Cody and Asher were a team. They slept together, bathed together, and where one was you could be sure to find the other. Now, at aged eight, Asher attended a regular school four days a week, with Fridays saved for his braille education so he could keep up with his studies. Asher was a brilliant child and learned incredibly fast. With Cody beside him in school, he felt gloriously independent. But lately, there were a few obstacles. Because his school was located within walking distance, he had to walk home three blocks on his own, guided by Cody. It was during this time the school bully, Joel Montgomery and his cohorts chose to make his life a living hell. As Cody led him home, his heart was pounding furiously as he listened for them. Like clockwork, halfway home, he heard them running up on him.
“Hey! It’s the freak with no eyes!” Joel said loudly, “Hey freak, where ya going so fast?
Cody growled, hearing the threat in Joel’s voice. Head low, ears back and tail tucked, the dog was ever watchful.
“What happened to your eyes, freak?’ Joel taunted cruelly, “Did your mama do too many drugs? Is that it? Is mommy a drug addict?”
“My mother does not do drugs!” Asher yelled angrily, “Leave me alone!”
“Leave me alone!” Joel mimicked in whiny voice, “Awww, poor little baby with no eyes, what’cha gonna do about it? Hit me?”
He pushed Asher on the shoulder, throwing the boy off balance. “Come on, Freak, hit me! You can’t even see me, hahaha!”
He pushed again, ignoring the warning growls from Cody. His friends hung back, not wanting to be a part of the bullying. The third push made Asher fall and he cried out as his knees hit the sidewalk. Cody could hold back no longer and with a snarl, lunged at Asher’s attacker, biting the boy on his arm and drawing blood.
“You wait, you freak!” Joel screamed, “My parents are going to make sure they have your dog killed! That’s a promise!”
With those words he ran off, his arm dripping blood. His friends, twins Michael and Matthew, took off with him.
Unbeknownst to Asher, someone else witnessed the bullying and came out of his house to assist Asher. Seventy year old George Cunningham opened the door to his home and walked slowly up to the child on the ground, helping him up. Cody, growled a warning, already stressed out from the confrontation with the boys, but let him help his boy up.
“Are you okay, young man?” George asked, “I saw what that Montgomery boy did. I know him. I know his whole family. Bad eggs, the whole gosh darn lot of ’em. You got a good dog, there, son. Now you hurry home and tell your parents to speak with me, George Cunningham. I’ll speak out in court if I have to, mark my words.”
“Thank you, sir,” Asher said politely, “I will, I promise.”
Asher did as he was told and hurried home to tell his mother what had happened. No sooner than his story was done, a police car pulled up front with an Animal Control car not far behind. Elizabeth called Chris at work and begged him to come home. Sending Asher upstairs with Cody, she answered the door.
“Can I help you?” she asked innocently.
“Yes, ma’am,” the officer said curtly, “We have an order to confiscate and subdue a dangerous dog. Is your son, Asher, here ma’am?”
“Yes, officer, he is,” she told him, “But he’s blind and cannot go anywhere without his dog, sir.”
At that, the officer was taken aback, and flustered, apologized. “I’m sorry to hear that ma’am, but his dog bit another child. The parents are pressing charges. Could you please bring me the dog for impound until his court date? Thank you.”
“Mommy, Cody was protecting me!” Asher cried, hearing the whole conversation.
“Shhhh, honey, it’s okay,” she reassured him, “We’ll explain everything in court. We have to give the officer Cody, honey, now please go and get him.”
“Do as I ask, Asher, now!” Elizabeth said tearfully watching the Animal Control come up her walk with a loop stick. “He doesn’t need that! We’ll walk him to your car!”
“I’m sorry, ma’am, it’s policy.” the officer said.
“The hell with your policy,” she said angrily, “it’s bad enough your taking away a working dog from a blind child, now you go to hell and let me walk Cody out!”
The man was about to protest when the other officer put a hand on his arm, stopping him. Nodding at Elizabeth, he let her walk the trembling Shepard to the squad car.
“Don’t let them take Cody, mommy, please!” Asher cried, reaching his arms out blindly, “Don’t let them take my dog!”
The police cars pulled away with Cody just as Chris pulled in and Elizabeth ran to meet him, crying hysterically as he got out of the car. He could hear Asher crying inside and with his wife on his arm, ran in to comfort him.
“Hey, hey, buddy,” he soothed, holding his son, “No one is going to hurt Cody, I promise you.”
He looked over Asher’s head at his wife and closed his eyes with pain. They could only pray the judge listened and had compassion. There were strict dog attack laws where they lived and he knew there was a real possibility they would put Cody down. Would his son ever forgive him, he thought as he kissed the top of Asher’s head.
On February second, one week after the incident with Joel, the court convened at nine am, sharp. The Armstrong family filed in two minutes after the Montgomery’s did. Asher sat still and pale, his heart thumping like a high school drum at half time, his ears picking the sounds of people, many people, talking in a dull roar. He held his mother’s hand while leaning into his father for moral support.
‘All rise for the Honorable Judge Harrison! Court is now in session!” the Bailiff announced, “Cell phones off, no talking to prisoners, please. Be seated.”
There were four cases ahead of them and when their turn came up, Chris took his sons hand, leading him up to the stand. The Montgomery’s also walked up, with Joel holding his bandaged arm piteously. With their lawyer present, Joel told his side of the story and how he was just walking by Asher and his seeing eye dog, minding his own business when out of nowhere the dog attacked him. The judge raised his eyebrow disbelievingly, reminding Joel that he was under oath. Joel’s lawyer turned in photos of Joel’s ‘bite’, which was, in essence, just four surface scratches.
Asher got on the stand next, his father leading him to the table next to his court appointed lawyer.
“Young man,” the bailiff addressed him, “Do you swear to tell the truth so help you God? Raise your right hand please.”
Asher did as he was told, and said yes, he would tell the truth.
“Did Mr, Joel threaten or say anything to you on January twenty-sixth after school?”
“Yes, sir,” Asher told him, “he called me a freak and he pushed me down on the sidewalk.”
“That’s a lie!” Joel yelled, standing up, “He’s lying!”
“Order!” the Judge Harrison yelled, banging his gavel on the desk, “You will be seated, young man, and not disrupt my courtroom again, is that understood?”
“Yes, sir,” Joel mumbled, glaring angrily at Asher.
“Now, what happened after he pushed you down?”
“I don’t know, sir,” Asher said, “I couldn’t see.”
There was silence at that, and the judge lowered his eyes at the thoughtless question.
“I apologize, young man,” he said, “that wasn’t very thoughtful of me. Unfortunately, the law dictates that any dog who harms a human needs to be put to sleep, son, and because I could only get evidence of one side, I have no choice. ”
© 2016, RissRyker518. All rights reserved.
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