Chapter 7:

A helping hand

The Stray Princess

After crying until no more tears came out from his eyes, he finally decides to leave. It is hard to get up, the whole body is sore. Putting a lot of effort he is capable of putting on the backpack and with all what is left of his strength he carries Xena with both arms against his body. Bookmark here

CRACKBookmark here

His shoulder hurts again, the pain is unbearable but he must endure it and leave the place. Before going back to the alley he turns back and takes a look for the last time to the place that he considers his best house so far.Bookmark here

Walking at night with his right eye swollen, he remembers all the places they visited since their arrival. And in his mind appears the memory of one of the many places that rejected him, a veterinary.Bookmark here

“That’s it!” He knows were the place is so he goes in that direction as fast as he can.Bookmark here

Xena is still breathing heavily against his chest, there are not many people outside in the streets at that hour but the few they encounter decide to ignore them even after feeling shocked at the moment of seeing them.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry Xena, looks like nobody helps us because nobody cares about us” He whispers.Bookmark here

He walks for fifteen minutes and finally at the distance the light of a store is seen, the building has a sign that reads “Veterinary Clinic 24/7”. He knocks the door with the feet in order to not let go Xena.Bookmark here

“Please wait” a soft voice can be heard inside. When the door opens seconds later a figure of a young lady can be seen under the artificial light that comes inside the clinic “What!?” she is surprised and moves backward when seeing the man and the dog full with injuries and covered in blood at the other side of the door.Bookmark here

“Please! She needs help, please!” He can’t endure it anymore and again the tears start flowing from his eyes.Bookmark here

“Come inside, quick!” She finishes opening the door and shows them the way.Bookmark here

A light is over Xena, she is breathing but the air is colder than usual.Bookmark here

“What … is … happening?” She thinks as some shadows move from one place to another.Bookmark here

Xena remembers walking to the shelter and that each step was harder to made, then when arriving she just collapsed. For some reason she remembers the hairy man crying close to her.Bookmark here

“Please… don’t… don’t be sad… we have food” She tells to the imaginary version of the man inside her head.Bookmark here

There are many smells near, and the shadows don’t stop touching her in all the places that hurt. Then comes into realization that some kind of bottle is around her muzzle.Bookmark here

“So that’s… why the air… smells funny” After that last thought she falls completely asleep.Bookmark here

“She’s all right now, with some rest we can leave this incident in the past” The lady says while coming out of the operation room “My assistant is taking care of the last part”Bookmark here

The hairy man was sitting in a waiting room, when he hears those words. He stands up, walks towards the lady and falls to his knees.Bookmark here

“THANK YOU!” He says lowering his head so much that it almost touches the floor “THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!” Keeps saying for some seconds and then moves the right hand inside the coat and grabs the bag full of coins “I don’t know how much it is but this is all that I have, please accept it”Bookmark here

She grabs the bag and looks at it “Ok, I’ll take it. But first come with me, you are also injured”Bookmark here

She cleans the injuries with wet towels and puts bandages over his body and gives him some medicine from a first aid kit. She asked what happened while doing it and he told all the story sobbing.Bookmark here

“People always tell me that I’m useless and should find a job, but when I try to do it nobody gives me a chance” He finishes the story “And worse of all, now Xena is hurt by my fault. Those guys did this to her”Bookmark here

“No, those marks are from other dogs. She was in a fight” The lady says calmly, until hearing the hairy man’s story she has never realized before the lack of homeless people in that city. She felt guilt but is not ready to talk about the subject “In fact, earlier we received a call about a commotion in a park some blocks away. Seems that some stray dogs were in a fight” her tone changed to a colder one “And that’s not all, when we arrived, there were five dogs not only badly hurt but having convulsions” her voice changed again full of anger, some tears run on her cheeks “They all died, we found in their stomachs and the grass of the park sausage slices with poison in them”Bookmark here

“What? Really? Who could have done something like that?”Bookmark here

“We don’t know, these kind of things have become normal nowadays. Looks like as you experienced, people don’t care about the well being of humans nor animals”Bookmark here

“Some people can be really cruel, huh?”Bookmark here

She finishes tying a bandage around his head to cover the right eye. No one else came that night so they could talk for several hours, mostly about Xena.Bookmark here

“She needs to rest for at least five days” The lady saidBookmark here

“Could she stay here? I don’t have a place to let her rest”Bookmark here

“Sure but I can’t let you leave either, you are also in danger. But I don’t have a place to let you stay”Bookmark here

After a chat they agreed to let him stay in the room where the cages are so he could be near Xena.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, I have slept in rougher places” he reassured her. Bookmark here

The following days they got closer, as she revealed that growing up her favorite TV show was the one were Xena got her name from and he also talked about his plans of living outside the city and visiting the waterfall. Bookmark here

He could wash his body using the dog showers area and between the lady and her assistant, who was a younger girl with short hair, helped him cutting his hair, letting him shave with a razor they bought and giving him some old clothes they didn’t use anymore.Bookmark here

The first night after their arrival, Xena got really astonished when seeing the man in his new appearance and took her some seconds before recognizing him.Bookmark here

“Is him, smells like him, but is sick and lost his hair” She thought “Poor tall dog” She got closer and licked his hand “Get well soon… and… thanks for saving me”Bookmark here

In all this time, this was the first time she licked him. It took him by surprise but filled his heart with happiness.Bookmark here

On the morning of the last day he could stay in the place, in the bathroom in front of the mirror where his reflection was still hard to recognize, with the shaved face, the short hair, the blue jeans and the red hoodie, he removed the bandages around his head and his eye as he opened it and… nothing, there was no change on his visual range. With both eyes open he covers the left one and eventually accepts the fact that is blind from his right eye. Bookmark here

The lady gets really worried when hearing about his lost of sight, and feels the guilt of letting him go to the exposure of the streets again.Bookmark here

“I… I really can’t let you go like this” She says “You both will get hurt again, but I can’t let you stay anymore. It was easy because my boss wasn’t in town but tomorrow he will be back and he is not a kind person… oh what can I do?” she covers her head with both hands.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, you have done enough for us. I don’t want to be a burden, we’ll go back to the forest as soon as I can get some supplies”Bookmark here

“Oh about that, we have a present for you” The assistant enters the room carrying a big basket made of woven fiber, it has a handle in the middle made of the same material and two wooden lids at its sides that are closed keeping something inside. Bookmark here

“Remember the bag of coins you gave me? Well, we used it to buy you some food” The Lady smilesBookmark here

“What? There was enough money to buy all this?” The man is surprised when the assistant moves one of the lids revealing that the basket is full with some fresh fruits, cans of tuna, bread, bags of rice, powdered milk, lentils, potatoes, eggs and oatmeal.Bookmark here

“Oh not at all, but we wanted to help a little” The assistant says laughing.Bookmark here

“Hey! That was supposed to be kept as a secret” The lady gives her a mean look but her assistant only winks and takes her tongue out.Bookmark here

“Thank you girls, I really appreciate everything you have done for us. I’ll never forget it, I hope we meet again someday” He smiles and tears come from both of his eyes.Bookmark here

“Wait!” The lady says “You helped me to see something about this city that I had never noticed before, I want to help you more but right now it’s impossible for me… could you please give me a month so I can work on a project I have in mind? Can you endure it just one more month and then come back?”Bookmark here

He felt joy in his heart “There are kind people in the city after all, you just need to search for them” he thinks as a smile appears in his lips “Sure! One month is not a big deal, we’ll be back”Bookmark here

Xena gets closer while wagging her tail, walking hurts a bit but not in a way that she can’t handle. Over the past days she also got really closer to everyone and the head pats and occasional treat just made her more glad of being there.Bookmark here

“Oh look who is ready to leave” Says the lady “And we also have a bag of treats for you”Bookmark here

She reaches a bag from the desk, filled with many brands of dog treats. She takes one and then puts the bag in the food basket that the man is holding.Bookmark here

“This is a popular brand right now, and is a new one so there is no problem on our finances if we give you many of our free samples” The lady gives the treat to Xena who happily eats it “Its made from potatoes, and has a cute name too, it’s called Princess but don’t give her all at once, OK?” Bookmark here

Her smile is so bright that can compete with the morning sunlight that is shining over the city today.Bookmark here

“THANK YOU AGAIN!” The man bows as he leaves the entrance, and then he tries to give his best smiles showing all the teeth “See you next full moon!”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.