Locked In

Locked In

From Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul

Locked In

April afternoons are warm in suburban Philadelphia, and the temperature inside a parked car rises quickly. Ila, my two-year-old daughter, was strapped into her car seat, pink-cheeked and sweaty. D’Argo, my ten-month-old chocolate Lab, was bounding from the front seat to the back, barking and panting. Helpless, I could only stand and wait.

They had been locked in the rented truck for fifteenmin-utes when the police car finally pulled into my driveway.

“No spare key,ma’am?” the young officer asked. The only key I had was attached to the remote door lock control, which was lying on the driver’s seat, along with my purse, the after-school snack for the older kids, my book, the mail and the dirty dry cleaning. I had tossed everything onto the seat, buckled Ila into her car seat and shooed D’Argo into the passenger side, closing doors as I went. Just as I reached the driver’s side door, I heard the clunk of the door locks. D’Argo was standing on the driver’s seat, tail wagging and his oversized puppy paws on the remote.

“It’s a rental,” I explained. “The agency doesn’t keep spares, but the agent is trying to get a new key cut. He said he’d send it right over.”

One hand on the nightstick in his tool belt, the officer circled the truck, trying all the doors, tugging at the lift gate. D’Argo trailed him from window to window inside. They came face-to-face at the front passenger window. D’Argo, his nose pressed against the window, wagged his tail and drooled, leaving large globs of spit and nose prints on the glass.

Two more officers arrived. After a quick briefing, the older, heavier officer took a long metal tool with a flat hooked end from the trunk of his squad car. He wedged it into the gap between the driver’s side window and door and slid it slowly in and out, trying, unsuccessfully, to jimmy the lock. Then he attacked the keyhole with a screwdriver, succeeded only in making a few gouges in the metal and gave up. “These new cars, like Fort Knox,” he muttered. “Sorry, ma’am.”

I called the car-rental company again. They were “still working on it,” my friendly rental agent said. I pressed my face against the window, shading my eyes to see through the tinted glass. D’Argo had flopped down next to Ila’s car seat, his long body stretched out across the seat and his big brown head resting in her lap. Ila’s face was flushed and shiny. Drops of sweat rolled down her cheeks and her blond curls were dark and matted against her forehead. Ila looked up into my face.

“Mommy! Uppie!” she said, holding up her arms. Her wide blue eyes leaked tears.

“Mommy will get you out as soon as she can,” I said, straining to sound calm and cheerful. Her face crumpled.

“Mommy! Mommy! I wan’ you!” she wailed. She twisted and strained against the car seat, crying harder, legs pumping, arms reaching. D’Argo jumped into the front seat and joined in, baying with a low, guttural moan.

Fidgeting with his nightstick, one of the officers turned to me.

“We could break a window,” he said, giving the front driver’s window an experimental tap. D’Argo flinched, hair rising across his back, but didn’t back away.

“The baby’ll be okay in the backseat, but I’m afraid I’ll hurt your dog, ma’am.”

“We can’t wait for the key anymore,” I said, “we need to get them out.” The men looked at each other.

“Like I said, ma’am, we might hurt your dog.”

“I don’t want you to hurt him either, but they’ve been in there too long.”

The younger officer pulled his nightstick out of his tool belt and walked around to the passenger door. D’Argo met him at the window, barking and howling.

“Can you call him? Get him away?” he called.

“D’Argo! D’Argo! Come!” I yelled, banging frantically on the driver’s side window. D’Argo stopped barking and looked back, but stayed where he was. The policeman raised the baton, then hesitated, looking through the window at D’Argo and then at me.

“Do it!” I yelled.

He swung down hard, smacking the glasswith the nightstick. D’Argo leaped back. The nightstick thudded against the window again. D’Argo vaulted into the backseat.

“D’Argo, off! Getta offa me, D’Argo!” Ila screamed, but her voice was muffled in D’Argo’s chest. The dog was standing over her car seat, covering her with his body. She beat her fists against his side and kicked her feet at his legs, but he would not move.

Suddenly, there was a loud crack as the nightstick splintered. The three officers stood together, staring at the pieces of the broken baton, then looked up at me as I came around the truck. I ran for the toolbox in the basement and grabbed the sledgehammer, the heaviest tool I could find. I handed it to the younger officer, who started pounding on the window. The sound was deafening. Ila was still screaming, punching and kicking frantically at D’Argo, who stood squarely over her, his back to the action at the window. His large body covered her small one almost completely.

The glass fractured suddenly with a crackling sound. One more blow from the sledgehammer and the window shattered. The officer reached in and unlocked the doors. I wrenched open Ila’s door and D’Argo flew past me. There were shards of glass everywhere on the backseat and floor, but none in the car seat. I fumbled with the buckle, unlatched it and pulled Ila out. She was flushed, warmand sweaty, her T-shirt soaked through and her hair plastered to her head in ringlets, but she was not hurt. I squeezed her tight and sank onto the ground, both of us sobbing. I sat there for a minute, hugging her. Then I looked for D’Argo. He was twisting and lunging, trying to get away from the older officer, who was holding him by the collar.

“He’s not hurt,” he said, struggling to hold on, “but I’m afraid he’ll run away.”

But I knew he wouldn’t.

“It’s all right,” I said, “you can let him go.” D’Argo flew straight for us, wormed his big head between Ila and me and licked both our faces until we were laughing instead of crying.

M. L. Charendoff

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners