“Gotta calm down there a bit, Tob. Just a wandering Lab, is all.” He told himself as he walked through the kitchen and into the washroom. He didn’t turn the light on, just stared at the gun cabinet. He didn’t need the rifle, did he? He stepped closer and felt for the keys in his pocket; house key, truck key, gun key. He rubbed the gun key between his thumb and forefinger in a momentary state of indecision.
It was probably just a lost Lab, he thought. No more a threat than Lilly ever was. He rubbed the key once more, looked to the right of the cabinet and saw his walking stick. He had whittled it himself years ago out of a branch ripped from its trunk by lightening. The tip was charred black and he had lacquered it to preserve nature’s quiet remnant of fury. The stick would do. If he startled the dog he would be able to use it to calm him or her, her, down or defend himself if he had too. A gun would just be too much. He grabbed the walking stick and stood there in the darkness for a moment. He thought of Lilly and a pang of loss washed over him. He got himself together and headed back towards to porch.
As he crossed the living room he heard the barking again. It was coming from the same place, muffled by the walls of the house, but still as frantic as before. What was it doing out there? And damn if it didn’t sound exactly like Lilly. He paused in front of his couch, listening. There was an excited tone in the dog’s rant now, almost a yelp. He couldn’t take it anymore and just about stormed out the front door onto the porch.
“Lilly, Settle down. I’m coming.” Toby caught himself again, in a jolt of confusion. What was he saying? He actually didn’t even know he was going to call for his best friend, since passed, and hadn’t realized what he had said until it was out of his mouth, again. Maybe he would have a couple more beers after he figured this whole thing out.