It’s not like I’m daft or unworldly.
Matter of fact, I’m a bit of an asshole.
Ok, a lot of an asshole.
But sometimes, just sometimes, circumstances defy my assholery and my nice guy muscles through, much to my chagrin and demise.
I’d made it a habit to walk instead of drive to the kennel that was my pride and joy, my stock churning out not a few Grand Champions until a bout with parvo almost put me into bankruptcy. It was slow going to rebuild my reputation, but with constant care – and a lot of bleached floors, grass that had to be regrown, new toys and carpeting – I was creeping back into dog show infamy with my prized Rots and Shepherds. Just as I was about to cross the street to my favorite bagel place, there he was.
The little boy was crying – sobbing, actually – on the corner, looking like he’d lost his best friend. I stopped to ask what was wrong and he looked up, dark bangs covering his clear blue, tear stained eyes, cherub face looking quite forlorn as he whined his reply.
“Well, buddy, where did you lose him?” I asked, crouching down, using my most fatherly voice. I’d never wanted nor truly liked kids – the death knell for most of my dealings with women – but seeing one cry, well, that was my Achilles heel.
“I don’t know,” the boy sniffled. “I just woke up and he was – gone. Will you help me get him back?”
The puppy-dog eyes tugged at my heart strings hard, but I knew all too well how a strange man with a little boy would look to the average citizen these days. “Look, let’s call your mom, I”m sure she’s worried -“
“No, Mom’s not here, she can’t help. I want you!”
This was going to be difficult. “Look, kid, there’s people watching us and probably wondering who I am and I really don’t want to get in trou-“
“If you don’t help me, I’ll scream and say you tried to touch my pee pee.”
Wow! That escalated quickly! The kid’s eyes had taken on a dangerous gleam and for a moment I was quite impressed, a little asshole in the making. So, I rolled my eyes and took his hand, rising.
“Call me Uncle Derek just to be safe, hmm?”
“Ok, Uncle Derek!” The little boy beamed, his sorrow turning to devilish glee as he passed by the elderly couple who eyed us suspiciously before. “Thank you for helping me get back my doggie!”
I didn’t see him turn to look over his shoulder, sticking his tongue out and the lady fainting in response. If I did, I would’ve ended our adventure right then and there.
I called clients to tell them I was taking the day for some personal business, made sure my assistant Sandy knew how to care for my charges, and off I went. The boy was insanely intelligent for his age – I assumed was no more than seven – discussing theology and philosophy in vocabulary way beyond his years. I was strangely enjoying the conversation
when the little boy stopped, his eyes searching the streets at a crossroads before finally pointing to an alley made dark by the clouding sky.
“There!” he said.
I frowned. “How do you know?”
“Just trust me! C’mon before he smells us!”
I found myself being pulled toward the alley, a sense of dread tingling in my abdomen. I could then hear guttural growls coupled with sickening slurps and crunching, a large dumpster swaying two and fro with whatever was inside making a meal of the refuse. If this was a dog, he was big – really big.
“Cerberus, you old mutt! Get out here now!”
The boy’s voice had taken on a deep, commanding tone that shocked me almost as much as the large, black, three-headed canine that hopped out of the dumpster with a grace that belied his enormous size, blood and gore staining each fearsome maw. Larger than any one of my largest Rots he was a beast in every sense of the word, the many myths and artist renderings not doing him a bit of justice.
“Not going back, Luc,” one head growled, the voice of a biker if I ever heard one.
“Whatever you have planned won’t work,” sighed the other in a resigned, aristocratic tone, licking his chops.
“So go fuck yerself!”
Wait, did that one just talk like Joe Pesci?
Confused as to why the boy now sounded so, well, manly, I looked beside me and had my second heart attack for the day. “What the fu – !”
“Er, Luc, your horns are showing,” snickered Joe.
The boy, now a strikingly beautiful man with long, black hair, looked down at himself and snarled. “Crap!”
Aristocrat looked at me sympathetically. “He always looses focus when pissed.”
“Will someone tell me what in Hell’s name is going on!” I cry, pinching myself to see if I could wake from this nightmare, but to no avail.
“Well, Hell’s name is Lucifer, and you’ve just been duped by the fucker,” replied Biker, the body laying down and crossing his paws.
“Um, what?” This was all too much to process – what I’d give to be an asshole right now and walk away, but knowing what one set of vice-gripping jaws could do let alone three had me frozen in place. “Look, kid, Luc, Satan, Scratch, whatever you call yourself these days – “
“Scratch!” Joe was actually cackling. “He called him Scratch! Oh, boy are you in for it!”
“- I found your – erm – dog like you asked, now let me – “
The man rounded on me, blue eyes turning a blinding silver, black wings unfurling from his shoulder blades and flicking out with an ominous crack. “You said you’d help get him back – to Hell – where he belongs. You made the deal, now get on with it.”
Oh, gods, oh daemons, oh angels of Hell on Earth how was I supposed to get this willful beast to do anything but crunch up my soul like I knew he wanted to, all three sets of glowing amber eyes regarding me with a challenge that made me almost lose my bladder control.
“Ok,” I sighed, my mind a whirlwind of options that settled on the most simple and obvious, “why did you run away?”
“We’re tired of being treated like a dog,” Aristocrat replied, licking gore of one paw.
“Well, you are a dog, actually,” Luc humphed.
“You know what I mean!” Aristocrat snapped, literally.
“Yeah, fetch this soul, maul that one,” snarled Biker, “always the same!”
“Would it be so bad to be rewarded with a Snausage or two?” Joe snorted. “Or even a nice bitch once in a while instead of the mangey mutts you send us?”
I couldn’t help but snicker, the banter of the three heads, making my head spin.
“Hey!” Cerberus rose, stalking over to me, Joe getting nose-to-nose so that I could smell decaying flesh and souls on his hot breath. I think I might’ve peed a little. “Do I make you laugh? Am I here to fuckin amuse you? How the fuck am I funny? What’s so funny about me? Tell me! Tell me what’s funny!”
“Just, I never met a nice bitch to be honest.” My knees were jello, but the asshole in me couldn’t fight the smirk upon hearing a near perfect rendition of one of my favorite scenes in the whole world.
“He’s got a point,” Luc said, himself stifling a snicker.
“I seem to smell something intriguing though.” Aristocrat sniffled my shirt, crotch, and other embarrassing areas in typical canine fashion. “You have many bitches and Snausages at your disposal, don’t you Derek?”
“Mmm, yes, yes I do,” I replied.
“And would be willing to part with a goodly amount of said treats should Luc make it worth your while?”
“Now, wait, I’m the Master here, I make the deals, not you, you cur!” Luc glared.
“You want us back or not?” Cerberus, all three heads roared in concert, the very walls of the buildings surrounding the alley shaking in response.
Luc sighed, throwing up his hands, unfurling his wings and hovering above us. “Fine, you’re on your own, kid.”
Cerberus lay at my feet, calm and composed, knowing he’d won at least this battle of minds and wills. “Now, let’s discuss terms, shall we?”
So, this is how I got here, delivering a truckload’s worth of Snausages and three virgin bitches a month to the large condo behind the kennel (which housed a portal to Hell and a good-sized humidor for the highly illegal Columbians favored by Joe). The human bitches were reserved for the King Himself, and for him, the bitchier the better.
Not a situation I would’ve liked to have put myself into, but my breeding venture is making me abhorrently rich and disgustingly content.
Even if I don’t get to actually keep the pick of the litter.