The woman and her golden were first at the dog park, an hour or so before the earliest visitors would arrive.
She released the dog to his favorite activity of flushing out lizards and while he was occupied, she pulled an orange Frisbee from her canvas tote. He was a striking dog, who shed white tufts of fur like feathers. She pulled a bit of it off her black capris and freed it to the breeze.
She filled the Frisbee with water from a nearby spigot and set the makeshift water bowl on the ground. She’d written the name “PACO” across the disc, a last request of sorts, important that the dog retain his name.
She called him back. Paco nosed her hand toward the Frisbee, but she commanded sit and clipped his harness into place. Good dog, she said, securing the leash to the fence. She sat with him one last time, his head in her lap. The first pink of the sun framed the horizon. Time was running out.
Ruffling the dog’s ears, she kissed his forehead, the special soulful place between his brown eyes, and turned back toward her car. Paco barked once, then again, in a series of insistent sharp alerts. The clip of the leash clinked hard against the chain link, but she didn’t look back. She locked herself inside to wait.
Watching the dog settle, she reminded herself this was the right thing to do. With her job gone and months behind on her rent, Paco was all she had left and she could no longer care for him.
She could no longer care for herself.
A couple with a bulldog entered the park from the far side. They released the dog to its business, which today included the immediate discovery of a white golden retriever tied to a fence with a Frisbee that doubled as a water bowl.
She watched the pair approach her dog. They looked like they could afford another pet. Paco licked the outstretched hand of the woman as the man looked about the park for an owner.
His eyes settled on the car, then on her behind the steering wheel. She smiled. “Good dog, Paco,” she whispered as she removed the handgun from the glove box.
Sheree Shatsky has called Florida home for over fifty years. She writes short fiction believing much can be conveyed with a few simple words. Her work as an opinion writer has appeared in print and online. Recent publication credits include Sassafras Literary Magazine, the Journal of Microliterature and Dirty Chai.