At the age of twelve, Brian Derbez was a small and non-athletic boy, quite different from his father, Gerardo, who struggled to understand his shy son.
Gerardo, with his tall and sturdy build, had a mischievous nature during his own adolescence.
Despite Gerardo’s efforts to boost Brian’s self-confidence, the boy seemed to withdraw further.
It was undeniable that Brian was intelligent, as evidenced by his scholarship at a prestigious private school in another part of town.
Though afraid to take the bus, Brian was fortunate that his father could pick him up every afternoon since the school was close to Gerardo’s workplace.
As a sergeant at the local police station, Gerardo’s job ended at 5:00 p.m., coinciding with the school day.
During winter, Brian would wait in the library and complete his homework.
However, in the summer, he preferred sitting on the school steps, basking in the sun while awaiting his father’s arrival.
One afternoon, when Gerardo arrived, Brian was not on the steps as usual.
Instead, he was at the school gate, fondly petting a dog.
The young boy looked at his father with a joyful smile and exclaimed, “Look, Dad!” He then commanded the dog, “Dance!”
To Gerardo’s surprise, the dog leaped onto its hind legs, spun around with its front paws in the air, and happily stuck out its tongue.
“Isn’t that great?” Brian asked, seeking his father’s approval.
“Yeah,” Gerardo replied, taken aback by Brian’s unexpected enthusiasm.
Curious, he inquired, “Whose dog is that?” Brian pointed towards a man sitting on the sidewalk, leaning against the school fence.
The man, in his forties and homeless, had a bundle of blankets beside him.
However, the dog, a well-cared-for Golden Retriever, was in good shape.
On the way home, Gerardo felt compelled to address the situation.
“Listen, Brian, I want you to stay away from that man and his dog, okay?” he instructed.
Brian, however, insisted, “Carlos is good, and I want Gaspar!”
Gerardo questioned, “Gaspar? Is that the dog’s name? I’m sure Gaspar is a good dog, but I don’t want you befriending strays, Brian.
Do you understand?” Brian attempted to protest, but Gerardo sternly shut down any further discussion.
The following day, when Gerardo went to pick up Brian, he found the boy diligently sitting on the steps, engrossed in a book.
However, that night, Gerardo’s wife discovered that half of a roast chicken was missing.
Puzzled, she expressed her confusion, saying, “I don’t understand!
I set that aside to make sandwiches for Brian’s lunch, and now it’s gone!”
Gerardo glanced at Brian, whose innocent look triggered suspicion within him.
He wondered if Brian had been taking food to school for the homeless man and his dog.
Gerardo began keeping a close eye on the pantry and noticed that cans of sausage were disappearing as well.
It became evident that his son was stealing to feed the dog and the homeless man every day.
Brian, who had difficulty making human friends, had formed a strong bond with the dog.
It was a pity that the dog belonged to a stray, a man who could potentially pose a threat.
Two days later, Gerardo left work early and arrived at the school to surprise Brian at the door.
He carried a bag and said, “Hi, Carlos! I brought your favorite pasta—and for you, Gaspar, your favorite sausages!”
Confused and concerned, Gerardo questioned his son’s actions.
Brian looked at him, and for the first time, Gerardo saw fear in his eyes, which immediately sparked anger within him.
“Get away from that man!” Gerardo shouted. “Get in the car!”
That night, Gerardo and his wife had a conversation with Brian about the dangers of befriending strangers.
Brian, however, held a different perspective. “Dad, I know about the danger of strangers.
Carlos is NOT like that; he’s nice,” he argued.
“You can tell he’s a good person because Gaspar loves him so much. Gaspar is the best dog, the smartest dog.”
In a calm tone, Gerardo responded, “Brian, I’m sure Gaspar is a great dog, but you know what?
Hitler had a great dog, and he loved him. I’m sure the dog reciprocated.
But a good dog doesn’t make this bum a good person. Please stay away from him, Brian.”
Brian couldn’t contain his emotions any longer and exclaimed, “No! Carlos is my friend, and I love Gaspar!
Why do you always have to ruin everything? I hate you!”
That night, Gerardo made a decision. He would find his own way to resolve this issue.
Early the following Saturday, Brian awoke to the sound of anxious barking.
He thought, “It’s Gaspar!” Hurriedly, he got out of bed and looked out the window.
Gaspar was on the porch, barking restlessly. “Gaspar!” Brian called out as he opened the door, and the dog immediately ran to him.
Gaspar placed his head in Brian’s lap and began whimpering.
Concerned, Brian asked, “What’s wrong, boy? Where’s Carlos?” However, the dog continued whimpering and shaking, prompting Brian to do something he had always feared: go to his father’s workplace and seek help.
Gerardo was left speechless when he saw Brian at the police station with the dog by his side.
“Brian!” he exclaimed. “What are you doing here? How did you get here?”
Anxiously, Brian shouted, “Dad! I think something bad has happened to Carlos.
Gaspar came looking for me, and he’s really scared…” But Gaspar’s fear was not directed towards Brian; instead, the dog was growling at Brian’s father.
It was the first time Brian had witnessed such behavior from Gaspar.
Confused and alarmed, Brian questioned his father, “Dad! What have you done?” Gerardo responded, “Carlos was loitering near a school and was warned twice, so we arrested him!”
Brian, deeply concerned, protested, “But Dad! He didn’t do anything wrong! He’s not well; he needs help…
You don’t know anything about him! He’s a veteran and was in the bomb squad, working with sniffer dogs to find explosives.
That’s why Gaspar is so well-trained. He’s a good man, and you’ve arrested him.
He’s just sick.” Filled with anger, Gerardo shouted, “He’s not sick! He’s a bum!”
With tears in his eyes, Brian softly said, “No, Dad. He doesn’t drink or anything, and most of the time, he talks to himself.
He needs psychological help.” Gerardo felt ashamed, particularly because he couldn’t admit to himself that a part of him was envious of Carlos and his friendship with his son.
After conducting some research, Gerardo discovered that Carlos had a sister who had been searching for him for years.
He contacted Carlos’ sister, and she was overjoyed at the news.
She took Carlos home and promptly enrolled him in a mental health clinic, with Gaspar accompanying him, of course.
Brian missed Carlos dearly, but it was Gaspar’s absence that weighed heavily on his heart.
Then, one day, Gerardo returned home with a beaming smile on his face and a mysterious bundle concealed under his jacket.
With excitement, he revealed a puppy to Brian. “Here you go,” he said, presenting the pup.
“You have to name it!” Overwhelmed with happiness, Brian burst into tears and exclaimed, “Gaspar!”
He gasped for breath and continued, “His name is Gaspar Two.”