Dick Masterson's Blog

Thedore Roosevelt

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Dogs Tale

Friendship is hard to come by in a world of suspicion, greed and jealousy. Nevertheless, a young boy found friendship in a stray dog while riding his bicycle through an abandoned Cranberry Bog. The temperature that July day soared pass ninety-plus degrees and the humidity wasn't far behind. Jim still had three miles to go before reaching town. Peddling a hand-me-down from his brother Bill, whose last words, before getting on the bus, were, "Keep the chain well oiled Jim, and it might last you through the summer. I'll be back when the war's over."
Jim, now the eldest now had to accept the responsibilities around the farm, doing the chores, plus the weekly grocery shopping.
“Here's a twenty-dollar bill,"“Jim,” his mother said. . "Put it in your back overall pocket and cover it with your bandanna, this is all we have until the first of the month. Here take this shopping list, put it with the ration book in your top shirt pocket and make sure it's buttoned and when your done, come right home, no dallying. There's work to be done around here."
Jim checked the tires and tightened the chain. Going down the driveway, he waved to his mother, who hollered back. "Make sure you count the change."
The three-mile ride over along the lakeshore road provided a breeze to cool Jim off, until he came to the Cranberry Bogs. Going through the Bogs would cut a half mile off the ride. The down side was, the Bog was located in a swamp. You could cut the humity with a knife. If you pedddled fast enough, the breeze provided a cool relief. With a mile behind him, his shirt sticking to his back and sweat burning his eyes, Jim decided to take the old wagon road and cut through the bogs. With enough speed, a half-mile would be a cinch, Jim decided. He was on his way. The breeze in his face felt good.
Halfway through the bogs, he heard the cry of a and animal. He stopped and listened. Again he heard it. Sounded like dog in pain. Jim whistled, "Where are ya, boy?" he hollered. No response. He whistled again.
A loud bark came from the culvert. Jim looked over into the culvert and observed a dog, (a big black Labrador) tangled in the briars, struggling to free himself. In the dogs struggle to free himslf, the briars cut deeper into his leg's. Jim laid his bike down on the ground and slid down the culvert. The dogs leg's were tightly wrapped in the briars cutting into his leg's. and, binding him to the culvert. Struggling to get out, the big Lab made the situation worse.
"Okay, boy, take it easy now," Jim said. "Let me help ya."
The more the big dog struggled to free himself, the tighter the briars became, cutting into his leg's causing them to bleed. Jim remembered what his brother told him about animals.
“Be careful when you're handling injured animals, Jim, they become frightened, and will bite you for self-protection. They could not only give you a serious bite, but they could be rabid."
"Easy, boy,Easy, let me help you." Jim said reaching out to the dog as he stroked the dog’s head. "Good boy, good boy now. Everything will be all right."
He took out his pocket knife and cut the briars around the dog's leg, then gently helped the dog to his feet and onto the roadside.
"You'll be okay, boy. Where's your collar? With no collar, he's got to be a stray, thought Jim.
He had no time for the injured dog. He knew, in time, the dog's wounds would heal, but right now he had to get to the store. He got back on his bike and started for town again.
Halfway up the road, he turned around and gave the dog a last look, only to find the poor creature limping after him in a half trot. Ah, the poor thing. I hope he tires and stops to rest. Jim thought, picking up the speed. He 'II be all right, I guess. I just can't think about it now. Maybe on the way back, I'll check to see if he's still there.
He had a half-mile to go, and the dog struggled to keep up.
Over the stone bridge and on to Madison Ave, he made a left onto Second Street and there he parked his bike under the green awning that read "The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company."
The dog came limping over and laid down under the awning. He began licking his wounds. Jim took out his bandana and wiped the sweat and grime from his face and arms. Before putting the bandana back in his pocket, he knelt down and wiped the blood from the dogs leg. With a soft whimper, the dog reached over and licked Jim’s hand.
"Just lie here,” Jim said, “and rest up, I’ll be right out.” Entering the store, he let the screen door slam behind him and welcomed the breeze from the overhead fans and the fresh aroma of coffee.
He had only put a few items in the basket when the barking started. The sound came from outside the store. He wondered, Could that be the stray?
The barking grew louder. The tall robust clerk walked over to the front window, looked out and then turned to the people in the store. "Does anyone here own a big black dog?" he hollered in annoyance..
Jim kept his head down. Maybe someone saw me with the dog and thinks it’s mine. Jim ignored the clerk.
"I think the dog belongs to that kid over there," someone said, looking toward Jim. "I saw the dog follow him to the store."
The bark grew louder with a fierce tone.
The clerk walked over to Jim and stared down at him. "Is that your dog out there?"
Jim could see a large crowd had gathered outside forming a circle around the dog.
Jim murmured, "I don't think so." He became scared. He decided to leave the store and abandon the groceries and the dog, maybe come back later, hoping the dog would be gone.
He left the basket and headed for the screen door. Looking out, he saw the large crowd around the dog, who was now barking louder, with a menacing snapping growl.
Jim quickly walked toward his bike. He gave the dog one last look
of denial. Then stopped when he noticed something lying in front of the dog. The big dog was standing over what looked like a piece of crumpled paper. A closer look, yes it was, a twenty-dollar bill. He pulled out his bandana, stuck his hand into his pocket and came up empty. Oh my God, that's my money, he said to himself. It must have dropped out when I pulled out my bandana.
Jim walked through the crowd, knelt down and picked up the twenty-dollar bill. He put it in his pocket. Wrapping his arms around the dog's head and stroking it, Jim pulled the dog close.
“Good boy, good dog." He said , as he stroked him again.
The dog limped back and lay down under the awning. Jim stood up and walked back into the store. When the screen door slammed behind him, he heard someone in the dwindling crowd say, "I guess it belongs to the boy."

The End

1 comment:

Karen said...

This is a great story. I can hear strains of your childhood, Grandma's voice in the mother and I can feel the dusty road in Lakewood.

And I want to know. . . does he take the dog home with him? I'm not sure you have to say whether or not he does, but I connect with the characters so much that I want to know.