It had been an especially gruesome day at work.  The E.R. was hardly ever a peaceful area, but today had been extra tiring.  The freezing rain accompanying the snow had made the roads very hazardous and the accident rate had sky-rocketed.  They had to call in more doctors and nurses to assist when a semi had collided with a school bus.  Everywhere you looked there were little bodies all broken and bloody.  Abigail had never been able to accept the deaths of children and today she had witnessed several.  She had stroked one child's forehead as the little girl clutched her hand in terror and pain, crying for her mother.  The mother never got there in time to comfort the dying child, so Abigail held the child to her breast as she drew her final breath.

     After everyone was taken care of and either admitted or sent home, Abigail had gone to the linen room and it was there that Dr. Simmons found her, sobbing and rubbing at the bright red blood stains left on her chest from the little girl's head injuries.  The doctor had insisted that she go home and that's where she was headed now.
     It was late, way past dinner time, but she really wasn't hungry.  All she wanted was to get home and jump into a tub of bubbles and soak away whatever weariness that she could.  Maybe then she would have a cup of tea before she forced herself to go to bed.

     She pulled into the driveway and parked the car.  She grabbed her purse and walked to the house.  As she unlocked the front door and entered the livingroom, she realized something was wrong.  Sam, her Great Dane, wasn't waiting at the door for her.  She dropped her purse and coat on the couch as she started calling for him.
     She found him in the kitchen.  He was laying in the middle of the floor, his tail thumping and his big sad eyes looking at her despondently.  As she bent down to pet him, he raised his head and immediately began to choke.  Abigail grabbed his water dish and filled it.  She put it on the floor in front of him and urged him to drink.  He did try, but it only led to an even harder choking episode.  After a few minutes of rubbing his throat and patting his back, she decided not to waste anymore time.  She pulled him to his legs and halfdragged him out to the car, grabbing her purse and coat on the way out.

     When Abigail got to the animal hospital, she ran inside to get help.  Sam could no longer move on his own and he was much too large and heavy for her to carry.  The office had just started locking up, so the doctor was available right away.
     After they got Sam on a table, the doctor began examining his throat.  Then he told his assistant to set up immediately and prepare the dog for surgery.  There was definately something lodged in his throat.
     Abigail and the doctor walked out to the lobby and he told her to go home.  Sam would have to stay for a few days at least, and he promised to call her when the surgery was done.

     As Abigail drove, she wondered what she would do if something happened to Sam.  She and her husband had bought him when they were first married.  Sam had been her husband's dog, but had turned all of his affection and loyalty to her when Karl had died of a heart attack two years ago.  They hadn't had any children.  Sam had been her companion and friend.  She would be lost without him.

     The phone was ringing when she entered the house.
     "Abigail  -  This is Dr. Armstead.  Listen carefully and don't ask any questions.  Sam will be okay, but I want you to get out of the house immediately!  Don't do anything first!  I've called the police and a car should be there any minute.  They'll explain everything to you.  Just get out now!"
     The line went dead.

     Abigail felt fear crawl up her spine and settle on her neck.  She ran back out to her car and sat there wondering what it could all be about.  What connection could there possibly be with Sam choking and her having to get out of the house, and the police?

     A few minutes later a squad car pulled up behind her and two officers got out.  They told her to wait there while they checked out the house.

     About five minutes passed before they led a man out.  He appeared to be in shock.  After establishing that she did not know him, the officer explained that he had broken in a basement window and they had found him crouched in a corner of the basement.

     Abigail understood as she looked down at the man's bloody hand.  There were two fingers missing.


     This story was inspired by an article I found in the newspaper.  The original story was about a dog who turned on his owner & bit a finger off.

Story 1978
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