Man! challenge in a can Man!





From Slave To Master
Victoria P.

He sits in the truck, staring at the map without really seeing it.

"Where to today, Charlie?" he asks, looking into the soulful brown eyes staring up at him.

Charlie says nothing.

To a man who has seen all the things Lindsey McDonald has, a talking dog wouldn't be too outrageous, but Charlie is just a standard stray, some sort of shepherd mix. A bunch of kids had been tormenting him, throwing rocks and sticks at him, in the streets of Tijuana.

Lindsey's seen a lot of evil in his day, too, but he would like to believe that kids aren't that cruel, especially to such a good-natured mutt as Charlie has turned out to be. He chased them away, picked the dog up, and they've traveled together ever since.

Three months and a thousand miles out of LA and he still can't get the faces out of his head -- Lilah, Angel -- Darla.

Where he used to feel pain at the thought of her, now he feels nothing. Empty. The smell of her perfume, the sound of her voice -- he tells himself he's forgotten those details in the odor of wet dog after a rainstorm, the barking when someone tries to steal the truck (it's a classic, after all, the only thing his Grampa left that the repo man didn't take).

Charlie has replaced Darla in Lindsey's life.

Once a slave, he's become a master.

He laughs. Charlie thumps his tail and looks puzzled.

He'd have been her dog, but she wanted something more than human, something she would never give him, though he craved it desperately. He realizes now that she fed off his very desperation, reveling in her power over him. She'd never have turned him, because then he'd have been her equal, and in her arrogance, Darla never admitted anyone as her equal.

He thinks of Angel and the futility of his quest for salvation. Lindsey knows there’s no salvation -- the human race is doomed to an eternity of living out its worst impulses, making evil of any good it finds.

He looks around -- he's somewhere in Mexico, and he doesn’t really care where. He remembers when his life was run by the clock and the calendar. He thinks of the Palm Pilot that used to hold his world; he traded it back in Nogales for some eighty-year-old tequila and a pair of leather pants he wears while he performs.

He plays the guitar and the ladies swoon. They give him food and a place to sleep, and sometimes more. He recalls the last one -- a dark-eyed senorita with clammy hands and a very talented mouth.

None of them take away the emptiness.

Only the tequila does that, and he knows it won't for much longer -- it takes a lot more to get him drunk and blind these days. He wonders if he's going to have to start using something stronger -- he ponders the peyote they sometimes offer him as payment, and resolves to try it next time.

Visions can't be any stranger than reality, he thinks.

Charlie whines, calling him back to reality. The sky up ahead is filled with dark clouds, but Lindsey doesn't care. He sets his course straight for the storm,

He's a man with nothing, and nothing left to lose.

Lindsey. Empty. Calendar.

Man! challenge in a can Man!