Thursday, July 9, 2009
By RICHARD VINSON
I was trying to sleep, but Rusty wouldn't let me.
"Mom, I'm hungry."
"Yes, Rusty, I know. But we'll have to wait until someone comes home."
"But, Mom, why - -?"
"Now, now! Why don't we walk up to the little creek you like so well? Then maybe when we come back we'll have something."
If I didn't get his mind off food, he would start chewing on the rug, and that would get us both in trouble.
As we left the house he seemed to be awful quiet. After we had been walking for about ten minutes, he still hadn't said anything.
"Rusty, is something wrong?"
"I was just thinking."
"Well, it seems to me if Dad really loved us like you say, wouldn't he come around once in a while?"
This was getting to be hard. At least twice a month now we went through this. I knew a day would come when he wouldn't take my way of answering for an answer.
"Rusty, look at me."
"Rusty, you know I love you."
"Then, believe me, your father too loves you. Even though he isn't here, you can be sure, wherever he is, he does."
Rusty was silent.
"I know it's hard on you, not having him here. But, son, please try to understand there are things you have to accept. As you get older, you will understand better."
I thought I might cheer him up by suggesting that we play hide-and-seek.
"Hey! I'll bet you can't find me. Close your eyes. No peeking."
I ran up the hill, slipped behind a clump of trees, and sat to wait. I waited and waited.
Something must be wrong, I thought. He had never before taken this long. He might be lost or hurt! I walked back to the spot where I left him. There he was, sitting in the grass, watching the water tumble over the rocks, with a forlorn look on his lost little face. I stood watching him. I didn't know what to say. I wanted so much to tell him about his father, but I couldn't. He just wouldn't understand.
"Rusty, Rusty, honey."
"Your birthday will be here soon. Have you been thinking about what you would like to do?"
"No, I've only been thinking about him(!) and wondering where he is."
I could see it was of no use. But if we went back to the house and found somebody there - -
"Come. I'll race you back to the house."
I had a little head start, but I slowed down, and Rusty was soon out of sight.
The sun was just touching the tree tops as I came into the yard, and the smell of food was welcome. By the time I got to the house Rusty already had his dish before him and I could hear me being whistled for.
As I looked over I could see Rusty with his face in his dish and his tail wagging. I knew that eventually, maybe, everything was going to be all right.
For The American Dachshund, April, 1969. Image by Joey and Maggie, original mid-century photo source unknown.