I don’t write to be famous, I don’t write to be known, I write because I am and I want to be read. How sad to fill a room with paintings no one sees or play music no one hears. Writing is talking without sound, singing without score and dancing without movement and yet, it is all of them. It is a solitary art conjured from thought and expressed by the need to communicate.

HEAD-SLAPS, SPEED-BUMPS and LIGHT-BULBS, one woman's WTF, oops and ah-ha moments of life.

They were published once, and as every writer knows, once is not enough.



Sunday, November 16, 2014

From, REFERENCE TO THE UNSPOKEN

Not my boy, but almost.

 
I wanted to post something a little different so I am sharing the opening of one of my 'trunk' novels. I am doing this for two reasons.
It's an example of how a real event can become a part of fiction and it's a tribute to my good old boy Harley.
Though the scene took place on the shore of a another river very far from here, what happened to the dog in this opening, is what happened to my dog, when he was a puppy, twelve years ago.
Once a handsome young adult, we call him our old boy now. Though he struggles on some days, he is not suffering. We have given him a good life, keep him comfortable and let him know that he is adored. Though his days are sometimes difficult, he is still able. We feel this will be his last winter but until the day comes when we may have to make the decision, I would rather leave to God, we hold him tight and tell him he is the best of the best and loved.
There is a lesson here I think. Maybe two. Don't underestimate spirit and heroes are everywhere.
 

The Spirit of the Connecticut
 
When pleasure by the river settles in the mud,
it may become unspeakable.
 


            At the end of Marsh Lane, the short dirt road leading to the Connecticut River, there is a small parking lot with a state boat launch. It’s not a fancy launch, where huge SUVs pull up to back their Whalers down a wide and sturdy cement ramp into the river. It’s a place for hikers to park, and kayakers to wade in the mud while gently setting the belly’s of their small boats in the water. Secluded, it is a contemplative place, where a person can watch the ebb and flow of the current and seek solace. Or, if it is within their nature, they may take advantage of how remote the location is and perform ineffable acts.

            With no thoughts as to whether anyone was watching, two boys with a puppy, splashed in the muddy shallows by the launch. A stick, tossed by one of the boys, landed in the water just beyond the pup’s reach. He bounded after it like it was a T-bone sliding off a picnic plate. A woman, watching from the parking lot, was entertained at first, until the game changed.

            The ball of yellow fluff, a golden retriever and yellow lab cross, was energetic and eager to play. Standing at the edge of the water, his hind end wagging, he looked as if he’d wag himself right over. When the stick first landed in the water, he didn’t know what to do; one paw wet, and then the other, until finally stepping in to reach the stick, he brought it back to shore. The boys started throwing the stick further out into the river until the puppy, struggling to swim, reached it. Finally the dog, after the farthest throw, stood firm, as if to say, you’ve thrown it too far, boys, I’m not going out for that one.’

            “Fetch it!” The older boy yelled.

            Even from the edge of the lot, where the woman stood, she could see the boy, red faced, ‘spit’ the word fetch. He was livid.

            “Fetch it you little shit!” The younger boy screamed.

            Glancing among the few parked cars the woman searched for someone to step in and control the boys, the cars were empty.

            Tilting his head, the dog looked as if he were reasoning why his friends were mad at him; he was having fun up until that moment. He turned away from the yelling, ears down, head dipped. The boys’ nasty voices had changed the temper of play, the puppy was scared. He lay flat as if to make himself disappear.

            Stomping over to the dog and grabbing him by the scruff of the neck, the younger boy yanked him to a stand. Pulling away, the dog yelped, the boy smacked him.

            The older boy grabbed the puppy’s tail; squirming, he snapped to get away. With his fingers buried in the scruff, and the dog’s mouth held shut, the first boy stepped further out into the river. The other boy sunk his hands into the muddy fur of the puppy’s back. They struggled forward with the squirming dog farther out into the water. Waist deep the two boys plunged the dog under and held him there.

            The woman, watching from the lot, could not believe the horror happening before her eyes. Frantic, she scanned the shore for someone to stop the sickening scene.

            She never felt how cold the water, and how strong the current, or how the river bottom filled her shoes with mud. Digging her fingers into one kid’s shoulder, she yanked until he let go of the dog. Grabbing a handful of the other kid’s hair, she pulled back, until he raised his hands to fight her off. Both thrashed away as she scooped up the puppy and headed for shore.

            Emitting a filthy word-barrage, the boys were pissed that the woman had spoiled their demented game. For an instant she turned and stared them into silence. Slowly backing downstream toward shore, once their feet hit dry dirt they ran.

            Placing the limp puppy on the hood of her car, muddy rivulets of water wept from the metal onto the ground. His tongue hung from the side of his mouth; the puppy was not breathing. Shedding her sweatshirt the woman began to rub the dog down, chanting over and over again, breathe, little guy, breathe. The shirt, as wet as the dog, became a hug of sorts, massaging and stimulating, as she continued her mantra, breathe, little guy, breathe.

            Shuddering from a spasm, his body squirmed under her tender hands, until he finally settled calmly on the warm hood of the car. The woman spoke kind words to the little dog, telling him he was alright and that no one would hurt him again. Raising his head he looked at the woman and tucked his tongue into his mouth. At first tapping out a slow rhythm on the car’s hood, the puppy’s tail quickened, and soon became an energetic thank you to the woman.

            Gently lifting the dog, she set him on the ground. Looking up to her, his tail swiftly sweeping side to side, he stood on his hind legs as if asking to play.

            “You sure have spirit little guy,” she said as she petted his muddy fur. His tale started to wag so hard she thought he’d wag himself right over.

            “Yup, you sure have spirit. Hey," she said, “that’s a great name for you, Spirit.”

            The woman took the puppy home that day. Once his fur was dry she brushed him clean and settled him beside her favorite chair. With all her heart she wanted to keep him but because her landlord would not allow pets she had to quickly find him a home.

At work, during a meeting with colleagues, the woman told the story of how she saved a puppy from two boys intent on drowning him. One of her co-workers, a college professor, stepped forward.

            “I’ll take him,” Professor Dennison said.

            “He’s yours,” the woman said without a moment’s hesitation, because she knew, of all the people she worked with, of everyone she had ever known, Professor Lillian Dennison was the one most needing Spirit.

10 comments:

  1. I have something in my eye, it's all misty.

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    1. Thank you, I appreciate the sentiment. There is no better dog than our old boy Harley. He is the best dog ever.
      Every once in a while I wonder about the two boys who tried to kill him. They'd be adults now. I don't know if I should be afraid for, or of them.

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    2. I adore the miracle of dogs: every one of them is the best dog ever. Deeply amazing and wondrous!

      Penelope was CALLING to me after reading this. Just had to hold on to her. But then - I often feel that way. :)

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    3. My father used to say that a dog was the only love you could buy. Penelope, I love that name.

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    4. Harley is on the awesome side, too.

      She had that name before I ever met her, and they asked me what I would name her when I adopted her. This girl was clearly my Pen-Pen. My Penny Pie. My Penny-dopey.

      Gossamer, I named all by myself.

      'Scuse me, I need to go love on some furbabies now. :)

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  2. I was actually getting a terrible sinking feeling as I read this (no pun intended, believe me). I didn't know if I could finish! Thank GOD you intervened. My temper and my absolute ridiculously sensitive nature over anyone being cruel towards any animal would have had me in deep trouble. I think I would have shoved their heads underwater to show them how it felt. Nothing, but nothing makes me more angry than cruelty.

    Great story!!!

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    1. Thanks Donna.
      Actually I am not the one who intervened.
      This happened in Virginia and the woman who saved Harley drove him, 10 hours, to Connecticut, one town over from us. She couldn't keep him and gave him to a young couple who lived with the wife's parents. The wife became pregnant, the house was small and Harley had to be kept in the basement all day and walked on a leash at night because the neighborhood was small.
      Shortly after we had our sweet Brandy, an awesome dog, put to sleep, old age, it was her time, a friend showed us a picture of Harley and he told us his story.
      No way did I want that young lanky pup, (he was almost a year old at that point), because he looked exactly like Brandy. It was just too soon. I thought I'd look at him and see only her. We went to 'just visit' him and when he bounded around the house he jumped right into our van. Of course I knew he'd be coming home with us. The young, soon-to-be father climbed in our van, hugged Harley and bawled. He said Harley was the best dog ever. And you know what, he still is.

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    2. Dog stories get me. This small addition/clarification of the rest of the story had me teary eyed - AGAIN! Carolynn, if you added a bit more to the end of this, you should submit it somewhere as an essay. Maybe something about why Lillian Dennison needed Spirit, and maybe a few antics post adoption just to show how he changes her, etc. It's so COMPELLING, and is about life, hope and love.

      Not that you don't have enough going on. :)

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    3. Oh Donna, sounds like the song, you're going to love this.

      This piece is the prologue to the novel. Yup, that dirty word again. That I even thought of digging out one of my novels and posting this is a mystery to me. I wanted (Harley's story) to help profile Lillian's needs and how friends, and the people she works with, perceive her. That she needs Spirit, both the dog and the word, is what I hoped the lead would show.
      Your kind words regarding expanding it have my mind tripping all over itself, again.
      BTW it's no go on the other project but we have a back and forth going on which I think is good. Moving on and not giving up.
      God I wish this this book, had worked out , it's great story, or so I've been told. Oh well.

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    4. You have a lot going on which means lots of possibilities. I'm sorry about the "no go," with SR. Still, that's only one no, and not the end of the line I'm sure there are plenty more to query. Keep going.

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