Eddie felt a familiar sharp pressure on his bare chest. He opened his eyes and started his day with a sigh, and met Biscuit’s large brown puppy eyes. She stood on him, looking down with her leash in her mouth.
“I’m up, hold on,” he mumbled to the dog. He pushed her off and sat up in the bed at the same time. Biscuit moved, but only enough to get out of Eddie’s way. She watched him intently, and let out a soft growl when she decided he wasn’t moving fast enough. “I’m GOING,” he huffed. He threw the heavy forest green comforter off of himself, intentionally, over Biscuit. The thick blanket fell through the dog. She phased through it, then gave Eddie an annoyed chuff out the side of her mouth.
Eddie swung his legs off the side of the bed and stood up. He walked barefoot over the hardwood floors to his closet and grabbed a black hoodie. He slipped it on while his eyes searched the floor for his shoes. After a couple of more minutes, he was ready to go and walked towards the door. Biscuit eagerly followed him. At the door, he leashed the golden pup then opened stepped out of his father’s house to start the day.
He let Biscuit lead, she knew where she was going. He grumbled resentment to himself as they walked through the neighborhood, ignoring his surroundings.
“Morning, Eddie.” He heard a familiar voice and looked up from the sidewalk. He gave a half smile at the man, possibly his only friend.
“Hey, Mr. Salinas. How’s it going?” He stopped walking, but Biscuit kept tugging on the leash. He decided to let it go. “I’m talking to someone, you don’t need me anyway,” he said. Biscuit gave a short bark as an agreement, then disappeared. The leash fell to the sidewalk to force Eddie to pick it up. He left it there, then focused on Mr. Salinas again. The man smiled at him through soft blue eyes.
“She’s just trying to get you out of the house, you know,” he said. The man cocked his head behind him, at the front porch of his house. “C’mon and have a seat. I haven’t seen you in a while.” The man walked towards the porch, but he found Eddie already seated in a rocking chair by the time he got there. “How’re you holding up?” he asked the young man, barely 20, as he sat down. Eddie shrugged.
“I dunno. It’s weird. I mean,…” Eddie leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees. He stared out over Mr. Salinas’ yard and admired the rose bushes. The man was known around the neighborhood for having the most beautiful garden; he’d won the local HOA competitions three years in a row. “I know who he was. I literally grew up around Death, but,” he shrugged. “I didn’t think he’d ever go anywhere, you know?” Mr. Salinas nodded and patted Eddie on the back.
“Well, I can’t begin to understand you and your family, but I can definitely relate. My dad died when I was younger than you. I was just a kid and still thought he was invincible.” Mr. Salinas leaned back in his own rocking chair and admired the yard he’d put so much work into. “I knew about death. I’d seen movies, played video games. Everyone knows about death, but we learn to be afraid of it. We shouldn’t be,” he was interrupted by a chuckle from Eddie.
“You’re not afraid of death,” he laughed. “You kicked me out of your house the first time we met.” He turned and gave the man a smile, and received one in return.
“Yeah,” he nodded. “That was actually the day I stopped being afraid of it. There was a lot going on that week, and you showed up at just the right time.” Eddie shrugged, and his head dipped further down. He stared at the dark wood porch.
“Yeah, that was the first time my dad kicked me out. I’ve been messing up since then. He even gave me another chance when he went on vacation, but I messed that up too.” Mr. Salinas saw a tiny glimmer of sunlight fall to the porch from Eddie’s face.
The older man leaned forward and mirrored Eddie by resting his elbows on his knees; he locked eyes with the young man. “You’re not a father, I don’t think,” he winked at Eddie with a smile. “So let me clue you in on something. Your dad loved you. No matter how much you messed up. I only met him once, but that much was obvious. I’m betting Biscuit is only a temporary reaper until you’re up for the job yourself,” he said, then patted Eddie on the back again.
“You think?” he asked. A quick bark alerted both men to Biscuit sitting at the edge of Mr. Salinas’ porch.
“I know so,” Mr. Salinas said with a smile. Biscuit barked again and walked forward to sit in front of him.
“You’re not done, are you?” Eddie asked Biscuit as he stood from the rocking chair. Biscuit barked, took a step towards Mr. Salinas, then sat again. “Oh come on! He’s my only friend!” Eddie yelled.
“It’s fine, Eddie. It’s fine,” Mr. Salinas stood from his own seat and reached into his pocket to pull out his cell phone. “But give me a chance to call my daughter, and lay down, huh?” He asked with a chuckle, and Biscuit barked what he assumed as an agreement. He walked into the house while dialing. After he entered the house Biscuit began to walk in after him, but Eddie stopped her.
“No way. I’m doing this one, and then I’m taking over,” Eddie said. Biscuit hopped up and wagged her tail excitedly, then she ran off the porch, disappeared, then reappeared running back towards Eddie’s house.