Close Your Eyes

Sparky

My Sparky

Perhaps the moments can be captured with eyes closed. Sitting at a desk in a small cubicle, office sounds filling your space added to the sound of the fan blowing at your feet, staring at numbers on a computer screen, close your eyes for a moment—no one will notice.

Sunday mid-morning. I step out onto the covered patio. The sun is bright. Squinting at the sparkle of frost-tipped grass blades, I inhale the gift God has given me. The experience may be best felt alone…or shared with your dog. Not a puppy. An older dog, wiser, quiet, appreciative—a shared understanding of the all-encompassing, if fleeting, joys of this private gift.

A bird flits from branch to branch. Tiny bird squawks, chirping and jumping, chirping and jumping. I watch the shadow of the bird on naked branches against the white of the vinyl-sided extension to the house. Long shadows intermingled with brilliant sun, some hours to mid-day.

There is no particular smell. Just freshness. What is the smell of freshness? Clean, crisp air. I breathe in, then blow out. White breath.

I turn and focus on a small diamond shape in the crosshatch vinyl slats surrounding part of the patio, partially screening my presence there. My dog starts to bark as he runs to the fence. Two yards down, his friend, a little Shih Tzu mix named Jack, is running his yard. Jack stops to acknowledge my dog, for a moment perched at the top of a rise in his yard, then turns and runs for the sheer joy of running. No answering bark today.

Sparky, my dog, lets his quieter, more reserved, “hello” bark continue in the direction of his backyard buddy two kingdoms down, then tapers off to a tiny “wuff, wuff” as Jack flies through the open door back into his house. Sparky sits down on pavement, cold but not wet, displayed in light, staring in the direction of his backyard friend. He is calm. He trusts he will see Jack later. I look at his shiny mahogany coat accented by what one might call golden tufts. A papillon mixed with a small dachshund, my dog, has beautiful coloring. His chest has some white, but his main coloring is a kind of tribute to autumn—rusty-mahogany, turning leaf, auburn-red-brown tipped in gold. His thick tail, the tail of a papillon, is all golden-beige. His muzzle is graying. His eyes are soft brown. I like when he parades around his yard, tail held up, ears at attention. When he is not concerned about hearing every sound, one ear droops. In the yard it’s usually droop, alert, droop, alert—happily prancing, then stock-still concentrating.

It is an old neighborhood. A confluence of tall trees, some hacked practically in half, vertically, to avoid power lines, but tall and strong, nonetheless, reaching to the skies. In the distance I see three very large birds lighting on the uppermost ends of the highest branches in view. I wonder what kind of birds they are. Crows? Hawks? But hawks do not travel in threes, do they? I realize I have seen less evidence of mice recently. Are the birds of prey responsible? Or is it my dog, or roaming cats?

Shaking that thought from my head I resume my study of the beauty of the morning. I want to hold it in. I want to keep it for myself, to be able to call upon it when I need it. Sometimes it is easy to call up, sometimes it is difficult.

The cubicle is boring. It is grey, grey walls slashed with a blue-green striping, sound-barrier carpeting up on temporary wall surfaces. There is no door to the cubicle, so sound comes in anyway, mostly unwanted, sometimes welcome. But not right now. The project has been tedious, numbers, always numbers. It’s not that I don’t like numbers. They are a form of measurement. Things need structure, measurement, calculation, content. It is good to form patterns, measure options, calculate forecasts, develop action plans. Stretching the brain to search for clues to create a better thing-a-ma-job or watch-a-ma-call-it, can be satisfying. Striving for the best thing-a-ma-job in the corporate world may be very gratifying, perhaps financially pleasing, perhaps award-winning…but it is still only a thing-a-ma-job, isn’t it?

I realize my shoulders are starting to feel sore and my right hand, perched on the mouse, is tingling, growing numb. I shake my hand while stretching my neck to the left, then to the right, front, back. Close your eyes, just for a moment, no one will notice, I tell myself. Because my multiple computer screens face a solid wall, my back to the open doorway of the cubicle, I know no one can see if my eyes are closed or open. The only give-away to my daydream state would be the eventual turning of the computer screens to the energy-saving mode from non-use for a period of time. The only “tell.”

Eyes closed, I reach for the image. It is elusive. But I need it. Just give it to me for a moment, please. Can’t…quite…get…it…

Maybe walking at lunchtime, alone, can help. There is a vacant lot between businesses on the east side of the factory. I start to walk along the west side of the building and anticipate the view of the east side. This side is concrete block, pavement, the occasional truck, person, goose, or goose poop. The back of the building is not any more glamorous, but the empty lot looms in front of me at this point, tall grasses, intermittent trees in various stages of growth, fronted by fencing I look through.

The walk is windy today…and cold. My eyes are wide open. Reaching for a memory is easy and hard. I just want to maximize the Sunday morning feeling, but too many other thoughts crowd in at the same time, jostling for position. I can’t wipe the unwanted to the side. I try, but the wanted keep sliding through, in, and around the unwanted. The deadline for the report—just after lunch, can I finish?—the smell of the smokers wafting on the winds from their designated perches outside the building—interference abounds.

I walk to the east side of a small outbuilding on the easternmost section of the fenced parking lot. Stopping for a moment, I turn to face the abandoned lot. Closing my eyes for a second, I call my dog’s running feet to the forefront of my brain. I picture his skinny legs hitting the ground as he joyously heads for the fence, looking for his buddy two yards down. I feel the cold, dismiss the wind, and open my eyes. A large bird lands on a scrawny tree branch not thirty feet from my face. I blow out the breath I didn’t know I was holding.

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Sun Kissed

Version 6The sun kissed my eyes and made me squint. Watching my dog at the corner of our fenced backyard, barking at a neighboring dog, blurred my focus as a small bird’s flapping wings flew through my line of vision.

It is a glorious morning in Michigan. The sky is bright. The leaves are raked. The temperature is crisp. My world is beautiful. Or is it?

I join my friends, family, neighbors, and strangers in a close partnership this day. We mourn Paris together. All the news programs are talking about a real danger we face. A reporter visiting New York, whose name I did not catch as I listened to a CBS report, spoke about his home in Paris. He talked of the Paris he knows…a grouping of small villages. At times, he said, he tires of everyone knowing his name when he moves around his personal neighborhood. I think he is embarrassed to admit this feeling.

In front of the camera he is calm, yet sincere, in his thick white/grey moustache and beautiful matching head of hair. His tie is a lovely shade of purple, tastefully matching his patterned pocket scarf. The light grey suit he has chosen would be very understated save for the pop of color with which he has accented his look. Speaking of trying to contact his friends at home, he dials in his sadness so that his words will be heard and not overshadowed by a visual display of grief. The little villages blend with his statement, “All of Paris is our village.”

Reminiscent of, “it takes a village…” I think about the concept. We are not all one, and yet we are one. We differ, and yet we are the same. We hate, and yet we are loved. We love, and yet we are hated. Retiring the word “hate” seems like a brilliant idea, and yet it is impossible. Circulating the word “love” in all its various forms and meanings is attempted, and yet it is thwarted.

I let my mind float from thought to thought, however random, as my dog runs in reckless abandon. Circling, sniffing, listening—hypersensitive—all his senses alert in the realm that is his backyard, he runs his village. I watch him and wonder. I command; he usually listens. One thing, and one thing only, makes him disobey—the hunt. My sweet, small, quirky, loving, attentive little dog will hunt down—and kill—any wayward bird, mouse, or mole that dares to enter his territory.

Are we humans able to be compared with our canine companions? I consider as I reach for a piece of bacon. I offer thanks for the pig. Then I immediately recall videos of pigs displaying emotion. I try not to think of the cows, chickens, and fish that die so I can eat. Is this a similar concept? No, I scold myself, I must eat to survive. Paris is different. It was killing for no reason. A flawed ideology, a hatred of people who do not believe in a particular concept. And yet, I wonder for the umpteenth time, why not go vegan? I follow this thought with anger at my brain as it bumps its way through my uncontrolled musings.

Killing for food aside, throughout history, man has killed for reasons that hold no logic—political reasons, misguided religious reasons—women and men have killed for king, country, ideology, family. Whether the fight was for borders or minority rights, power or ideals, revenge or imagined affront, misunderstood threat or real threat, genocide—war, in all its forms—cold, hot, far away, or in the next village, it is real. Too real.

I just checked on my dog. He is lounging in the sun, watching over his village.

I am weary. Recent events have left me drained.

My fertile mind floats toward a human tendency. Why do we applaud the bad guy? Not now, of course. We are not applauding ISIS, at least not the majority of us. But, why then, do we applaud the bad guy in other situations? Movies, minor thievery, rebels—for some reason we occasionally enjoy unsavory characters. It’s not the same, some would say. How dare you! There is no comparison, others would argue. Trivial infractions cannot compare to cruel acts of horrific terror. Killing innocent people is not the same. These are acts of war. Control your thoughts.

I agree as I ponder the human condition. My brain hurts as I try to arrive at the tiniest minutia of understanding terrorists’ issues—they elude me. I think of the pain, suffering, and death they inflict—even on themselves.

A form of entertainment was introduced in the United States in the 1970s—military-style combat video games overtook pinball machines as a form of play for the younger generation. In what world is that an acceptable form of play? I wondered as I watched young college students take a break from studying. Having entered university life at the tender age of thirty-nine, I had no clue, sprinkled with a heavy dose of dislike, about young people relaxing while pretending to shoot human targets instead of studying.

I still don’t get it.

Then I think farther back to “cowboys and Indians.” In my youth girls played with dolls while boys played with toy guns and cowboy hats. The file cabinet storage unit in my left cerebral hemisphere extracts an image from a movie—no—a book by Michener, if I recall correctly—where a native American Indian thanks the slaughtered beast before feasting on it. Later in the story—or perhaps a different story along the same lines—one tribe fights another tribe. But there is no blood involved. The battle is won when a warrior completes a coup. “Counting coup,” as I understand the concept, can be as simple as touching a member of an opposing tribe with a hand, or a bow, or a “coup stick,” as described in James A. Michener’s novel, Centennial. No blood need be drawn.

That sounds civilized to me.

I look at my dog as he chooses to come back into the house. He has scrutinized his yard today and all is calm. The kingdom is intact.

I love my little dog. I rescued him, and in some ways he rescues me. He cuddles with me as I look into his adorably round brown eyes and try not to think about the revulsion I felt when I picked up the mole he killed a few weeks ago. What is my dog thinking as he kills his prey? An intruder? Is he protecting his territory? I remember feeling helpless as I witnessed the event. No amount of calling, voice raised in anger, stopped him from his task. When he rolled the dead animal over with his paw, making certain that the little thing was, indeed, dead, he turned and walked away. No emotion, no regret, nothing.

My brain, always rolling, thinks of the real threat to any neighborhood dog—especially a small one, such as my own. Coyotes. I have seen a coyote a mile from my home. I have heard that coyotes kill dogs just because they are in the way. The territory governed by my dog, our backyard, becomes the coyote’s territory as soon as he chooses to set paw in it. Killing for perceived rights of ownership, be it land or territory, color of skin or fur-coated body, beliefs or instinct, seems to travel through all species.

If a coyote attacked my dog, I hope I am strong enough to go after the coyote. It goes against my core beliefs, to attack, to harm, to kill, and yet, I think I would try, as long as I was not cowering in fear.

Sharing my wandering, overflowing thoughts, I worry about sounding ridiculous and insensitive to the barbaric and savage terror attacks in Paris. It is not my intention. I am merely a student of the human—and apparently the canine—condition. A privileged person, such as myself, living in freedom and relative calm, I cry at injustice, and then I hide in my family room. I watch television and curl up with my dog, tail wagging happily as he licks my hand.

For the moment, my village is secure.

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My Castle

Scattered around a muddy field of written content, my words wander—grouping, attaching, forming, multiplying, sometimes stumbling over one another—meanings jumbled, misunderstood, working toward clarity.

Climbing the hill of dangling participles I slide down the steep slope of run-on sentences and fall into a patch of points of view. Rolling around I/we, bumping into you/yours, then jumping up with the assistance of they/them, I move on.

Chopping through a copse of sentence fragments, I relish in a mild shower of adjectives, then break through a wall of quotes and take a deep sigh of relief. I find myself staring at the Castle of Clarity. I just need to run through a lovely field of adverbs and call for the bridge to be dropped over the moat of writer’s block. Two short paragraphs later, I stand on one side of the moat, calling for the positioned end parenthesis to start the bridge lowering. Up on the wall of the castle, I notice that “end p” is staring at a turret. He does not hear me, I realize.

A beginning parenthesis taps on my shoulder and hands me a cell phone. “Text your request,” she says.

End parenthesis looks at his phone, turns, waves, and drops the bridge.

As I walk through the gates I am overwhelmed with the beauty of the castle. How can it be imposing and welcoming at the same time? I wonder, while deciding the creamy stonewalls resembled my best linen card stock. I see writers sitting at small tables strategically placed around the courtyard. Ludicrous as it may seem, there are as many handwriting with pens and pencils as there are using laptops. What century is this?

Three large doors stare at me from across the courtyard. A man—wait, no, yes—my history teacher from high school, is pointing at the doors in order from left to right, door #1, door #2, door #3, inviting me to choose. But I don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past. I wave to Mr. History and turn to my right. A man is holding a scroll of typeset words. His smile reminds me of my journalism instructor, also from high school. He unfurls the roll of copy and it creates a path to a small alcove with “door #4” on it. As I walk along the side of the carpet of copy I realize it is my original horoscope column from the school paper. I remember what fun it was to write all those years ago.

Deciding to trust what was behind door #4, I open it and step inside, shocked to walk into a huge, ornate bathroom. A shower sounds great. I shed years of regret, like soiled clothing, and flip them into a pile in a corner. My bare feet enjoy heated marble tiles. The Carpenters’ song, “We’ve Only Just Begun,” is playing softly. As I listen to my school song from graduating class, I step into the shower. Crystal clear thoughts and ideas drop from the showerhead like warm rain dancing on a windowsill.

Refreshed and invigorated, I wrap myself in a fluffy robe of contentment and cozy slippers. A sense of familiarity comes over me as I walk down the hall into my kitchen—my regular kitchen from my real-life home. The delicious scent of brewing coffee greets me. Italian dark roast coffee is dripping into a mug; a perfect hard-boiled egg is sitting in an eggcup; and, toast pops up from the toaster. Just as I pick up my adorable dog, and he licks my chin, I look out the French doors leading from the breakfast nook to the front of the house, and straight out the bow window in the dining room. A child is playing in a tall pile of leaves on my neighbor’s lawn. A light source bounces off my right eye and I turn to see where it is originating. My old puppy is still in my arms as I spot the ornate, silver-framed piece sitting on the granite countertop.

It is the only thing I don’t recognize in my kitchen.

I move toward it, look closer, and read the inscribed words intricately woven into silver vines on the frame.

“Everything you need is right here,” I read aloud, glancing at the mirror inside the frame. I am pictured there, holding my dog, a glimpse of the Keurig® on the counter to my right, a corner of the laptop on the breakfast table to my left.

Gently lowering my sweet, old dog to the floor, I get the egg, toast, and coffee, then sit down in front of the laptop. Freeing my hands of the food, I open the laptop to a new document.

The page is blank.

I smile as my fingers type.

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Opening Day and Dad

2:18 p.m., top of the fifth. Tigers 3, Minnesota 0. I sit in my favorite chair with my feet up on the ottoman and a cup of coffee in my hands. Relaxing to the soft sound of the low voices announcing all the game plays, I am reminded of my father. Dad loved listening to Ernie Harwell call the games decades ago…when Ernie was a permanent fixture on Detroit television in the early spring, summer and autumn. Those dulcet tones, I remember well.

The TV was a small screen in a twelve by fourteen foot “front” room…our tiny living room in our modest two-bedroom wooden home in Detroit, just outside of Hamtramck, Michigan. The black-and-white images on the television screen, a common sight in a low-to-mid income home in a blue-collar neighborhood comprised mainly of factory-line workers, was the focal point of our family’s indoor viewing pleasure. Mom was usually busy in the kitchen preparing our meal. Didn’t matter which meal we are discussing here, Mom prepared them all. Brother and sister, if not sitting next to Dad on the couch watching the game, were outside playing with friends somewhere in a one-to-three block radius of home. And, me? I was probably lying across the bed in the room I shared with my sister, reading. I was always reading, or drawing. If it wasn’t a schoolbook, it was a novel, or a sketchpad. The voice of Ernie Harwell would float in and out of my conscious state, only noticeable when I had a reading pause, for contemplation or other reasons, or if Ernie raised his voice in excitement, for a home run, or a fantastic play. I think I remember Ernie extending syllables at important moments, like, “Loooooong gone,” or similar exclamations of baseball glory. Being the daughter-not-particularly-interested-in-sports-of-any-kind, I was aware of my appreciation of the game only recently. In moments of awakening interest that jumped up to surprise me over the years, I occasionally found myself reveling in Red Wing playoff games, Michigan football, Nicklaus golf, a horse that had a chance at the Triple Crown, Olympic gymnastics or swimming, or the eighty-four-mile-per-hour pitch Price just threw. Detroit 4, Minnesota 0, top of the seventh.

The world, as I now live it, is a very different place compared to the world I knew as a child, young teen, or twenty-something newlywed. My quiet-yet-loud, grumbling-yet-happy, devout Catholic father was a bit of an enigma. His sternly knit eyebrows could relax in an instant when we, as children, caught him in a bit of family fun. Dad might gear up (bushy eyebrows coming together) for an onslaught of kids running in from playtime outside, sweaty, dirty, happy. But then the eyebrows would resume normal position when we all sat down to another excellent meal prepared by our loving mother. Or the volume might reach ear-piercing levels when Dad yelled at an errant driver, such as myself, trying to find first gear on our three-on-the-tree, stick shift, 1964 Plymouth. Remembering my dad’s soft-to-yelling reminders as we sat at a stoplight that had just changed, “The light is green, The Light Is Green, THE LIGHT IS GREEN!” I’m afraid I run out of fingers and toes on which to count the number of times I stalled that poor, old Plymouth. Finally my sweet father let an older nephew take a turn at driver’s training tasks with his eldest daughter, whose last tear-drenched, learning-to-drive-with-Dad experience included the following statement: “I will never learn to drive.”

3:39 p.m. Top of the ninth, one and two, strike three, “Tigers begin 2015 in an impressive fashion.” Twins 0, Tigers 4. “Opening Day in the ‘D.’”

Price “got the job done.” 56 degrees outside and the Tigers win our home opener. Fastest pitch time I saw, Price, 94 mph. Fun, fun, fun. Nice, nice, nice. One hundred sixty-one games to go.

Dad would have been pleased. Thinking of him now, gone over twenty-five years, my dear father was the redwood of the family unit. Tall and strong, with muscled shoulders and arms, tapered down to his hips, he strikes an impressive pose in my memory. When I was a child, nobody was as strong as my Daddy. When I was a child, nobody could protect our family as well as Daddy could. When I was a child, nobody could knit those brows, yell louder, walk faster, fix the car better, or be at Mass at our family parish earlier, than my Daddy. Dad did not walk me down the aisle at my wedding; he marched me down that aisle, double-time.

I stop typing to pet my dog, who has popped up by my side with tail wagging, demanding my attention. After a rousing round of “Where’s your toy?” my dog finally accepts my need to continue typing.

There are times when I try to calm myself. Petting my dog is usually the best way to stem the very regular tide of unwelcome nerves that threaten to encroach and dampen my day, week, or month. Sometimes composure eludes me. A chunk of time spent in my backyard, sitting on my covered patio, watching my dog run around, concentrating on the trees growing in my yard, can bring back the peacefulness I seek. That type of peace is what I refer to as “achieved calm.” It is purposefully sought by my active mind. To achieve my best state of mind, I would call “natural calm,” I have to feel the aura of my father. This cannot usually be planned, as in the scheduled baseball game viewing. It is a feeling that washes over me, with a breeze through the trees, the sighting of a penny on the sidewalk, a light rain hitting the windshield of the car on a cloudy day. My only living companion at such a time is my dog… or it may just be me. A gentle roll, the feeling washes over me and I am calm.

I have never seen an actual redwood in person, but, then, I take that back… as I stare into the depths of my memory and see my Father, standing tall.

Note: 2015 baseball quoted references are drawn from live viewing on Fox 2 Detroit station covering the Detroit Tigers home opener on April 6, 2015.

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And So It Goes

And So It Goes.

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And So It Goes

I thought I would post this short story I entered in a writing contest today. What do you think?

By Ann Frances Jerzowski

The day did not start well. I looked down at the coffee stain drying on the side of my right pant leg. On my way to school and I’m going to walk in with a huge coffee stain on pale pink jeans. How embarrassing.
I got out of the car and grabbed my book carrier on wheels. Carrying schoolbooks, a laptop, and a purse were a little much for a sixty-year-old university student. Rolling along up to the door another student took pity on me and held the door open. Probably saw the coffee stain. I gave her my best smile, walked in, and tripped on the rubber mat in the foyer. Maybe I should go home and crawl back into bed.
Entered the classroom and quickly sat down at my desk. I opened up my laptop and made ready for the three-hour lesson. It was difficult to concentrate because I was thinking about the part-time job interview I was supposed to go to right after class. Perhaps I should leave class early, go home to change, then go to the interview? I decided to stay in class and explain away the coffee stain at the interview. Impress the interviewer with my take-charge, nothing-bothers-me, go-with-the-flow attitude.
Surprisingly the interviewer was impressed. I was to start Monday. Clerical work, twenty hours a week. I was a little nervous, though, because schoolwork filled most hours of my day. Instead I thought fondly of my niece and the movie/lunch date we had set for tomorrow, Saturday afternoon. Schoolwork would wait for Sunday.
Sheila, my twenty-year-old niece, was in her third year at the university she attended. I was in my fourth year and we always compared notes. We chattered happily while waiting in line for our movie tickets, lunch to follow. I was fishing around in my purse for my wallet. Panic. My wallet was missing. Was today going to be as bad as yesterday? The coffee-stain-and-trip day lingered in my subconscious mind as my conscious mind busied itself with where my wallet may be. Sheila paid.
I let Sheila know my wallet was sitting on my kitchen counter in the very spot where I normally drop my purse as I walk in the door from the garage. Promised I’d pay next time. Grabbed the wallet and took off for the grocery store.
Pulling away from the grocery store parking lot my “check tires” light came on the dash. Fortunately a tire shop sat at the edge of the lot. Unfortunately for me, the tire store had just closed for the night. Three phone calls and a friend’s help finally got me back on the road.
I thought about just going to bed and covering my head up with the blanket. Convinced myself to read a homework assignment first for about thirty minutes, then succumbed to my pillow and blanket. Perhaps Sunday would be better.
Looking at my tire as I opened my garage door, all seemed fine. I tried singing to myself in the car on the way to the tire shop. They opened at noon Sunday. I explained I’d used a can of the fix-a-tire stuff before I let the tire attendant pull off my errant tire. Back at home I studied.
Monday came and school went without much of a hitch.
Walking into the part-time job location I noticed a young woman with a bright green sweater sitting in the waiting area. We nodded at one another and someone came to get her while I waited my turn. Mike, the interviewer, pulled me into his office. Before he closed the door to his office I caught a flash of bright green and the back of two heads studying something on a desk. I started to get a bad feeling.
“How are you doing today, Lisa?” Mike asked as he started to shuffle some papers on his desk. I noticed he was not looking at me directly.
“It’s ‘Linda,’ my name is Linda.” I wanted to add, “You just met me Friday, don’t you remember?”
I closed the door to the part-time opportunity I thought I was starting that day and walked down the steps to my car. Apparently the young woman in the green sweater was the niece of Mike’s partner, Jim. Jim and Mike were the business owners. Green sweater needed a part-time job and Jim did not consult Mike before he hired her. Nor did Mike tell Jim about me. A sorry, so sorry, mix up with me caught holding the bag, the quite empty bag, at the end of the story.
I was mad–not angry–mad. I threw open the door on the passenger side of my car, tossed my purse on the front seat, slammed the door, and a huge gush of surprised air flew from my lips. I had slammed the door on my thumb, and in the surprise and pain, dropped my car keys on the ground. Everything seemed to turn to slow motion mode. The car door was locked. My thumb was stuck. I had to crouch to pick up my keys with my one good hand. Thank God I was able to reach them. Another agonizing thirty seconds or so trying to maneuver the key fob into position to pop open the locked door, then, finally, freedom. My thumb hurt like a son-of-a-something. Knowing my face was now completely beet red, trying not to glance toward the windows of the office building I had just exited, I drove away as fast as I could looking for the nearest “Urgent Care” sign.
The next morning my thumb was still pounding while I readied for school. I had not finished my homework the night before finding the wrap around my aching thumb cumbersome and annoying. My Tuesday class started at one p.m. I stopped for a burger on the way to school. Just pulling away from the drive-thru window I saw the car in front of me slam on his brakes and blow the horn. A flash of red with a gold tail ran out from in front of the car. I pulled over and jumped out of my car still holding my paper bag with the burger in it. I could see the small dog, running freely through the parked cars heading straight for the busy street. Another person was trying to maneuver him back toward the relative safety of the parking lot. The dog’s coat was a brilliant shade of reddish/brown and his tail was tipped in golden beige. I called the first dog name that came to mind for a redheaded dog, as loudly as I could, “Sparky, come!”
He turned, I crinkled my sack of burger, he ran right to me. The other person who stopped to help followed. Neither one of us knew the dog. I took him to a vet to see if he had an i.d. chip in his shoulder. No school today.
The dog I was calling Sparky was probably a mix of some kind. No collar, no leash. He loved my burger and seemed to love me even more. He wouldn’t stop licking me with his smelly dog breath and wagged his tail with his whole little body. I started hoping his owners had not installed the i.d. chip.
But they did. I found out the owners had been looking for him for two days and their only son was frantic over his lost dog. I waited at the vet’s office while the boy’s father walked in and was led to an inner office to discuss the dog’s apparent good luck because little Sparky, as he was known to me, was not injured. Mom and young son soon followed, the boy crying so hard he could barely walk. After all was settled the family wanted to meet me, the savior of their little dog, whose real name was “Stinky.” I now thought of him as Stinky-Sparky. DeShawn, the little boy with drying tearstains on his angelic face, kept holding and hugging his little dog. Stinky, DeShawn, and I posed for a “happy reunion” photo. Mom and dad thanked me profusely and sent the photo from their phone to my phone. DeShawn took his eyes off Stinky for a total of 3 seconds and flashed me the biggest smile before they walked out of my life.
For a few moments I had forgotten about my thumb, the two days of homework I needed to complete, and the job I never started. Back home I received a voicemail from the vet about dogs they knew who needed fostering and adopting. I looked at my photo of Stinky-Sparky, DeShawn, and me, all smiles. I allowed myself to remember the strong thump, thump, thump of Stinky’s tail as it wagged against my arm while we posed for our photo. I felt contentment wash over me. I turned to my homework.
And so it goes.

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Sparky, my new little rescue

Sparky, my new little rescue.

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