We were living in a big family house in Long Island from the time I was born up until I was about ten. My Grandparent’s lived in the upper part of the house and my mother, myself and my soon to be stepdad lived in the downstairs apartment. My Grandmother passed away on January 27th 2000. After her death her side of the family essentially deaded my grandfather, my uncle and my mother, her death was the catalyst that changed all of our lives. Only a few months later my grandfather reconnected with his old flame who now lived in North Carolina. I took multiple twelve hour drives with him to go visit her against my mothers wishes, among those trips my grandfather probably got pulled over at least once going there and once coming back usually for speeding or swerving on the road (he should have has his license revoked twenty years ago). Eventually she moved into the family house with us. My mother and my uncle disapproved of this because they felt it was too soon to stop the mourning process of his recently deceased wife. My mom made it even more clear by constantly disrespecting her to be stepmom whenever she got the chance. This was also the final nail in the coffin for our relationship with my grandmothers side of the family as they did not approve of his new love interest. My grandfather eventually grew tired of all the background noise and decided to put the house up for sale. I was nine years old and pretty naive so it didn’t register the change that was about to occur in my life.
My Grandfather and his new love interest took a trip to Las Vegas during this time and had one of those cheesy Vegas weddings, they didn’t tell anyone about it except two close friends to be there as witnesses. From there on in on I officially had a new grandmother.
My mother was in a panic and even though I feel like she wasn’t in love with the man she was with she wanted to tie the knot ASAP. They had this big luxurious wedding at a very expensive venue that shall remain nameless but it reminded me of the inside of the Titanic with how the balconies were structured. At their wedding I remember asking my mom multiple times if I could have a dance with her. She kept telling me “later Jonny, I promise.” Well we never danced that night. When I got home from the wedding I went to my room and cried hard, my mother came in inebriated as all hell (she broke three wine glasses at the reception that night) and gave me a kiss on the cheek and said “i’m sorry.” I just laid there and ignored her as she grew impatient “whatever Jon.” and left the room.
Shortly after these two weddings it was time to start the moving process. My stepdad had family up in North Jersey and we started looking for houses over there. The roads there were windy and hilly and it made my suburban conditioned stomach curl. The first house we looked at the real estate lady let it slip that an elderly lady had just died in her sleep only few months prior so due to prior experiences I begged my mom to not to pick that one. We kept looking until we eventually found a beautiful gray house with a burgundy roof. The house was set up very similar to our old house with the exception being that the downstairs was a large entertainment room rather than an apartment and we had an acre of land with a dog kennel in the back corner of the lot. The price was right in their range and they signed the paperwork and just like that I had a new home.
My first few days of school were filled with anxiety, it just seemed like the kids in this rural town were not as friendly as they were in my old town. I was always the weird loner kid as far back as I could remember but at this new school I felt that it was starting to get exploited at the benefit of my peers enjoyment. I had no friends really. So going to school started to become a miserable process.
Now we already had two lovely dogs, Kandy who was a black lab/pitbull mix but she was considered my stepdad’s dog and a cute little fur ball by the name of Zeus who was a German Shephard/Chow mix who was considered my moms dog.
One day after school my mom picked me up and told me that she had a surprise for me. We drove all the way to Long Island to her friend Randy’s house. When Randy opened the door a chunky male German Shepherd and a female mixed breed beauty with long blonde hair greeted me. Randy let us in and I heard yelps and barks coming from down the main hallway, the blonde female dog trotted down the hallway to assess the situation. I followed her into a bedroom where there was a puppy in a cage. He had an interesting look to him, his coat was like a brown streak across his back, near his head it was black with a brown snout, his sides faded from the brown into a dirty blonde. He was standing in his own pee scratching at the cage to get out.
Randy unhooked the latch of the cage and the puppy came running to my feet, sniffing, jumping and running in a half circle, I could of only imagined the freedom he felt at that moment. I picked him up and he felt like he was covered in piss, but I didn’t care he was the coolest thing. I fell in love right away.
Randy told my mom that he was the last of the litter, other people didn’t pick him up because they said he was too much of a loose cannon. My mom asked if I liked him and without hesitation I asked “can we keep him?”
She replied “it’s your dog now.”
Randy already named him Sirus and considering we also had a dog named Zeus it seemed fitting. The ride home Sirus was antsy trying to hop from the back seat to the front seat until finally he sat on my lap as I rubbed his head as an attempt to stop him from shaking.
When we got home I introduced Sirus to Kandy and Zeus, Kandy immediately took over the mother duty as Zeus viewed Sirus as competition now that there was another male dog in the house.
Training Sirus was a walk in the park, unlike the other two dogs, Sirus would never leave my side while Kandy and Zeus needed to be escorted to the dog pen with a leash. He learned how to catch treats like an NFL Wide Receiver, he knew how to roll over and he always wanted to go for long walks.
The bad part was that my Stepdad was a dick, he was abusive not only to me but more especially to the dogs. Being a puppy Sirus would often soil the rug or rip apart a chew toy and make the living room look like a pillow exploded in it. My Stepdad’s approach would be to hit him and I don’t mean a tap, like he would kick him, pick him up by his neck skin and smack him in the face etc etc. This changed Sirus’ demeanor, for a while when I would approach him he would immediately start letting out pee droplets out of sheer fear he was in for a whooping, even when I stuck my hand out to pet him he would flinch just like I did when my stepdad would make a sudden movement with his hand when I was near him. My mom wasn’t much better as she let this treatment continue while turning a blind eye.
Soon Sirus only started to trust me and started to get skiddish around people he did not know, primarily my stepdad’s family. Around this time I started getting the urge to run away for the first time in my life. The first time I tried I walked three houses down with Sirus following behind, I sat down on a rock next to my neighbors mailbox and balled out crying, I could still see my house perfectly from where I was. The lights were still on and I sat there for what felt like an eternity thinking about where to go from here because where I lived I would’ve had to walk miles and miles before I reached the closest shopping center and even further for the police station. I saw the lights go out and Sirus and I decided to walk back to the house that I was starting to hate. I used my garage key and opened it ever so gently as to not make any noise. I kissed him and went up into my bedroom feeling unfulfilled.
It was wintertime now and we had gotten hit with a hell of a snowstorm, the kind that it snows than a thick layer of ice tops it off. I was grounded because of my report card so I was on lock down, not allowed to leave my room(or my house), use the phone,play video games, etc. We were snowed in for four days and class was cancelled so I was pretty much going insane. I waited for my parents to go to bed and I snuck downstairs and woke Sirus up, I once again slowly opened the garage door just enough for Sirus and I to crawl through, with me I had one of the saucer sleds that I had yet to use.
The house across the street from us had the steepest hill to climb and at the very top was a huge house which seemed like no one was ever home. I climbed up the steep hill breaking the layers of ice so Sirus could follow behind, he was slipping a sliding but he hung in there. When we finally got to the top I realized how steep the hill really was which excited me even more. I sat down in the saucer and gave myself a little push. Immediately I started flying down the ice covered hill, the adrenaline was breathtaking. Sirus followed behind pretty much sliding on all fours the whole way down. The Saucer started to drift to the left a little and I saw a bump approaching that had a pretty big drop afterwards. I tried to pull back but there was no use, I wound up falling backwards doing a half of a backflip as my saucer continued on without me. The back of my head collided with the icy surface and went through what felt like three feet of ice. The lights went out after that.
I awoke about anhour later to Sirus licking my face while also trying to keep his balance. He was primarily licking my left ear which stung and I touched it and noticed it was bleeding. I got up dazed and made my way back to my house. Sirus and I snuck through the garage and I put him to bed. I looked in my downstairs bathroom mirror to assess the damage to my ear. It looked like a bad paper cut on the top of my ear. I put a bandaid around the cut area and peaked my head in to tell Sirus “you really saved my ass back there man.” I tiptoed back to my room and saw it was almost five in the morning. I heard my stepdad get up for work, he peaked his head inside my room and I acted like I was sleeping, when he closed the door I let out a big sigh.
The Summer came and I started noticing extra tension from my already dysfunctional parents. My mom was going out every night with one of my neighbor friends mom. She was the definition of a biker chick so I only imagine what they were doing. This went on for a couple months until one day my mom picked me up from school (which was a rarity) and we went to Dunkin Donuts and she treated me to a Caramel Iced Latte (this probably explains my caffeine addiction now). We went back to the house and my stepdad’s car was not in the driveway. My mom looked at me and said.
“We need to talk”
“What’s up mom?”
“You know how you said you always wanted a little brother?”
“Yeah when I was like five.”
“Oh well I’m pregnant.”
I didn’t really feel anything when she told me that.
“It’s not (your stepdads).”
“I’m also getting a divorce.”
Now that was music to my ears. I was sick and tired of my stepdad and his abusive ways, I recalled a night that had happened a week prior where he and I had an argument and all though I don’t remember what it was about I went straight to my room and balled my eyes out, he heard me crying and told me to stop or he’d “give me a real reason to cry about.” So I shoved my head into my pillow and tried to stealth cry all the while repeating “I hated him so much, I just want him out of my life.”
So I was pretty much open for anything that involved him no longer in my life. I was blindly supportive of her decision but had yet to meet the next duschebag in the line that tried to play father.
My stepdad all of a sudden wanted to be my bestfriend, his version of bonding was taking me out to see The Passion of the Christ which I fell asleep during within the first fifteen minutes. He tried to convince my mom to let me live with him until the house was sold, she declined and I didn’t care if I ever saw him again.
By midsummer we started packing our things to move into our new apartment with my new stepdad. By the time we were done the last matter at hand was what to do with the dogs. My stepdad said Kandy was his dog so he was taking her. My mom claimed Zeus and all that was left was Sirus.
I was standing in the half empty garage with Sirus, I smiled at him and said
“We are going to be out of this hell hole soon buddy.”
I let him out of his cage and took off that itchy red collar my stepdad made him wear. He was full of energy so what I used to do was run laps with him outside the house. I still remember his tongue sticking out of his mouth keeping up with me even though he could’ve totally overlapped me several times over. My mom and stepdad came out and Sirus immediately started to growl at my stepdad. I told him to calm down and he stopped the growling but remained attentive. My mom looked at the ground for a brief moment than looked up.
“We can’t take Sirus with us. With the new baby coming we can’t risk him getting violent with the baby. It was weird, I didn’t feel anything except pure hatred for my stepdad, if he wasn’t the abusive piece of crap that he was Sirus wouldn’t be so scared of people. I pleaded with my mom that he wouldn’t do that to the baby he just needs to got away from this toxic environment. It was a no go.
I ran around the property one last time with Sirus and the site of his happy face photographed in my memory like I subconsciously knew this would be the last time.
We stopped running and I crouched and he sat, I told him that I loved him and that I was sorry. Something in his eyes told me that we’d see each other again. I got in my moms packed car and watched as Sirus faded into the rearview. That was the day that I lost my first real friend.