January 5, 1966
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Can you believe it’s 1966? Wow! In a few years we’ll flip the decade and then it’ll really be hard to write the right date for the year. I’m getting fairly good at changing a 5 into a 6 on my school papers.
Yeah, it didn’t snow, so we had to go back to school. Not very fun. Although I did like seeing my girlfriends again. They were all sporting new sweaters they got for Christmas. I was too. The one Leigh gave me. Leigh knows what’s pretty and doesn’t make the mistake of buying girlie looking things for me. I am not a ruffle type girl!
What did you do to celebrate the New Year? Daddy let me sit up and watch the new year in on television. He says he can’t see why anybody would want to watch a ball drop in Times Square, but if I wanted to waste my time watching that nonsense, he supposed one night a year it wouldn’t hurt me to sit up till midnight. I took a picture of the television screen at midnight when 1966 showed up.
I jumped up and down and shouted sort of under my breath because everybody else was already asleep. Even Tabitha. You’d think at her age she wouldn’t be too old to want to see the old year out and the new year in. She said she would have if Robert was there. That’s her fellow. But he wasn’t and Stephen, at one year old, doesn’t know anything about new years showing up. She said he’d be up and ready for his breakfast at seven sharp the same as any other morning.
I guess she was right. For sure she was right about it being more fun to celebrate a new year showing up if other people were around. Too bad I couldn’t have watched the old year out with Wes. He’d have had a dozen Jupiter New Year’s stories to tell. I’ll have to ask him to tell me one tomorrow when I go by the newspaper office after school. If he does, maybe I can share it with you next week.
Meanwhile, it’s time to see what Bailey, Lucinda and Skelley are up to. We left them last week with an owl about to swoop down on Bailey and scare him silly. Lucinda would say he’s silly already. But if a big old owl was diving at me, I’d be scared. Wouldn’t you?
BAILEY’S BUG by Jocie Brooke
(Continued from last week. Read it all at Bailey’s Bug.
Bailey cowered against the ground as the bird’s talons skimmed his back. Then as suddenly as it had appeared, the owl flapped away to a quieter perch in another tree.
Barking, Bailey ran after the bird. That started the coyotes up again. Bailey jumped around in a circle trying to figure out which direction to chase after the noisy coyotes, but their barks and yips seemed to be coming from every direction.
“For mercy’s sake, Bailey,” Lucinda hissed from the tree over his head. “It was only an owl, and I told you owls don’t eat dogs. It was trying to scare you away.”
“And those coyotes?” Bailey stopped hopping in circles.
“They mostly don’t bother dogs like you either. I told you nothing normal eats dogs.” Lucinda emphasized the word normal. “Now go to sleep.”
“Miss Lucinda is right, Bailey me lad,” Skelley said. “We need our sleep for the journey tomorrow.” The old dog promptly curled up in the hole he’d dug out next to the tree trunk.
Bailey stayed on his feet, studying the shifting shadows long after the coyotes fell silent once more. He had the feeling eyes were watching him even though he couldn’t see anything. Great saucer eyes. If only he could climb up in the tree with Lucinda.
He wanted to bark again. That was what he always did when he didn’t know what else to do, but Lucinda would yowl at him if he woke her up. So instead of barking, he growled real low to let anything that might be out there in the dark know that he wasn’t a dog to be messed with. Hadn’t he stopped a monster bulldozer? Hadn’t he crossed the river of car without getting mashed? He could fight off a few coyotes and an owl. He could.
He kept his growl rumbling down in his chest for a long time until his feet began to hurt. At last, still watching on every side, he eased over to where Skelley, his nose on his baton, was sound asleep.
Bailey eased down close beside the bony dog, but he kept his eyes open until they burned. He spotted mice creeping from the cover of one leaf or bush to another. A gray ball of an animal with a skinny tail trundled by. Another creature who looked like it was wearing a mask and who had rings on its tail scurried past. All the woods creatures seemed too busy to give Bailey more than a passing glance.
After a long time, when the owl didn’t come back and the coyotes stayed silent, Bailey closed his eyes. He shut out the night noises around him and concentrated on the hum inside him until he could almost feel Reid hugging him.
If he had to, he would walk through a million trees with eyes everywhere to find Reid. If he had to.
(To be continued.)