Adam was on disability so he couldn’t work a normal job, but he hated sitting at home all day watching TV or playing games. Two years ago he found out about a program that offered volunteer opportunities at local non-profits.
When he was a little boy, before his parents were killed in the crash that changed his life forever, he lived on a farm in the backcountry with horses, cows, and chickens, as well as a motley crew of rescued dogs and cats that his mom seemed to attract. Adam just turned 18 and was living in a group home with his friends.
He pulled on his shorts and a clean tee shirt and put on his “dog walking” shoes before grabbing an apple to eat on the bus on his way to the animal shelter in a neighboring town.
Good Morning Buddy the bus driver said as he stepped up to the pass reader. My name is not Buddy, it’s Adam. They both laughed and he continued on to his seat. He had been riding this bus for years, and they had the same conversation every time, like they both were memorizing a script for a play. Regular passengers knew where he sat, and always left his seat vacant for his arrival. He sat down a crossed his leg and as was his habit, he then removed his right shoe, took off his sock, then his left shoe and sock.
He then continued by putting the sock that was on his left foot onto his right, and then put his shoes back on the correct feet, but in the reverse order from the way he had taken them off. He pulled his backpack up from the floor, unzipped the top pocket and grabbed his breakfast apple. He had a green one today. He liked fruit because it came in many colors. Most vegetables were green so he decided that even though it was an apple, he would call it a vegetable today if anyone asked.
The bus reached the transit station and he dashed up the stairs and jumped onto the eastbound trolley. The shelter was two blocks from the second stop. This station was number zero, so he had number one still to sit through, and then he must get off at number two. The trolley stopped at number two near the university, and he hurried down the stairs to the street. Hi Adam, the postman said as he continued on his route. Hi George, how’s biz? George laughed and waved at Adam, with a hand full of envelopes secured by a rubber band. The glass front doors of the shelter opened in front of him, and he saw Bobby, the guard who patrolled the lobby.
He used to wonder why there was a guard at an animal shelter, but he now understood that there were bad animal people and good animal people, and sometimes the bad ones pretended to be good ones and followed the rules, like getting shots and licensing, but then made the dogs do bad things that could kill them or make them sick, just so the bad people could make money.
He lived in a border town, and he knew that lots of bad people buy dogs and make them get into fights for money, or that they come looking for hoity toity dogs that live in that gated community so they could put them in small cages with lots of other dogs and make them breed puppies that end up getting in fights or being sick.
He was especially proud to be taking care of these broken animals and helping them until their new parents came to get them. He had seen the rich people with the peace sign cars called merdes or something like that come to the shelter asking for dogs by name, like cockapoo, and labradoodle and thought they were not very smart because the dogs that stayed here, were lost and didn’t have real names, except the temporary ones the shelter employees gave them.
He wished there was a children’s shelter so that when little kids like he was got lost or their families died or went away, they could go to a nice place like this with soft beds and clean rooms, and someone to feed them and hug them and make them feel safe. Adam hadn’t felt really safe for years.
He had been moved from group home to group home every few months because sometimes the teachers who lived there didn’t act right and when he tells his social worker they get rid of the teacher, and make all the boys move to different homes. They can’t even talk or play games with each other again, or go to the movies when that happens. They all get locked up and are told to behave, even though they didn’t do anything wrong.
We rescued a little pony named Pancho yesterday, his friend Angela tells him as he heads for the cage area. You have to go see him, he is so cute, and he will let you ride him too. . Where is he at? Adam asked, in cage 24 ? and she said yes.The inside doors leading to the animal holding cages slid open and he walked out into the sunlight, still holding his half eaten green apple. .
©Sharon J Corrigan 2010