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June 17, 2024

Omar and the Chihuahua

By Eric Burbridge

Dr. Omar Aziz rose from morning prayer thanking Allah for his abundant blessings. He should have placed a cushion under his knees; the stiffness set in at the most inopportune time when he felt his connection with Allah was the strongest. He held on to the arm of the recliner and stood. A tad under six feet, his muscle tone was fine due to a stringent daily workout, when his schedule allowed, but his arthritis would have to be addressed as time went on. What would the day bring; too many patients or too few? His gut told him a combination. The sunrise revealed the dew on the freshly mowed grass. He cracked the patio door and inhaled the morning breeze. Two seconds later, Ruffy started barking like mad. He hated that, how does something that small make so much noise? Why did Lily let that four-legged abomination out this early? Dogs…Americans love them more than people…disgusting. At one time he liked them too, but his family broke that up.

When Lily first introduced herself the day he moved in, she cuddled that long legged rat in her fat arms. “This is my precious little Chihuahua, Ruffy, say hello, sweetie.” Ruffy barked and wanted to jump in his arms, but Omar stepped back. “He won’t hurt you.” She laughed…he didn’t. A bald bearded sheriff’s deputy drove slowly by and gave him an icy stare and a nod. Good looking out deputy whoever. Omar was no stranger to intolerance, even well disguised, like Lily’s with her expensive implant smile and bright blue contacts, but that was okay. If she didn’t like people of Arab descent on the block, so what, he had the money and she could not do a thing about it. In the spirit of being neighborly, Omar said, “He’s a cute little dog.” That was enough said, he politely excused himself and continued to help the movers. The previous owners said ignore any intolerance, it will be short lived.

He loved this contemporary style of architecture; a single story with a mezzanine bedroom with a blackened steel staircase supported by steel rods, retractable glass walls with the open-air interior court way, sleek kitchen cabinetry and pale wood floors throughout the house. The blue green grass and hedges were trimmed perfectly and shrubs lined the curved front walkway. The place belonged in a magazine. He never inquired how many doctors live in the community, but he hoped he didn’t see any co-workers; seeing them all day every day was more than enough. It was a half-hour drive from Southern General Hospital, that was enough to clear his head after a long shift. He turned to the morning news while his coffee percolated, then he muted it when the anchors mentioned the death rate in the city due to gang violence and the continuing conflict in the Middle East. The paper was a better alternative; he could control what he read. He looked out at the small creek that cut through the properties that lined that side of the street; all had open back yards except for the three-foot-high decorative fence that extended to the creek Lily installed to contain Ruffy. A waste of time and money. That dog was not stupid, he could jump in the water and a second later be in Omar’s yard. No sooner he completed that thought, Ruffy came out of the creek, shook off and ran toward the house. Could that dog see him through the translucent glass that covered the entire rear of the house? Perhaps, but he left the patio screen door open. That little black and brown ball of fur stood there jumping up and down barking frantically, that piercing sound went through Omar’s head like a knife through butter. “What is it, dog?” He barked toward his house. “What is it, is it Lily or what?” He stepped out the door and Ruffy ran back the way he came. Omar hopped the fence when he saw her passed out on a lounger, her arms dangled on her side. He stood over her and closed her white robe that exposed her brown spotted sagging breast. Ruffy continued to bark like crazy. “Shut up!” He pressed his fingers to her jugular. She was alive. “Lily, Lily wake up.” He nudged her; she didn’t move, but he folded her arms across her chest. He got a strong whiff of alcohol; she was drunk. Damn, this early? Suddenly a big bald hairy guy in pajamas ran out the house.

“Who are you?” Omar shot to his feet. “What are you doing to her?”

“Nothing…I’m a doctor. Who are you?” Ruffy tried to bite the guy and he kicked at the dog who turned and fled momentarily and returned barking. “You didn’t answer me.” The guy just looked at him. Whoever he was, he turned cherry red and smelled even stronger than Lily. Two drunks this early in the morning.

“You looking at her?”

“No…are you drunk or what? I said, I’m a doctor and that dog ran over to my place raising so much hell I thought Lily might need help. She looked dead at first.” Omar stepped back. “She’s breathing, she seems all right. If you’re so concerned call 911 instead of worrying, am I looking at her tits.” Omar calmed himself. Whoever this idiot was he wasn’t worth the trouble of arguing with or worse. Lily started snoring; Omar smiled. “Do you see and hear that, Mr.…”

“Henry Smith…I’m a friend. What you say you are?”

Omar sighed. The smell of this guy was killing him and those unsightly patches of psoriasis didn’t help either.

“Again…my name is Dr. Omar Aziz and that damn dog came in my yard barking and signaling something was wrong. I looked over and saw your friend laying there and checked her out. That won’t happen again, Henry Smith.” Omar gave the guy a long hard stare and he hopped across the fence.

“You people don’t like dogs do you?”

“Excuse me…you people?”

“I mean…your people.”

“No, especially the two-legged ones. Keep that mutt from over here.” Omar snapped. Ruffy looked up at Omar and whined with a pitiful look on his face. Lily sat up on the side of the chair rubbing her face and pushed back her sandy blonde hair that was in dire need of washing. He shook his head. Damn shame, drunk this early in the morning. He locked the patio door and prepared for work.

* * *

Omar seldom missed evening prayer, but the lounger was too comfortable to let go. Dr. Aziz this and that had worn him out. Hardly any breaks and lunch were out of the question when the boss required his assistance in the OR. Allah would understand his stress level was too high. What good is he sick or dead? He sipped on an ice-cold glass of lemonade and stared at the creek that twisted and turned through the heavily wooded area. A couple of young deer crept toward the rushing water scanning the landscape with caution. Squirrels darted up and down the tree branches while varying sizes of rabbits sat and watched the show. A rustic antique bird bath was full of birds of all sizes and colors frolicking in the water. Nature’s harmony, beautiful to observe until they all looked up and scattered. A medium size dog shot out of the bushes and snatched an unsuspecting rabbit. It was over before Peter Cottontail knew what hit it. Omar sat up amazed and shocked at the predator ripping apart its prey. Wait a second -- that was no dog, it was a coyote. He heard they were dangerous abominations. Did those things attack people? From what he could see there was not much left of the rabbit; the coyote trotted away with the remnants of his meal dangling from his bloody jaws, down the bank of the creek and out of sight. He googled coyote and after reading it, he decided it would be prudent to keep his pistol close by in a kitchen drawer.

Ruffy was at it again. Now what was that dog barking at?

“Shut up, Ruffy, you gettin’ on my nerves!”

Henry Smith shouted at the dog too much for Omar. If he hated the dog so much, get rid of it. Lily probably would rather see him go before the dog. Was she rude or what? She should have acknowledged him checking on her the other day, but her friend probably did not tell her.

Omar went to close the door and the dog ran full speed toward the house. “What is it, dog? You’re going to get me in trouble again.” Ruffy stopped barking, wagged his tail and shook his body like he had not seen Omar in a lifetime. He stepped outside and the dog tried his best to jump up. “Why are you glad to see me, dog? I guess I’ll call you by your name…Ruffy.” Omar stooped down and petted the dog. Ruffy licked his fingers, hand, and calmed down. “It’s been a long time since I put my hands on one of your kind, Ruffy. Between you and me when I was coming up, I liked dogs, but my family gave me a good beating and isolation for playing with you guys. My friends teased me to death. ‘Omar is nasty, he plays with dogs.’ I hope Allah will ignore my feelings. Go home before Lily starts looking for you.” That was one fast little dog, he was at the creek before he knew it.

Lily stood at the fence in a yellow bikini that fit too tight showing too much pubic hair. “Dr. Aziz.”

“You can call me, Omar, Lily, you know that, at least you should.”

She smiled. “Thanks for looking out for me, Henry told me about it and I apologize for his attitude.”

Surprise, she was not as rude as he thought. Omar sniffed slightly. She’d been drinking. How did she do it in this heat and humidity? He saw the tall glass with ice and a small umbrella thing hanging on the side sitting on the table. “That’s okay. How are you feeling?” He nodded toward the glass. “Or should I ask, are you feeling?” He laughed, she giggled and turned red.

“Care to join me?”

“No thanks, I don’t indulge.”

“Sorry, I forgot about the Muslim thing.”

These damn bigots pissed him off. A small number of Muslims drank, some heavily, but it’s not recommended.

“That’s okay…see if you can look at me as an individual. It’s not that hard, Lily.” He hoped she got the message. If her feelings were hurt, so what.

“Lily…Lily!!” Smith shouted.

“What!?” She shouted back.

“Come here will ya.”

“Excuse me, Omar.” She stumped inside and slammed the screen. “What is it?”

No wonder the Milne’s want to sell this place. The phone rang. He rushed inside and the caller ID said, Milne. Speaking of the devil. “Hello.”

“Hey there, Omar, how are you?”

“Well, what a surprise, Gladys, I was just thinking about you.” He flopped down on the sofa.

“Do you like the place? Bill told me to wait for your call, but the suspense is killing me.”

“How’s my buddy doing anyway? Tell him don’t drink too much, not that he’ll listen.” They laughed. “You know I loved it from the video.” Now for the pros and cons. Omar and the Milne’s virtually fell in love on the train from King’s Cross station in London to Aberdeen in Scotland. Every year they both traveled back home to the UK. At first, they thought he was a tourist and quite shy, but he was not and they got to know each other well over the years. Dr. Bill Milne was Chief of Surgery and planned on retiring soon and Gladys taught at the university adjacent to the same medical center Omar planned on doing his residency. What a wonderful coincidence. When it became obvious Omar Aziz was an excellent surgeon and planned on staying, the Milne’s offered to rent or lease with option to buy their three-bedroom contemporary home in Glenview Heights. Omar jumped at the opportunity. “I love this place especially the back yard, forest and the wild life.”

“I’m pleased to hear that and if you haven’t noticed that place is the only one without a swimming pool. We don’t swim and figured that would screw up the view of the creek, which by the way hasn’t ever flooded even during torrential downpours.”

“That’s good to hear…I met the neighbors, Lily and Henry Smith, they’re quite lively.”

“What?”

Oh no, did he say something wrong? “Uh, Lily and Henry Smith.” Omar repeated, softly.

“That’s what I thought you said. That’s not their place…Lily’s the housekeeper and Henry Smith is her parasitic boyfriend or whatever. The Colson’s own that place and half the time they’re out of the country. I thought they fired her. They’re a couple of rich wannabes, but all they do is stay drunk. I should call Dorothy and ask her what’s the deal with those two? Better yet, I’ll mind my own business when I think about it. She fired that idiot twice before. So anyway…” She coughed several times. “Excuse me, I’ll leave it alone and I’ll let you go back to your day. Hugs and kisses.” The line went dead. That was interesting, Lily and knuckle head Smith might be squatters.

* * *

“Glenview Heights Animal Control, how may I help you?” A raspy voice male asked.

“I live at 1517 Circle Drive and I’d like to report what might be a coyote.”

“Coyote! Sir, are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure…I googled it. It looks like a coyote; it acts like a coyote…do I have to say the rest?” Omar got silence. “And it’s a female.”

“How do you figure that?” The clerk asked in a nonchalant tone.

“It had tits, that’s how! I’m sick of animal body parts in my yard.” He lied for good measure hoping that would get a quicker response. The line went dead. “Fuck you too.” Omar slammed the phone on the receiver. He went to open the blinds and saw Ruffy down by the creek drinking. Suddenly he took off running; the coyote was on his tail. Ruffy screamed when the animal bite into his rear end. Ruffy spun trying to bite it back, but it was too late. The coyote continuously shook him. Omar ran and got his pistol, pushed the screen open and fired two rounds that hit in the dirt. Henry Smith came running with a poker of some kind. The coyote ran back into the bushes. By now Lily and Henry Smith stood over Ruffy. The dog was not dead, but from what Omar saw it would not be long if they didn’t get him to a vet. The two drunks looked toward Omar and signaled with a thumbs up and rushed the dog inside. He hoped nobody reported shots fired; he didn’t need the drama.

* * *

Omar programmed the blinds not to open too wide; he valued his privacy and property even though the majority of it was still packed away. Urban habits die hard. People living in his former building were the biggest thieves. Who would have thought? Try to remember this suburb is different. The sunlight pierced the light fog exposing the dew on the lawn. The landscapers worked hard and fast on all the properties he could see on the block. The Milnes said they would pay the company for the rest of the season; the snow removal was on him. Fair enough. Omar watched the animal control vehicle roll by, two days after the incident; he figured they might have gotten additional calls. He picked up the morning paper and went back inside. He was in a serene mood and prayer made him feel even better. What should he do today and tomorrow? Show Nurse Wilson, the blonde bean pole, around the place, it made sense to him since she’d given him those bedroom eyes. He figured she was a good lover, but could she keep her mouth shut? Probably not, but he would worry about that later. He hit the speed dial. No answer, he left a message that was loving, but direct. Now to wait for a positive or negative response.

He opened all the sliding doors to fill the house with the morning breeze. No sooner had he opened the paper. “Come on, Ruffy, don’t be afraid.” He went to the door and there was Henry Smith in his under wear. He sounded drunk. How does he do it this early?

“Good morning, Henry Smith.” Omar got the response he expected.

“Uh, mornin’, what was your name again?”

“The Muslim next door…how’s the dog doing?” It obviously survived, but it was bandaged heavily from his front to hind legs.

“Ha, ha, that supposed to be funny?”

“No, I figured that’s easier for you to remember.” Omar quipped and flashed a fake smile. Smith yanked on the leash dragging the dog. “That dog is lucky to be alive. You might want to stay away from the creek area until Animal Control can round up those predators.”

“Mind your own business,” and he continued dragging the dog who resisted as much as it could.

Lily ran out the door. “Henry, bring Ruffy back here, now!”

“Fuck you, Lily!” He tossed the leash away and Ruffy hobbled back to the house.

“Slow down, little dog.” Omar said, and for a second, he felt sorry for the animal. Ruffy stopped and tried to lean on the fence.

“Oh, hey there, Dr. Aziz, I didn’t see you.” Lily said and tightened the belt on her robe.

“I see the vet did a good job.” Ruffy wiggled and shook his tail. “Don’t try to jump you might pull something.”

“He loves you…ironic if you ask me, but you didn’t, did you?”

Omar didn’t need their drama and headed inside.

“Oh shit! Look out, Henry!” Lily screamed, running towards him. Three coyotes charged at him, two big ones and a little one. Henry spun around and threw his arm up in time to avoid the jaws of the animal. “Get away,” Lily kicked one of them in the stomach. The other one bit into her friend’s thigh and blood shot out the wound. Henry was toppled and hit the ground continuing to punch at the coyote’s head, hollering and screaming. Omar went and got his pistol. He remained inside and aimed carefully and squeezed off several rounds. Both of the animals yelped and fell. The baby ran and the female managed to hop away into the bushes. Omar was satisfied; he was still a crack shot. He put his weapon away and disposed of the spent cartridges.

Lily comforted Henry who held his leg in an effort to stop the bleeding. Omar rushed in with a first-aid kit and went to work to stop the bleeding. “You know what you doin’?” The big dummy was almost in tears despite a gallant struggle against the coyotes.

“Be still, idiot,” Omar said, and calmly wrapped the wound. “Lucky those teeth didn’t completely puncture a vein or artery, but they got nicked and you are going to have to have rabies shots too. You need to stay off that leg and your arms need bandages too. Call 911 and tell them to send paramedics.”

“No, no!! We’ll be all right, we’ll drive to the ER.” Lily said and tried to yank Henry Smith to his feet. “Help me will ya.”

Omar complied. If they wanted to risk him bleeding out that was their business, but he couldn’t help being concerned, he was a doctor. Those infidels were squatters after all. But it was best he minded his own business.

“Now what, Lily?” Henry Smith grimaced in pain while they limped toward the house. Ruffy started barking as usual but he sounded tired. Omar stopped. “You didn’t thank me for saving your miserable life…what was your name again?”

Smith looked puzzled. “I told you, remember?”

“How does that feel?”

“I got it, sorry man, but please don’t call the cops, that’s embarrassing, okay.”

Omar looked at the pitiful expression on Lily’s face. “Fine…but you better hurry, you don’t want to bleed out.” When they got to the back door Lily thanked him. “One more favor, would you keep Ruffy inside your place until we get back? I know it’s asking a lot, you…your people hate dogs, but the way he responds to you he won’t be a problem. After all you saved his life, right?”

Omar shrugged. “I guess, hopefully you two will be back no later than tomorrow.”

Lily dashed inside and came back with a bag of dog food and dropped it across the fence with Ruffy. “Thanks.”

Omar stood there looking down at the dog looking up at him wagging his tail. “Now what do I do with you?”

* * *

Omar bowed down to say his final praise of Allah when the doorbell rang. That was probably Lily. It had been a day since he heard anything. No surprise, it all depended on where they went for treatment. The bell rang again just as he looked out. It was a cop and somebody else in a uniform…the Animal Control Officer. “Hello, what can I do for you, officer?”

“Good morning, sir.” The baby-faced cop with a two-day beard said and the tall bald animal officer nodded. “You called about coyotes in the area…”

“Yes, yes, I did.” Omar interrupted.

“Well, we got them and one had a bullet in him. You know anything about shots fired around here?”

“No.” Omar lied. “We chased them away with a broom.”

The animal control guy giggled. “I bet you did, but anyway, be safe,” and he returned to his vehicle.

“You said we, right?”

Omar was silent. He could have kicked himself. “Right. They attacked my neighbor, Henry Smith and Lily helped too.”

“For what it’s worth they aren’t your neighbors. They were former employees of the Colson’s. They were trespassing come to find out.” The cop gave Omar a dead serious look. “Dr. Aziz, it’s illegal to fire a weapon in these parts.” He adjusted his hat and left.

So, they were squatters. Omar wondered about Henry Smith’s wounds, that was the doctor in him. But those two bigots did not deserve a second thought. He flopped down on the couch and looked at the boxes that needed unpacking. Ruffy walked over and leaped in his lap. “Slow down, dog, you’re in better shape than I thought.” Ruffy barked and tried to lick his face. “Don’t do that.” The phone rang several times before he got to it. “Hello.”

“Hello, Omar, you sound out of breath, you okay?” Nurse Camilla Wilson asked.

He calmed down. It was good to hear her voice. “I’m fine, Camilla, I was in the other room and I had to maneuver around all these boxes.”

“Need help?”

“I sure do…and I’ll cook dinner and then…”

“To the point, I like that.” Ruffy started barking. “Oh, you got a little doggy, he sounds so cute. I love little dogs. What’s his name?”

“Ruffy the Chihuahua. Be quiet, I’m on the phone.” He barked as if he knew what he was talking about. “We’ll be waiting for you; I’ll text you the address.”

“Okay, see you soon.”

Now he had to figure out what leftovers to throw together. “Well, dog, you barked up a new friend. That means I have to keep you around for the time being.”






Article © Eric Burbridge. All rights reserved.
Published on 2023-01-16
Image(s) are public domain.
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