Bark Mckenzie: Private Seeing Eye Dog

by William Bigos

(this text has been translated to English from whatever language dogs speak)

You read the name right. Bark McKenzie. Private Seeing Eye Dog. For the right price, I'll sniff out the scum and filth so that you don't have to. I was born and raised to find and take down criminals. I'm a German Shepherd that spent the first 5 years of his life as a Public Order Enforcement Dog. One drug raid went bad, and I got forced into an early retirement. I'm no lap dog though. It took me about half a year to recover from my injuries, and then another half a year went into training to become a seeing eye dog. Figured I might as well make myself useful, since the force figured I put in enough work. My human is blind, and he works at night and sleeps during the day. Meaning I have nothing to do for a solid eight to ten hours every day. I rarely sleep since my last day on the force. After a few days of being left to my own devices, with nothing to do but sit around and relax, I got to missing what I use to do. I figured there was nothing stopping me from going into business for myself. So I did. I been doing it for over a year now, and I been doing it better than any other mangy mutt on the street. I've got a gifted nose, and I put it to good use. S'far as I can tell I can smell better than any bloodhound I've ever met. Smell's what keeps me ahead of the game.

So like I said before. For the right price, I'll sniff out the scum and filth so you don't have to. My going rate is two full bags of dog food. One up front, one when I get the job done. Don't like my rate? Then find another dog for the job. For unusual or extra dangerous cases, I usually jack up my price to three bags. So far I've only had to charge that amount one time, and this just happens to be the file for that particular case. Lucky you.

When someone wants to hire me, all they need to do is leave their calling card on the fire extinguisher outside my owner's house. I check it every morning and every night before I take my owner to work. The morning I took on my most dangerous case, I found the mark of a female Great Dane outside my house. Young dane, only about three years old. Figured she probably had a husband or boyfriend that was running around on her. Probably wanted me to tail the guy and get the facts straight for her. I remembered smelling her scent before, up in the richer section of town. I went back inside for a quick drink. Luckily my owner always leaves the toilet open when he forgets to refill my water bowl in the morning. After I had a quick drink, I made my way uptown, following her scent.

I found her pretty quickly. I found the place right on the edge of the rich neighborhood. She was sitting in her owner's fenced in patio area. She wasn't a bad looking pooch, a little too tall for my taste though. I came right up and put my nose to the gate.

"Bark McKenzie. What can I do for you?"

"You're Bark McKenzie?" She said, with a disbelieving tone.

"Yeah, sorry to disappoint." I replied.

"No, no. No disappointment here. Someone told me that you were a bloodhound. I wasn't expecting a German Shepherd to come to my rescue. My name is Darling." she seemed to be trying to keep the conversation light-hearted, even though she was visibly shaken up by something.

"What kind of rescue are you in need of, Darling?"

"It's a long story."

"It's always a long story. Save yourself some time and start telling it sister."

"Okay. Well. It's about my boyfriend."

"You think he's cheating on you?"

"No, no. Well, I know he's not cheating on me. At least anymore, who knows, he could have been."

"What are you getting at? Is he dead?"

"Well, yes."

"How do you know?"

"The dog that did it came here last night, he was an English Bulldog. Called himself Lockjaw. He had my poor Rosco's collar. It was covered in blood."

"Did he say anything to you?"

"He apologized to me."

"He apologized to you?"

"Yes he was a very polite hired killer." I could tell she was very shaken up by her boyfriends killer calmly showing up to her doorstep and delivering her the collar.

"He was hired to kill Rosco?"

"Yes, unfortunately Rosco had fallen into debt, and was much too late to pay it all back. Unfortunately now the debt falls squarely on my shoulders, which I would much rather not pay him for my ex-boyfriends mistakes."

"May I ask whom he fell into debt with?" I asked, although I already knew the answer to that question. There was only one dog in this city that you could fall into debt with, and that was a position no dog wanted to find himself in.

"The Bullet." she said, confirming my suspicions. Dealing with the Bullet was going to be no easy task, although I knew sooner or later I would have to tassel with him.

"If I am understanding you correctly, then I believe that you either asking me to get the Bullet to remove the debt that you now owe him, or to single-handedly take down his entire organization if he refuses?"

His "organization" more or less consisted of a huge following of dogs that are deadly loyal to him. The Bullet is able to break dogs out of the pound seemingly at will, and in freeing said dogs, they devote their lives to him. At least most of them do. I suppose the Bullet is lucky that the first batch of dogs that he broke out all consisted of very loyal, and mean, breeds of dogs. Any dog after that the Bullet broke out dedicated their lives to working for him, and they were fed and housed under his rule. Any dog that he broke out that didn't dedicate their lives to the Bullet paid for it. I didn't doubt that this was the case with Rosco.

"Yes. I think that sums up exactly what I want you to do. Is that a problem?"

"No, it ain't a problem for you. It's sure as hell gonna be a problem for me. But I'll do it. It's gonna take some time. And it's gonna cost you more than I usually charge."

"That's no problem. It's better than paying that gangster the extravagant amount he's asking for."

"One more thing before I get started. Do you still have Rosco's collar?" I asked, even though I had been smelling the scent of blood since the time I had arrived, emanating from the bushes behind her.

"Yes. I hid it in these bushes, so as not to upset my owners." she said as she reached into the bushes and pulled out the collar. She brought it over to the fence and laid it just at the edge, so that I could get a good whiff of it. Once I had the scent, I was already on my way.

"I'm going to get started. I'll be back with more questions. And to get the first half of my payment." I called over my shoulder as I followed the scent down the streets of the city. I could have asked her a few more questions, but it was better to try and reach Rosco's body before the city garbage men scooped it up and threw it in the dumps. I could get a strong scent of this Lockjaw and track him down. I had no other way of finding The Bullet, who I have looked for before, but he is next to impossible to find. If I could finally get my paws on one of his goons, I could rough him up enough to lead me to his hiding spot. This Lockjaw sounded tough, but he was just an English Bulldog. I had had my fair share of scraps with English Bulldogs, and never seemed to have a problem with them. You just have to keep your neck away from their jaws.

My nose was concentrated on finding one thing, and one thing only. On the way I passed millions of smells on all sides of me. Garbage, exhaust fumes, rubber, concrete, hair spray, gum, coffee, all smells trying to distract me, almost like they were themselves responsible for the murder, and trying to cover their own tracks. Luckily when my nose is locked onto one thing, it becomes my main objective and I tune everything else in the world out.

My nose found it's mark in the back of a dirty alley behind a big pile of garbage. Rosco was about as dead as a dog can get, lying on his side staring lifelessly into the side of a dumpster like it was the most fascinating thing in the universe. I gave my nose a rest for a few minutes and let my eyes do some work for a change. The puncture marks were exactly where I expected to find them, on the neck. There wasn't as much blood as I had previously thought there was going to be. It seemed that Lockjaw had opted to crush Rosco's windpipe rather than tear his throat out. It made more sense from a killer's standpoint to make as little mess as possible. That way, when you were done and walking around in the streets, you would garner much less attention if your face wasn't covered in blood. The small punctures were inevitable, considering the amount of pressure Lockjaw had to provide to kill poor Rosco. Windpipe crushing could of course just be Lockjaw's preferred method of killing. Either way indicated that Lockjaw was a dog that had experience with killing, and that extra precautions would be necessary when dealing with him.

I put my nose back in charge of the investigation again. My ears were nearly as strong as my nose was, but at a crime scene like this they were nearly useless. Considering the crime here had occurred the night before, there would be no lingering sounds to point me in the right direction. Sound came and went as it pleased, without leaving a hint as to where it was going. Once again, I let millions of smells intrude on my strongest sense. I lowered my nose to Rosco's neck and quickly picked up Lockjaw's scent. Before I went out looking for him I decided to sniff around for anything else that might be of interest.

Almost every smell is familiar to me. I find it harder and harder every day to find something that I haven't smelled before. This alley was no different from anyplace else in the city. Although I didn't smell anything new, one smell in particular did surprise me. The reason for the surprise is because it was a smell that is almost too familiar with me. An Angel had been here in the past few hours. And not just any Angel. The same Angel that had worked with me on the force for years, and as far as I knew, still worked there. Angel was a German Shepherd as well, and we bared an uncanny resemblance to each other, even from a dog's perspective.

Angel being at this crime scene seemed somewhat significant. Before I went out after Lockjaw, I thought it would be wise to pay him a visit and see what his involvement in the case was. It wasn't out of the ordinary for a K-9 to sniff out a dead dog and want to check it out for himself. I had definitely done it myself a few times while on the force. But I wanted to hear it from his mouth what he saw and what he thought was going on. On the way out of the alley and to the precinct I couldn't resist leaving my mark on a fire extinguisher that I passed up on my way into the alley.

It was going to be good to return to the place that I worked. I would want to keep a low profile, so that I didn't have the whole precinct taking time out of fighting crime to greet me. Almost as if reading my mind, Angel had come all the way out the fenced in kennel and had met me at the edge of the fence. Far away from all the other dogs and policemen, Angel seemed almost to know that I was coming.

"I smelled you coming from a mile away." he said, and it was probably true. Our appearance wasn't the only trait that we had shared. He had a nose just as sharp as mine, if not sharper. It was hard to believe that we weren't brothers.

"Bet you did Angel. How have you been?" I asked him.

"Not bad, not bad. How about yourself? How is it working freelance? Must be nice to go where you want when you want to."

"It's okay. Definitely don't see as much action anymore though. Not like the old days."

"The old days were a little too much for you to handle." He said, probably referring to my injury. He said it in a light hearted tone, but the statement itself seemed accusatory, and even a little malicious. Angel knew that I would have continued working on the force if the department let me, he knew that I was basically forced into retirement. I let the comment roll over my ears and chose to ignore it.

"You found a dead body this morning." I said, cutting straight to business.

"Yeah, I did."

"What are you doing about it?"

"As much as I can in my free time. There's no time to work on a case like that while I'm on the clock."

"I getcha."

"What's your interest with the body?"

"I'm investigating it."

"You're kidding? Tell me something I don't know."

"The killer is an English Bulldog named Lockjaw. That's where I'm headed next."

"You're still failing to impress me. You better be careful if you're going after Lockjaw."

"You know him?"

"What do you expect to do when you find him?"

"Rough him up. I need some information from him."

"Haha. Good luck with that."

"Why do you say that?"

"Lockjaw's not exactly the type to be roughed up. He looks forward to getting in scraps. You're more likely to excite him than you are to scare him. He won't tell you anything you wanna know."

"You talk like you know the guy."

"I've met him once or twice. He doesn't know I'm a cop."

"What are you trying to set him up for something?"

"I was considering, but I'm not sure I want to anymore. He runs with a bad crowd."

"No kidding."

"Switch collars with me."

"What?" I didn't understand his request for a second, until it dawned on me. Because he was still on the force his mind must be running a little bit quicker than mine. I could see he already had a half assed plan worked out in his head.

"Switch collars. We're almost indistinguishable. I'm someone that he's met a few times and that he's dumb enough to trust. It's the only way you're going to get him to give you any info. I'll tell you everything you would need to know to impersonate me around him. There isn't much, he isn't a very bright fellow."

"Sounds like a plan."

"Hold on, I'll go get my civilian collar I wear when I'm off the clock. It's the one he always sees me wearing." he said as he turned around to go back to the kennel. He came back with a collar in his mouth, and threaded it through the fence to me. I took off my own collar and replaced it with the new one (yes, we dogs have figured a way to remove and put back on the small straps you humans have put around our necks. If you really think we've gone this long without figuring out a way to do this then you are truly ignorant.)

"Want me to take your collar and hold it for you here at the kennel? You can get it when you come back and tell me everything that happened. I want to be kept in the loop on this one."

I agreed to return after I was done and let him know what happened. He clued me in on everything I would need to know to go undercover, which wasn't much, as he had promised. Once I was confident enough in my acting abilities, I turned my nose back to Lockjaw's scent.

My hunt for Lockjaw unfortunately gave me enough time to relive my last foray with the police department. Being near the precinct and talking to Angel again had really reminded me of my former life, and how it had ended. The last night I was a police dog, I was participating in the biggest raid on the Russian mob that K-9 units had ever been allowed to assist with. Expecting to scrap with a few Russian guard dogs, I caught a big surprise when instead of facing dogs when they knocked down the door, we came face to face with three guard bears. Any of the human police that worried about the guard bears were quickly faced with a bigger dilemma when the Russians started slinging bullets at them. Desperately avoiding gunshot, I led the K-9's from bear to bear taking them down by ganging up on them. The first bear went down without much of a fight. Unfortunately this was not the case for the next two. The second bear was able to concentrate on attacking one single dog while it was being attacked by four others. Before we were able to tear out the bear's throat, it was able to maul the one unlucky dog to death. We didn't even have a chance to reform after taking down the second bear. As soon as it was dead, the third, and biggest of course, picked one of my unit up from behind and more or less ripped him in half. My unit furiously attacked in retaliation. Before I could join them in their attack, I caught a stray bullet in my hindquarters and went down hard. I had to watch the rest of my unit fight to their very last breath, but they ended up taking down that last bear. As soon as I saw the bear hit the ground and exhale it's last breath is when I passed out.

I woke up much later at the vet's. The bullet had been taken out of my leg, and I was on pain medication. The raid had succeeded, at a very heavy cost though. All the survivors, human and K-9 were awarded heavily, and I was excused from any further police duties.

Angel was in charge of our undercover division. The human police officers aren't aware of this division, because we really have no proper way to communicate all the information we obtain from doing undercover work to them. He had worked heavily infiltrating the Russian underworld as best as a dog could. Fortunately he did not come with us that night, not only because of the fact that he might have been killed: he was still practically a rookie when that raid went down, and might not have been able to handle himself, but also because it didn't give him a chance to blow his cover. He still worked undercover with what was left of the remaining Russian mob. This was probably why he had such an easy in with The Bullet.

The Bullet had been owned by the head of the Russian mob family that was practically taken down with the raid that put me out of a job. He was a pure bred Siberian Husky. When the head of the Russian mob was arrested, he lost everything. This included his cars, his house, and his dog. Instead of being impounded, The Bullet had the common sense to skip town as a stray. How he laid low for so long being a Husky still confuses me. Huskies aren't usually looked past on the street, being that they are very distinct looking dogs. Either way, The Bullet made his reappearance recently, and has spent most of his time causing chaos and setting up his own operation.

As I got closer and closer to Lockjaw, I began figuring out my strategy for facing the Bullet. There would probably be no negotiating with him, and I didn't want to deal with a criminal anyway. Chances were, I was probably just going to have to kill him. I didn't like my outlook, but I didn't have many other options. A criminal like the Bullet would only respond to making a deal or violence, and I wasn't doing the first one. Once he was dead, most of his lackeys would be at a loss, and would eventually end up wandering the streets again, where they would get picked up and impounded again. Unfortunately some that have grown especially loyal to him would be after me. I would have to be on my toes for the rest of my days, or until I was positive that every single one of them were caught or killed.

Oh well. I already had enemies, and I was going to continue making them for as long as I was in this business. Just another flea on my back I'm hoping won't bite me.

Lockjaw was sitting in the middle of an abandoned meat factory in a run down part of town, waiting for me.

"You smell different." he said.

"I just got groomed."

"They did a shitty job."

"You look nice too."

I could smell his excitement even from across the factory. Out of all the stale dust smells, and years old rotten meat smells that was embedded in every wall, the smell of his anticipation for something cut through it all and went straight to the danger sensors in my nose. Before I was even a dozen steps into the factory, the sliding garage door slammed shut behind me. As I turned around to see that I was sealed in, and checked to see if there were any other exits, I heard Lockjaw closing in on me. I had my nose too busy working the case that it was too distracted to sniff out the trap that had been laid out for me. I turned back to Lockjaw just as he was lunging for my neck. I sidestepped out of his way, and watched his pudgy little body slide away from me on the smooth factory floor. Before he was even done sliding, I was on top of him, chomping down on his back leg. I felt the bone break clean in half from the pressure of my bite, and flinched as the high pitched yelp he let out rang in my eardrums.

The smell of three new dogs creeped up on me from behind, and I turned around to look where it was coming from, figuring Lockjaw was down for the count. The Bullet and two very mean looking pit bulls were emerging from what looked like a meat locker. The heavy, insulated door is probably why I didn't immediately smell the Husky and his two intimidating sidekicks as soon as I walked into the factory. Most of the pit bulls I had known throughout my life had been some of the nicest dogs I had ever met. Unfortunately these two seemed that they were hell bent on perpetuating the stereotype that pit bulls were made for fighting. Both looked like they had more muscles than verbal skills, and were baring their teeth in a way meant to scare me. I'm not proud to admit it was working.

The Bullet himself was a lot more intimidating than I had pictured him being. He was much bigger than any Husky I had ever seen, making me doubt the rumor that he was pure bred. Some wolf blood had to have bred into his family tree at one point for him to be that large. He prowled towards me with the confidence of having accomplished something that he had been planning for a long time. No doubt he had been planning on finding me, considering I was mainly the dog responsible for pushing him out of his comfortable lifestyle.

"Bark McKenzie. I'm so glad you came all the way out here to play dead for me." The Bullet called out from across the factory as he and his two sentries approached slowly.

"Why don't you go pull a sled up a hill." was the only thing I could think of to insult him. Pure bred huskies owned by wealthy families always think that they are above doing the hard work that their breed are famous for, and take it as a serious insult when you suggest they work a fraction as hard as their Alaskan brethren.

"I don't actually want to kill you, but if you keep saying things like that you are going to change my mind."

When I didn't reply, he continued. "So far Lockjaw has been the only disappointment in this whole plan I've set up. I really was expecting him to put up a better fight against you."

"What plan are you talking about?"

"Everything Bark. Rosco was broken out of the pound solely for the purpose of killing him and setting up a false investigation for you. Dame works for me, she hired you under my orders. And you're wearing the collar of a dog that works for me also."

The implication that Angel was involved in the whole plot took me entirely off guard. The girl and Rosco were easy enough to believe, but a dog that I had trusted and worked alongside for years working against me was a very devastating thought. Just so I wouldn't be too off guard, I pushed Angel out of my mind and worried more about my immediate threats.

"The reason I am thinking about not killing you, is because right now your friend Angel is out there, wearing your collar. He is heading towards a very popular park in the middle of the city, where hoards of human children gather and play. His instructions are to attack several children, and then when he has caused enough mayhem he will calmly lay down and wait to be picked up by animal control. Once he is impounded, I will break him out and uphold my end of the deal I made with him."

Although it seemed that he set me up to ask what the deal was he made with Angel, I didn't have the guts to ask. I didn't want to know anymore about why or how Angel had went about betraying me. Everything that he had told me so far was far too much to take in at once, and I decided to completely ignore it until I was able to get out of my current situation.

All of a sudden, right between the Bullet and myself, a door was swung open by an old vagrant human, no doubt attracted by the loud yelps emitting from Lockjaw, who was still crying out in pain. He yelled out something inaudible, and without thinking, I made my break for the door. Seeing a full grown German Shepherd, followed by three other intimidating dogs rushing at him, not surprisingly scared the man half to death. Lucky for me, he mush have been slightly drunk, because his reaction time was slightly slower than it should have been. He was only able to close the door after I had made it through, and the Bullet right behind me. The pit bulls were locked inside on the opposite side of the vagrant.

If the Bullet hadn't latched onto my tail after I was outside, I wouldn't have known that he had made it out behind me. Unfortunately for the Bullet, a lot of my time as a puppy had been spent chasing my tail, and I was very proficient at biting in that general area. While my tail was still in his mouth, I reached back and grabbed a mouthful of his snout, which immediately made him let me go. I bit down until I heard a crunch, and then I let go. He hobbled away from me, and I thought about finishing him off right then and there, but more important matters were at hand. I sped away for the park that he had been talking about, knowing exactly where it was. When I was well on my way, I heard a piercing howl from behind me that was an equal mix of pain and hatred.

Knowing where the park was helped because I didn't have to use my nose. All of my concentration was spent on running to get there as fast as I could. Once I was within a block, I turned my nose on to find Angel faster. It turned out I didn't really need to sniff him out, as he was crossing the street that was directly in front of me. He was walking very slowly, and hesitantly towards the park. In front of him I could see a large group of children playing. As he was mostly all the way across, I let out the loudest bark I had ever barked in my life. Angel jumped and stopped in his place. Off in the distance birds flew from their nesting places in the trees, and most of the children went silent for a moment before going back to playing with their friends.

"What do you think you are doing?" I yelled out to him.

"I don't know Bark. This is what it came down to. Bullet didn't give me any other choice."

"Why though? Why would you do this to me?"

"It's Dame. I love her. I want to start a life with her. But she works for Bullet. You have to pay him off if you want to stop working for him, and we can't do that. He told me I can do this instead. And I'm sorry to say that I took the chance."

"He's out of the picture now. I took care of him." I really wanted to believe myself saying this, but something told me that Bullet was still out there, and he was going to come back with something much worse than this plan to ruin me.

"I'm so sorry Bark."

"I don't care. Just don't go through with it Angel."

"Okay. I'm not going to."

"Okay, good. Come on back."

Angel looked at me for a while. He wasn't sure if it was actually okay to come back across the street, or if it was already too late and he had to go through with what he started already. I tried to look as reassuring as I possible could, and just hoped that he would make the right choice. If he made a break for the children, I would surely be right behind him and would hopefully take him down before he could do any damage.

It took him a few minutes, and I had never seen a dog look more pathetic in my life. But he finally started to make his way back towards me. His first few steps were very hesitant, but he started walking at a normal pace when he was about halfway across the street.

He heard the screech of the tires before I did. A medium sized vehicle came skidding to a stop, but not nearly in time. Angel had one last chance to look at me with a truly sorry face before he was dragged under the tires of the vehicle. It finally came to a stop when the back tire was planted on top of Angel's corpse. The smell of screeching tires hit my nose just as all the noise around me stopped.

I walked just as slowly as Angel had over to where he was lying. I could already tell that he was dead, from his smell. It smelled just as it had on the night I was forced into retirement. Still the driver of the vehicle had not gotten out to see what they had hit. I took my collar off of Angel's neck. I thought about keeping Angel's collar to remember him by, but I did not want him to be disposed of like any other dog. Once the K-9 tags were seen on his body, he would get the proper burial of a police dog. Finally the driver got out of the vehicle. She was a young human, and her eyes were bloodshot from crying already. I was already halfway down the block when she found Angel's body, and started crying even more.

For the most part, that was enough to close the case. I returned to Dame's house, not expecting to find her there, and I wasn't let down. She had split a while ago, her scent leading away from the house. I didn't have to follow it to know exactly where it went. The warehouse where I had left Lockjaw and Bullet practically maimed is where she probably ended up. They probably were in the process of relocating their hideout, now that I knew where it was. I'm hoping that one of my next cases will take me across the Bullet's path. But until then, I am keeping my nose in the air, just in case they make a move before I do.

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