It is a lousy summer day. The scorching heat of the Sun may have already taken the lives of the neighbours as it feels unrealistically quiet this afternoon. “It is unusual to enjoy this sort of tranquillity around the neighbourhood during this time of the day,” Conor reckons.
Conor has been living in this area for the last five years. Not a single day has gone by without his ears getting drawn to the heinous quarrels between the households. And every time, it happens during the afternoon, when everyone, including Conor, gets sleepy after carrying out turbulent chores.
Now that the everyday shouting has become obvious, Conor has adapted to the standards. He has learnt the approach in an extremely-detailed manner. First of all, a person from one house starts screaming, alleging his or her neighbours of doing something he or she doesn’t like. Then, listening to that, the alleged neighbours come out to resist and retaliate verbally. The blame game of allegations and counter-allegations, coupled with the continuous hurling of blasphemous slurs, goes on for hours.
And Conor, standing on the road, thanks to the almighty for not making him a human being. “Humans are a disgrace to this world,” Conor comes to this realisation every afternoon. But today, it is not the same; everything is so calm around here.
Conor is the most loyal of all dogs in the city. Despite not getting the deserving respect from his masters, he stays put at this locality. He salvages his food from the dustbins. Like every stray dog, Conor finds more joy during the weekends as the leftovers, thrown into the bin, come out as more delicious than those of an ordinary day. For humans, Saturdays and Sundays are what Mondays and Tuesdays are for Conor. He relishes what the humans regard as uneatable with utter charm. But today is Thursday, the worst of all days, according to Conor.
The rising rate of product prices has already made humans choosy of what to keep and what to bin, Conor understands. Plus, street dogs from another part of the city have started trespassing on this area over the last few days. Conor’s reliable sources have informed him that they have also tried stealing the foods from the dustbins. Conor can endure the continuous hurling of the humans but cannot stand that kind of villainy in his own neighbourhood. He is one of the most reputed members in this area. Conor cherishes the fact that all the animals around the neighbourhood hold him in high esteem.
While thinking about the prospect of the emerging danger, Conor feels the need to quench his thirst. Unlike food, water is easily available around his locality. No, humans don’t provide them. Instead, there is a small pond that satisfies the thirst of Conor and his peers. Conor’s friend Rodwell, an old crocodile, guards the pond. He doesn’t let anyone other than Conor and his peers mirror their faces over the pond’s water. Sometimes, Conor appreciates how lucky he is to have a friend like Rodwell.
With an intention to quench his thirst and discuss the budding threats within the locality with his friend Rodwell, Conor reaches the edge of the pond. He wants to drink the first sip of the water as soon as possible, but he stops. Rodwell has come to the scene, putting his nose and his pair of eyes over the surface of the water. Without exposing his complete face, Rodwell asks, “You cannot drink from here today!”
Well, Rodwell has never stopped Conor in such a way before. Conor initially thinks that Rodwell is fooling around with him. So, he nods his tongue to taste the water. In a blink of an eye, Rodwell pounces on the water in front of Conor in a mood of anger, splashing a small tsunami around Conor that, of course, doesn't quench his thirst but makes his fur wet. Now, he warns Conor in a deep and serious voice, “You cannot drink from his pond, and I would not repeat this, Conor!”
This is new, unforeseen, and unfathomable. “Why, my friend? Why are you doing this to me?” Conor, in surprise, asks his counterpart. Rodwell answers, “I have given you dogs and your friends enough leeway so far, you get your food from those people and drink water from my pond, you spend your days in leisure, but have you ever thought of me? How do I get my food? I have children. Have you ever tried to know how I feed them? You call me your ‘friend’, but do you truly believe that?”
“Yes, I do, my friend,” Conor replies with some notable hesitation.
“You do, really? So, fetch me something good to eat. Or don’t come back to drink water,” Rodwell confirms.
Having listened to Rodwell’s claims, Conor’s thirst has doubled. He might even die of dehydration. His health has begun to deteriorate. He is about to go unconscious, but he sees someone approaching him with those grey eyes. it is Coffin, Conor’s close friend and the only rooster of this locality. Coffin and Conor have been friends for the last three years. He must know what is happening down at the pond.
Quiet hurriedly, Conor then tells Coffin the whole story, making him aware of the ill motives of Rodwell. Coffin is an intelligent roster. He knows what is where in this locality. He possesses the intellect akin to the humans. But unlike the humans, Conor feels fascinated by that. Paying attention to Conor’s description, Coffin offers him his advice.
“Listen, Conor, as a friend of yours, I want to help you. I would use my cajoling words and make that sad crocodile understand how important that pond is to this locality’s livelihood. He cannot keep continuing this dictatorship. I am against it,” Coffin strongly opposes Rodwell’s approach.
“Then, come with me. You are my last hope, Coffin,” Conor requests. With significant urgency, both friends arrive at the pond area. Seeing them arrive, Rodwell comes closer to the boundary. He demands, “Have you got anything for me, Conor? Oh, it seems you have company. How are you, Coffin? I have not seen you in a long time, you have grown older. Whatever, give me my food!”
Coffin begins a discussion, “Yeah, it has been long since we last crossed paths. Look, I know we have had our differences in the past, but…”
A strong kick on the backside of Coffin follows. Coffin drops into the water. Sensing the hint in the move, Rodwell opens his mouth and gobbles the whole body of Coffin in one attempt.
“Now, you have your food,” Conor smirks. But Rodwell is busy eating his fresh prey. So, he avoids talking. But that doesn’t bother Conor, who now puts his mouth into the refreshing water of the pond; he drinks as much as he could.
Now, he turns back to return to his place, but he can not move his left leg. Something or someone has a firm hold of it. When Conor look back, he sees the razor-sharp teeth of Rodwell have control of his left leg, which has now seen traces of blood.
Bewildered, Conor asks Rodwell, “What are you doing, madman?”
Coffin responds, “It is better to have no friend than to have one like you. A conspirator like you deserves to serve my sweet children tonight.”
Rodwell drags Conor into the water with his full force.