(Photo Credit- Kitone)
My father held the firm belief that kids should be seen and heard.
It was that conviction that afforded me the opportunities to sit in the company of him and his friends as they spewed both truths and lies.
Those storytellers made my young life fun. I’ll never forget them or their teachable moments.
And I’ll never forget the greatest storyteller of them all, my dad, or the last time I saw him.
On the last day I would ever see my dad alive, he wanted to walk with me to school. “What about work?” I asked. He said, “No work today, thought I’ll tag along on the way, catch up on old times, what do you think?”
At thirteen, I didn’t want to appear like some baby who needed his dad to escort him safely to class, but I didn’t want to disappoint him either, so I said, “Sure.”
It was an overcast day and as we walked my father told me tales both old and new. He had my full attention, until we came to the crosswalk at the somewhat busy intersection of Main and Central, one block from my school.
I hate that corner to this day.
“Okay, Dad. I’ll see you later,” I said as the light changed green, hoping he would take the hint to go back home. I didn’t want any of my friends to see him; man, I would have never heard the end of their big baby jokes.
I crossed, dad stayed put. No sooner than my foot hit the other side of the street, my dad called out, “Hey Paul, look!” There he was, doing his best impression of Charlie Chaplin. No doubt he had crossed in that fashion behind me and was now crossing back, doing his Chaplin bit.
“Good one Dad. See you later,” I waved and from the middle of the intersection he waved back. I continued on.
I felt it. That eerie feeling that something’s wrong, that feeling that you can never really explain later. But when I heard the screeching tires and the loud thud, I knew it was my dad.
I was right. He lay on the curb from where we both crossed. I ran and knelt next to him. Blood spilled from his mouth, his legs all twisted underneath him; he tried to pull himself up with his busted arms. I screamed for help. That’s when the driver, who hit my dad, got out his car and ran over to where we were.
With wide blood shot eyes the driver said, “I…I’m sorry kid.” He jumped back into his old green, beat up, rusted car and sped off.
Not sure if I should run back home for my mother, or stay with my dad, I just kept on screaming for help.
“Paul,” my dad said in his usual calm voice. His eyes looked so sleepy. “Now it’s you who have to tell the stories.” He closed his eyes and died right then and there.
The days that followed were tortuous. I didn’t want to go to school ever again, or any place for that matter. I just wanted my dad.
But I couldn’t miss school forever.
So I had to go back.
It was the longest, loneliest walk I ever made, except when we carried my dad’s casket to the grave.
Our dog Lincoln wanted to walk to school with me that morning, but I shooed him back home. That dog never listened to me and that cool morning he didn’t break protocol.
I wish he had.
Central and Main not only served as markers on my route to school, they were now a horrible memory. Needless to say, I crossed with extreme caution. Lincoln, who I had pelted with small stones and shouted “GO HOME!,” appeared in the middle of the intersection just as soon as I reached the other side.
One car came real close to hitting him, another stopped, cursed, then sped around him. When there were no other oncoming cars I stomped my foot and shouted, “LINCOLN, GO HOME!” He bobbed his head up and down and finally started to retreat. That’s when I heard the sound of screeching tires. I stepped off the curb shouting, “LINCOLN, GET OUT OF THE STREET!”
I was too late. The car hit him dead on, killing him on impact. I raced into the intersection. Lincoln was stretched out with his pink tongue hanging out of his mouth.
The driver, the SAME one in the old, rusty green car jumped out and ran over to us. He rubbed his grey beard and with those wide blood shot eyes said, “Oh, boy, sorry kid,” and jumped back in his car and sped off.
I was never going back to school again.
All I had left of Lincoln was the medium size mound in our backyard.
A week later my mother was called to duty on NASA’S Apollo 17. The flight was to be piloted by my mom. She took me aboard; NASA understood.
I never saw more beautiful stars like the ones I saw in space. Mom looked over at me and smiled, happy that after so much pain we now had something to smile about.
That’s when I heard a screeching sound. I remember thinking, “No way!,” as I looked to our left that same crappy green, busted up, rusty car T-boned us on the driver side. The impact tore my mom from her seat belt and threw her through the windshield. She landed on the tip of a nearby star. I made my way over to her. She was lifeless and now, so was I.
The driver leaped from his car and drifted over to where we were. He ran his hand over the top of his space helmet. “Kid,” he shook a disciplining finger at me, “We got to stop meeting like this, it ain’t healthy.” He floated back to his car and sped off.
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(Photo courtesy of Apertome)
Ever since I could remember, I hated dogs. I’m not sure how I felt about them when I was younger, but in my teens, a dog away from me was a good dog.
My mother inherited a dog when I was fourteen. His named was Rex. From day one, I hated the dog and he hated me.
He growled every time I passed him on my way out of the house. And he barked when I returned. Most nights he slept on the front porch. Honestly, I think he did that to prevent me from coming in. Stupid mutt.
The routine – I walked past, he cut his eyes and let out a low growl; I would do the same. We understood each other. There would never be any love lost between us.
One night, after two months of this routine, I passed him as he lay curled up on the porch – he didn’t growl. Nope; he got up, left the porch and began following behind me as I rode away on my bike.
That dog…no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t chase him away. I threw everything but the kitchen sink at him, he just wouldn’t go home. So I jumped back on my bike and tried to outrun him. He was way too fast.
When we got home Rex followed me up the steps and into the house. I sat down to watch TV; there at my feet lay Rex.
From that night on, everywhere I went, Rex followed. I soon gave up trying to sneak off without him – he was just too smart.
Every time I rode my bike, it was just me and my buddy, Rex.
One Saturday morning, Rex wasn’t sleeping by the front door or out on the front porch.
“Mama, where’s Rex?”
“He’s on the back porch.”
Sure enough, he was kinda sitting, kinda lying down.
“Come on boy, let’s go.”
He sat for a minute, turned those sad brown eyes at me and slowly crawled under the porch.
I called more times than I can remember, but he just wouldn’t come out. Maybe he’s tired I thought. So I let him be. I rode off with my friends.
When I got home, Rex was still under the porch.
“Mama, Rex won’t come from under the porch.”
My mother’s eyes went soft. “Baby, I think Rex died.”
While I was out riding around, the dog I came to love died. I will never forget that moment and I will never forget Rex.
For our GOOD FRIDAY, come back and read a heartfelt short story I penned and published for Rex. For now, tell us your most heartwarming story about your four legged best friend. And, as always, keep your head up.