He was unhappy with me. I left for an hour to get some food and when I came back the damn thing was crying again. So dramatic. Rolling my eyes, I walked through the house and turned on the lights. I always left him in the dark. He seemed to prefer it that way, not like he could see much of the light anyway. He could still sense me, though, probably smell me too. When I got near, he bared teeth and hissed. Good thing I kept the rope around him or he probably would have lunged after me. He used to do that a lot in the beginning.

I raised my hand to pet him and then I thought better. Probably best to feed him first. I emptied the canned food in front of him. He looked up at me, sadly. I don’t know what he survived on in the streets but canned food wasn’t what he preferred. Maybe I could go find him a rat to chew on. I think he liked that last time. I’d probably do that if he behaved properly.

I reached down to take the muzzle off and just like that, I felt the bite. I pulled my hand back to survey the damage. Just a slight nick to my finger this time. I kicked at the thing. It yelped out, went limp and then lay very still on the ground though I could see him slightly shaking. He was crying again.

“Stupid,” I muttered. I wasn’t really talking to the huddled mass at my feet, but more to myself. I was so careless but I was trying to change. I just needed one that would understand, be a little more gentle. It seemed like I always got stuck with the bad ones so I went about in my own way to tame them. I tried using a water bottle at first but that just made him more upset. Next thing was the pepper spray. I had to put it away because his screams got too loud after a while. I’d finally resorted to using the taser. Now that was the magic touch. He was finally starting to come around but there were still moments when he acted out.

The previous night, I’d noticed that the ropes were frayed as if he had been trying to chew his way out. “Bad, very bad,” I said. He hunched up in a corner and whined, waiting for the sting. I felt sorry about it later but if he wasn’t punished he was going to continue with his wild ways. If Ma taught me anything, it was this: spare the rod, spoil the child.

Well, the same goes for pets, too.

I started thinking of the last time I’d seen Ma, waving that gun in her hands, cussing and spitting at me. She was gonna kill me for what happened with Willie. I didn’t meant to do it. It just happened. One minute he was there, and the next minute his neck wentsnap! Ma still hasn’t forgiven me. I understand, though. Willie was her pet, and she loved him something awful.

Whenever I get to thinking of Ma, I get really lonely. I wanted company, so I tried to go sit with my new companion, cuddle, make him love me but he just wasn’t tame yet. I wouldn’t let him become like all the others. They were buried somewhere under the house, but that had been years before. I hadn’t tried for a while until I saw this one in the alley. He looked so pathetic, fur matted down to his head, crawling around on the ground and scavenging for food. I’ll tell you one thing, though, he sure did remind me a lot of Willie.

Now I’m a firm believer in karma and I know I got to atone for Willie’s death somehow. Taking in these wild things and making them good, now that’s where my retribution is. When I got closer to inspect him in the alley that night, blue cornflower irises stared hollowly back at me. Blind as a bat. I decided to take him home then, didn’t want him to get hit by a car. I had good intentions, you see?

I had to go back and forth a couple of times to visit before he even thought about getting in the car. Getting him inside the house was easy enough. I lured him with food. But then he wanted to leave. I can’t understand why. Why does everything want to leave me?Willie wanted to leave, that’s how it happened. I just wanted to hug him, hold him close. He said his neck was hurting, and then he started to kick. He didn’t have to do all that. If he had just behaved properly, nothing would have happened.

In the corner, my new pet began to grunt. He was done with the food, or as done as he could be without his tongue. I had to cut it off because he kept talking nonstop when I wouldn’t let him leave. Just think if the neighbors were to hear all that talking, and screaming, and begging.

I’m still not sure if I should give him a name. The others had been named, and look where they are now. Buried underneath the house, what a waste. When I went through his things that first night, I noticed that he once had a name. Bill Baber, the driver’s license said. Well…he doesn’t really look like much of a Bill anymore, does he?

He kicked out at me and bared teeth again.

No. No, this one reminds me a lot of Willie…