Dick Yost and Butch
Dick Yost & Butch
The Yost’s family, which lived two doors down from my friend, Paul Weber, had a lawn that was the pride and envy of all Richfield. The Yost’s hovered over this lawn constantly. They watered it thrice weekly.
They applied fertilizer twice each summer. Every fourth day they cut it with one of those old push mowers, the blades of which were kept keen as a razor. Just after dawn each morning Mrs. Yost went out to inspect the lawn for weeds and – worst of all – for dog droppings. The weeds she would pluck herself; no problem. Ah, but as for the dog doo, that was a chore reserved for their son, Dick.
Fastidious woman that she was, Mrs. Yost wouldn’t allow Dick to simply kick the brown masses into the gutter. No indeed; on his mother’s instructions, Dick had to carefully scoop up each pile with a wooden cooking spoon (so as to not damage the grass), plop them into paper bags and deposit the sacks in a small garbage can reserved for this one purpose alone.
When the can was full, Mrs. Yost dispatched Dick to the county landfill. Once a year, maybe twice, Dick would borrow someone’s pickup truck, heave the reeking cylinder onto the bed and head for the dump.
The worst befouler of the Yost yard was Butch, a pit bull with brindle markings and owned by the Hawthorns, the neighbors to the immediate rear of the Yost property. Though Butch was chained up during the day, old man Hawthorn would let him loose each night after dark to do his business. Under the cover of this darkness, Butch would snuffle off into the adjoining yards until his bowels gave the signal, whereupon Butch would squat and pinch a loaf. Though there were homes on three sides of the Hawthorn manse, as well as one across the street, the urge would usually strike Butch when he was passing through the Yost place.
Oh, to be sure, old man Hawthorne denied Butch’s culpability and challenged the Yosts to “prove it,” but Dick and his parents knew who was who and what was what. A few times Mrs. Yost had even gone so far as to sit all night in the breezeway, a flash camera at the ready to catch the culprit in the act. But Butch was no fool. Whenever he detected the woman’s spoor, he steered clear.
One day, Mrs. Yost was over at the Weber’s pouring out her frustrations to Paul’s mom. Mrs. Weber, an eminently practical sort, listened, pursed her lips in contemplation, then went to the refrigerator and fetched out a jar of bacon grease. “Grace, this may be a bit on the disgusting side,” said Mrs. Weber, “But if you soften up this grease just a bit, you can smear a daub or two on the dog poop. Then, when that pooch comes by, it’ll smell the bacon grease and, chomp, it’ll eat the whole thing!”
Mrs. Yost tripped home in a rapture of deliverance. A simple, bio-friendly solution was at hand. Not only would the repellant masses be policed by their original creator, but Dick would no longer have to attend the loathsome task.
Well, sure enough, the next day, out by the rose bushes, a brown pile glistened wetly in the morning sun. At twilight, just before Mr. Hawthorne was to set Butch loose, Mrs. Yost warmed the bacon grease to a soft and spreadable consistency, took an old paint spatula from the garage and headed for Butch’s offensive deposit.
As soon as she took off the lid, Butch’s keen nose detected the delicious and tantalizing sent of BACON! He began to woof, lick his slavering chops and danced about madly on the end of his chain. “By heaven, This just might work,” thought Mrs. Yost. Fighting her gag reflex, Mrs. Yost scooped out a generous amount of grease and smeared it all over the mass. As the smell of bacon bloomed forth, Butch went into a tizzy. “Vengeance is mine, saith Grace Yost,” Dick’s mom chortled to herself as she stole back to the house.
But her happiness was premature. When Mrs. Yost looked out in the yard the next day, not only did she see the original pile still sitting there undisturbed, but there was a fresh one right along side. Not only had Butch failed to consume his intended repast, he had crapped on the lawn again and left an even bigger mound.
The worst of it was that because the original mass of turds had been left to sit too long, an areola of deep green was now becoming visible all about. This meant the grass immediately beneath the pile was being burnt brown by the harsh enzymes and such from the guts of that horrid creature. Mrs. Yost’s heart sank. It would take weeks to repair the damage. “That godamned MUTT!” cried Mrs. Yost as Dick once again headed out with his spoon and bag to clean up Butch’s mess.
As if this weren’t bad enough, butch was also mean. A year ago, Butch had slipped his tether one day and took a hunk out the mailman’s leg. There had been no provocation; the hapless letter carrier had simply come up the walk to deliver the day’s mail when, boom!, Butch shot out from beneath a peonie bush and clamped onto the man’s calf. Shaking and twisting its massive neck, Butch tore lose a chunk of skin and muscle that left the poor man with a permanent limp. Citing his impecuniosity, Mr. Hawthorne avoided a lawsuit and the postman retired on disability.
Richfield was a young community in those days and it didn’t have a suitable leash law at the time of the maiming. Even though the authorities were made aware of Butch’s proclivities, they were powerless to do anything about them. From then on, until that fateful Friday night, the whole neighborhood lived in terror of Butch’s depredations.
The post office, however, could not forgive the maiming of one of its own. It told old Mr. Hawthorne there would be no more mail deliveries to his door. He could either come by the substation each day for his mail, or he could sink a post out by the curb and affix to it a mailbox conforming to U.S. Postal regulations.
The fateful night, as was his custom each Friday, Dick Yost went to the Lynndale Lanes to bowl. Dick’s league was a group of cesspool engineers calling themselves the Muck Suckers. Dick was their star.
As was his wont, Dick Yost that night consumed a pizza, a plate of chips-&-salsa and a good number of brewskies. By the time he left, just after midnight, he had a ferocious heartburn and was lit up like a Christmas tree. The heartburn was always enough to put Dick into a foul mood anyway, but tonight he had mortified himself by bowling lousy and that idiot putz, Jerry Hizer, won the $35 gift certificate from Les Swan’s Tires & Auto.
As they knew Dick wouldn’t be back until after they had gone to bed, Mr. and Mrs. Yost left the garage door open for him. They did this so their slumbers would not be disturbed by the gnashing and grinding noises the garage door made as its rollers slid up and down their rails.
Just before midnighrt, Dick came home. Turning in off the street, he killed the headlights and rolled up the driveway in the pride of his life, a jet black `58 Pontiac Bonneville drop-top with a Tri-Power engine and a B&M hydro. He came to a stop in the garage, put the car in Park and shut off the engine. He climbed out, closed the car’s door as quietly as he could and headed for the side garage door which opened out facing the house.
As he was stepping out onto the walkway, he felt a smell. Stopping dead in his tracks, Dick took a few quick sniffs of the evening’s air: “Hey,” he thought as his brows knit, “I smell shit! That frigging Hawthorne mutt ...” His thoughts were interrupted by a low ominous growl coming from beneath a hydrangea. A bolt of fear seized Dick’s guts and a sharp metallic taste came unbidden to the back of his tongue. His gaze immediately shot toward the source of the sound.
It was Butch, out crapping in the yard again.
Peering out from beneath the shrub, Butch’s eyes caught the street lamp and reflected an eerie green glow. The animal’s eyes were fixed unblinkingly on Dick Yost’s own as if Butch were challenging him to mortal combat: “I’m going to chew off your ass,” they seemed to say.
Butch began to draw back his flews exposing a formidable set of teeth. Drool began to run out over the lips. The growling became sharper and Butch’s jaws began to make little snapping motions.
It was not a good sign.
Dick Yost was at that fight/flight moment. If he darted back into the garage, he could probably get the side door slammed shut before Butch could get inside, but then there was the overhead door! It was motor driven and moved at the pace of a glacier. “Could I hit the manual release and get it closed before this freaking mutt gets around the corner and comes inside?”
All Dick could think about was the image of the postman screaming and hollering as he tried to pry Butch off of his leg. When Butch finally let loose, he came away with a hunk of meat which he immediately bolted down as only a dog can do. The postman scuttled off in a fast limp as Butch made ready for another attack, but just as Butch gathered himself for the charge, his master’s voice rang out and the attack ended. “Who knows what would have happened if the old man hadn’t been home,” thought Dick; his blood ran cold at the prospect.”
Dick teetered on the cusp for a moment more, then his decision was made. Bile rose in Dick’s throat. No -- there would be no flight. Not this time. Dick, as well as the whole neighborhood, had been cowed long enough by this creature and its surly master. It was time to strike back.
Dick remembered that there were lethal weapons here in the garage. More than enough to inflict mortal injuries on a dog. “But,” Dick wondered, “How do I get hold of Butchie without his taking my arm off first?” Then it came to him: He’d seen a bunch of C-grade karate movies down at the Avalon theater. The actors had to be some kind of belts, Dick knew, and Dick had spent hours aping their moves in his room’s full length mirror. Dick was confident he could make his move without getting torn to bits.
Dick assumed the fighter’s stance: “You’ve got your teeth,” he snarled. Then he held out his hands and flexed his fingers: “But I got these.” Dick crouched lower and lower until his eyes were almost on the same level as Butch’s. “Come on, you piece of shit,” Dick’s voice was but a whisper. Dick held his left forearm before him as a target.
Butch seemed to pause. It seemed Butch might be regarding the human in a new light. Maybe trying to rip off the man’s hind end wasn’t such a good idea after all. Ah, but Butch was Butch: After about three picoseconds of consideration, Butch gave in to his more base instincts and launched on Dick. Butch flew through the air planning to sink his chompers into the proffered arm and crush the bone within.
Unfortunately for Butch, he was too focused on Dick Yost’s left arm and didn’t see his right arm coming up from below; the hand open like a snapping turtle’s beak. Just as Butch was a mere inch away, Dick’s right had slammed into Butch’s throat from beneath and clamped around the dog’s Adam’s apple.
Butch’s charge came to an immediate halt in mid-air and his tongue popped out between his front teeth. Dick Yost squeezed the throat as hard as he could and in a reflexive response, Butch snapped shut his jaw and snipped off the front of his own tongue.
Before Butch could regroup and work his jaw under Dick’s right forearm, Dick reached around behind Butch with his free left hand. He grabbed hold of Butch by the scruff and held on for dear life. Drawing his right arm away from the snapping jaw, Dick spun Butch around to face away from himself, and grabbed onto the scruff with both hands.
Butch was caught, and caught good.
Dick stood bringing the animal’s forepaws off the ground. With the dog standing on its hind feet, the forelimbs flailed about.
Dick dragged Butch back inside the garage’s side door and slammed it shut with his foot. “Now,” said Dick, “I’m going to teach you to try and take a hunk out of me, you piece of crap.” Dick elbowed the switch for the Genie door opener and the motor began to whirr as the door descended.
Butch was squirming mightily but Dick had too good a hold on Butch’s neck. As Dick looked down, Butch stopped struggling and looked up. Their eyes met: “Now, my fine furry friend,” Dick snarled, “It’s just you and me.”
Dick fast-walked Butch, who was still on his hind toes, around the Pontiac to the work bench. Dick leaned forward, grasped the overhead light’s chain with his teeth and gave it a pull. In the flourescent glow, Dick inspected the array of tools and implements before him. He spotted the one he wanted: a Snap-On breaker bar, a two-foot long, three and one-half pound piece of nickel plated, case-hardened steel. When he was sure Butch was held fast, Dick released his right hand and hefted the breaker bar: “Yeah. This is just what I need,” then put the breaker bar back on the bench.
To make sure his purchase was secure for the coming ordeal, Dick returned his right hand to Butch’s neck and ground the fingers of his left even deeper and tighter into the roll of skin. Butch let out a small yelp and struggled a bit more. He’d seemed to have given up trying to bite Dick.
“Now, mutt,” Dick growled, “It’s payback time!” With that, he yanked Butch into the air, swung him around and rammed the dog throat-first into the edge of the workbench and pinioned the animal in place with his knee. With Butch’s snout laying atop the workbench, Dick grabbed the breaker bar, raised it above his head, paused for a second, then brought it down across the animal’s muzzle. The blow made a soft whump noise accompanied by a muffled crunching sound as the bones broke. Blood and dog-snot shout out of the nostrils.
Butch began to writhe and ululations of exquisite agony filled the air. The dog’s eyes were swimming wildly. “Oh,” said Dick, “You didn’t like that? Well you’d better get used to it, `cause here comes some more!” The breaker bar smashed down on the ruined snout a second time. Then a third. Then a fourth.
Pieces of bone and teeth were flying everywhere. Squirting blood was spattering onto the pegboard as Butch’s four feet windmilled uselessly beneath the workbench. Then, in shock and pain, the dog lost control of his bowels and soft, runny feces began to pour forth. Dick saw this and roared his outrage and more blows from the breaker bar followed.
Casting the traumatized animal to the floor he yelled “So, who are you going to bite now, you flea-ridden piece of shit?” Butch got to his feet and began to stagger aimlessly about. What was left of the pit bull’s muzzle hung slackly like an elephant’s trunk as blood and ichors oozed from the mangled tissues.
After regaining a bit of its senses, the dog began to crawl under the car. “Oh no you don’t,” screamed Dick. “We are not done by a long shot.” He grabbed Butch’s tail and yanked him back out into the open, placed his foot on Butch’s neck then swung the breaker bar into the dog’s side. Several ribs shattered and a deep declivity appeared.
Though horse from yelping and howling at his smashed face, this new insult inspired renewed efforts to express his pain. “Shut up, damn you!” raged Dick (whump). “You want to wake up the whole damned neighborhood?” Whump. Whump. Whump.
Dick’s eyes were bugged-out like a wild man’s. Glaring down at the dog, he stood back as he dragged his shirt sleeve across his face to wipe clean the spittle and sweat. He was breathing heavily from his efforts and his heart was pounding like a trip hammer.
Now, poor old Butch may have been down but he was not yet out. Amongst themselves, dogs arrange a hierarchy in which the most vicious and aggressive nip all those who are less so until at the bottom you find one craven wretch that snivels and whines and displays its backside to all the others. In hopes it can ingratiate itself and be allowed to feed, it will assume a posture of abject subordination for every other dog that comes its way. Now in an attempt to mollify Dick and call off the furies, Butch began to wag his tail.
Dick was having no part of it. “You dare wag your tail at me?” he bellowed. “Damn your eyes!” Dick then brought the wrench down on Butch’s spine in a wicked blow and felt the bone give way. Butch quaked with death-spasms for a few seconds then shuffled off his mortal coil and passed into the Great Beyond.
Dick Yost looked down at the dead, mutilated animal then cast the wrench onto the workbench. His hands were shaking. Dick leaned against his car and slowly sank to the floor. He closed his eyes for a for a few seconds while he took several deep breaths and rolled his head about to relieve the tension. Presently, he arose, went into the house, opened the fridge and fetched out a cold Bud. After popping off the cap on the counter’s edge, Dick drank deep, belched and went back to the garage.
While he finished his beer, Dick Yost contemplated his evening’s work. “Christ,” he ruminated, “Stupid fucking dog!” Heaving sigh, he said aloud: “Well, poochie, I’d better get you the hell out of here.” Tossing the empty beer bottle into the trash can, Dick settled on a plan. Pulling on a pair of gloves, he said to himself: “The fleas just gotta to be jumping off by the gross; damned if I’m going to touch that thing barehanded.” Next, Dick spread an old blanket out beside Butch’s remains, then grabbed a paw from either end and heaved the beaten corpse onto the blanket. The lolling head dragged out a trail of blood.
When the dog’s body was in place, Dick went to the side door and looked out into the night. The coast seemed clear, so Dick dragged the blanket and it contents outside, switched off the garage light and closed the door behind him. He cocked his ear toward the house to see if the ruckus had awakened anyone but his parents were still a-bed much to his surprise. Squinting at the Hawthorne place in the dark, Dick could perceive no activity: No lights, no sounds, no movements. “Good. The old fart’s either drunk or asleep. Better, maybe both.”
Careful to not make any unnecessary sounds, Dick Yost dragged his burden across his family’s yard and on toward the Hawthorne house and the garbage can sitting by its back door.
Drawing abreast of the garbage can, Dick released the blanket. Dick looked about one last time then grasped the garbage can’s lid around its circumference to avoid making noise and slowly lifted the lid from the can. He looked inside: “Good,” Dick nodded on seeing the can more than half empty, “There’s plenty of room.” Turning back to the blanket, Dick grasped Butch’s remains beneath the forelimbs and horsed the body ass first into the trash can. Before replacing the lid, Dick twisted the pit bull’s head around so it faced the screen door. The ruined visage was all but unrecognizable; only the two dead and staring eyes testified that the thing within had once been a living creature.
When he was satisfied Butch was positioned correctly, Dick carefully lowered the lid and stole back home.
Before retiring, Dick set his alarm for six-thirty so he wouldn’t miss the fun.
When the alarm buzzed, Dick hopped out of bed and donned his robe & slippers. Bounding down the hall in cackles of glee, he knocked on his folk’s bedroom door: “Ma. Dad. I’m putting on the coffee. Soon as you can, come on down to the porch.” With that, Dick headed down to the kitchen taking the steps two at a time.
Just as the coffee finished perking, Dick’s folks came into the kitchen. They looked at Dick, then looked at each other. They hadn’t see Dick this animated so early in the morning since he was a kid on Christmas Day: “What’s up with you?” asked Mr. Yost.
As he poured three cups of fresh hot coffee, Disk replied: “You’ll see in a couple of minutes. I’ve got the chairs set up out on the porch, come on.” Picking up his cup, Dick led the way. After the three of them were settled in, Dick explained: “First,” he said with a beaming smile, “Please notice there are no presents from Butch this morning.” His mother peered out and scanned the yard; she nodded and smiled.
Taking a sip of coffee, Dick leaned back into his chair and went on: “You know how old man Hawthorne dumps his empty booze bottles on Saturday’s? Well, I have a surprise for the old buzzard,” and then Dick recounted last nights events.
“Oh, Dick! You didn’t!” his mother gasped as she clutched the collar of her robe to her throat – his father was laughing.
Smiling ear-to-ear with self-satisfaction, Dick said “Oh yes I did. And you should have seen ...” he was interrupted by the squeaking of the Hawthorne’s screen door: Butch’s master was coming out with a clanking brown paper sack. Dick looked over his shoulder: “Oh ... Here is now. Watch!” All six Yost eyes fixed on the tableau unfolding across the yard.
Closing the screen door behind him, Mr. Hawthorne scratched his backside and turned toward the trash can. He transferred his cargo to one arm and with the other, reached for the handle and lifted off the lid.
He stopped and stood immobile.
He looked away as if to clear his eyes, then looked back.
He bent down and peered into the can: There was something in there that should not have been in there. But what was it ...? He peered even closer. The Yosts saw the old man stand bolt upright as the bag of bottles crashed to the stoop. The trash can’s lid fell from his hand. A shriek of horror filled the air. Then another.
A third shriek followed then the stricken man grabbed his hair and howled the name of his pet: “Butchie! BUTCHIE! Oh, my god, BUTCHIE!” He back-peddled through the broken bottles and banged into the screen door. Still bellowing in horror and terror, he turned and fumbled with the screen door’s latch for some few seconds before getting it undone. Flinging the door aside, Mr. Hawthorne ran screaming into his house.
The Yost family slapped their thighs and high-fived. “Yesssss!” hissed Dick as he raised his fist and performed a little touchdown dance.
Startled by the commotion at the Hawthorne place, some of the neighbors were peering out their back doors.
Dick looked at his parents and said, nodding with satisfaction “Come on. Let’s get back in the house before the cops come.” With that, the three Yosts picked up their cups and saucers and went inside for breakfast. “And besides,” said Dick, closing the door behind him, “I’ve got a mess to clean up in the garage.”
To be sure, the police did make an appearance. The Yosts could hear old man Hawthorne thundering his accusations as the cops dragged the stiffening corpse from the can and poked about the yard. Then they took his statement, told him they were “sorry for his loss” and hopped back in their squad car, and that was the end of it as far as the authorities were concerned. As for old man Hawthorne, he got blasted that night and paid visits to each of his neighbors making reckless, drunken threats against all.
A month later he got a Pekinese.
© 2009, Merlin Sprague