TITLE: Stray Dog in the Manger
GENRE: Middle Grade
“Beat it, cur!”
The hollering got louder. A stone clipped Kelev’s back leg but he didn’t drop the bone. He dashed past the food vendors and scrambled into a narrow alley. Crouched there, panting hard.
The dog had been pelted with rocks before. When he was sure he wasn’t being chased, he sat down to lick his cuts. All he had to show for his trouble was a gristly bone the butcher had left lying around. Not much, but as a stray, he'd learned early that any scrap is better than nothing.
Kelev backed into the shadows, bone gripped tight in his jaws, not wanting to have to fend off other hungry animals while he ate. He flashed on a memory of Chief, the pack leader who taught him everything he knew.
“A full stomach,” Chief preached. “That’s what a dog needs in this world to be happy.” Kelev wasn’t sure what happy meant, but he did know it was good to be full. He started crunching on the bone.
Kelev was a feisty street dog. He could navigate the back alleys of town and come out on top in a fight. He had never been whistled for or petted. He’d bite a human hand in a heartbeat if he felt danger.
As Kelev sat chewing on his bone, his nose sniffed the sharp, mingled scents of the streets of Beth-lehem. Hard, dusty earth. Rat-smell. Dog-pack. Bread baking. Salt tang of humans. Rotten vegetable peels. Fish-heads. Wine. Garlic and cinnamon.