Asher face crumbled, his body slumping forward as he cried. Turning to his father, he wrapped his arms around his waist and buried his head into Chris’ stomach.
Joel smirked cruelly, getting a look from Judge Harrison that made him squirm uncomfortably in his seat.
The courtroom door opened to reveal an officer who motioned for the bailiff to come outside. After a couple minutes he came back, went up to Judge Harrison and spoke in a low tone. The judge nodded and called the lawyers from both sides up to the bench.
“It seems we have a witness to this case who wants to come in and testify,” he told them, “I’m going to allow it because there is no one to speak for the child’s dog. Please be seated.”
He nodded to the bailiff who proceeded to open the courtroom door, letting in an older gentleman and led him up to where Cody, his father and his lawyer were standing.
Joel’s eyes widened when he realized who the older man was as Asher’s father whispered in his son’s ear what was happening.
“Can you state your name for the court, sir?”
“My name is George Cunningham the Third, your Honor,”
“Can you tell us, as Asher’s eyes, what you witnessed on January twenty-sixth?” Judge Harrison asked.
“Yes, your Honor,” George said firmly, “I was outside getting my newspaper when that young man,” he pointed at Asher, “and his seeing eye dog were walking by my house. The other young man,” he pointed at Joel, “came running up to him with his friends, taunting and teasing him and calling him terrible names. They proceeded to viciously push him not only once, but three times, with the last one knocking the poor boy to the ground. His dog was growling and growling, you know, trying warn that bully away and that’s what he is, your Honor, nothing but a bully. But when he pushed Asher, the dog did what any good seeing eye dog would do. He protected him. Putting that dog down would be a shame, your Honor, a damn shame. And just for the record, I’ve witnessed that boy bullying other children, as well.”
“After what I’ve heard, and suspected,” Judge Harrison told the group, “I cannot, in good conscious, take that dog away from Asher Armstrong. I can, however, according to the state of Wisconsin laws, fine the parents of Joel Montgomery $366 for not controlling the bullying habits of their child. If I see you here again for bullying, Mr. Montgomery, that fine will be doubled. Do I make myself clear?”
Brow furrowed angrily, Joel mumbled something under his breath.
“I said, do I make myself clear?”
“Yes!” Joel shot back.
Joel’s father gripped his son’s arm and tightened painfully.
“Yes, sir,” Joel said demurely, the fight knocked out of him.
Turning to Asher and his family, Judge Harrison said, “Now you go and get that dog back, and good luck to you. You have a fine young man, there.”
At the dinner table that night, Asher was uncommonly quiet as he stroked his beloved dog’s shaggy head lying on knees.
“What’s wrong, Ash?” Elizabeth asked, concerned, “Is everything okay?”
“Yes, mom,” Asher answered, “I’ve been doing some thinking, mom. Mr. Cunningham really helped me today and I didn’t even ask him to. How come some people can be so nice and other’s, like Joel, so mean? Is the whole world that way?”
Elizabeth chose her words carefully.
“In a way, it is,” she explained, “there are people who are takers and others who feel compassion for others. See, Asher, we have all been given a wonderful gift… the gift from our Creator called ‘free will’. We can use it however we like. For good or for bad. It’s what sets us apart from other life in this world. We are created in the image of God, free to do as we wish. It can be a wonderful blessing to those around us… but also a terrible curse. Every kind and good act that it inspires steals a small measure of the pain that it created. It doesn’t matter how small the act of goodness is; if you do it out of love and kindness, and it is inspired by the pain, you can slowly reduce the amount of pain and tip the scales. Picking up a pencil in the hallway at school for someone who dropped it, for instance, or holding a door open for someone. A kind word to someone who you don’t normally play with, and on and on. You can choose to be good. And on the flip side, some choose to do bad.”
Asher sat digesting what his mother said for awhile as Chris looked at his wife in awe.
“Mommy, I want to always be good to people,” Asher announced, “I never want to make anyone feel bad inside.”
“You know what, kiddo?” Elizabeth told him, “When you born, I just knew you were special. We are so proud of who you are, sweetheart. The world is certainly an awesome place with you here. Now, how about we take Cody out for some ice cream as a reward for protecting you?”
Hearing the words ‘out’ and ‘ice cream’ made Cody’s ears perk up and he barked happily, running into the hallway to grab his harness. The Armstrong’s laughed, loving the brave, loyal dog. There were no handicaps here, only a special little boy and his best friend; his dog.
© 2016, RissRyker518. All rights reserved.
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