Lucky sensed danger the moment she eyed up the suspicious stranger. His ominous smile and posture had red flags propping up in her mind. She watched both Felix and Almond for their reaction, but the two seemingly remained cool and collected.
“And who might you be?” Felix asked.
“O-Kee-kee, don’t worry one bit about me. Just enforcing Master Avery’s new law around here, eekeekee,” the monkey said, grinning. “Fork over some marbles if you wish to continue down this road.”
Felix’s ears perked at the mention of Avery’s name.
“Avery!?” Almond squealed.
“Y-yeah… it’s my fault,” Felix began. “I led them here and I promise it will not happen again. We have no marbles, so we’ll be on our way now.”
The monkey pointed toward the right of Felix.
“O-Kee-kee, if that’s the case, head over in that-away. It’ll take you out of my master’s domain and out into who knows where. I don’t want to see your face here ever again without a bag of marbles at least.”
Terrified, Felix nodded his head in agreement toward the monkey. He then shook in the direction of his friends to follow him. Lucky wanted to say something to Felix about his behavior, but her fear kept her silent throughout their walk.
The monkey’s directions led them to the back of a populated gas station. They were now back somewhere in the city and the realization of that made Felix breathe a sigh of relief. The trio hid behind several bushes as they observed the passing humans and cars.
“No more of that,” he said, chuckling. “Anyone up for something to eat?”
The sudden shift in priorities worried Lucky.
“Where are we going to sleep tonight,” she said, watching the sky. “The sun will be going down soon.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Felix groaned. “If it came down to it, we’ll sleep in this bush.”
“A bush!?” Lucky blurted.
“That’s our life, Lucky, dear,” Almond said. “We eat leftovers, sleep in trash sometimes and have to keep moving at all times. Now, if we had marbles… I think our life would be a little different.”
“Quit worrying about that stuff,” Felix growled. “Today, we eat. Tomorrow… tomorrow we’ll…”
Felix words became shaky as they trailed off somewhere.
“Just wait here. I’ll fetch something to chow on,” Felix said, diving out of the bushes leaving both Lucky and Almond.
“Are you okay, Lucky?” Almond asked after a few moments of silence. “I know it has been a long two days so-”
“Too long! It feels like hell!” Lucky interrupted as tears formed in her eyes. “I can’t do this, Almond! I thought I can—I thought I could tough it out to prove myself, but I can’t…! Everything and everyone is so scary, and I feel like we could die at the drop of a hat! I want to go back home… but I can’t…”
She sobbed bitterly.
“Lucky, dear, I’m afraid to say it again, but that’s just how our life is… I would change it if I could.”
“… I know…”
“And we’re away from that villain Avery! So that’s good news, right?”
Lucky sniffled as she wiped her tears away in her fur.
“From here on out we will do our best to avoid danger, but be strong. Animals in this world will see your weakness and take advantage of that. Don’t forget, we have each other.”
Lucky felt a little happier hearing this. For the first time since Amelia’s death, she had friends willing to be there for her. She steeled herself and nodded in agreement to Almond.
Felix came back into the bushes with two half-eaten sandwiches. He sat them down neatly for his friends.
“Humans throw away perfectly good food all the time. We got lucky today,” Felix whispered to Lucky. “Don’t worry about me. You two eat what you can. I’ll be taking a nap.”
And with, Lucky and Almond devoured their food as they discussed all kinds of food in the world. Almond had always wanted to try a pineapple upside down cake he had seen in a magazine clipping once while Lucky fantasied about French delicacies Amelia often ate. Felix chimed in saying he would eat anything if it wasn’t garbage and the gang laughed among themselves. Nightfall came and Lucky was the first to be off in slumber land.
“Huh, I thought you were the one taking the nap,” Almond said. “Not tired anymore?”
“Just a lot on my mind,” Felix sighed.
“You want to talk about it, friend?”
“Back there with that monkey… the mention of Avery’s name terrified me. I wasn’t myself back there… it was like that with the geese too.”
“Usually you would be the one to bite if danger approached,” Almond agreed.
“I shouldn’t be afraid though. I’ve been through way worse than Avery. I’ve told you before, right?”
“The story about the human home you used to live in? Yeah, I remember.”
Felix exhaled slowly, recollecting his thoughts.
“Avery takes me back to that time… I’m… terrified of him. My time with him takes me back to that family that caused me so much hurt and misery. I’m a coward. Plain and simple.”
There was silence ringing in the air after that statement. They both watched as Lucky silently slept.
“I don’t think you’re a coward,” Almond said. “We were all scared. It’s okay to be scared, friend.”
Felix did not accept that answer.
“I’m supposed to be the strong one here,” he declared. “That rabbit shouldn’t be getting under my skin… and yet, he does. It makes me so sick to my stomach thinking about it.”
“And you being afraid doesn’t make us think any less of you, Felix,” Almond reassured, softly. “You’ll still be the black, scary-looking dog we know and love.”
Felix stared up at the moon contemplating Almond’s words. Maybe he was right he thought to himself.
“We better get some shut-eye,” Almond said. “We’ll get up early and plan out our next move.”
“Right,” Felix said.
They both laid among the scraggy branches, leaves and smooth grass. However, Felix’s image of Avery still rested on his mind preventing any rest.