I pulled against my restraint.
Jonas tugged back, guiding me through a maze of trees despite my resistance.
My thirst played tricks on my mind. A creek flowed just on the other side of the reeds. I could hear it; I could almost taste it. I tried to run again.
“Maxx.” The man jerked me back. “Don’t even think it.”
I stumbled, gasping for air from the band pulled taut on my neck.
Another yank. “This way,” the man demanded.
We reached a small clearing. The clanking of a chain slapping a metal pole chimed through the air. The silhouette of playground equipment stood like monoliths against the late afternoon sky.
I remember this place. I surveyed the terrain. Families gathered and children played. Such happy memories, it seems so long ago.
“Is it wise bringing him here, Jonas?” Gretchen strolled onto the ragged, sparse grass.
Why are they doing this? My thoughts wandered, reflecting on events gone by. Did they learn what I buried here?
Jonas drank from his canteen. “He will cooperate this time, or suffer the consequences.” His eyes locked on her. “Don’t let your feelings for him get in the way.”
My parched throat ached; I gagged.
He dragged me to a tattered, old bench. “Tie him here.” He sauntered toward the steel posts anchored in the sand. “The others will be here soon.”
“Please stay still. It will only be worse if you don’t listen.” The lady walked away, joining her partner on the sand.
Now’s the time. I tried to lunge; the binding held. Don’t give up. I pulled with all my might; the wood cracked. I gave one last charge; the plank on the bench shattered. I bolted toward the woods.
“Maxx.” Jonas yelled. “I told you to tie him.” His voice faded as I weaved through the trees.
My heart raced. Fear and excitement coursed through my veins.
I darted through the bamboo, splashing into the brook. I bowed down, gulping the cool water. Finally. I enjoyed the refreshment for but a moment. I must continue; I’ve got to find my property. I darted along the bank toward the open field.
“There he is.” Gretchen’s voice rang in the distance.
I ducked into the tall grass, staying low and scampering, trying to elude them.
Is this it? I examined a dirt patch just up from the stream. No, no, no. I huffed, trying to catch my breath. It’s on the other side of the sand lot. I darted from the bushes into the open. The warmth from the sand stung my aching feet. I scurried past the swings swaying in the breeze, their tapering shadows flashing dark and light across my vision. Slipping behind a row of elm trees, I paused and studied the surroundings. This is it.
My heart pounded inside my chest. Do I have time?
I began to dig. Flying dust burned my nose and lungs. My body ached. I must do this. I gritted my teeth in determination.
Muffled voices sounded beyond the playground.
I can’t give up. I won’t. The hole grew deeper with slow and painful perseverance.
“Maybe he’s over here.”
Jonas. I squeezed every ounce of resolve into my efforts. I must be close.
“You should’ve known enough to tie him to the metal frame.” Jonas’ voice echoed.
Where is it? I continued to dig with increasing urgency.
Their voices drew closer.
It has to be here. I felt something solid in the loose soil. Yes.
“Stay there Maxx.” Jonas stepped out from the shrubs. “Don’t try and run.” He reached into his coat pocket.
I saw the lady standing behind him, her eyes wide with fear. I reached into the hole, my eyes riveted on the approaching pair.
“Don’t try anything,” he said, stepping ever closer. “Stay calm and nothing’ll happen to you.”
I grabbed the object, still focused on my pursuers. They moved closer. I remained frozen and indecisive. Their shadows encroached on the dirt patch.
“Don’t run,” Gretchen muttered.
Stay steady. Just few more steps. My body twitched with anticipation.
They stepped into the shadow from the row of trees.
Now. I pulled the object from the hole and bolted toward the twosome.
“Maxx,” the couple blurted in unison.
I wagged my tail, gripping the bone between my teeth. I jumped, wiping my dirt covered paws on Gretchen’s shirt.
“Silly boy, Maxx.” Gretchen rubbed behind my ears. “Don’t scare us like that.”
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