Heck Puppy

Scent Notes: Rich, melty toasted marshmallows that dry down to warm resins of copal, benzoin, and labdanum, with hints of black and pink peppercorn and warm fur.

Charlotte had been begging her mom, Marilyn, for months for a puppy. “It’s nearly my tenth birthday; I can take care of him!” She had announced this to her mom several times a day since the week after she turned nine. Her mom worked two jobs, and money and time were extremely tight. “I tell you every day, we can’t afford a puppy,” she said while tucking Charlotte in for bed. “I’m sure you could take care of one; I have the utmost faith in you. But between you going to school and then after school care and then to grandma’s house, I’m worried about the puppy being alone all the time. You know that’s not fair to a helpless dog.” Charlotte sighed and nodded gently. “I know momma. I would love it a lot, though.” Marilyn’s eyes filled with tears. “I know you would, sweetheart. I know you would.” 

Marilyn kept thinking about it, even though Charlotte’s requests began to dwindle. She was old enough to understand how things were and how the world worked a little bit, how she didn’t have a father figure, how she couldn’t afford the clothes and shoes the rest of the kids her age wore, and how she couldn’t always go on field trips with her class unless her teacher could slip a little extra money Charlotte’s way. The fact that Marilyn was even home to tuck her in a few nights a week at their tiny apartment was somewhat of a miracle. 

The following Saturday was Charlotte’s birthday, and they had a few people over at grandma’s house in the backyard. Three of Charlotte’s friends showed up, along with grandma, Marilyn, and the birthday girl herself. Grandma made her famous double dark chocolate cake, and the girls played a long, intense game of Life. As everyone was finishing their second slice of cake, the doorbell rang. “Who could that be?” Marilyn asked with a furrowed brow. She put down her cake and walked to the door, wiping her hands on her jeans. She opened the door to find a strange-looking man she didn’t recognize. “Can I help you?” she asked. He looked extremely neat, as if he ironed everything he owned, and was dressed in a black leather suit with a black shirt and bright red tie. He was extremely pale, and his eyes glowed like fire. Marilyn was terrified, and she was about to slam the door when she heard a tiny bark escape from his hands. Sure enough, he was holding a small mound of fur. “A PUPPY!!!” Charlotte screamed, running to the door. Before Marilyn could stop her, Charlotte took the puppy from the man’s hands. He smiled, nodded, and walked away as Charlotte and her friends screamed over how cute it was; how small, how soft, how fluffy, how perfect! While the girls freaked out, Marilyn and her mom whispered furiously to each other. “Did you know that man?” “No, did you?” “No! How did he just show up here with a puppy?” “It’s a sign from God,” Marilyn’s mom said, but Marilyn wasn’t so sure. That man looked scary. But, no matter how it happened, there’d be no giving this puppy back, that was clear. 

Charlotte came running up to her mom and grandma, beaming. “I named him Milkshake,” she said. “Thank you so much, mom, this is the best birthday ever!” Marilyn just smiled down at her daughter. “I’m glad you’re happy, honey. I think he might be a Corgi, but we'll find out more when we take him to the vet.” Charlotte put Milkshake down and let him attempt to run around on his tiny legs, but he kept slipping and tripping and rolling over to show off his cute stomach. The girls cooed as Marilyn and her mom poured fresh cups of coffee and debated how they would take care of this new addition to the family. 

Several hours went by with the girls loving on the puppy, then one by one the three friends were picked up by their moms, after showing off how cute Milkshake was, of course. Eventually, the sugar and excitement caused Charlotte to crash, and she fell asleep on the couch, holding Milkshake close. Milkshake was asleep, curled up and snoring lightly in Charlotte’s arms. “That is the most adorable puppy,” grandma said. “He really is,” Marilyn agreed. Eventually, she packed up the puppy and her sleeping daughter and brought them to the car. She was shocked to find that the backseat of her car was full of puppy supplies: food, a bed, a crate, a collar, two leashes, toys, treats, a brush, and even a business card for a local veterinarian. “How is this possible?” she asked. The car had been locked; there were no signs of a break-in. But to Charlotte, it was just proof that her mom had planned this whole thing. Marilyn drove them home in silence, the puppy still snoring on Charlotte’s lap. A few days later, the vet confirmed that it was indeed a Corgi, which delighted Charlotte to no end. The vet also declined to take any payment, stating that their adoption of a stray was “enough payment and good karma to the world already.”

Time passed, and Milkshake was a model puppy. He never had an accident; never bit anyone; never barked for no reason; never had any problems at all. He was sweet, and he loved Marilyn and Charlotte fiercely. They loved him right back. But not everyone seemed to love him as much as they did. Neighbors complained that he escaped the house when they were gone and tore up their yards, but whenever they came home, Milkshake was happily in their house, totally clean, no trace of dirt or torn up flowers to be seen. Other people avoided their house on walks with their dogs, stating that Milkshake “barked and growled loudly and incessantly” at their dogs from halfway down the block, but again, Marilyn and Charlotte never heard a thing. They figured it was someone else’s dog who must look similar to their perfect little pupper, and probably a neighbor’s dog who barked so ferociously. He was still a tiny Corgi, after all; they can’t bark that loud to begin with! 

But sometimes, if Marilyn was accompanying Charlotte and Milkshake on a walk around the block, she’d see his shadow out of the corner of her eye and it would look like a massive beast was walking alongside them. She’d quickly turn her head, and the shadow would appear normal, but she would swear for a second it was the shadow of a demon, of something gigantic and evil. Then she’d look at Milkshake, and his tiny little butt wiggling while he walked, and she’d convince herself that it was just her imagination, or a trick of the light, or some combination thereof. It didn’t happen often, but it happened more than once. One time, she’d asked Charlotte if she noticed it as well. But Charlotte was a child, and she gave a fantastical explanation about how Milkshake was actually some otherworldly creature that human eyes couldn’t perceive and therefore he showed up as a Corgi, and he was brought to her to protect her, for she was special and needed protecting. Kids could make up the darndest stories! “Oh, interesting,” was all Marilyn had said as Milkshake, smiling, squatted on the neighbor’s grass.

Charlotte and Milkshake stayed thick as thieves as they both grew up into semi-adulthood. She was 13; Milkshake was all of 3. While they were able to afford Milkshake and Charlotte took great care of him, they were still a poor family, which led to Charlotte being bullied in school. Charlotte’s clothes were from thrift stores (and not the “cool” ones with designer labels where everything is marked up and where the kids who had money shopped to buy “ironic” vintage). She couldn’t always afford to go on field trips, and she certainly couldn’t afford to just hang out with people at the mall after school or on weekends. In fact, unlike most of her classmates, she did a lot of odd jobs around the neighborhood and tried to earn extra money wherever she could to help out her mom with all the household expenses. She didn’t really have any friends except for her mom, grandma, and Milkshake. She was an outcast, and the popular girls made sure she knew that. 

She’d started a small mowing/gardening business in her neighborhood, basically just mowing the lawns of those who took pity on her and her mom and slipped her $10 so she would weed their front flower beds or mow their side yards. She didn’t do a great job, honestly, but people could never refuse her, nor her “puppy” who accompanied her at all times. There was something weird about that dog, and as much as the neighbors discussed it, nobody could figure out what was going on. They all swore it looked like a Corgi to the average human eye, yet sometimes it was NOT. Like when it was tearing up their yards, or barking aggressively at them and every other dog in the neighborhood. Some swore they saw a glint in his eye, an evil one, like it would attack them with no questions asked if they didn’t let her mow their lawn. 

Charlotte was busy this particular Saturday. She and Milkshake had done most of their neighborhood’s lawns in the sweltering mid-July heat. She was layered in dirt and sweat; her clothing was torn and stained. She was just finishing up her last lawn when a bunch of neighborhood kids showed up. They were all her age, and none of them liked each other. Middle school was torture for her, and these were the popular girls, here to rub their not-earned money and her secondhand clothing in her face. “Well, well, if it isn’t Charlottella, covered in dirt from having to work because she’s a poor little baby with only a dog for a friend,” their ringleader, Tammi, said. Tammi’s parents doted on their daughter and were the primary complainers for Milkshake’s alleged barking and bad behavior. Well, Charlotte knew the barking and behavior weren’t alleged because she knew what Milkshake was, and she knew what he could do to Tammi and her friends. “Leave me alone, Tammi. I might not have money but at least I’m not a spoiled asshole whose friends only like me because my parents pay them off,” Charlotte said, trying to walk away. Tammi grabbed her by the arm as her posse of friends sniggered and looked awestruck at the nerve Charlotte had to say that. She wasn’t wrong, but like, she SAID it! “What did you just say?” Tammi asked, her hand firmly gripping Charlotte’s arm. “You heard me,” Charlotte answered. “Let me go, or you’re in big trouble.” Instead, Tammi reached out and grabbed her other arm, pulling Charlotte closer. “You little bitch,” Tammi growled. “You don’t get to talk to me that way.”

Tammi released her right hand and pulled back, about to slap Charlotte. She didn’t hear Charlotte yell for Milkshake, but she did see Charlotte’s eyes turn black. Before her hand could reach Charlotte’s face, Milkshake was attacking Tammi. Except he didn’t look like Milkshake. He was five times his normal size, glowing like he was on fire, his teeth turned to sharp fangs in his gigantic mouth. Tammi turned and saw him lunging at her. She screamed and released Charlotte, and turned around to run. Her friends had long since left, having seen Milkshake shapeshift and Charlotte’s eyes turn black. Milkshake chased her down. Tammi fell on the sidewalk, skinning her knees. She turned over to yell for help, when Milkshake was on top of her. She tried to scream, but she was paralyzed. Milkshake opened his gigantic, terrifying mouth … and licked her face, covering it with slobber. He got up and went back to Charlotte, looking like a normal Corgi. Charlotte’s eyes were no longer black. Tammi just sat there for a moment in shock, staring at them, then got up and ran back to her house. “Thanks for stopping by, Tammi; see you in a couple weeks at school,” Charlotte said, taking Milkshake and walking back to their house, his little butt wiggling the whole way home. Charlotte slipped him a treat as they walked. “My good little heck puppy,” she said, and Milkshake let out a tiny bark of approval.

Scent Notes: Rich, melty toasted marshmallows that dry down to warm resins of copal, benzoin, and labdanum, with hints of black and pink peppercorn and warm fur.