Dog and Whelping Pups

May 1, 2009

posted & written by Caroline Picard (this again, is a self-contained excerpt from “Happy Endings”)

nursing-home-rufus-1206-6

An Epsidoe of Childhood: The Ghee.

In the wet woods of the northeast, Brian Rashid grew tall. A single child, between two parents, his father woke up before Brian to ride the train into the city for work. On most days, the father did not return until Brian had already slipped into sleep.
His mother woke him each day, smelling like sharp flowers—this scent she put on each time she left the shower and often the child sat in her bedroom, eating cereal and watching morning cartoons as she dressed.

On such a day she had a basket of flowers ready by the front door.
“We’re just going to stop at the Miller’s on our way to school,” she said, pulling into the Miller’s drive. “Take this basket, here—take this note,” she stopped the car several feet from the front door. “Take these and lay them by the back door, go up the stairs onto their porch—no leave them just by the back stairs, so that no one sees you. I’d do it myself, only I don’t want to talk to them, we’ve got to get to school on time and I’ve a busy day ahead. Try not to let them see you and leave them just there and come back to the car quick as you can.” Her hands, painted red at the nails and glistening with bracelets shooed him out of the passenger door. “Hurry!” She smiled at him. She winked. “Careful with the flowers! Don’t drop the basket!”
Brain scampered out of the door, thrilled with stealth and purpose. He scurried like a young cub, ungraceful with feet too large, he lumbered as quick as he could, careful not to disturb the heavy bouquet.
He stole up the back stairs, conscious of his mother’s gaze. He laid the basket softly on the ground, trying soundlessly to impart her gift.
But lo! He heard a growing sound in the distance, accompanied by the sound of feet scrabbling through dry leaves, he heard paws scrabbling towards him. He felt fear for the first time. He turned abruptly and started to run, loping and awkward once more; his back to the impending monster. He could see his mother’s face through the windshield. Her mouth open, face pale. She did not move.
Not even when, within an arm’s length of the car, he felt a punch to his shoulders on either side of his neck—it knocked him to the ground, knocking the wind out of him, he felt stones in his eyes and he cried, hysterical, as the muzzle of big dog growled and gruffed in his ears. Instinctively, he brought his hands to cover his face and the dog nipped them as the dog bit his shoulders, he could hear the car still running. He screamed, shuddering, he wet his pants, he heard someone in the distance call out, “RUFUS! GET BACK HERE! OFF!” heard feet, this time a pair, crunching across the gravel drive towards him until at last he felt the weight on his back tossed off. The dog yelped, growling still.
Still not moving, shame burned the back of his neck. He wheezed. He heard the car door open. His mother, smelling of spring, lifted him off the ground, clutched him close and wiped his face, her jangling bracelets in his ears.

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