Nonfiction

The Haircut

By Mario Jose F Vinoya

Content Warning: animal abuse

It was January 31, 2022, a bright sunny Monday over the city of Anchorage, with cold winds of 10 degrees. I was only supposed to be gone for an hour and a half, only to get a haircut from my friend during the early morning of 11 am. The haircut was supposed to be a new change for me, as I was starting in-person on the school campus the following week. I had excitement in my stomach to meet new people and try a new look. I was done with these thin strands of Asian hair on my head because it always was a struggle to style… Constantly always having to comb it, maintain it, or even tie up in a man bun. So believe me when I say I was excited to finally get rid of it.

As I’m on the chair receiving my changeful haircut and finally going short hair now. I got a phone call from my sister’s fiancé. Let’s name him George. Now George doesn’t sound a bit normal but sounded hesitant in his voice. So for him to sound hesitant at first was off-putting. So with a monotone voice, he casually says, “I killed your dog Luna because she bit me on the foot as I was handing my daughter to your mom to hold.” My body goes numb and my hearing becomes non-existent, and the only thing I could reply in shock is, “Um–okay”. George then calmly replies with, “ Yeah I’ll talk to you about this later when you get home, I’m sorry man,” and ends the call. As I’m sitting on the chair, I asked my friend to rush my haircut, and he saw the color of my face gone. He began rushing to finish up not asking what was going on, and as he finished we had our normal exchange. When I began to leave the shop, I started having a rush of anxiety pulsing through my veins, and I ran to my car.

As I began driving home a rush of fear tingles through my body. I called my girlfriend, let’s name her Kami, and began explaining to her the situation. She then was in shock as I was, and kept asking in a rageful voice, “ He better be joking, or are you sure?” As I’m driving home with Kami trying to calm me down, I then begin crying out of fear and hoping George was joking. Kami witnessed this on Face Time and started to try and reassure me. George normally always had dark humor and jokingly made actions of dark things such as this. I’ve known this man since I was 8 years old, and for him to say something like this, I didn’t know what was real. I started to think maybe this was all a joke, and that he maybe was trying to mess with me as per usual. Finally, as I arrive in my neighborhood, I turn in watch two cop cars and cops in front of my house. From there I realized that everything that happened in only under an hour and a half was true. I parked my car and slowly got out holding in my tears.

Luna was my small dachshund or wiener dog, who was very calm and playful. Although I bought her as an impulse purchase from a friend back in June 2020, she was the best thing that ever came into my life. As I first had her in my hand– all I could think about is how adorably small she was. I was gonna give her a good life, and show her the world. From there I knew this small creature won my heart, and that I would do anything to protect her loving life.

For the next year and a half, she became longer and more interactive with people. Luna was always very loving to anyone new who showed up in her life. Even when she received her barking voice, she never barked at anyone unless they were in a sense of danger around the household. Luna would only bark at one person in the house, and it was George, my sister’s fiancé. At first, I always thought it weird how she only barked at him, but maybe it was because she was being defensive over his kids. Luna always went up to the kids and played together, so I thought she was being defensive over the kids. So for him to say she bit him when she was handing his newborn daughter to my mom, I saw it as if she was trying to be defensive over George’s daughter. Although does one bite, warrant enough to murder her? That was the question running through my mind as I left my car, and saw the bright sun shining into my face.

As I approached the cops, they started questioning me. “ Do you live in this house? Do you own any small dogs?” Where were you at 11 am-12:30 pm?” I started answering questions vaguely, replying with where my whereabouts were, and what I was doing. Although the only thing going through my head was “ Is this real?” I didn’t mention at first about the phone call till I knew for sure if it was true, and so I held back on that detail for later. When the two cops stopped questioning me, I then told them to wait outside, and let me speak to my mother who was inside the house.

I approached the door quickly, and as I looked up to the stairs, Luna wasn’t there peeking her head out like she usually does. It frightened me because she would normally rush down the stairs by now. I then started rushing upstairs, calling her name “Luna!” with fear in my voice. I looked around to see no sign of her, and my emotions coming back all over again. Tears started running through my face, as my heart began to get heavy, and seeing the only sign of my English mastiff Princess. I then rush to the other side of the duplex as we own both sides, and approach my mom who has been holding George’s newborn, and his 1-year-old watching TV. I ask my mom with fear and rage in my voice, “Where is Luna!”. My mom replies with no color in her eyes, “ I don’t know, George took her outside after she bit him on his foot, and he didn’t come back with her…He said he killed her.” I asked her where he went, and she replied with, “ To a work meeting”. My body gave in, and I started crying, with anger filling my heart. How can a person do such a thing, and leave for a work meeting? Is that person even mentally stable to even do that? However, I had to stay calm because the cops were waiting outside for me, and all I could think of now was to go to the cops and tell them the full story.

I come back to the cops, with no life in my eyes, and tell them the phone call, and the full situation. They looked at me disturbed, as it wasn’t normal for George to be mentally stable about what he did and then called me casually about what had happened. They had fear in their voice, as they mention, “Anyone who would harm an animal as he did, could harm another person,” or so I remember as my head was banging from the pain of crying still. Then I hesitated as I was exhausted from the cold air hitting my lungs, thinking maybe he’d want to kill me if I got him arrested, so I asked, “ What now?”. The two cops replied that if he doesn’t answer the phone in the next 30 minutes, there’ll be a warrant for his arrest. From there, he’ll be forced into the station to write papers for his court hearing, and spend the night in jail– unless he receives bail. We waited for an hour and a half in the cold outside, waiting for a response.

As there was no communication from George, the cops decided to send the warrant out and gave me their contact information. They mention how my neighbors were the ones who saw the whole situation happen and called the cops, but never said who due to safety of themselves, which I understood. The cops told me that Luna was last seen in a white trash bag, and once the body was found I should contact them about it. I couldn’t stomach that perspective, however, I knew I was determined to find her. Even though I didn’t want to see her in that state, I needed to find her for the sake of trying to find justice in this situation.

When the cops finally left my house, and before I searched for Luna’s body. I went back to my room, to let everything sit in my mind, body, and heart. As I entered my room, I didn’t hear the pitter-patter of Luna’s nails hitting the floor, nor did I hear the excitement of her running around me as I stood over my bed. It was silent– something that I haven’t heard since I brought Luna home in 2020. As I finally let my emotions feel what I was holding back, I threw my weight on my bed crying horrifically like a drama film. The tears began to be never-ending, my heart getting heavier, and my voice screeching, as I scream crying in agony at my pillow “LUNA!”

She had just been here for me a few hours ago in this same bed. My heart was like a storm in the ocean, as it was chaotically everywhere. My tears become the harmful waves and rain, my screams being the 50 miles winds, and my body being heavy into my bed– as if I were drowning underneath the storm. However, with every storm, there is an eye within each one– I realize I couldn’t stay here crying this entire time. I still haven’t found her body, and I won’t find any justice regarding this tragedy. From this, I forcefully got up and began gaining every strength that I have left in my heavy body, and got off my bed.

I started retracing the steps from my mother’s perspective as I asked her what specifically happened. She only mentions how they were both on our side of the duplex, and he took her outside. That detail gave me the evidence to lead off of, as the deed was taken in front of our house in our parking lot. After finding that out, I tried to recap what the cop’s report said, “ He was seen beating her to death in the snow, putting her in a white trash bag, and using a shovel to clean up the blood.” I then searched for the shovel first or any bit of blood on the snow in front of our house, which I found small traces of. Going forward, I started following any remainder of his footprints leading to the shovel thrown in our backyard. I found that the shovel was behind our tarp next to the wall of snow.

Even though I saw the shovel, our yard was a wall of snow and I thought he would’ve thrown her body in there. I lost hope as I stared into our yard- it was packed too high for me to even go through it, or me trying to even find a white trash bag. I started to give up, and thought it was hopeless– that is until I turned my slightly to the right. I said to myself, “You were right there- this entire time you were right there.” I slowly approached behind our gate and saw the white trash bag. Her body was still so warm, that she melted the snow around her for it to be not seen. I saw the back of your body coloring through the bag with blood and said, “ I found you.”

I approached the bag identifying it was her, and immediately called the cop who gave me her number. She answered and said “Don’t touch the body and wait there. I’m sending a cop there who specialized in these cases regarding animal cruelty.” When the call ended, all I could do was just stare at her. Staring at the bag, and thinking what her perspective would be like. My thoughts began to ramble in my head, “ She must’ve been scared, she probably didn’t know what was going on, or wishing I was there to protect her.” I started having regret in my heart as I started to talk to myself, “what if I never left this morning? You would’ve been alive– Why did I go to a stupid haircut!”

The cop arrived and snapped me out of it as he tapped my shoulder saying, “ Are you okay?”. I then stared at him, and didn’t even realize how the time passed by. I had stood there for 30 minutes. I realized I blanked out and didn’t even move my spot those few minutes. At first, I was surprised but realized it was scary as I had no recollection of what happened before. As the cop started talking to me, he asked for consent to open the bag and take photos for evidence. I was hesitant at first but did what was needed for this process to work. He found evidence around the scene that I didn’t even notice and took photos pretty much everywhere. After he was done, he then took her body with my consent, to look into her for a necropsy. Which is cutting her open and looking through what damage was done, for any evidence that can support this case. As the cop reassured me he will do his best, he then replied to me, “You don’t need to do anything anymore, it’s okay to mourn now. Go inside where it’s warm, and mourn as much as you need.” “okay.”

As this dreadful day was going by slowly, I waited in my bed till it became night. The clock was ticking in my room, and it was pure utter silence still. Luna is nowhere to be seen or heard anywhere in my room. When this long day was going on, I contacted my sister and told her what happened. At first, she was taken back and didn’t know what to say. Her main priority was the children she needed to take care of. Which I understood perfectly, and that she had kids needing to prioritize. However, my mind started to question everything when I found out she bailed him out after he was arrested. George then texted, “ I’m on my way back home, do you wanna talk this out?” My only reply was, “ Yes as long as my mom, dad, and my sister (his wife) were there.” From there the confrontation was awaited. We all gather in the living room with all four of us sitting away from each other. Tension was in the air, and everyone was on edge of what could happen. He starts with, “ what do you wanna talk about?”.

In my head, my brain thought, “What the heck?, did you just ask me that question?” However, all I could say while controlling my emotion was, “Why did you do it?” George then goes on to explain a story of how my sister was bit on the arm by a dog at the park, and it was his fight of flight for Luna. However, the dog that bit my sister was a big husky dog, and not a small dachshund. From there he goes on about his childhood with the trauma of dogs which frustrates him because he’s still avoiding why he did it. George himself was an owner of a dog as well, so I started spiraling in confusion. Why did he think it was okay for him to do the thing he did to another person’s dog? I then cut him off, and asked with rageful emotion, “How is this relevant of you killing my dog!”

The room became tense, and the air became heavy to breathe in. He then calmly replies, “ Yes I killed your dog, and it was my fight or flight because I handed my daughter to your mom to hold. I would’ve let it go at first, but she bit through my skin, so that’s when I knew it was too far”. From there he pointed at his foot where the skin was bit through, and seeing it was barely a wound. George then goes along and talks more about how he wanted it to be a “family problem”, thinking she could’ve had rabies, and talking about all sorts of scenarios. I then became furious, and mentioned how the neighbors saw George kill her and beat her to death. He then replies, “ no that’s a lie, I didn’t beat her to death.”

I then wandered into fear what his response was, as my heart was pumping through my chest like a balloon. That maybe the report was a lie, and that was all this a lie? Was this all a big misunderstanding, as I was emotionally unstable? Although I then slowly said, “ The neighbors saw you”, as I stared into his eyes with rage and determination. Hoping to see the guilt in his eyes, as he knows I’m angry. George then explains it was a lie because he killed Luna as if he killed rabbits. He stated, “ I grabbed her by the end of her two legs and swung her to the ground as my dad taught me to kill rabbits, so technically she wasn’t beaten to death.” As he was explaining this, my sister started to see how unstable I was getting, and kept saying “That’s enough George That’s enough!” The feeling in my body began to go numb again like this morning, and my hearing was now reduced to a high pitch ringing sound. I can still hear the faint talk, but all I knew at the moment in my head was, “ I’m not safe, I’m not safe, I’m NOT SAFE!” I then cried and screamed at him to leave, and he slowly got up and showed no sympathy for me. As he was leaving the room, he said “ If you ever need to talk? Just let me know.” In the aftermath of it, I knew then I wasn’t safe around him anymore. How will I know he wouldn’t do anything to me, now that I got him into jail? I didn’t wanna take that risk so I then left the house and left for my friends’ house. From there the clock hit midnight as I arrived there, and it was the beginning of February.

It’s March 15, 2022, Tuesday, and it’s been 43 days since I received a haircut. I feel my hair growing very long from the sides of my head, feeling more heat and sweat every time I dance. I’m thinking about getting one soon, but we’ll see this month if I can fit it into my schedule. I’ve been way too busy with school work Mondays-Thursday, making a dance class schedule Tuesday and Friday night, and finally working every Friday-Sundays.

Even though I took a break from my therapy session during the month of February. I feel like my schedule got busier now than it was before. However, I always think it’s better to be busy than sitting alone in my room sulking. I don’t mind the busy schedule, it’s been helping me get distracted from this rocky start of the year. It also made me realize that life will always continue, and I need to keep moving forward.

For people who are wondering what happened to George, well he’s going through the court system. He received a misdemeanor of animal cruelty and is restricted to have any contact with me. If he tries then I can call the police, and have him arrested for him going against the court. I’m gonna trust the system, and hopefully get justice for Luna. It’s still happening as of right now, but all I could do is hope for the best and pray. George and my sister will be moving out this year. This disturbing event has honestly changed a lot of perspectives regarding George, and from here I don’t think no one will see him the same again. I thought I knew the man who married my sister– although I just see him as a stranger.

Overall I’m getting better with myself mentally. From time to time I do get sad, but not for too long. I wanna try and keep living my life with only good memories of Luna, and not what I last saw of her. If I revolve my life around the last thing about her, then I’ll only remember the sad moment. She gave me a new look at my life when I had her. She gave me happiness and meaning to my life. From a quote of Kung fu Panda 2 whom Soothsayer played by Michelle Yeoh phenomenally excerpts this line. She states, “your story may not have such a happy beginning, but that does not make you who you are, it’s the rest of it, whom you choose to be.”

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