In light of Thanksgiving, I'd like to share a special story with you. This is the very first short story in my repriotour, reprotar, er... collection of short stories. To the best of my memory, I think it was written sometime around 1985. I share this with you because it is my reason to give thanks--well, one of many. My writing career would never have started had it not been for this story. I wrote it for a contest (I didn't win. In fact, I received last place), and it ignited a passion within me to continue. Therefore, I'm thankful for slow starts and second chances.
I'd also like to welcome my dear friends, the Tanners and the Lees to my blog. May your camel's give mild as long as you live!
Another quick thanks: I'm thankful to God for sparing my wife of some very troubling heart problems. Even though she had to endure an angiogram, we had good results! Thanks for your prayers!
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
My name is Duke, and I’m not your ordinary writer. As a matter of fact, I reckon I’m the only dog that can read or write. That’s right, folks, I’m a dog, of the canine species, and I have one heck of a story to tell.
It all started about two weeks ago when Ida May came home from church. She was happy! Ida isn’t one given to happiness; she’s lived an uncommon hard life.
I imagine that the hardest thing she’s done was to put up with Ralph. Ralph is her husband and her drunk. I’ve seen him slug a bottle as early as sunrise and stay sluggish until nightfall when he would get nasty drunk. Between times, he owns a ranch.
Yes sir, she came home happy. That night as Ida was fixin’ dinner, she was singing. (Now mind you, I’m not allowed in the house, but I can see through the screen door.) Her singing was beginning to iratate…irrotate…well, to get under Ralph’s skin. He asked her what her problem was, and she looked up and asked, “what problem?” He asked if she would stop singing, so she started humming. Ralph jumped up and stomped into the bedroom and slammed the door, amidst a string of cussin’ and carryin’ on. She just smiled and kept on humming.
One day as I patrolled the barnyard, a feller came sneaking up to the house. I was the only one at home, so I set out to see what he was about. He snuck up the back steps and was prying at the outside door. He got it open and stepped inside, but didn’t shut the door all the way. So, I stuck my nose in the crack and pushed her open enough to look in. I saw him rumagin…romagin…or whatever, through the house.
Right about then, Ida came home from town and saw the door open. Now Ida isn’t one to trifle with, being as tough as she is, and I didn’t envy that feller at all. She headed for the door and the man heard her coming, so he ducked under the bed: only his feet were sticking out. Ida went through the door, saw the feet, went into the bedroom, and shut the door behind her. I heard her lock it.
I ducked and ran around to the other side of the house and jumped on a log in front of the bedroom window. Slowly, I peered in. She was leaning against the door and was staring at the feet. She had a real peculiar look on her face. I gawked at her intently, trying to figure out what she would do. I saw a look of fire and brimstone slap her between the eyes and she gave all her attention to the closet.
About this time, I got so excited that I fell off the log. I got back up quick like, and saw that she was holding a shotgun in her hands. Believe you me, she can use that thing. Once, I was chasing an armadillo around under the house, we where only playing under there, but Ida May came busting out of the house with that scatter gun and put its name to good use. Lucky thing it was loaded with bird shot…
Well, anyway, the fellow under the bed figures that he is pretty well hidden and he stayed real quiet, but he should have looked at his whole card, which would be his feet in this case.
Ida May tilted her gun towards the bed and said in a real smooth voice, “Mister, I’m not a woman that’s given to violence, but you’re lyin’ in a spot at which I am about to shoot.” Boy, the dust flew as he came out from under that bed.
He stood up straight and stared at the business end of her gun. Quietly she said, “Mister, I don’t know who you are, but you’re not getting out of here until you get saved.” Then she sat the shotgun down out of his reach. You know? I’m not real sure what getting saved is, but I think it’s when you run and slide into home plate in a baseball game. But, I might be wrong.
Right around there, Babe, the family milk cow, came around the corner. She has always had it in for me since the time I tried to milk her. I’d seen Ralph do it and get pretty good results, so I thought I would try. When I woke up, I found my way out of that tree and took precautions to stay out of that cow’s way.
Well, that cow saw me and lowered her horns and I decided to check under the house for snakes. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see what happened in that room next. But I could hear her talking to him for over an hour, and once I heard him crying when she mentioned that he was in danger of God’s holy judgment. Shortly, he left the house with that same sweet look on his face that Ida now has.
You should have seen Ralph’s face that night when she told him what happened. As Ida told the story, his face turned an awful blue color. The farther the story went, the bluer his face got until he looked a lot like the pair of gloves that Ida washes the dishes with. When she got to the part about getting saved, he got up and stormed into the bedroom.
Ida sat looking at that closed door with tears in her eyes. She picked up the Bible sitting next to her, thumbed her way into it, read a moment, and put it down. Sitting by the screen door, I could hear her rocking back and forth.
She began to pray, quietly at first, and then louder. “Lord, I know that you are my God. I want so much for Ralph to know you like I do. Please show him that you are the Supreme Ruler of the heavens and Earth. Please show him that all of us have sinned against a holy God, and that because we did that, we are condemned to die and go to hell. Please show him that Jesus died on the cross in our place, and rose again on the third day, because death couldn’t defeat Him. Now all we have to do is acknowledge that He is Lord, and that we are sinners in danger of judgment from Him, and that in order to escape the judgment, we only have to repent of our sins and turn our hearts over to him. I ask you to come and minister to him right now.”
Suddenly, I saw a light coming from the crack below the bedroom door. I ran around to the log and looked into the window. There appeared to be…well…a whole bunch of angelic beings singing praises to God, standing around in the room. Ralph, lying on his bed, began to cry, lightly at first, and then harder and harder. He would sob and gasp for breath, wailing loudly.
Ida May came into the room and slowly the angles began to fade from my sight. Ralph looked up at Ida and said, “I just had a dream. I saw Jesus hanging violently from the cross. The nails were ripping huge holes into his hands. Pain and agony were all over his face. He looked directly at me and said, ‘I did this for you because I love you. Was it all in vain?’”
As a created being, I recognize who God is. I only wish that I could have been a human, so that I could have a chance to be saved also. I know that my story seems a little impossible to believe. As a matter of fact, it took me over two years before I had the nerve to tell it.
Ralph is now a recovered alcoholic, and a Sunday school teacher at the Baptist Church in town. I sure do hate to end this story, but Babe is looking me over from across the barnyard and I imagin, imadgin, well, I reckon that I’d better skedaddle.
Dedicated to John Erickson, author of Hank the Cowdog.