Shep's Walk

I never noticed when it happened; it just did.

I walked to pick Charlene up from school, just as I did every day. Even brought Shep, our Great Dane. He didn’t seem to have a problem. Not that he ever did—he was a real sweetheart, a true rocks-for-brains pooch.

One thing I couldn’t understand was the people staring. All throughout the fifteen minute walk, there was not one person on the relatively busy (by suburban standards) sidewalks who did not goggle at Shep. I smiled and waved at a few of them and eventually gave up. You’d think they’d never seen a big dog before.

Shep and I waited patiently where we usually did, right next to the slide on the playground.

Charlene came out promptly at three twenty, as always, but today she wasn’t racing to hug her father. She was staring at the dog, just as everyone else did. When she was ten feet away, she stopped. Shep didn’t budge.

“Shep? Where’s daddy?”

My heart leapt to my throat. For the first time, I looked at myself and not the dog. And saw the bullet hole.

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