This week I have a story from Rebecca Stroud. This author is a tireless advocate for our furry friends. She writes great stories that involve dogs in many different ways. I have read and reviewed this book and I loved it. It was (for me) a fast and fun read, with a lot of heart and soul in each tale. So Below is an excerpt from A Three-Dog Night eBook: Rebecca Stroud: Kindle Store. Specifically, it’s from “Gabriel” (one of the three short stories in this book and they are indeed short).
My name is John and I’m lonesome.
I’ve been living in basic shell-shock since my wife, Lydia, left me six months ago. We’d been married for nearly fifty years so how in hell do you carry on when the person you practically grew up with goes and dies on you? Not very fair of her, was it?
At least, I don’t think so. I mean, we were supposed to grow older and grayer together. Then, quite selfishly, I was supposed to go first, damn it. Because I can’t stand life without Lydia and I’m at a loss as what to do next.
Should I clean this house that hasn’t seen a duster since she died? Should I get up out of my Lazy-Boy, turn off the idiot box, and go out to smell the roses? What roses? They’ve all rotted and withered on the vine…just like I’m doing.
I do make it as far as the front doorstep to fetch the morning paper. Occasionally, one of my neighbors is doing the same. So I wave and hurry back inside as I don’t want to talk to anyone. Apparently, they don’t really want to talk to me either because I see the looks on their faces. How they avert their eyes and scurry away faster than I do. Fine by me.
Since I still have to eat – although my appetite rivals that of a bird’s – I also make it as far as the corner market where Lydia and I have been grocery shopping for decades. Sure, I could go to one of the big-box stores but why bother? Yeah, my brother told me I need to get out and mingle but I doubt Wal-Mart is the place to start a meaningful conversation. Say, how ’bout them tomatoes?
So, every Monday morning, I continue to buy my meager nutrient requirements at Bud’s Bodega and hope like hell Bud doesn’t want to ‘engage’ me in chit-chat. Of course, since Lydia and I have known him forever, neither can I be rude. This particular trip proves to be a test of my willingness to socialize.
“So, John, how are you this fine day?” Bud smiles like he’s never smiled before.
I grunt and nod, “Okay, Bud. Thanks for asking.” I head for the produce aisle to pretend I’m looking for that award-winning tomato. He follows me.
“Ya know, John, I’ve been thinking. Maybe you should get a dog.”
Christ. A dog. Just what I need. Another perfect soul that I can get attached to, love more than life itself, then have it die on me, too.
“No, thanks, Bud. I’m doing okay. Just going to take some time.”
Unfortunately, I have to pay for those meager nutrients so I find myself face-to-face with him while he rings up my bill.
“Really, John. Just listen for a minute. Please.” Bud’s entire demeanor changes in a heartbeat as he relates the story of a dog that saved his family from perishing in a house fire. A dog who shortly thereafter was relinquished to the local shelter because his owners were getting divorced. A dog whose repayment for giving life was most likely going to be death as he was already nine years old.
So, as Bud recounted this sad tale, I did. Listen that is. Because something in the telling struck a familiar chord. Tugging at me, I think it was the fact that the dog and I were a lot alike. Through no fault of my own, I had lost the light of my life. Ditto for the dog. Then came the clincher.
“Well, maybe I could go take a look,” I said. “What’s its name?”
Bud’s smile returned as he replied, “Gabriel. And tell Mary Ellen I sent you.”
* * * * *
I didn’t sleep well that night. I kept thinking about Gabriel, the dog. And about Gabriel the archangel, God’s messenger. I also prayed. Something I hadn’t done in a long time because, to date, my heaven-sent missives had been blatantly ignored.
And maybe Bud was right. Maybe this dog and I could help each other heal. In a sense, both of us had enough baggage to re-sink the Titanic…maybe we could unload together. My head was beginning to hurt.
I finally fell into fitful dozing until dawn. Yawning, I got up, made a pot of coffee, pretended to read the paper, said to hell with it and headed for the shelter as soon as it opened.
Rather than asking for help, I decided to walk the concrete aisles just to see if I could spot this “dog meant for me.” Little did I know what I was in for…