by Margo Griffin, 3.49am March 10th 2022
“Stupid bitch!” Marty yelled, throwing the frame across the room.
There was no limit to Marty’s penchant for cruelty. Some said that’s why his wife Shiloh ran away. Others suggested that the logger’s wife hadn’t run away but disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
Marty didn’t like being alone with no one to kick around or blame for his bad luck. So, a few weeks after his wife took off, Marty adopted a pet from the local animal shelter, one that had been neglected and abused. “Perfect!” said Marty as he signed the paperwork, immediately naming the pet Shiloh after his estranged wife.
Marty met Alice about two months ago at a local pub. The other waitresses constantly speculated about Marty’s wife Shiloh and warned Alice to be wary of Marty, but Alice didn’t listen. In the beginning, Marty was kind and loving toward Alice, but after two months of good behavior, Marty began showing Alice his true colors, and their relationship deteriorated quickly.
“Get away from Shiloh, Alice! She ain’t yours!” Marty bellowed.
“Where did you get Shiloh’s dog tag?” Alice asked.
“Shut the fuck up, Alice. It’s none of your damn beeswax!” Marty yelled.
But whenever Marty wasn’t looking, Shiloh would nuzzle right between Alice’s knees. Then, Alice would rub behind Shiloh’s ears and whisper, “Good girl, good girl.”
Later that night, Marty jumped into the shower, leaving Alice alone. Curious, Alice snooped around in Marty’s dresser. Catching Alice’s attention was a picture of Marty and his wife, Shiloh. Shiloh sported a black eye and fat lip, and Marty smiled broadly with his arm around his wife’s neck, where a pendant engraved with the number “1” also hung.
“Alice, you are one nosy little bitch,” said Marty after catching Alice with the picture, and he slapped her hard across the face.
Marty left Shiloh outdoors for long periods, often forgetting to feed her and letting the water in her bowl become stagnant. But Shiloh was resourceful, and she learned how to survive despite Marty’s neglect.
Feeling hungry, Shiloh found a small hole in the bottom of the barrel next to the stairs. She started chewing at the spot, wedging a part of her paw and muzzle inside, pulling out the tasty breakfast scraps Marty tossed away before he left for work each morning. Then, thirsty from the bacon grease, Shiloh sauntered over to the well and drank water from the leaky hose.
Just as it started to get dark, Marty pulled into the driveway. Shiloh immediately greeted him, keeping her head low and her eyes looking down the way Marty likes. Shiloh knew when she should just play dead.
“You hungry?” Marty asked.
Shiloh let out a loud whine and barked, responding in a way Marty appreciates and expects. The first time Marty kicked Shiloh, she lunged at him, baring her teeth. But that only earned her another kick in the ribs. Now Shiloh knew she needed to beg for her food, or she would be punished.
Shiloh wandered over to the shed again to investigate the strange but familiar smell she associated with her new home. “How many times do I have to tell you to get away from that damn shed, you dumb dog!” Marty screamed, threatening Shiloh with his shovel.
Shiloh quickly took off and hid under the stairs leading up into the trailer, staring at the tiny building, wondering what was inside.
“Marty, why won’t you tell me what’s in the shed?” Alice asked later that night.
“I told you to stop asking me about it!” Marty snapped, shoving Alice into the corner of the stove. Alice cried out in pain as her hip smashed into the edge of the stove, making Marty laugh out loud. “I warned you,” he said.
A few days later, Marty’s truck was in the shop, so Alice gave him a ride into town for Jury Duty. After she dropped Marty off at the courthouse, Alice immediately made her way back to his trailer, determined to find out what Marty was hiding in that shed. Luckily, Alice’s older brother taught her how to pick locks when they were just kids, so Alice felt confident she could get the padlock off the door.
Alice’s heart began beating faster as she pulled into Marty’s property, anxious to discover what awaited her in the shed. Then, wanting protection, she took Shiloh off the leash and said firmly, “Come on, girl!”. Shiloh, curious herself, followed Alice to the shed.
Alice did quick work with the lock and slowly opened the shed's door. There was instantly an overwhelmingly musty, stale smell inside, and the first thing Alice noticed when she turned on the flashlight was dozens of dead flies on the floor. Then, as Alice's eyes adjusted to the light, she saw two large Rubbermaid tubs sitting on a bench. Each tub was numbered and labeled "Shiloh." Alice's imagination ran wild; perhaps Marty's wife never ran away at all, and maybe Marty used his logging skills to chop up his wife, stuffing her mutilated body into these tubs. Alice was sweating, and Shiloh started barking loudly. But Alice had to know, and so, she slowly opened up the first tub and peered inside. There she found what looked to be the skeletal remains of a dead cat, along with a photo of Marty, smiling and holding a BB Gun while he held up a cat by its hind legs with its bleeding eye socket prominently displayed. The second container concealed a dead rabbit, almost fully decomposed but visibly missing an ear and a back leg. It was at that moment that Alice saw a collar and an engraved numbered tag in each container, just like Shiloh's, except Shiloh's, was numbered "4".
Nauseated and horrified, Alice backed out of the shed with her hand over her mouth, trying to keep herself from throwing up. She put Shiloh into her pick-up truck, took off, and never returned with the dog again.
Six months after Alice discovered his tubs, Marty arrived at an animal shelter one hundred miles away.
“I am looking for a furry companion,” Marty said to the woman at the shelter. The woman began describing the animals she had available for adoption. Marty smiled and listened carefully as he dangled a collar and tag engraved with the number “5” from his fingertips, ready for the just the perfect one.