LOYAL and TRUE has been an eBook for a little while but now it is on paper, where it belongs.
SMASHWORDS: … https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/539357
Originally posted on Trust:
The eBook version goes live on the 29th of July 2015 and the paperback copies will be ready soon after.
Available for pre-order now.
AMAZON Kindle……. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B011KBNV6C?*Version*=1&*entries*=0
PAPERBACK….. Blurb… http://au.blurb.com/b/6329842-trust
Chopper is as white as I’m black.
He’s the white dog of the family.
No one knows how it happened, and we don’t hold it against him, we are dogs after all, we don’t judge you on the colour of your fur.
If you contribute to the pack we don’t care how big, small, skinny or fat you are. Do your job, stay out of trouble and the pack will accept you.
There were many rumours and some of them were ‘off the wall, bat shit crazy’, but the most logical explanation came in the form of a large Samoid named Killer.
Killer was one of those dogs who don’t know when to shut up, and who spend all their time trying to show other dogs how tough they are. It gets very old very quickly. Most of us tried to avoid him and his owner kept him locked behind a large wooden fence. Wooden fences a fine, as far as they go, but they get old and the posts rot and the fence begins to sag. Killer had a sense that his fence was on the way out and he worked on it ever day for many weeks. He was a big bloke and just by leaning on the fence he managed to get it to move just a bit each day. Eventually the inevitable happened and Killer squeezed through the gap he had so diligently created and proceed to rampage through our small community. It is said that he mated with every female he could find before his owner caught up with him, and one of the unfortunate females was Chopper’s grandmother.
So now, with each new litter, there is at least one white pup mixed in with all the black ones.
I have a soft spot for Chopper.
He gets lonely and he does not get to visit with my mistress and I very often. When he comes to stay I show him around all the sights. He particularly likes visiting the butcher shop, but that can require a bit of stealth on my part because the butcher hates dogs. I don’t know why and I don’t particularly care either, but I do know that he can be dangerous. The Pomeranian that lives across from the park still walks with a limp, and all he did was wee on the corner of the butcher shop.
Chopper’s favourite thing is sitting on chairs.
I must say that he sits very well and there is even a photograph of him sitting on a chair. His mistress has a large version placed prominently on her piano; I’ve seen it. Chopper showed it to me the last time we went there for a visit. His mistress also carries a very small version of it in her wallet. She used to have a photo of her children in her wallet, but she took it out. Apparently they never call her and she is fed up.
“Just one bloody phone call a week. That’s all I ask. Is that too much, I ask you?” She wasn’t talking to me but if she had been I would have agreed with her.
If my mum was still alive I would visit her every day.
We should always remember where we came from.
Apart from sitting on chairs, Chopper is also very good at carrying stuff. Not big stuff obviously, but small important things. He regularly carries his mistress’s handbag. The bag is nearly as big as he is, but as long as he keeps his head up he can manage it, at least from the car to the front door. His mistress loves him for it and he is very proud to be able to help her. It is very difficult to understand what he is saying with a mouth full of handbag, but it usually doesn’t matter much because Chopper is not a great conversationalist. He mostly likes to talk about things he has seen on television. Strange things like people dancing and singing. It all seems a bit unnatural to me, but Chopper loves it.
The best thing about Chopper is that he takes one day at a time.
I’ve never heard him worrying about tomorrow.
He lives in the moment.
What more could you want from a friend?
I hadn’t been down this road for a long while.
It’s quiet here and I like that.
When I came around the bend, there he was, sitting on the side of the road; sitting very still. At first I wasn’t sure why he was there and then I noticed the large stick lying on the ground in front of him. I’ve seen this kind of behaviour before.
Hell, I’ve behaved like this before, but usually there is a human involved and usually they have thrown the stick and the dog retrieves it and places it at the feet of its owner.
It’s a game and a damn good one.
When I was younger I could keep it up for what seemed like hours.
Dogs aren’t good at ‘the passage of time’, so it may have been shorter than hours, but it seemed that way to me at the time. I love games, especially when humans are involved.
My theory was valid, but with one exception; there wasn’t a human in sight. I hadn’t seen one on my walk and I had walked a long way.
I carefully approached him, making sure not to make eye contact; this was no time for a punch up.
I sniffed him and he sniffed me back. I could tell that he had not eaten in a long time. His fur was in very good condition and his eyes were clear [I took a quick peek] but his breath said that his tummy was empty and had been that way for several days. He must have been in a bit of pain, but he was doing a good job of not showing it.
The words of my mother were ringing in my ears, “never show weakness, always look like you know what is going on, and give the impression that you are smart and strong, that way they will want you in the pack”. She never explained who ‘they’ were, but I listened and I remembered. I think that this bloke’s mother must have told him the same stuff.
After a little while, I got a conversation going and it turned out that his owner had driven him out here a few days ago and they had been playing his favourite game, ‘fetch the stick’, when his owner said ‘wait here’. He then got back into his car and drove away.
This big black, faithful dog had been waiting here ever since.
I’ve been around a bit and I was pretty sure that I knew what had happened.
I asked a few more questions.
“Has your family added a new small human recently? It smells like powder and milk and it makes a lot of noises?” The big black dog said that they had, and he wanted to know how I knew. I pretended that I could smell the little human on him, but I couldn’t. I’ll bet that they put this big black dog outside and never let him guard the little human.
“Did the male and female human argue a lot and use your name?” Apparently they had and he didn’t know what he had done wrong.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him what had happened so I told him to wait there and I would go and get him something to eat.
“I might not be here when you get back if my master comes back and collects me.” The big black dog’s voice did not sound very confident.
“Don’t worry about it. If you are not here when I get back I’ll eat the food myself.” This seemed to make sense to the big fella, so I headed back down the road. It was going to take a long time for me to find food and bring it back to him, but I knew he would be waiting when I got back.
Getting food wasn’t going to be a problem, but working out what I was going to do with this big dumb dog was going to require a bit of thought.
I got a couple of friends to help me distract the butcher so I could sneak in the back door and steal some chops. The bulldog and the Jack Russell from Scotia Street were only too happy to help out. They don’t like our butcher any more than I do.
I’m not very big so I could only carry two chops and that was never going to be enough to feed this big black hungry dog, but it was going to have to do for the moment.
On the way back, I hatched a plan.
Old Mrs McKenzie needed a dog to look after her since Bruiser got hit by that bus.
Bruiser was a good dog and Mrs McKenzie was very lonely since he had died. She wouldn’t take another dog into her house because she was so sad about Bruiser, but I had a feeling that I could talk her into it. Now, all I had to do was talk the big black dog into following me back to her house. It was not going to be easy, he was not going to leave unless I could come up with a very good reason. He wasn’t very bright, but he was very loyal. His owner was never coming back, but he would sit there and starve to death waiting for him.
It made me very mad.
The big black dog was very happy to see me or was it the chops I was carrying? Either way, the food got him to trust me.
It was starting to get late so I had to work fast.
While he was still eating, I told him that his owner had left word that he had been delayed and that he should follow me to Mrs McKenzie’s house and wait there.
The story was a bit too long and he looked very confused, but I needed to keep all the detail, so I just went over it all again and tried to sound like it was all an adventure.
I must have been very convincing because he seemed to like the idea.
I suggested that we get some water at the stream that was close by because I was thirsty after all that walking and I was a bit concerned about the stamina of this big black dog after sitting out in the open for so long without food.
I need not have worried because we trotted along together and he walked slowly because I have very short legs.
When we got to Mrs McKenzie’s house it was still light and I scratched on the back door. It took her a while to open the door, but when she did she recognised me.
“Hello, Rufus. I haven’t seen you for such a long time. I’ll bet you are missing Bruiser too, aren’t you boy?” She was right, I did miss Bruiser, but life goes on until it doesn’t.
“Who have you got with you there Rufus? What a beautiful big black dog you are.”
The big black dog licked her on the hand because he believed that she was a friend of his master so she must be a good person.
Mrs McKenzie looked to see if the big black dog had a name tag, but his owner had removed his collar before driving away.
“You look hungry big fella. Would you like something to eat? I was just making my supper. You are welcome to join me. You too Rufus, if you like.”
I wasn’t going to say no because all the dogs in the neighbourhood know that Mrs McKenzie is an excellent cook.
Mrs McKenzie was trying to decide what to do with the big black dog, but I knew that there was a very good chance that she would not turn the big black dog in to the pound.
“I guess you can stay with me for a while. I’ll ask around and see if anyone has lost a beautiful big black dog. Someone is sure to claim you.”
Not bloody likely.
I told the big black dog that his job was to look after Mrs McKenzie until his owner came back for him. I told him that he was to protect her just like he would protect his owner.
He seemed to understand and he was happy to have someone to look out for.
They would make a good team and now it was time for me to head for home. I would probably be in a bit of trouble for getting home so late but it would be worth it.
I saved someone today.
That does not happen every day.
I’m really not that good at breathing in.
My mum was the first to notice it.
It has a name and everything; dyspnoea.
It created a few problems when I was at school.
I would talk really fast on the out breath and everyone would stare at me, waiting for me to finish the sentence, which I was unable to do until I managed to breath in.
As I got older I learned how to say stuff in a precise manner but when I was younger it multiplied my embarrassment.
One of the upsides of my affliction was that I rarely needed to be banged on the back because I had ‘breathed something in’.
You know the scenario, you are eating a biscuit and someone says something that requires an answer, you breath in quickly so as to form an answer and down goes a chunk of biscuit followed by you coughing and sputtering followed by some large bloke pounding you on the back or worst still, trying the Heimlich manoeuvre on you resulting in three cracked ribs and flying biscuit crumbs.
Doesn’t happen to me.
When I breath in small children stop and stare.
The convenience store is open [I’m pretty sure that they stay open unless someone dies, and even then it’s only a ‘half day’] and I don’t recognise the person behind the counter, and more importantly, they don’t recognise me. I grab a newspaper and a pint of milk. I might be technically on the run but I’m not missing out on milk in my cup of tea; a person must maintain standards.
The newspaper doesn’t have anything in it about me, and I’m not sure why it should, but it is reassuring all the same.
The date on the newspaper tells me that I have travelled forward in time by one hundred and fifty-eight days.
People are still driving cars and talking on mobile phones and there are no longer any unmarked police cars parked outside my house.
Amazingly my letterbox is empty; someone has been collecting my mail.
When I get back home from the convenience store I see Mrs Wilson waiting for me.
It’s too late to hide so I keep on walking and I say ‘hello’ as though there is nothing unusual about this day.
“I’ve been collecting your mail for you. The man on the TV said that burglars notice if the mail piles up, so I have been taking it to my house each day. Not Saturdays and Sundays, of course, they don’t deliver on the weekends. They used to deliver on a Saturday when I was a little girl.”
Mrs Wilson is pleasantly nuts.
She’s been pleasantly nuts for as long as I’ve lived on this quiet little street.
The other neighbours talk about her behind her back, but I’ve always liked her and she has always been friendly to me.
She babbles on for several more minutes without mentioning the police raid or my boarded up front door. She doesn’t ask me what happened and she doesn’t want to know where I’ve been, she’s just happy to see me.
She reminds me of a large faithful dog. They don’t care where you have been, what you have been doing, or why you have been away for so long; you are home now and that’s all that matters.
As I mentioned, Mrs Wilson is more than a little bit crazy, and I wonder how she has escaped the attention of the authorities and her greedy family.
Her house must be worth a small fortune but somehow they have not been able to sell it out from under her.
I asked her about it once and she gave me the best answer.
“I know where they live, and everyone’s scared of people like me. They never know what we might do,” she said with a cheeky grin.
I listen patiently as Mrs Wilson continues her monologue but it occurs to me that I’m somewhat exposed standing on the street, in daylight, in front of what is left of my front door.
“Would you like to come into my house for a cup of tea Mrs Wilson?” I say, remembering that it has been six months since I’ve had a cup of tea.
The thought of that much time makes me wonder how I managed to go that long without a cup of tea, then I remember it has been only a few minutes for me.
I feel a little silly and I hope that the next time I’m drunk I don’t mention it to any of my scientist friends; I’d never hear the end of it.
“That’s all right dear, I’m fine for the moment. Besides, you don’t have any gas or electricity.”
Mrs Wilson is sharper than people think she is.
“That nice young man was here a few days ago. He was carrying a large black bag when he left your house. I asked him about it but he said that it was okay and I was not to worry. He did ask me to say hello to you when I saw you and to tell you —— now what was it? I know I can remember it, just give me a moment ——- that’s right he said to tell you, ‘thank you, and remember Custer’s last stand’. He said you would understand.”
I must have looked a bit confused because Mrs Wilson asked me if I was feeling all right.
I smiled and told her that I was fine, but in my head I was working out how I was going to get to Blairgowrie.
‘Custer’s last stand,’ was what we called Michael’s grandfather’s holiday house.
Now I know where he is and I’m going to beat him with a very large stick when I catch up to him.
It was a weekday and my mistress was hard at work writing her latest murder mystery.
When she writes like that I know that I can be gone for a while and she won’t miss me.
I saw the big van pull up and two large humans were carrying big pieces of furniture into the house. There were to be two humans living there, but on this day I only saw the one.
She was pretty, for a human, and she stopped what she was doing just to say hello to me. I knew straight away that she was one of the good ones.
She told me that she had a dog, but I could not smell him anywhere around.
She looked at me and said, “No he’s not here now, but I’m going to collect him tonight.”
There was something about the way she said ‘collect him’ that made me curious.
Sure enough, the next day there he was.
He looked terrible and he barely had enough strength to talk to me but over the next few weeks, as he got stronger, he told me his story, and how he came to be living with these kind humans.
I could tell you about it, but how about I let him tell it, he does it so much better than I……………