Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Fiction: Find That Dachshund!

: Bear's starting to feel stronger again, and so it's been a busy week, catching up on many chores after the long period of heavy symptoms. For those who have been sending up prayers for the illness and for the Bearmobile . . . many thanks! God is clearly working in both situations, although the Bearmobile is still in the shop. The mechanic started working on it Wednesday, and thinks it might be the timing belt. Which sounds hopeful. But that's the last heard about it. So it's back to waiting mode. But Bear's thanking the Lord for progress on both fronts!

At any rate, Friday kind of snuck up on Bear quickly this week, without her having produced anything new yet. So she decided to pull out this short story from 2006 -- one of two that actually was purchased by a small church magazine. For those of you who got a chance to read Bear's post this weekend, Sunday Sharing: Turning the Clock Back, this story is an illustration of what Bear was talking about concerning how some magazines seem to opt out of using the Name of Jesus, and substitute "God" in instead. Although Bear specifically used the Name of Jesus several times in this story, in appropriate places, as you read it, you'll notice that His Name does not appear once in it. Each time, "God" was substituted. In fact, the story is exactly as Bear wrote it originally, word for word, except concerning the Name of Jesus -- that's the only thing the editor edited out.

But the main reason Bear chose to post it today, is that it was fun to write, and was fun to look up again and read and post. She may do a bit of editing on it (which it needs -- it was hard not to edit it, as she typed it up for this post in fact), plus put Jesus back into it, and send it around as a reprint, to see if she can get another sale from it. 'Twould be fun.

Find That Dachshund!

I live in your average small town in Texas, and let me tell you, when August rolls around and the thermometer starts popping over 100 degrees, things tend to get pretty boring. By noon, we try to shuffle indoors into the air-conditioning, because by then it starts feeling too hot to breathe.

That's where Elaine and I were headed that Wednesday, just before lunch. Indoor coolness. We were looking forward to making ice-cream sodas and watching the new video her parents had given her.

Joking around and giggling as we pedaled our bikes, we were just rounding the corner by Mrs. Olsen's when we braked to an abrupt stop, our tires skidding on the pavement.

Mrs. Olsen was on her front porch, calling in a shaky voice, "Barney! Please come home, Barney! Oh, where are you?" There were actually tears rolling down her wrinkled face. Her short gray hair was mussed, and even from the street we could tell that she hadn't slept much.

"How long has your dog been gone?" I called.

"Since yesterday. Maybe he's hurt." She twisted her sodden handkerchief as she walked toward us. "Oh, please help me find him, Trish."

Well, who could turn down a plea like that? Barney, that little brown sausage of a dog she called a dachshund, was her only family.

"Don't worry about a thing," I assured her. "We'll have him back before you know it!"

Elaine looked at me skeptically as we continued riding down the street toward her house. "What about the video and sodas?"

"We'll get to them after we put up the LOST DOG posters. Once the posters are up, all we have to do is stay home and wait for the phone to ring."

"Yeah? Where are we going to get posters?"

I smiled confidently as we pulled into her driveway. "Your brother, the computer whiz. Remember him? He can zip them out in no time."

"Not Tommy!" Her face blanched. "You can't --"

But I was already through the front door, heading for Tommy's cave. He was always sitting in there with the blinds closed, the place eerily lit by the computer screen alone.

I walked straight in, Elaine trailing fretfully behind. "Tommy," I said, slapping him on the back to snap him out of his hypnotic state. "We need LOST DOG posters. Right away, please."

He laughed, stuck out his tongue at Elaine, and ignored us. Finally, I had to resort to bribing him, promising to cater ice-cream sodas to the cave that afternoon.

Within 20 minutes we were on the street, going from telephone pole to telephone pole, stapling up the posters. I was feeling pretty smug about the whole thing -- until the police officer drove up at our fourth pole. He was scary-looking in his all-black uniform and with a big frown on his face. The gun on his belt didn't help, either.

"Girls, don't you know there's a $100 fine for posting signs on city property?"

He let us off with a warning, but only after he made us promise to take down the posters we had already put up.

"Now what?" asked Elaine, discouraged. "How're we going to find Barney?"

I was a bit discouraged myself, with ice-cream sodas and air-conditioning becoming steadily more distant, but a vision of Mrs. Olsen's tears kept me going. "We'll just have to go door to door and ask if anyone's seen him."

"You're kidding! It must be at least 90 degrees out here already!"

"Probably more like 95," I agreed, wiping sweat from my forehead with the back of my arm.

But Elaine followed along, helping me rip down the four posters. Then we headed up the porch steps of the first house.

Mrs. Stevens answered our knock, juggling her nine-month-old baby on her hip.

I held up a poster, asking, "Have you seen him, ma'am?"

There was a crash of pans from the kitchen, followed by a howl from her three-year-old.

"No, I haven't, but I'll keep a lookout," she said, hurrying away from the screen door.

Elaine shot me an I-told-you-this-would-never-work look. I shrugged, wiped more sweat from my forehead, and headed for the next house.

A man lived in this one. Rumor had it that he worked nights. When he opened the door, we stepped back a bit. He was taller than my dad, with thick, muscled arms sporting a couple of tattoos. His T-shirt and jeans were stained and wrinkled, and his eyes were all puffy from just waking up.

I held up the poster, my throat dry. He scanned it, then shook his head, frowning. "Nah, ain't seen no pooch."

"Woof! Woof!" It was a small bark, coming from a back room. The man looked over his shoulder, grunted, and slammed the door in our faces.

"That was Barney, for sure," I whispered to Elaine. "That man's probably holding him hostage!"

To my surprise, she nodded in agreement.

I tried to keep my voice steady. "Let's sneak around and look in the back window."

"Are you out of your mind?" Elaine's eyes widened, but she reluctantly followed me around the big, green bush that stood at the corner of the porch. I spotted a pile of old tires under a window and climbed onto them, putting a hand on her shoulder to steady myself. Then, cautiously, I squinted through the dusty glass.

There was a dog in there, all right. Unfortunately, it was a cocker spaniel. Also unfortunately, when it spotted me, it leaped toward the window, barking. I was so surprised that I lost my balance. Tires skidded out from under my feet, flying every which way, and I landed on my back in the dirt.

Above me, the door burst open with a loud BANG. Suddenly I was staring straight into the angry eyes of that man, looking down at me from the back porch. Then, miraculously, I was on my feet, running faster than I ever had before. Elaine was right behind me, too, even though she had always been a bit slow in gym class.

By the time we reached our bikes, we were gasping for breath, sweat pouring down our faces. "What're we going to do now?" puffed Elaine. "This sure isn't working!"

I stayed silent, trying not to breathe so hard -- trying to look like I still had things under control. Then inspiration struck.

"Hey! Why don't we ask God for help? God knows where Barney is! God knows everything, right?"

Elaine crossed her arms, thinking. Then she said, "Yeah, but how will God help us find a dog, when we can't even use posters, and it'll be 100 degrees soon, and -- "

But I knew I was on solid ground. I tried to cut in. "We're talking about God. Who knows how? We're just supposed to pray and leave the rest to God, right?"

"-- and Tommy's going to be wanting us to pay up with those sodas . . ."

I grabbed her hand, shaking it. "Let's pray!" So we did.

Then she looked at me. "Well?"

What did she expect? An instant miracle or something? These things take time.

But then, amazingly, a miracle happened. All of a sudden, I felt like I knew just how to find Barney. I couldn't explain it, and it didn't usually work that way, so fast and all, but . . .

I hopped onto my bike, saying, "Thank you, God!" Then I yelled, "Come on, Elaine! We've got to get Fargo!"

"What are you talking about? Why Fargo? You are so crazy!"

But she caught up with me within a block.

Fargo was my German shepherd. Since we lived next door to Mrs. Olsen, he and Barney played together a lot. Whenever I let him out of the house, Fargo joyfully headed straight to wherever Barney was.

When we got to my front door, I threw it open. "Fargo! Here, boy!" I whistled.

I didn't have to call twice. He zoomed at me, leaping up and planting two huge paws on my shoulders as I crouched. He gave my face a lick as I fell into the porch rail, and then he took off, running toward Mrs. Olsen's house.

I wiped dog slobber off my mouth and hair. "Eeeeewwww! . . . Follow him, Elaine! Quick!"

We were on our bikes in an instant, watching Fargo sniff the ground around the house. After he had sniffed clear across the front yard, he started trotting down the sidewalk.

At first, it was easy to keep up, but then Mrs. Banducci's cat, Cross-eye, leaped out from under the battered old car in the driveway, and Fargo took off after him at about 100 miles an hour.

"Oh no! We can't lose him or we'll never find Barney," I yelled, ditching the bike to shortcut through a hedge.

"This is so crazy!" Elaine panted, amazingly close behind me.

We climbed over fences, ran through yards, zoomed around trees, tromped through a few gardens, and even made a fast tour of the schoolyard.

Finally, Cross-eye climbed an oak tree next to the school and leaped onto the roof, out of sight.

Fargo watched the roof for a few minutes, then gave up and headed back the way we had come. Before long, he started wagging his tail, sniffing the ground again.

It seemed as if he was taking us on a tour around the whole town. Then behind Mr. Sandlin's bookstore selling used books, he slowed down and planted his paws on the side of a huge brown garbage bin, barking.

The bin was taller than I was. There was a huge pile of boxes of old books stacked next to it that made a rough stairway up to its rim.

Elaine and I were gasping for breath. She looked at me, raising an eyebrow.

Why not? I thought. It couldn't be worse than tires. I crawled up on the boxes and grabbed the edge of the can's metal rim, peering into the shadowy interior.

A pair of tiny eyes stared back at me.

Mrs. Olsen was overjoyed when we handed him over. "Oh, Barney, Barney!" Big tears rolled down her cheeks.

Was it worth it? Even though we had to spend the rest of the afternoon making ice-cream sodas for Tommy and watching him gloat? Even though we had to repair a few damaged gardens the next day?

Hey, if you'd seen the joy in old Mrs. Olsen's eyes, you wouldn't have to ask.

Even Elaine admitted it was worth it.

The End

Christina Banks over at With Pen in Hand is hosting Fiction Friday this week. So be sure and drop over there as well, to find links to the whole selection of entries by Christian writers, and/or to add a link of your own and join in the fun! We all welcome comments and discussion!
Bear's news and free multi-media Christian resources: Bear's Writing Den


Denise said...

Enjoyed this.

deb said...

Great Story and great Lesson.. Ask God before we try doing things are way!!! His way is always best!!! Thanks Bear and I am so glad you are feeling better!!! Bearmobile is in our prayers!!!

Catrina Bradley... said...

I love everything about it, EXCEPT, how did Barney get in the dumpster?? Great adventure story, Bear.

Bear said...

"The bin was taller than I was. There was a huge pile of boxes of old books stacked next to it that made a rough stairway up to its rim."

Barney got up to the rim of the dumpster by climbing the "stairway" of old book boxes, same as Trish did. Then jumped into the dumpster, likely after a meat scrap or something. It actually happens to small dogs from time to time. My friend who works at a nearby town's disposal station has to rescue a neighbor dog from one of their dumpsters regularly. Says the dog never seems to learn.

Thanks for the encouraging comments!

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