Theodore Jerome Cohen is the Readers’ Choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. The winning entry is decided by the popular vote and rewarded with a special feature here today. (In the case of a tie, the writer who submitted an entry first is the winner per our rules.) Without further ado, here’s the winning story:
by Theodore Jerome Cohen
“Who’s this?” her neighbor asked, turning the page in the album and wiping her fingers across the clear plastic sheet that covered the photograph of a man atop a mountain who appeared to be waiting for someone to catch up with him. The neatly typed note pasted beneath the photo read: Organ Mountains, February, 2017.
Her host looked wistfully at the photograph and, for a moment, said nothing.
“Oh, that’s Peter . . . he was my fiancée.”
On hearing that, the large German Shepherd at her feet, his eyes wide open, raised his head.
“Peter was temporarily stationed at Ft. Bliss prior to shipping out for Afghanistan on his third deployment.”
The dog put his head down between his paws and seemingly went to sleep. Every now and then, though, something his mistress said caused him to open his eyes and whimper softly.
“Jethro, here, worked with Peter as an explosive detector dog,” the woman said at one point. “They were working a village search and security operation in the Dand area of Kandahar Province of southern Afghanistan when Jethro ‘alerted’ to an IED. Peter attempted to disarm it so the rest of the task force could pass, but the device exploded, killing him and severely injuring Jethro. Peter’s comrades in arms made sure Jethro was airlifted to a field hospital for surgery, and following his recovery, they sent him home to me.
“He—and this photograph—are all I have now to remind me of Peter.”