Big Ricky was a tattooed, tall, skinny white guy and a malevolent white supremacist. He loved to hate and lived for attending race rally’s where he thrived spewing nasty words and death threats at people he never met. The minority groups target by Big Rickey and his brethren never mattered, so long as they were different (particularly in color). Rickey had hate enough for everyone and loved to share it.
Wanting more than a big stick to carry while out protesting, he decided to get a large menacing dog to enhance his diabolical image. Ricky wanted a big, All-American dog so he decided on a Labrador Retriever. He named the sweet-breath puppy, Himmler, after one of his idols.
As the puppy grew, Big Ricky relentlessly trained him to bark at black folks. To incite wild yapping, he’d give Himmler the command, “Heil Hitler,” to which Himmler would go completely nuts. The frisky whippersnapper didn’t know a thing about color lines and he didn’t know who Hitler was or even who his namesake, Himmler, was. He barked indiscriminately for joy. For him, barking at a black lady on the street was the same as barking at a squirrel in a tree or at a passing car; it was gosh darn plain ol’ fun! He was just a lil’ puppy for cryin’ out loud.
Himmler was slowed down when Rickey decided to put a heavy large-link chain and padlock around his neck. He thought this looked more bad-ass than a regular dog collar. Himmler was indifferent about the “look” and kind of ticked off over the bulky weight but he shrugged it off and adapted as puppies do.
Rickey was enamored with his dog’s large, pristine white teeth. Once he’d get Himmler energetically woofing at a black person, his mouth foaming with excitement, Big Rickey would say asinine things like, “How’d ya like them pearly whites to bite a chunk outta yer black ass.” Or, if Himmler wasn’t barking insanely enough he’d resort to the racist failsafe battle cry, “Go back to Africa.”
Tom Anderson was a thickset, African-American middle-aged man who lived next door to Rickey and Himmler. Every time Big Rickey spotted Tom outside, he’d regale himself by hollering, “Heil Hitler,” and off Himmler would run toward Tom and fervently bark at him. As became the norm, Himmler would yip and yap while Tom rationally rambled on, questioning Himmler’s motivation for the incessant barking. Tom would tell Himmler his barking was misdirected. He told the young pooch his designs should be set on Rickey and not himself because, as he put it, the simple fact was both Tom and Himmler were black. Tom told the puppy they should stick together because they were the same color. He told him if he was going to bark at anyone, he should be going after Big Rickey. When the puppy asked Tom, “Why Big Rickey?’ He replied matter of fact, “it’s as simple as black and white little dog.”
Even when Tom said it slowly, “we black… and he white… black… and white… black… and white…” as if he was trying to hypnotize Himmler, the youngster didn’t understand a word. As usual, he simply smiled and barked like a mad dog at Tom. When Big Rickey called for Himmler, the happy pup would pull himself away from the black-conspirator at the fence and gaily run to the white-conspirator, waiting for him in the house.
After several months passed Big Rickey decided Himmler wasn’t projecting the image he wanted, he wasn’t menacing enough. In fact, the Black Lab puppy was simply too sweet and getting friendlier.
Rickey had enough of the puppy and on one dark and rainy night, he untied Himmler and shooed him into the unfamiliar, big, lonely, shadowed world. Unable to get back into Rickey’s warm dry house, he walked over to Tom’s to see if he could come in to get out of the weather. When he yelped for attention, Tom’s porch light flickered on and he came to the door. Staring down at Himmler with a suspicious glare over the bridge of his nose Tom said, “No way. You’re not coming in here ya traitor,” before he slammed the door.
Rejected by the white-conspirator and the black-conspirator and weighed down by the big heavy chain and pad lock around his neck, Himmler slowly ventured far away from what he knew as home. He happily reflected on no longer being around a crazy white guy who continually mandated questionable behavior such as barking at black folks, or a suspicious black guy who drones on about “insulating ourselves against whitey” and “making a stand together.” Himmler soggily strode onto new horizons with a smile on his furry little face.
After walking in the rain for more than an hour, young Himmler saw a small grey house with the porch lights on and smoke raising up from the chimney. He ran to the little house and once at the front door, yelped loudly. Upon hearing the deadbolt click, he excitedly wagged his tail and tongue hoping for a kind soul to come to the door. Indeed –a kind soul did appear.
The gentle frame standing in the doorway said, “howz da good boy doinz, howz da good boy doinz?” To which Himmler smiled and replied, “woof-woof,” wearing a hopeful look on his face.
He was welcomed and stepped inside the warm, humble abode. He was pleasantly surprised not see any big red flags with swastikas on them or banners of giant black fists on the walls. Frankly, he found both images to be quite scary and intimidating. He smelled something rather strange but pleasant in the air. It was incense, Frankincense. A nice, mild scent, nothing too extreme or overpowering.
Once inside, he was offered a bowl of water and a small plate of cooked hamburger meat. After his meal, he was taken to the garage where the chain and pad lock he was forced to wear, were cut off. Back inside, Himmler was wiped down with a soft, fluffy bath towel and directed to position himself in front of the fireplace and its welcoming, all-encompassing glow
Several hours passed before Himmler realized the person he was with didn’t seem to have an agenda. He hadn’t been asked to take a side on an issue or to affirm an association to or with someone or something. Nor had he been asked to pledge an alliance to someone or to something. It was nice. He felt free in thought.
As he lumbered into a deep puppy slumber, Himmler realized he couldn’t remember what the person next to him looked like. He couldn’t remember if it was a man or a woman, or even what color they were. He didn’t know much about this person at all.
After a couple more hours passed the voice next to him said. “Now what am I ta’ call you little puppy?”
Himmler smiled and raised his caterpillar eyebrows recalling he never did like his name. Stretched out in front of the fireplace and its warm, gentle, peaceful glow, he stared at the mesmerizing flames and contently answered, “woof-woof.” He was just a silly little puppy after all–indeed.
This and other short stories coming Spring 2019 in the collection,
Sex, Drugs and Junior High by D.L Edison.