Now, the first time I ever met Turner, he wasn't called Turner.
They wouldn't even tell me his former name. “ It's better not to know.” They said. “ He has too many bad memories associated to that name.”
“A new start, that's what he needs. A new name. A new life. Another chance.”
As we eyed each other through the bars, I could feel some kind of connection between us. Emotional? Mental? Psychological? Call it what you will, but in those first minutes something definitely clicked into place.
“You don't have to be afraid any more.” I told him. “ You're coming home with me. I'll look after you now. We'll look after each other.”
“Now, the first thing is to give you a new name, eh?”
I looked him up and down...
He was without doubt the biggest sodding dog I have ever seen in my life.
I don't know what breed he was, some kind of mastiff cross probably.
He reminded me of the slobbering hulk that Tom Hanks had in ' Turner and Hooch ' only he was about four stone heavier.
He was absolutely IMMENSE.
“Well!” I said to him. “How do feel about Hooch?”
Big mistake! His ears flattened to his head, his whole body tensed, and a low rumbling growl worked it's way up from the depths of his massive chest.
I stood my ground. I felt no fear. There was no threat to his actions.
He was just expressing his opinion of someone trying to lump him with a stupid name, that was all.
“Okay then, You don't look much like Tom Hanks, but how about Turner?”
Well, what a switch, his jaw hinged open into some kind of lopsided grin, with his tongue hanging out like a roll of wallpaper. Sitting back heavily on his haunches, he cocked his head to one side, and lifted a massive paw into the air.
I reached through the bars and gently grasped his proffered paw, “Pleased to meet you Turner.” I said, shaking hands with him.
“My name's Steve.”
* * * * *
Turner quickly settled into the life we now shared. I worked from home, scraping a living manipulating stocks and shares via the internet, so we were in each others company virtually twenty-four seven.
We ate together, went for long walks, he had brought a whole new meaning to my life.
For the first time in years I felt happy again.
Many an evening I sat there talking to him, telling him of my past, my hopes and ambitions, my fears.
Now, Turner had this way of looking at me when I was waffling on during these occasions, I swear that he could understand every word I was saying.
He used to lie there with his jowls resting on his oversized crossed paws, his big brown eyes staring straight into mine, with an air of intense concentration about him.
One of the aforementioned fears I told him about was the endless blight of burglary, and petty theft that continually plagued the housing estate where we lived.
I told him of the teenage gangs that roamed the streets unchallenged, at all hours of the day and night.
I told him of the drunken, drug-fuelled, thuggish intimidation, that turned the lives of decent residents into a life of never-ending total shit.
And I told him about the ringleaders...
The two chief gang-banger 'waste of spaces' that regularly amused themselves by 'borrowing' peoples cars during the night, and leaving them smashed and useless after they had finished their 'joyriding'.
Joyriding? Now there's a misnomer if I ever heard one. And the police would say “Well, we have an idea who it is, but we have no proof, have we?”
No! and they never would have any proof, at least not for as long as Malloney and Grogan were allowed to continue their campaign of fear.
Breaking the windows, and vandalising the cars and property of any potential witnesses, leaving the poor victims too afraid to do anything other than cower behind their curtains of a night time.
* * * * *
One day we were on our way home after one of our long strolls, Turner walking at my heel.
I never trained him to walk like that, he just did it of his own accord.
It would have been pointless having him on a leash anyway, he weighed more than I did, and if Turner was determined to go somewhere, That's where Turner went.
I had no fear that he would attack anyone, he never showed the slightest aggression towards man nor beast, let's face it, he could afford the confidence, who in their right mind would even dream of taking him on?
Well, we were about fifty yards from home, and lounging on the corner were Malloney and Grogan, along with another five smirking, sneering, hoodie-encased mother's little darlings.
“Put a sodding saddle on it! sodding big numb lump!”
This from Grogan, accompanied by loud hoots of sycophantic laughter from his entourage.
Malloney, not the brightest lamp in the street, must have felt the need to add his two-pennorth,
“Er, Yerrrr, big soft hairy slaver-bucket! Hur hur hur.”
Turner left my side and walked slowly into the middle of them, he didn't bark, he didn't growl,
he eyed each and every one of them in turn, a long, slow stare...
And one by one their gazes dropped to their scuffed trainers...
They shuffled their feet... their faces turned red...
When he had finished staring them all down,
Turner then let forth a loud raspy fart that seemed to go on forever...
Then, after checking that none of them dare look him in the eye again, he ambled nonchalantly back to my side.
I tell you! This dog had more sodding cool than the sodding Fonz...
I could hear them mumbling amongst themselves as we walked past on our way to the gate, but frankly, I didn't give a hoot! They had been put in their place!
* * * * *
Strange, and terrifying events took place a few days later...
Events that were to alter the lives of almost everyone in the estate...
* * * * *
I was taking Turner to the vet' for a booster injection. We climbed into the car. Well, I climbed into the car, he squeezed himself through the back door, and sprawled himself across the fullness of the back seat, and it was a tight fit, I can tell you.
I was fiddling with my seat belt, when my elbow caught the door stud, causing the central locking to engage with a loud 'clunk'...
What happened next was beyond belief...
Turner changed into a snarling, bristling, hell-sent demon...
His mouth a gaping pit of razor teeth...
His eyes flaming coals of hatred...
the sound had triggered something in his memory... something very... very... bad.
It took several minutes of soothing words, and gentle stroking to quiet him, and I have no doubt at all in my mind, that, had anyone else been in the car with us, he would have ripped their heads straight off their shoulders.
He had been there on numerous occasions before when I had used my key fob to lock, or unlock the car, but he had always been on the outside of the vehicle.
This was the first time he had ever been on the inside when the locks had engaged.
I needed to address this problem as soon as possible to prevent it happening again.
The poor dog obviously had some terrible, and traumatic memories connected to being locked inside cars.
I would do anything necessary to prevent a repeat of this, Turner needed to know that he was safe from his past now.
It seemed to me that the best course of action would be to lose the central locking, so I decided that I would trade the car in the very next day for a lower model that didn't have the luxury of central locking.
I glanced over my shoulder into the rear seat, he was back to his old gentle self again, he was snoring quietly, his paws twitching occasionally as he dreamt his canine dreams.
We were almost at the vets, when I realized my wallet was still on the coffee table in the lounge.
Damn! I drove back through the heavy traffic, all the time getting more wound up. What had set out to be a relaxed drive, had turned into a race against time.
I was now in danger of missing my appointment... sodding hell!
I squealed to a standstill outside the house, and raced up the steps, quickly unlatching the door, and dashing into the front room
A glance at the table told me my wallet wasn't there...
where the hell was it?
I raced from room to room, getting more agitated as I went. Finally I found it on my second search of the lounge, yes, on the sodding coffee table, under a magazine.
As I turned to run for the door, I heard the familiar sound of my own car starting...
Oh no! In my haste I had left the sodding keys in the ignition...
I dashed through the door, and down the stairs to see Malloney and Grogan about to ride the joy out of my car!
I almost managed to get the passenger door open, but just as my fingers touched the door handle, Malloney, who was in the drivers seat, grinned at me triumphantly, then depressed the door stud engaging the central locking...
I watched with absolute horror as my car screamed away from the kerb...
And Turner's massive, snarling, tooth-infested head rose into view in the rear window.
©2010 Stephen. J. Green.