(Guest Post by Ryan King)
When I returned from my first tour in Afghanistan in late 2005 I was having a hard time relaxing. I felt tense and on edge most of time. They told us this was common post-deployment behavior and would slowly go away. Someone recommended simply having ‘alone time’ or ‘relax time.’ It seemed ridiculously simple, but I tried it anyway. I would sit outside alone and simply relax for an hour or so a week. Sometimes it was with a cigar or a pipe or a beverage. Alone time became a once a week routine that I have kept up for over a decade. But I wasn’t really alone. At least not until tonight.
Argos became a part of our family in 2003 while we were living in Belgium. We also already had an eight year old white German shepherd who was showing signs of age. My wife and I decided it would be good to get another dog and friends of ours allowed us to adopt their dog when they were unable to keep Argos. He and our shepherd Angel were instant friends. They played and romped and were constant companions. Our old shepherd dog became young again and lasted another five years. Argos saved Angel’s life…at least for a little while.
Argos was a golden Labrador/golden retriever mix who was always friendly and filled with energy. A friend of mine dubbed Argos “Full Throttle” and the name couldn’t have been more apt. He loved to get attention from anyone and was so eager to please. He never bit anyone or barked in anger…but he would lick you to death sometimes.
Yet, he was my constant companion during nearly a decade of alone time. He would sit with me quietly and sniff the air. On occasion he would bring me a ball and insist that I throw it for him to retrieve. Even last Sunday, our final alone time together it turned out, he brought me a ball a few times and his weary eyes told me what he wanted. I tossed the ball for him and he slowly walked over to it, bent down and picked it up in his soft mouth, and then slowly walked back over to me to repeat the routine.
Tonight was the first alone time without my friend and near constant companion. I keenly felt the aloneness and realized it had never been alone time after all. Argos, I miss you.
Ryan King is a career army officer with multiple combat tours who continues to serve in the military. He has lived, worked, and traveled throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. He writes post-apocalyptic, dystopian, thriller, horror, and action short stories, short novels, and novels.