March 16, 1966
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. It’s four days until the calendar says spring. Then it will be a while longer before I’ll see any new dogwood blooms, but I can think about them coming. And all the other flowers too.
Back when Mama Mae was still living, she would be out in the yard as soon as it was warm enough to dig in the ground so she could start planning all the stuff she wanted to plant. She planted some of it in the fall. Things like tulip bulbs. I miss Mama Mae’s tulips. Dad says I could buy some bulbs and plant some of my own, but Mama Mae’s were always so cheerful and special.
Before she died when I was nine, I would get off the school bus there and in the springtime, those tulips would be waving at me. Happy to see me the way Mama Mae always was. It’s good when people you love are happy to see you.
See, it was never that way with my mother. I don’t think she was ever glad to see me. But Mama Mae was. She would have a hug waiting for me and some kind of treat. She sometimes made this icing stuff out of confectionery sugar and butter and milk. Then she’d put it between graham crackers. She called them poor folks’ sandwich cookies, but I felt rich when I was sitting on the porch beside her with a graham cracker cookie in my hand and looking out at her tulips. Sometimes I pretended those tulips were little girls all wanting to play with me.
Mama Mae had dogwood trees too. A pink one and a white one. She told me that the dark spots on the center of the ends of the petals stood for the Lord’s blood shed on a cross. The petals make a kind of cross shape too. Mama Mae always had ways of making the Bible come to life. I guess she was so good at loving and helping folks know more about the Bible that the Lord decided he needed her help up in Heaven. For the longest time, I had a hard time believing the good Lord might know best about that. Seemed like He would have had plenty of help up in heaven without my grandmother. I needed Mama Mae. But Dad says the Lord always knows best and helps us through every hard spot.
That’s where I left Bailey and Lucinda last episode posting. In a hard spot with coyotes surrounding them! Let’s see if they can get out of that trouble without losing too much fur.
BAILEY’S BUG by Jocie Brooke
(When we last left Bailey, Lucinda and Skelley, they were surrounded by very unfriendly coyotes while the rain was beating down outside and flooding the barn they were in.)
“What now?” Skelley asked.
Bailey wasn’t sure whether it was the baton in the old dog’s mouth that made his words sound so shaky or whether it was the coyotes edging ever closer to them
“I don’t know,” Bailey said. “Do you know some kind of circus trick that might make the coyotes run away or decide we are friends?”
“For a truth, I know all sorts of circus tricks, but none that would entertain a coyote, I fear.” The baton rattled in the old dog’s mouth, and he clenched his teeth tighter on it. “Old Asaph’s not here for us to leap up on and ride away. Besides, even if standing on me head would help, I might just drown what with the water getting deeper around us. Sorry, lad.”
Bailey looked up at Lucinda.
“Don’t look at me.” Lucinda spat out the words. “Even cats can’t make coyotes disappear.”
The coyotes raised their noses toward Lucinda and sniffed. They started yipping and yammering between themselves.
“I don’t like the sound of that.” Bailey shook his head until his ears flapped. The water was getting deeper under his belly and pushing him toward the coyotes. He needed to think of something. Fast. He gave Skelley a sideways look. “Maybe you could leap over top of them, Skelley, and get away.”
“Maybe I could, lad, but where would that leave you and Miss Lucinda?”
“They can’t get Lucinda up in the barn.”
Bailey ran his tongue out around his mouth. “And if you fly over top of them, they could be so surprised they won’t notice me slipping past them.” Bailey didn’t believe that would happen, but they had to try something.
“It’s been many a moon since I made such a leap. It might be that I will just land smack in the middle of them.”
Bailey looked at the coyotes again with their narrow eyes and snarling mouths. “If you do, I’ll jump in there with you and we’ll fight them off.” Somehow Bailey managed not to let his voice shake. “They aren’t so tough and we have to try something. The water is getting deeper.”
The water was brushing his belly now.
Lucinda crept across a pole until she was directly over their heads. “You can do it, Skelley. Listen to the music in your head and remember how you did leaps for your master.”
Skelley looked up at Lucinda. Then he tightened his mouth around the painted stick, shut his eyes, and stepped back a few steps. His head swayed back and forth as if he really were hearing music. Then he splashed through the water and bounded up into the air.
The old dog sprang so high that for one heart-stopping moment, Bailey thought he was going to make it clear over the coyotes. But all of the sudden, Skelley stalled. He frantically scrambled at the air with his long, bony legs, but it didn’t help. He plummeted down on top of the biggest coyote.
With a silence more terrible than any amount of yips and yowls, the other four coyotes piled on top of Skelley. Bailey let go of the ground with his toenails and the he was swept into the middle of the melee. Up above him, Lucinda was making a terrible snarling noise unlike anything he’d ever heard come out of her mouth. She leaped down onto the back of one of the coyotes and dug in her claws. The coyote yowled and tried to knock off the cat.
Bailey wasn’t exactly sure what happened next. He kept trying to see Lucinda and Skelley, but with the coyotes biting and pulling on him, he couldn’t. Teeth snapped. Mouths growled. And a surge of water pushed him off his feet. He’d be a goner if he couldn’t get up on his feet.
All at once, the barn creaked and groaned just the way the house back in the city had done when the bulldozer pushed on it. Bailey scrambled up to his feet and looked around for the yellow monster, but there was nothing but brown water.
“It’s coming down.” Lucinda leaped away from the coyotes to land on a broad plank.
She floated past Bailey as more boards raining down around them. With an awful shudder, what was left of the barn shifted and started drifting on the water.
The coyotes forgot all about Bailey as they howled and took off for dry ground. They disappeared through a hole in the side of the barn.
Bailey looked around frantically for Skelley, but all he could see was muddy water. No old dog. Bailey dodged a plank as he fought against the current back to where Skelley had disappeared into the coyotes.
“Where is he?” Lucinda leaped from board to board back toward Bailey.
“I can’t see him, but he’s got to be here. He’s got to.” Bailey stuck his head under the water, but he couldn’t see the old dog. He popped back out of the water and yelled, “Skelley.”
Lucinda was yelling too.
(To be continued)
Remember, the whole story so far is under the Pages title up top of my report here.
Thanks, everybody, for reading. Have you ever been in a hard spot?