It had been a long day, rough and dirty. Clark’s back ached like a rotten tooth, and his feet were so swollen he had to sit on the floor to pry his boots off.
As he sat there in on the dusty hardwood rubbing his legs and hoping the fiery blisters on his soles would simmer down, Clark could feel her eyes on him. Sally had been with him for ten years, since before he started rustling cattle for a living, and she could make him feel small without saying a word.
After a couple of minutes, staring into the shadows at the back of the house, Clark couldn’t take the weight of her stare, the guilt.
“You know I do this for you, to take care of you.” He swiveled his head to Sally, perched there in the old wicker chair.
“I’ve been watching you all day,” her eyes said, even though she remained silent.
“Say something!” Clark implored as he rolled onto his knees. He shuffled across the floor and sat back on his haunches in front of Sally.
“Look, I’m sorry things have turned out this way. It’s just … what else am I supposed to do?”
Her soulful gaze dug into his heart.
“Alright, alright … I’ll give it up! I’ll give it all up and get a job at the mill. Or maybe we can just ride off together.”
Sally just watched him. They had been through all this before, and they both knew nothing would change.
“Look here,” Clark said, reaching into his shirt pocket. “I brought you some of that special jerky you like.”
He held the treat forward, and Sally took it gently in her mouth.
One of these days, Clark thought, he was going to do right by that dog, win her approval.