out of hand. By the 12th it was so bad I thought I was going to have to cut my own leg off. I limped into the Walgreen's at Lees Summit and 23rd Street. But I don't think the Penicillin I found was working. The infection just got worse.
I remembered watching an old rerun of a medical drama that ran back in the 90's. One of the doctors used maggots to clean out an badly infected wound. The maggots they used were bred and grown in a clean lab. I did not have that luxury. There was a covered deck out back with a picnic table on it. I placed a piece of lunch meat from fridge there and waited for a while. When I came back there were a few neat clusters of tiny yellow eggs. I scraped them off onto the wound and carefully bandaged it with a thick gauze. I hoped that this would work. For the first day nothing. The infection got worse. But then, I don't know if it was my imagination or what, but I could feel them wiggling around under that bandage. I resisted every impulse to rip the bandage off and wash them away. On the third day my fever was worse, so I carefully removed the bandage to clean the wound. I was surprised that the wound looked better. The edges were less red and puffy.
The maggots had become big and fat feasting on the dead tissue of my leg. I washed most of them away but saved a few to finish the job.
That was yesterday. I think. The last few days have been a bit hazy, The only thing I am sure of is today's date. When I woke up this evening after my encounter with the Rottweiler my fever had broke. I was weak drenched with sweat. I removed the bandage and cleaned the last of the maggots away and put a fresh layer of gauze on it.
The dog followed me around the whole time. She was wearing a collar with a little silver tag dangling from it. I had not seen it before but I was not really looking that close. She came to me as I sat on toilet seat and laid her head in my lap. She was filthy and stank like a Chinese restaurant dumpster in July. I scratched her behind the ears anyway. She closed her eyes and let out a very human sounding sigh of contentment. Her tag read "Emily" Certified Therapy Animal. I still wonder how she came to be in the pound.
"Well Emily, if you are going to stick around, you are going to have to get a bath." I told her. She glanced over at the tub and then at me as if to say, 'Not today Buddy.' She was right. I am too wiped to do anything. Making this journal entry has exhausted me. I did lay out some dog food I found in the pantry. I wonder what happened to the Meier's dog. That was the name of the couple that lived here. Don't know if I have mentioned that. There were all the signs that they had owned a dog. A bed, bowl, dog food and a even some pictures of the Meier's and a big Golden Retriever. But no dog.
For the first time since the disappearance I think I will sleep good tonight.
© 2009 R. Keith McBride