May 23, 1966
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky.
School is almost out! Yay!! I really do like school, but I’m always really, really glad when summer comes calling. We have about one more week. Five and one-half day to be exact. We have tests and more tests. You have to take tests or summer can’t come. But nothing much else is going on. No field trips. We did that last week. We went to the park over in the next town. Hollyhill doesn’t have much of a park. Just some old swings at the Legion Field. And you have to be sort of brave to swing in those. They’re getting very old. My dad says he used to swing on those when he was a kid.
Anyway we went to a different park for a picnic. I don’t know why we went to a playground park. We aren’t exactly kindergarten kids. Maybe they wanted us to check out the physics of seesaws and monkey bars. But it was kind of fun and there was a softball field. I am the worst player on the planet. You’d think anybody could hit a big old softball. Most anybody can. But I’m not much of a hitter. I can run pretty good so if I can get my bat on the ball at all, I usually get to first base. May not be pretty, but as long as you get a score, right? And I’m usually not the very last person picked for a team. Almost, but not quite last. A few of the girls wouldn’t play. They might get their shoes dusty. Eew-wee. Poor things.
Like I said, I’m not the best player by a long shot, but at least I’m playing. Wes says that’s what’s important in life. Playing whatever game you find. Oh yeah, and noticing the flowers as you pass along the road. That’s Queen Anne Lace in the picture. Did you know if you put food coloring in water and then stick the stem of Queen Anne’s Lace in the water, that will turn the bloom whatever color you put in the water? Well, it will. You should try it. It’s fun.
Poor Bailey isn’t having much fun. Do you think he’s going to find a way to make Reid believe he really is his dog? Last week we left poor Bailey with Reid’s mother calling the dogcatcher.
BAILEY’S BUG by Jocie Brooke
(Continued from last week. Remember the whole story is under Bailey’s Bug in the menu.)
Reid’s mother came back to the door with a piece of rope. “The dogcatcher says I should tie the animal to a post somewhere.”
“Aw, Mama, you can’t just tie him up for the dogcatcher to get,” Reid said. “He’s a nice old dog.”
“He tried to bite you, remember?” Reid’s mother frowned. “And it’s the dogcatcher’s job to take care of strays and locate their owners or find them new homes.”
“What if they don’t find his home?”
“I don’t know, but whatever it is, the old thing will be better off. Just look at him.” Mrs. Alexander pointed toward Bailey.
Bailey flapped his tail back and forth but without much energy. He wanted to look like a dog she could like even if he couldn’t look like the old Bailey she knew. But his eyes caught on the rope in her hands and he remembered the awful leash that had tried to yank him under the monster bulldozer.
Bailey’s neck began to burn, his ears drooped, and his tail didn’t have a wag left in it. Worse than all that was how a little growl gathered low in his throat as he looked at the rope.
He tried to keep the growl inside where Mrs. Alexander couldn’t hear it, but the rope swung in front of his eyes. It taunted him. His growl got louder. Mrs. Alexander stepped back.
Bailey knew it was wrong to growl. He knew they’d never know he was Bailey if he growled, but the growl wouldn’t stop. It just keep rumbling out of him.
He’d come miles and miles. He hadn’t had a good meal for forever. He’d crossed wide rivers of roads, dodged monster cars, and braved the unknown in the woods. And now Mrs. Alexander wanted to tie him up for the dogcatcher. That woke up the growl inside him.
What would Lucinda tell him to do? Stop growling for sure. She’d probably swat his nose for good measure.
Reid watched him from the door. His eyes were sad. Maybe because Bailey was growling. So Bailey swallowed his growl and wished he could think of what else to do. He couldn’t think of anything. Nothing at all. Except that he better not hang around and wait for the dogcatcher to get there. He wasn’t exactly sure what a dogcatcher did besides catch dogs, but no dog he ever knew wanted to be the dogcatcher’s friend.
Skelley and Lucinda were counting on him. Bailey looked at Reid and stopped panting long enough to pull in as much of Reid’s scent as he could before he turned away. There was nothing to do but go back and ask Lucinda what to do next.
Bailey slinked away from the house, his tail dragging in the dirt behind him. He looked back once. Reid was standing outside watching him. Bailey wanted to go back and try one more time. He even stopped and started to turn around, but it wouldn’t do any good.
The growl started up again in his throat and this time Bailey let it grow until he happened to pass an unsuspecting cat out on its morning prowl. Bailey let out a big woof that sent the cat flashing for the nearest tree. That made Bailey feel just a wee bit better, but he didn’t think he would tell Lucinda.
Not that scaring the cat solved anything. He was hungry and tired even though Reid’s sandwich had been tasty. He still had a long way to go and with no help for Skelley when he got there.
He knocked over three trashcans and finally found a package of meat scraps. He didn’t eat even one scrap, but instead carried it in his mouth as he headed back out to the woods to give it to Skelley and Lucinda.
It was a long walk back.
(To be Continued)
Thanks for reading.