April 25, 1966
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. It’s Monday. A quiet day at school. All the teachers wanted to talk about was finals and that we better study. I do study. Or at least I will before the tests.
Didn’t have much time for studying this weekend. We had a dinner at church Sunday. That meant I had to help Aunt Love cook and stuff on Saturday. Aunt Love has some things she always makes, but since she’s gotten sort of forgetful – Dad says it’s hardening of the arteries and it happens to old people – Tabitha or I have to be in the kitchen with her when she cooks. We have to make sure she doesn’t turn the burner on under an empty pan and then forget it. We have to watch and tell her if she’s already put the sugar in her stewed tomatoes although the more sugar the better if I have to eat them. That’s one of her most requested dishes. That and pineapple rice. Pineapple and butter does make rice better. And then she makes raisin pies. Not my favorite, but that’s okay. Always lots of desserts to choose from at a church dinner. I picked Miss Sally’s chocolate cake with chocolate icing. Delicious.
Miss Sally also made banana croquettes. I LOVE banana croquettes. What? You’ve never heard of them. Well, if you live in the south you surely have, haven’t you? Or maybe they are a Kentucky special. Aunt Love won’t make them. She says it make too big a mess, but sometimes she lets me do it. It’s easy as pie. Well, except for that messy part.
You take a banana and cut it into sections. Then you roll that around in a bowl of salad dressing or take a knife and slather the stuff on every side of the banana piece. Then you roll that around in a different bowl full of mashed peanuts. I like it better if you don’t mash the peanuts too fine. Just let them be chunky all over that banana piece. Yum! Got to be angel food. Got to be. I gave Miss Sally a big hug when she brought a big bowl full of them in. She made so many I actually got to go back for seconds. Everybody else was going for those dressed eggs. I don’t understand that. Not when they could have banana croquettes instead.
Did you ever go to a country church dinner on the grounds?
Have you eaten banana croquettes?
Okay now it’s time to see what Lucinda is going to do to Bailey when he tells her he’s lost the bug in his ear. Oh dear!
BAILEY’S BUG by Jocie Brooke
(Continued from last week. The whole story is up top under the Bailey’s Bug title.)
Twas a grand adventure.
The old dog’s words echoed in Bailey’s ears long after the fog closed off any sight of him and Lucinda. Bailey had never felt so alone. He couldn’t hear his hum. He couldn’t hear any kind of bug. No bird either. The fog kept closing in on him.
When he spotted a smooth round rock that reminded him of his plastic toy, he stopped to rest his chin on it. Maybe that would help the hum come back. It didn’t. After a while, he got up and walked some more.
The fog was beginning to lift when he saw that same smooth round rock. He tried to tell himself it was another rock. Just one that looked like the first one, but then he spotted his paw prints in the soft dirt around the rock.
He was going in circles. He might keep going in circles all day and all night. Forever. With Lucinda back there somewhere in the fog waiting for him to bring Reid back. He couldn’t do that.
With his nose to the ground, Bailey tracked his way back through the fog to Lucinda and Skelley.
When Bailey bushed back through the brush to where they were waiting, Skelley looked up. “I knew ye’d find the courage to do what you must.”
Lucinda was asleep after her night of hunting. Bailey sat down beside her to wait until she opened her eyes.
Skelley limped over to poke his nose against Bailey’s side. “Best go on and wake her, lad.”
“She gets mad if I wake her up.”
“It’ll be okay. She’ll understand.”
Bailey gave Skelley a look. He really didn’t know Lucinda very well. She wasn’t going to understand at all. Not at all. But it had to be done. Might as well get it over with.
“Lucinda,” he whispered. Then he tried a little louder. “Lucinda, wake up. I have to tell you something.”
Lucinda opened one eye, saw Bailey and opened her other eye. “Where’s Reid?”
“I didn’t find Reid.” Bailey hesitated and Skelley poked him with his nose again. “I don’t think I can find Reid.”
Lucinda raised her head and glared at him. “Go on.”
“I don’t hear the hum anymore.” Bailey pushed his words out in a rush. “I’m lost. We’re all lost and I can’t do anything about it.” He winced waiting for her to start yowling and swat him.
Instead, she sat very still and sounded way too calm. “And when did the bug crawl out of your ear?”
“When I ran into the tree. It was just gone. Sudden like.”
Lucinda sat up. “I knew something was wrong, but I thought it was the storm.” She was still calm as though she were discussing nothing more important than which tree she might nap in. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Bailey’s ears drooped and he stared at the ground. “I thought you’d be mad.”
“Dogs,” Lucinda muttered. She began pacing back and forth, her tail twitching sharply one way and then the other way.
“I’m sorry. Really sorry. You were right. We should have stayed at the Robinsons.”
“Of course. That is what we should have done. What I should have done.” Lucinda paused a moment in her pacing to glare at him.
“We could go back,” Bailey said.
“Go back? All those miles? Are you nuts?” Lucinda shook her head and didn’t wait for him to say anything. “But of course, you’re nuts. We all are. But we can’t go back. Poor Skelley here can barely limp. Of all the dog-brained ideas.”
Bailey felt better with Lucinda yelling at him. That’s how it was supposed to be, but Skelley took up for him.
“Now don’t be so hard on the lad, Miss Lucinda. He simply wanted to find his boy. His heart was in the right place.”
Lucinda stopped pacing and put her nose right up in Bailey’s face. Her eyes glittered greener than Bailey had ever seen them. He wanted to back away from her, but he made himself sit still.
“His heart, yes,” she said softly. “I’ve wondered plenty of times if he has a brain, but I never doubted he had a heart.”
“I just wanted to find Reid.” Bailey wanted to lick her face, but he knew better. “I didn’t know all this was going to happen.”
“How could you? No one could have. Not even a cat. Certainly not a dog. But it has happened. We are out here untold miles from the Robinsons. Probably in another state and we have a friend who needs help.” Lucinda kept glaring at Bailey. “You couldn’t know that. But you do know something.”
“What?” Bailey asked. Lucinda’s eyes were getting even greener. And fiercer.
“You know where Reid is.”
(To be continued)