April 6, 1966
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Do you like basketball? We’re big basketball fans at our house. Well, all except Tabitha who thinks watching boys bounce balls up and down a gym floor is about as boring as watching paint dry. I think she’s crazy. Basketball is THE sport to watch. In fact, I’m teaching Stephen how to dribble a basketball. He may not be two yet, but he’s catching on. A star in the making. Dad will be putting him up a basketball goal on the side of the garage before you know it.
Even Aunt Love likes basketball. Every time there’s a game on television, she’s glued to the set. She can even remember the score. Her forgetfulness goes on hold when she’s watching the games or listening to them on the radio.
That’s how it is here in Kentucky. Basketball is the sport. But Tabitha moved around with our mother all those years and never had time to really get behind a team. Not even UCLA out in California. But in Kentucky, we get behind our Wildcats. We thought sure they were going to win it all this year. But they ran into a better team. At least that’s what Dad said. Texas Western. They were tall and our guys couldn’t shoot over them. We ended up shooting something like 38 percent. That’s not too good in basketball. You hit 380 in baseball, you’re pretty good, but you’ve got to hit 50 percent of your shots in basketball to be any good. Sigh.
Everybody in Hollyhill has been depressed ever since the game a couple of weeks ago. You just look at the guys on the bench in the picture that was in the paper. Sad times. You don’t get a chance to win the championship every year. Well, unless you’re UCLA. They seem to be there a lot. But it’s been eight years since Kentucky has brought home the trophy. I don’t remember that. I was just a little kid then. So we had high hopes this year. Sigh.
The newspapers all made a big deal about Texas Western beating Kentucky because their starting lineup was all black players and Kentucky didn’t have any black players on the team. I understand what they are saying. Noah, who works for Dad sometimes, has made me see what discrimination is like, but I didn’t think about black and white in the game. I just wanted our team to win. Sigh.
But Dad says it’s just a game and there are lots more important things in life than who wins a ballgame. Especially when you’re just on the sidelines watching and not on the team. But it would have been more fun if our team had won. Sigh.
When I left Bailey and Skelley last week, Skelley had just lost his painted stick and was feeling really sad too. Guess I’d better see what happens next.
BAILEY’S BUG by Jocie Brooke
(Continued from last report. The full story under the Bailey’s Bug report heading up top of the page.)
“What’s gone?” Lucinda raised her head up to look at Skelley.
“I dropped me master’s baton in the water.” Skelley’s voice was so low Bailey could barely make out his words.
“Where?” Lucinda’s ear perked up and she looked more like her old self in spite of the way her fur was sticking out in odd angles.
“Out there.” Skelley stared at the water and then dropped his nose back toward the ground. “For a truth, it’s gone forever.”
“I tried to find it.” Bailey’s ears drooped down. “I really did.”
“He did, Miss Lucinda. But some things can’t be found.”
Lucinda looked at the water again and then back at the old dog. “I’m sorry about your baton, Skelley.”
“Don’t fret yourself about it, Miss Lucinda. Twas silly me packing it here and there all this time anyway, but it somehow kept me master with me.”
“He’ll still be with you,” Lucinda said softly.
“Aye, I suppose,” the old dog said without much conviction.
Lucinda moved over right in front of Skelley’s nose. “I thank you, Skelley, for pulling me out of the water. You’re a remarkable dog like none I’ve every known before or ever expect to know in the future.” She touched his face with her paw.
“And ye be a fine feline, Miss Lucinda. Me old stick was just that. An old stick.”
Skelley tried to sound as though he meant it, but his eyes were so sad that Bailey wanted to dive back into the rushing water to hunt for the stick again.
Lucinda noticed Bailey looking at the water. “Let’s get away from here. I hate water. Please tell me we’re on the right side of this river.”
“The right side?” Bailey cocked his head to look at Lucinda.
“The one your bug says is right.”
“Oh, the right side. Yes, the right side.” Bailey stood up, shook some more water out of his coat and started away from the stream. He had no idea which way to go for even though it had stopped raining at last the sun was hiding behind thick clouds.
In fact, it looked near night. They needed a safe place to rest. Somewhere they didn’t have to worry about coyotes surrounding them. Someplace where he could get the water out of his ears so that maybe the hum would come back.
Bailey stopped on a little rise. Ahead was a line of trees where there would be some bushes for him and Skelley to hide and trees for Lucinda to climb. Maybe they could find some acorns or berries or bugs to eat.
He thought of rabbits, and his mouth started watering. He pushed the thought away. Even when his legs weren’t feeling so rubbery from swimming in the water, he couldn’t catch a rabbit without Skelley’s help. But Skelley trailed along behind them without seeming to care about catching rabbits or where the sun might be. In fact, he got so far behind that Lucinda and Bailey slowed way down to let him catch up. Finally Skelley stopped trying to keep up and lay down on the ground.
“Me thinks the coyotes must have got hold me leg. It’s paining me some. The two of ye go on, and after I rest a bit, I’ll come along.”
“It’s not much farther. Just over to those trees. We can find a better place to rest there.” Bailey pointed with his nose.
Skelley didn’t even raise his head to look. “Aye. I’ll be along in a little while.”
“What about the adventure?” Bailey said. “You can’t give up on that now.”
“Aye and it is a fine adventure, lad. I’m not quitting it. I’ll be along as soon as me leg rests up a bit.”
Lucinda let out a yowl and swatted Bailey. “Stop your nonsense about adventure. This isn’t an adventure. It’s a disaster, but it’s a disaster we’re all in together. And if you’re going to stay here, the two of us will stay right here with you.” Lucinda sat down beside Skelley and started licking the muddy water out of her coat.
“Ye can’t stay here, Miss Lucinda. The coyotes might find us and the trees are much too far away.”
Lucinda looked up from licking her paw. “We fought the coyotes once. If they find us, we’ll just do it again.” She began washing herself again.
A bit of the old glint flashed in Skelley’s eyes. “I guess you’ve got me, Miss Lucinda. Ye know I can’t let you stay here in the open because for a truth, we may have fought the coyotes but we weren’t winning.”
“We got away, didn’t we?” Lucinda said.
“By the skin of our teeth with a bushel load of luck.” Skelley clambered to his feet. “Could be, if we take it slow, I might make it to the trees after all.”
They moved so slowly now that Bailey had time to hunt for grasshoppers and to nose over rocks and grab a few crickets. He took some to Skelley, but the old dog shook his head.
“Ye eat them, lad. Me appetite seems to have left me.”
(To be continued)