Human Man
Chapter 43

Copyright© 2013 by Refusenik

A month later, Red had nearly doubled in size and could navigate the stairs of the house with effort. Scott heard the dog climbing the stairs from his desk, where he was studying. The semester was almost over and the crunch was on.

Red dropped a ball by Scott's chair.

"That was a long way to go to bring me a ball."

Red sat panting.

"This your subtle way of telling me to get off the ball? Or that you want to play?"

The dog had no answer for what was on Scott's mind. He and Janie had been burning the cell phone minutes, but she was no closer to deciding what to do about returning to school. Scott had his opinion, but he wanted her to decide on her own.

The dog turned in a circle and stopped. His headed tilted, listening to something Scott couldn't hear, and he started to bark.

"They're here?" Scott asked.

Red took off for the stairs and was gone.

"I guess that's a yes."

His cell phone started to ring. He answered with, "I'll be right down."

Red was running laps around the courtyard by the time Scott made it to ground level. The pet door that the contractor installed was one of the dog's favorite things, next to the ball and length of rope they used to play tug-of-war.

Scott activated the gate and warned Red to stay back.

On Twelfth Street, a large semi truck was idling, its back end open near the courtyard driveway. Two men were waiting for him.

"Mr. MacIntyre?" said the older man.

"That's me."

"I'm with the dealership. We'll get her unloaded."

The younger man activated a control and stood on the liftgate as it slowly rose to the second deck of the transporter. Red stood between Scott's legs and watched.

The cover came off the car and after undoing some straps, the vehicle was backed onto the lift. Waiting for the car to be lowered from the transporter was like watching a slow, tortuous ballet.

Finally, the big V-12 purred and the car's four tires rolled onto the street. The transport driver drove it through the gate and parked in the middle of the courtyard.

"It's a beautiful automobile," the rep from the dealership said.

"Yes it is," Scott replied.

"I love the color."

The Aston Martin Vanquish he ordered sported a dark-blue paint scheme, so dark it was almost black. The poise of the car screamed speed.

Scott and the dealer rep inspected the car while the younger man carried the car cover to the open garage. Red was trying to hurry the man along.

"Red, get in the house."

The dog darted for the pet door.

"That's a well-trained dog," the man from the dealership said.

"He is," Scott said. "How many times am I going to have to sign my name?"

"Here, here, and here," the man said, handing him a pen.

Scott signed.

"Enjoy your automobile, sir."

"Thank you."

Scott walked around the car, admiring the craftsmanship. I could get used to this, he thought.

The transporter departed and Scott closed the gate.

Red emerged from the pet door and sniffed the tires of the exotic car.

"No pissing on the Aston Martin," Scott said.

Red looked at him with that classic dog look, as if to say 'Who me?'

Scott knelt and patted the dog. "What do you think? Is it time?"

Things had changed. He was content, but had been having trouble sleeping lately. His worries kept him awake. His future could only be settled by a question.

Red started to chew on Scott's shoe.

"That's not helpful," he said. "Okay, here goes nothing." He dialed Janie.

"Tell me something to make me smile," Janie snapped.

"You're the prettiest girl in Pecos County."


"Bad day?" he asked.

"One of those days," she said. "What's going on?"

"Wanted to call and see if you were going to be home tonight, thought we could talk some more."

"You called to tell me you're going to call?"

"Wanted to make sure you were going to be home."

"Where else am I going to be on a weeknight?" Janie said. Her voice softened. "What's my baby doing?"

"Your baby is getting bigger."

"Send me a picture."

"You got it."

Scott ended the call and looked at Red. "You heard her. Try to look cute."

He snapped a photo and forwarded it to Janie's e-mail address.

It didn't take long to pack. He was only going to be gone for a couple of days at the most. He loaded the trunk of the Vanquish and laid the suit bag on top.

He ticked another item off his checklist. Checklists were something he did, since he didn't have the alien tech in his brain to remind him of things.

He made a last trip into the house to grab some bottled water. On his way out, he made sure the steel insert for the pet door was securely locked and set the alarms.

Red was anxious to go. Scott spread a towel over the passenger seat and picked the dog up. He turned him around so they could have a face-to-face chat.

"This is a really expensive interior," he said. "Please watch your nails, and if you have to go ... you know, let me know." Red stretched forward and tried to lick Scott's face. "I'm not saying you would, but I'm just putting it out there. And, if you have any control over the shedding thing? Cut me a break?"

Red barked.

"Okay, let's hit the road."

Scott closed the passenger door and went around to his side. Sliding into the Vanquish's seat was like climbing into a fighter cockpit. He put the crystal key fob in the center slot and pushed. The V-12 engine roared to life, the twin exhausts making a wonderful note as he blipped the throttle.

He brought the center display panel up and scrolled through the options. Scott glanced at Red, "How about setting the Bluetooth for me?"

Red made a couple more circles on the towel and flopped down, clearly not going to help.

Scott kept scrolling through the setup screen. Minutes later, he had his phone synched.

The clock had passed three when he finally pulled out of the courtyard. The car drew lots of attention as he crept through what passed for early rush hour in Levall.

He turned south and let the big Aston Martin engine sing. They were pulled over twice before reaching Midland, but not for speeding. The cops wanted pictures with the exotic car. Scott couldn't do much but smile and play along.

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