STORY NOTES: First of all, I own nothing pertaining to Twilight. That is Stephenie Meyer – lucky broad… SO, no copyright infringement intended.
Secondly: I got this idea after watching a documentary on HBO called One Nation Under Dog. I highly recommend it, but it is NOT for the faint of heart. Hell, even I could barely stand it and I'm a tough nut to crack. Forks, Washington – as far as I know – does NOT have anything to do with that documentary – what I'm writing is a work of fiction and using some of the things I have seen that ARE fact in my little story. I will not be using any of the names or places found in the documentary, I am using Twilight characters instead. Basically – Edward is a character based on a man in the documentary, some of the practices are being written about but have nothing to do with the real locations.
I am not a Veterinarian, nor am I a doctor. I know barely ANYTHING about vet medicine, and less than about human medicine. Procedures or treatment will probably be Googled. Do not take it as fact. WORK OF FICTION PEOPLE!
Finally, Vicious is rated M for a gamut of things including violence, language, sexual situations, rape, abuse (towards people and animals), the dark side of animal shelters, and death (of people and/or animals). This is the only warning you will get. If you can't handle, or don't like reading about any of the above, this story may not be for you. For those of you like me who just can't let this kind of angst and horror go…I promise you it will be worth it in the end. :) Characters will be OOC, obviously...
I will be posting this story once a week – that's the plan anyway. I will also be alternating POVs each chapter from Edward to Bella as best as I can. There will be a lot of bad before there's any good, but I promise you, there will be good. :D
A/N: I own nothing. Such a pity... *sigh* This is Edward's POV with his history and some history of the characters. There is a character death spoken about, but in past tense. Remember, I said this was NOT going to be all happy go lucky for a while.
The incessant ringing of my cell phone woke me at four-thirty in the morning and as I slammed my hand around blindly it fell off of the nightstand and onto the floor. Guess I'm up, I thought as I let it go to voicemail. I was somewhere between sleep and awake when it went off again. Shit…, popping my eyes open I groaned as I got up and located the blasted thing under the bed. Alice. "Who's dead or on fire?" I growl into the phone. I realize this isn't the nicest things to do for a few reasons. One, she's my sister. Two, this is probably work related.
"Screw you, too!" She replied and I smiled.
"What's up?" This time I'm sure she can hear the smile in my voice.
"You wanted me to call first thing when I got up so we could head out. Why do you ask me these things if you're just going to yell at me?" She pouts.
"Shit, that's right. I'm sorry, Ali, look why don't you get dressed and I'll be there in a little bit. We can do breakfast before." I try to make her feel better.
"You know, now I remember why I like you!" She laughed and hung up on me. I chuckled to myself and went into the bathroom to start my morning ritual – which wasn't much – piss, brush my teeth, shave and attempt to brush my hair into anything but the electrocuted look. I throw on some jeans and a t-shirt since I'm just going to be getting dirty, pull a hooded sweatshirt over my head and hunt for shoes.
Why is it, anytime you've got to hurry, you can never – and I mean never – find shoes? Locating my beat up pair of black Crocs I slip them on then open the basement door. "Em!" I shout. My best friend and roommate, Emmett stays in the basement. He didn't want to move in, in the first place. He claimed he shouldn't have to give up his apartment and 'move home like a little bitch.' I told him it was better than living with his dad and having to deal with why he lost his chance at football stardom after college all because his dad thought it was a good idea to lace his food and drinks every chance he got with steroids. But, I digress…
"What?" Comes wafting up from the blackness below.
"Feed the hoard. I'm going on the monthly shuffle." I shout and slam the door, grab my keys, and then trip over the lump on the floor…? "Damn it, Jake! You have got to stop sleeping in the middle of the kitchen!" With a grumble from the beast at my feet I leave the house and run to the giant, black conversion van. Opening the passenger door I grab the magnetic sign and slap it on the side of the van: "Cullen Dog Rescue and Half-Way House" reflected in the moonlight and I smiled.
After Alice and I graduated my parents decided we needed to head back to Chicago to stay near family. Dad got his job back as Chief of Surgery at U of C Medical Center and mom wanted a new house to decorate, so, we closed up the house I'm living in now and headed east. Up until we got back to Chicago my little secret held. Once we got back to the Windy City shit got more accessible and I started fucking up. Apparently you can get oxies from just about anybody anywhere. And if they didn't have oxies I could get xany bars for around the same price. I couldn't help it. My dad, Carlisle Cullen – Chief Surgeon – wanted perfection out of my sister and I. Alice had no problem reaching for greatness and went off to become a Vet. I, on the other hand, couldn't handle the structure or the demands of Veterinary school and I didn't like people all that much, so a surgeon or physician was out of the question. Between the sad, disappointed look on my parent's faces, to the pressure of school I needed something to take the edge off and stealing beer and buying weed wasn't cutting it anymore. I needed stronger. I found it and shit went south, fast.
It wasn't like I couldn't hack school. I just couldn't deal with the tediousness and the structure and the rules. The shit was easy and I was breezing through all of my classes. I graduated before Alice, but then when I decided I needed to celebrate, I got arrested. Possession with the intent to sell because they found a bottle of Oxycontin and Xanax. I was placed in jail over night with one phone call that I did not use at the time and in the morning I was sent before the judge. I explained that I was never going to sell them, that I got a month supply so that I could go undetected better than having to buy the shit all the time. I had no prior arrests, so the judge took off the sale charge, putting me on probation and giving me a $2,000 fine.
When my parents found out about it, it was like World War 3, and then it all came out. I told them about my drinking and smoking in high school and how those things didn't help me now. All I wanted to do was make my dad proud of me… All I got from him was hate and disappointment. He gave me an ultimatum. Rehab or I had to leave. I left.
I lived in my car for two years, at this point I was twenty four years old; all the schooling I went through was pointless because my license to practice was revoked. I worked odd jobs to get the money I needed for gas in the tank, pills, and sometimes food. When Alice found me I was skinny, dirty, out of cash, and sick. She got me to a hotel and called our mom who got there as fast as she could. She told me how much she loved me and that she never wanted me to leave, but that I needed help. Having it all explained to me with a mother's unconditional love it didn't hurt as much as it did when Dad said it. Of course, that could have just been that she got me at the right moment. After all, I was so sick because I hadn't had any in like 24 hours.
Next thing I know I'm at some exclusive and private rehab center in Seattle which was run by my new favorite people, Peter and Charlotte Harris. My mother promised me that if I got through it, and stayed sober, she'd find a way to bury my record. I told her she didn't have to, that I put myself in the situation and needed to live with the consequences, but she did it anyway – one year later. After that, I moved into our old house here in Forks and never looked back.
Shaking myself from my thoughts, I pulled out of the drive and headed toward town.
It took about ten minutes to get to Alice's house. She lived right in town so she was close by if an emergency came in. She's Forks' local Veterinarian. You'd never guess it because she walks around looking like a pint-sized super model, but her passion (besides Manolo Blahniks) is animals. As if on cue, she comes strolling down her front porch in a purple sweater dress and tights, with knee high black boots. I roll my eyes.
"You realize we're going to be walking around in dog shit and piss, right?" I sigh as she hops in.
"Duh, that's why I'm wearing the clearance boots." She winked. Letting it go – because that's always for the best – I pull out of her drive and head to the local diner.
Living in Forks you have to get used to everyone knowing your business. When we parked the van and headed in it was nearly deserted because it was only five in the morning, but the few regulars were there already. I had a bit of a reputation from my past and I was still being punished for it by some of the locals, so I never know how I'm going to be treated day to day. "Edward, Alice, come on over here and sit down." Mary, the little old lady and owner of the diner said as she waved us over. I smile because she's the sweetest thing you will ever meet in your whole life. She's about as tall as Alice – who's barely five feet – and has the prettiest puff of grey hair on the top of her head. Her eyes were blue, and sparkled constantly like she was up to something all the time. I often wondered what it would have been like if I'd have met her fifty years ago.
"You didn't act this excited when the mayor came in yesterday." Ralph, one of the regulars, grumbled from his booth in the back.
"I don't like the mayor, Ralphy, now shush!" Mary rolled her eyes and we tried not to laugh. "Now, what can I get you two?"
"Two coffees and I'll have the special." I smiled.
"I don't know how you can eat that much." Alice shook her head and turned to Mary. "I'll have some of your oatmeal, with brown sugar and blue berries please."
"Coming right up." Mary smiled and as she shouted the order through the small window in the wall behind her that cut the kitchen off from the dining area she grabbed up two coffee mugs and a pot of steaming brew. "I take it you're out searching for waywards again?"
"Yes, Ma'am. It's that time of the month again."
"Be careful who you say that to, young man. You might get a good wallop!" Mary chuckled and though I blushed I laughed right along with her. "And stop calling me 'Ma'am', it's obnoxious. I'm still 29, I don't need little whippersnappers calling me names."
"Of course, my apologies…" I snorted. Alice smacked the back of my head and Mary winked at her. I busied myself adding a few sugar packets and some cream to my coffee when I heard the bell over the door chime. Not looking up, I listened to Mary greet the new customer.
"Well, if it isn't Deputy Hunter! What brings you in this morning, son?"
"It's my morning to procure the breakfast for the prisoners….and the Chief." The voice sounded oddly familiar and I recognized the last name. I glanced towards the two of them and blinked. James Hunter. I graduated high school with the guy. I'd remember that face anywhere. He had sharp blue eyes and a shortly cropped hair cut – much different from the long, dirty blonde hair I remembered. Last I'd heard he was going to school in California, must have changed his mind or decided to come back to Podunk. I couldn't believe he was a cop – Deputy nonetheless – considering he was one of the guys who got me on pills back in the day. Shaking my head I decided if he was in uniform he probably deserved the job.
"Edward?" James asked, "I knew you were back in town but I hadn't had a chance to hunt you down. What have you been up to, man?" Walking over and taking the stool next to me he held out his hand and I shook it with a smile.
"James, is that you? God, you're a cop? I can't believe it after what we were like as kids. Last thing I would have ever guessed was you in a uniform!" I shook my head.
"That was a long ass time ago." He looked me in the eye now, giving me a seriously hard expression. I looked around and noticed everyone was staring at us. I motioned to Mary and Alice that I'd be just outside and tilted my head indicating I wanted James to follow. He got up and came out behind me.
"These people hear everything…" I smiled awkwardly. "What's your problem, James?"
"I am the Deputy Chief of Police here in Forks and the last thing I want is for our crime rate to sky rocket now that I'm holding this position. If Charlie were to retire – ever – I want the job…"
"Shit, Swan is still Chief?"
"Yeah, man, he's still chief. And he knows you're back. He told me if I ever saw you to tell you he was going to be watching for you. I guess he's still pissed you didn't take the offer I did." James chuckled and I pulled at my hair.
"I figured I didn't have a problem then. Besides, we were moving back to Chicago, remember?"
"Well, I don't think I have to tell you twice." I respected the fact that he was a cop, but if he warned me about something one more time my Croc would be up his ass… Not to mention I had to get back in there and eat so we could head out to the local shelters before Death Row claimed more victims.
"Roger…" I saluted with a grin. "Look, my food's probably getting cold so I'll have to talk to you later."
"Make sure you send in your kennel license request before the week is up. Apparently you've got a menagerie out there and Forks requires you apply for those kinds of numbers. What are you doing out there, anyway?"
"I run a rehab and foster home for animals. Mainly dogs and some cats, but we get some bigger animals, too, now and then." I answered. I really wanted to eat, so I was getting a little pissed. James must have sensed that, so he nodded and smiled.
"If you're here for good reasons we won't have problems. I'll see you around, Edward." He said and held the door for me to head back in. "Oh, hey…one more thing… You remember Bella?"
"Yeah, how is she?" I smiled remembering how she looked back then. Chestnut hair in waves down over her shoulders. Chocolate eyes that made it hard to concentrate. The perfect little heart shaped face that you just wanted to cup in your hands and kiss… Shit, she had such a crush on me, and if I was honest I fucking loved the hell out of her… I just never let her know. She was too good for a piece of shit like me.
"We're married now." He winked and walked away.
I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach, the air was ripped from my lungs and it was hard to breathe. I wasn't sure why that news hit me so hard, and I didn't have time to worry about it. Shaking it off I headed back to the counter. Once I sat down I dismissed the look Alice gave me for later and dug in. I didn't have time for this kind of bullshit and I knew it wouldn't go away if I went at it the easy way. These are the moments when I wish I would have just built a shack in the fucking woods. Laws were laws and I couldn't let the animals suffer so I decided now wasn't the time to worry about it. I had animals to save and the van seated ten. Alice and I would be saving ten lives by the end of the day. It made crap like this totally worth getting clean.
Alice decided we had to stop at the "city pound" as she called it, which wasn't far from the truth. When Animal Control picked up strays or "vicious" dogs they usually just came back to the Forks shelter which was little more than a garage with chain link cages all over it. The floor and walls were cement while the ceiling was barely insulated. Apparently the mayor didn't find it necessary to talk to the county to get funding for this place so when they got full they euthanized the ones most likely to be left behind anyway. That was usually the elderly, the sick, and the "bully" breeds like pit bulls, rottweiler's, dobermans, boxers, and bull dogs which is a shame because there's nothing wrong with any of them. The worst part about all of that was the fact that these animals were put down right out in the open in front of the other animals.
"I hope we're there before they start the pile up. I can't bear to see dead dogs again today." Alice whispered.
"At least they upgraded…" I sighed.
"What do you mean?" I never really told Alice it happened in our town because I think it would destroy her, but she needed to know. Kind of like when a kid finds out Santa isn't real – you want to make sure you tell them before they get the nasty version. OK, maybe comparing this shit to Santa was a bit apples and oranges, but whatever...
"You know they never used to spend the money on the euthanasia, they'd use gas." I said, paling just thinking about the sounds I heard when I first discovered how they murdered countless dogs of every shape, size and age.
"Like, putting them to sleep before surgery, right?" Alice asked, but I could see it in her eyes that she knew better. Hell, she's a Vet for Christ sakes… I just shook my head. "Oh no, no…you don't mean…"
"A metal box, ten to fifteen at a time… Then when they are dead they pile more on top of them and do it all over again. Call in a garbage truck and toss em like they toss a dumpster." I said, feeling my breakfast fight for a way out as we pulled into Forks Shelter.
"I'll kill them all!" Alice shouted.
"Do you really think they wanted that job? I mean, come on, Ali no one wants to suffocate dogs all day – that's not their hobby…"
"They why don't they just refuse?"
"Because it's how they put food on the table. Look, they fought it and now they get juiced. They're still dying."
"I don't ever want to hear what that must sound like…" Alice cried and I unbuckled my seat belt and leaned over to give her a hug.
"No you don't…" I whispered. After a moment she calmed down and we got out of the truck. "Just remember, we only have room for ten and we have two other shelters to hit today." Alice nodded and wiped her eyes.
"OK." We headed into the shelter and were met with the familiar smell of wet dog. I smiled as I walked up to the front desk and saw Janet standing there as usual.
"Morning Cullens, here for your walk through again?" Janet asked. She was average height and weight with dark skin and short brown hair. She was retired from the police force as an Animal Patrol officer, but still had bills to pay so she did desk work now. She was barely fifty and very kind and pretty.
"Yes, Ma'am. It sounds like you've got a packed house." I smiled and she nodded sadly.
"The chillier it gets out there the more we find. Seems like they like to hide in the woods when its warm, but when all the little critters and the campers slow down they come into town and get caught." She shook her head.
"Do you know if La Push can take any of these?" Alice asked hopefully.
"They're full, too. They're trying to find out who's doing it – but someone keeps dropping off litters of hound pups about every three months or so. Think there's a hunter out there who refuses to get their dogs fixed and they keep breeding. At least they're dropping them off with someone…" She sighed.
"At least? I mean…who just hands over puppies all the time?" Alice hissed. She was smart as hell as a doctor, but pretty naïve when it came to anything else.
"Back in the sixties they'd just put them in garbage bags and toss them over the cliffs down there." Janet explained and Alice paled, threw her hand over her mouth and ran for the restroom.
"It's been a pretty rough educational day already this morning for my sister… Sorry about that." I said, rubbing the back of my neck.
"What else did she find out?" Janet asked.
"Old procedure for over population." I winced. Janet's eyes went wide and she smacked the back of my head.
"How could you tell her that? Some things are best left unsaid…"
"Until she stumbles on it herself like I did…" I whispered.
"Boy, God only gives us what we can handle, I don't think she could handle that…" She replied and I nodded.
"Sorry about that…" Alice blushed as she came back to join us at the desk. "Breakfast must have been too heavy."
Neither of us said a word as we headed back to the pens. It didn't take us long to scoop up three dogs. One with a missing back leg that looked to be about a three year old golden retriever named Honey, a five year old german shepard with mange named Copper, and an eight year old deaf blue and white husky named Shilo. We got them in the van and headed out to La Push before stopping at the County shelter.
The La Push shelter was much nicer as things go. It was actually a place run by Billy Black, who lost a son to child abuse. His ex-wife was addicted to heroin and would do everything in her power to get it. Even pawn off her only son for money. He would do hard labor around dealers' houses or worse just so his mother could get a fix. He was found in a field behind an abandoned house in Port Angeles a year or so after I left for Chicago – he'd been sexually assaulted and murdered. The day Billy laid his son to rest was the day he found a puppy in the cemetery and brought him home. The dog was a chow, pit bull mix and he named him after his son. Swearing he had a lot of the same carefree mannerisms his son had as a child.
The system failed Billy because they lived on a reservation and no one wanted to deal with the reservation police who had little to no real resources at the time. Not to mention Billy didn't have a clean record from when he was younger, and pair that off with a druggy of a mother it seemed his case was always shoved to the way side. Had Port Angeles done something sooner we all feel Jake would still be alive. The reason Billy has such a large pole barn now would be because Port Angeles settled out of court for their wrong doings. It doesn't bring his son back, but it makes his goal a little easier now.
After that Billy just couldn't be alone and seemed to collect dogs from then on. Eventually a lot of people had heard of him and just left these dogs in his yard. Because he's confined to a wheel chair he can't care for them all, and when I told him I had come back here to do something very similar he gifted me Jake and some of the other dogs who needed more attention and exercise. Since then I've got to relieve him of some of his extras when he needs me to.
The sun was finally coming up throwing pinks and light blues across the res when we arrived and parked the van outside of Billy's small house. He came to the door to greet us with a smile on his face. "Edward, Alice! So nice to see you two this morning." He waved.
"It's good to see you, Billy. How've you been?" I asked as I reached him and shook his hand. Alice bent down to give him a hug.
"Good, good. Hey, guess what?" He asked, his eyes sparkling with happiness.
"What's that, Billy?"
"I got the Leader Dogs people coming to take some of my pups. When they heard my story and what I'm trying to do they said they'd love to help me out and they'll even let the people who get them where they came from. God, I've been working at this for a couple years now!" He said, nearly bouncing in his seat. I couldn't help but whoop for joy. This was exciting! Half of his pups would be taken by this organization meaning half of the pups would be destined to loving homes without question. I was so happy for him, and happy for the dogs.
"Oh, Billy! That's so great! Let the team know that I'll be glad to look over all of the puppies before they come get them. That way it will be less work for them and maybe they'll work with you more frequently." Alice grinned.
"You'd do that?" Billy asked, stunned. "That's a lot of work, and a lot of money…"
"I've got an inheritance from Grandma Masen, and Edward has Grandpa Masen's estate, not to mention we're both living off of trust funds from our grandparents on our dad's side. I'm pretty sure it's more than enough to cover some basic shots and checkups." Alice replied happily. I nodded in agreement. What was I going to do with that kind of money?
"So, if you ever need anything, Billy, don't hesitate…" I added.
Billy seemed choked up at that and patted my arm and squeezed Alice's hand. "Well, let's get to these critters, then. I've got three or four that could go today. I have two pits who are brother and sister, and you know how people are about them. Plus they need more one on one time than I can handle, Emmett seems to work well with these rambunctious ones. Bonnie and Clyde are in a large kennel together, I had them both fixed at your office Alice so you may remember t hem."
"Oh yeah! They were super cute." Alice skipped.
"I had an old beagle left on my porch this morning as a matter of fact, and I think he's got bad eyes. I haven't named him. And then, if you have room for one more, I have a cocker with a penitent to bite. I call him killer." Billy laughed.
"I'll see what I can do with Killer, we'll take all four. That will leave us with three openings in the van. None of them show signs of fighting?" I asked as we reached the pole barn, Jared – a guy our age was waiting there.
"Not that I can see. No obvious scarring and they are all real good with other dogs, I think Killer is just nervous." Billy explained. "Jared, open the doors will you?"
"You got it, boss. Hey guys, nice to see you back." He smiled. Jared had russet skin like Billy, and his hair was black and falling over his ears.
Once we picked up the four we reminded Billy that Alice would be by with a small team in the next few days to give shots and checkups to the rest of the dogs and puppies. Before we got out of the res Alice got an emergency call from the office and she had to head in to do a surgery. I dropped her off and headed home. The County shelter would have to wait until tomorrow.
When I got back Emmett was already out giving the dogs some free time in the large caged off area so they could stretch their legs. He helped me situate the new bunch and we headed in for lunch. Em said he'd work on the others after so I could get my paperwork to the city before the end of the day. If the people at City Hall were anything like James I wanted to get this shit done as soon as possible. These animals wouldn't suffer because of some dick head with a God complex.
As I sat there getting my paper work going I thought about what else James said; the fact that he was married to Bella still bothered me tremendously. I decided that maybe tomorrow I'd stop in and have a chat with Chief Swan and make my presence known. I planned on talking to Bella as soon as I could, and I wanted Chief to know I was on the up and up before he knew I was talking to his only daughter.
With that in mind I got to work on the rest of my day, knowing it would be a lot of work before I got to turn in, and I'd be up early again in the morning.
A/N: Please leave comments - let me know what you think. This is my first real dive into total negativity and I want to make sure it's going over well. I swear to GOD I could not possibly torture these characters with out having some good come of it. Thanks for reading...