Found & Lost
by Jarret Liotta
The big man stood in my doorway effortlessly holding Buddy—poor Buddy, slumped and lifeless, patched with blood.
“Oh … no,” I whispered.
“I’m very sorry,” he said. “You must be very sad.” His voice was low. His soft blue eyes sought to feel my pain, searched my reaction with unwavering eyes.
“I’m … Oh, I’m …” I sobbed twice, steadied myself, then said, “Please come in.”
He carried Buddy into the living room. Without speaking, he asked where to put him, and I gestured to the blanket spread on part of the couch. He laid him carefully down.
I sat beside him and pet his fur. He still felt warm, though the man said he’d probably been hit the day before. The blood still seemed wet, too, and a bit even dripped onto the blanket.
“I had him in my barn last night. As I said on the phone, I didn’t want to call late.”
“Thank you,” I murmured.
“I saw your signs on North Avenue , and then … He was just down the road from me, on Perry Street .”
“You found him on Perry?”
He thought about this for a moment. “It was near Perry, kind of, but off the road, in the woods … on Frasier, actually. That’s what I meant.”
“And he was dead?”
“Of course,” he said seriously, his eyes unblinking, still searching my eyes. “I’m sorry.”
He stood respectfully still, watching as I softly pet my Buddy again. I lost myself in a moment, then looked up to see him still there, unmoving, his eyes fixed on mine.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I want to give you a reward. I … I had that on the poster, and—”
“No,” he said, stepping closer. “No,” he said with eyes locked on mine.
I got up and moved past him to the other side of the room. “No,” I said, “I want to, please.”
“It’s not necessary. I feel bad about this.” He took two steps toward me. “I don’t want anything,” and he took another step, his eyes forever locked on mine.
“Well,” I said, holding his eyes firmly, “at least I can give you a-a drink or something, please. Okay?” I moved carefully toward the kitchen.
“Please. Just have a seat, okay, and I’ll be right back. Okay? I’ll be right back.”
I slipped into the kitchen before he could reply. Something didn’t feel right, and all at once I knew I had to get out of the house.
I skipped to the back door. Holding my breath, I turned the lock.
“Where are you going?” he said, gliding into the room.
I jumped. Speechless, I held my breath and stammered silently. He came closer, his piercing eyes never leaving mine.
“P-please,” I gasped. “Don’t.”
He grabbed my wrist in a brutal lock. Slowly, he leaned in close to me and whispered, “Come on. Let’s go and pet the dog …”
JARRET LIOTTA’s essays and articles have appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Brill’s Content, California Arts & Living, Los Angeles Times, Connecticut magazine, Hartford Courant, Pasadena Star-News, and the Connecticut Post. He maintains an under-read blog (jarretliotta.blogspot.com), and has been writing fiction since he was a kid, priding two yet-to-be-published novels and a wealth of short stories. Jarret’s also a great lover of horror in all its fictional forms, and considers October 31st the best day of the year!