Waking up in the morning is the finest joy. As I walk into the fresh cut meadow behind my house, I suddenly remember when I took him in, when I raised him as my own. He was a cute, innocent cub with a delicate brown shine of fur, wandering the forest without an owner. Most people  only adore dogs. I was always interested in something a little more dangerous. Mr. B, I call him. A well-suited name, for that is the most generous indeed. The sun shines over his wooden house, putting a smile on my face as a warm welcome. I admire the yellow paint that shines in the sunlight. Mr B. picked that color, the color of honey. I carry a metal bucket of fish that I caught earlier this morning. He sure loves his fish as it clangs in the bucket as I walk.

As I approach the house, I can hear the sound of rustling from the hay inside. Mr. B always senses my presence. Walking in, he sits up and gets excited as I wave the bucket of fish in front of him. “Look Mr. B,” I say, “freshly caught this morning.” As he openshis mouth in excitement, I toss the fish, and he catches it like a seal with sardines. My grin grows wider once I see that he enjoys the silver fish in his mouth. I raise my arm to pet him and Mr. B lowers his head. “Good boy, Mr. B. Good man, I should say. You are growing up quite fast.” I shift my head out the door when I hear a familiar voice.

“Mr. Smith! Henry Smith, are you there?”

It’s my neighbor, Mr. Jones. He is a nice, quiet man, but is always nosy about who lives near him. I suppose it’s a habit;he’s been retired for a few years. I guess I talk to him because of that notion. We are both retired men, once working for a living and now enjoying our remaining years on this earth, before heading off to wherever the next plane may be. I pat Mr. B’s head and shush him as he sits back down. I don’t want Mr. Jones to know that a bear is in the shed.

I close the door and walk out onto the field, seeing Mr. Jones approach me in his brimmed hat. “Henry, my dear friend! How are you this sunny morning?” he said. I act casual, but wonder if he can smell the fish from my hands. I curse in my head and say, “I am well. Thank you.” He glances over my shoulder, seeing Mr. B’s house as I remain calm. “So, how’s your new dog? Is he settling in?”

“Yes,” I said abruptly. Come on, I thought, don’t show your nerves. Don’t give him anything to be suspicious about. “He is settling in well. I decided to give him my shed. Dog houses are a little small, wouldn’t you say?”

He nods his head. “Indeed. Well, I don’t want to disturb you, but I was told something interesting. They said that there might be a bear on the loose, from the woods not far from here. I heard a rumor that bounty hunters are on patrol as well.”

Stay calm, Henry.  

They have to be talking about Mr. B. They must be. That one thought appears in my head continuously. “Interesting. Do they have orders to shoot it on sight?” My hands start to sweat with nerves.

“Yes,” he said. “They should, at least. There are children in the area. We certainly don’t want anyone to get hurt in this town.”

I nod my head. “Of course. I agree completely. Well, have a nice day, Mr. Jones.”

I walk inside as I hear him behind me, walking toward the pathway to his house. “You too, Henry.”

My nerves tense up as I think about that dreadful news. They can’t take away Mr. B. He’s the only friend I have. I will protect him, I swear it on my mother’s grave and God above. I will not have them take away my best friend.     

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