December 15, 1965
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. About Christmas. Don’t you just love December? Christmas comes in December and there is so much to love about Christmas. First no school for a couple of weeks. All right, that shouldn’t have been first. Jesus being born should have been first. But He knows I’m ready for a break from school. All those tests and homework papers and teachers talk, talk, talking. I don’t guess everything about school is bad. There are my friends. I like getting to talk to them.
What else is fun about Christmas? Church programs and Sunday school times. See the card. Janie made this for me in Sunday school. Isn’t it the sweetest card you ever saw? Janie is eight. So she’s not in the Beginners class that where I help Miss Vangie keep all the little kids happy. Or at least sort of occupied and quiet. Thank goodness, Miss Vangie always brings vanilla wafers. Little kids love cookies. But Janie is in the Primary class. Miss Sally teaches that class. Janie does like to sit with me in church sometimes and so she made me this card. I like the presents under the tree, don’t you?
That’s another thing that’s fun about Christmas. Presents. I guess I shouldn’t say that. People are always saying it’s more blessed to give than receive, but I see that most everybody starts smiling when somebody hands them a present. But the giver is usually smiling too. And I do like getting presents for the people I love. I’ll have to write Janie a little story about Christmas and give it to her. She’ll like that.
Do you like getting presents or cards that people make especially for you?
I’m writing this story especially for you. Maybe tonight we’ll get Bailey across that road and into the dark beyond. Do you think he’s going to be scared?
Bailey’s Bug by Jocie Brooke
(Continued from last week. The whole story is under the Bailey’s Bug title up top of the page.)
When Bailey said go, they raced across the first road to the middle. There they sat a while gathering courage to challenge the second road. Cars whooshed by on both sides of them and it was easy to imagine being stuck there on that narrow strip of grass forever.
Bailey stared toward where the lights always showed first on the road they still needed to cross. He could barely count to five from the time he saw the lights until they zoomed past. Would they be able to run fast enough?
“Well, are we going or not?” Lucinda demanded.
“Going.” Bailey stood up. No lights coming. “Now.” He ran as fast as he could across the hard blacktop. Skelley passed him before he got to the other side.
Suddenly lights shone out and then a huge truck barreled down the road toward them. It blasted its horn when it caught them in its lights. The two dogs leaped into the ditch even though they were well off the road.
Lucinda stood her ground at the edge of the road and yowled at the truck. The sound was lost in the rush of its many wheels and the clatter of its trailer. She glared after it until the red lights on its back disappeared down the road.
“Forget about him, Lucinda.” Bailey jumped out of the ditch with Skelley behind him. “He didn’t get us. We made it across.”
“Across.” Lucinda looked back at the road. “Yes, we’re across.” She sounded very tired. “I guess we’ll have to go on now.”
Without another word, she marched straight toward the thickest dark under the trees.
Bailey looked back at the road too. Back that way were lights and houses and people. Not Reid, but other people who might feed them. While on this side of the road, there was nothing but dark. What if the hum in his ear was wrong?
He felt anything but sure as he followed Lucinda into the woods with his tail dragging the ground. All of the sudden, the road seemed easy compared to the spooky darkness under the trees. Even the big yellow bulldozer he’d fought that morning didn’t seem so bad now when he thought about it. At least he could see it and know where it was. Anything could be hiding in the dark woods.
Skelley didn’t seem any more eager to enter the woods than Bailey. The baton rattled around in the old dog’s mouth, and his bones gave a tremble under the hide stretched tight over them.
“Just a bit of a chill,” he said when he noted Bailey looking at him. “Me master used to say somebody had walked across his grave when he had a shake like this.”
Talking about graves didn’t make Bailey feel a bit better. He laughed to hide his nervousness but it sounded shaky even to his ears.
With eyes shining golden in the reflection of a passing car’s lights, Lucinda glared at them from the edge of the woods. “Don’t be scaredy dogs!” she said. “Nothing here but trees and bushes and a mouse or two.”
“How do you know?” Bailey caught up with her.
“Cats can see better than dogs. Cats do everything better than dogs.”
With that, she turned and her black body blended in with the dark and practically disappeared.
“We better be after her, lad,” Skelley said. “We’d never forgive ourselves if any harm came to Miss Lucinda while we were back here dragging our feet.”
From the dark shadows ahead of them, they heard an exasperated meow. Bailey and Skelley scurried after her.
(To be continued)