Friday, July 13, 2012

Chessie Bites the Dust

We never realized what a heart Mom O. had for animals until the day Mark had to leave the warehouse to help Charlie bury his dog. After lunch, Van had phoned the office, hysterical as all get out. Mom O’Dell held the phone away from her ear so Van’s volume wouldn’t damage her hearing. We heard every detail of the conversation.
            “Now, Vandalia,” Mom O. said. “Calm down. I can’t make out a word you’re saying. Who is dead?”
            Van’s tone made us all wince. “Chessie is!” she said. “Charlie’s dog. He’s had her since he was sixteen and I swear, sometimes I think he loves her more’n me. Now she’s dead. Strangled and hanging over the chain link fence. Tell Charlie to get home right now. He’s gotta get her down before the kids wake from their nap!”
            To us, as soon as Van said the bit about strangled and hanging, Mom O. seemed to come perilously close to fainting dead away. Adam scooted his folding chair closer to her desk and patted her shoulder. Not a touchy feely gal, Mom tolerated it that day. Appeared to maybe even derive strength from it.
            Right before Mom O. spoke, she reached out and grabbed her blood pressure monitor. Latched onto it so tightly the skin on her age-spotty knuckles looked bleached.
            “You need to stay calm, Vandalia,” Mom said. “For the children. Now tell me, how exactly did the poor thing manage to choke itself?”
            Van’s huff was easy for us to hear. “She runs away all the da— dang time, Mom O.,” Van said. She paused a moment and when she resumed, her voice sounded slightly more collected. “She digs out under the fence. She busts through the gate. And here lately she’s taken to trying to climb over. So this morning, I tied her up. Inside the dog run.”
            Mom O. was now blinking non-stop, to try to staunch the flow of her tears, we’d surmise later. When a stream of snot began to creek toward her mouth, Adam plucked a tissue out of the box on the desk and dabbed at her face. She swatted him away.
            “Well, surely Chessie barked or howled or something,” Mom O. said.
            “But that’s the problem, Mom,” Van wailed. “She didn’t. Because . . . Because . . .”
            Mom O.’s steely eyebrows tangled together and her raisin eyes practically disappeared.           
            “Because why, Van?” Her words marched out individually and defined.
            Van didn’t answer right away. When she did, it sounded as if she was reading from a Hollywood script.
            “Oh, Mother O’Dell,” she began. Her voice was nearly impossible to make out at first. A wheedle really. “Do you remember what it was like? To have a house to care for? And animals? And babies? And a husband? And—” Her questions crescendoed and each item she added was imbued with more drama than the last.
            Mom O. cut her off, almost without moving her lips. “Get to the point, Van.”
            Our eyebrows lifted in unison as we heard Van draw a trembling breath.
            “Well,” she said, “at the beginning of summer when Chessie started staying outside the better part of the day, it occurred to me her howling might keep the kids from their naps, and you know they need their naps.”
            Mom yacked her free hand and rolled her eyes. “The point, Van,” she said. “The point.”
            “So last week I drove to the pet superstore up at the strip mall and bought a . . . bought a . . .” Van seemed to run out of gas about then.
            Mom O.’s gaze drilled a hole in the paneled wall over our heads. “A what, Van? What did you buy?”
            We leaned in to hear Van’s answer.
            “A barker breaker kit.”
            In one motion, Mom O. both stood and knocked her rolly chair to the ground. She gripped her considerable waist with one hand and clenched the phone with the other. Her eyes were squenched shut as if she was picturing the whole scene play out on her eyelids. After a minute, she transferred her free hand from her waist to her cheek. To scrape a tear away.
            “And this morning,” Mom said, “poor Chessie didn’t dare make a peep for fear she’d get the living daylights shocked out of her. That’s what you’re saying, Van, right? Right?”
            At that point the only thing coming from the phone was that blubbering racket girls make when a serious crying fit takes hold. Mom O. sneered and slammed the receiver into its cradle. Headed toward the warehouse door, her elbows pumping something fierce.
            “Mark!” she called from the doorway. “Charlie. Get over here. Now!” When she didn't get a response she ventured into the cool shadows of the warehouse.
            We followed close enough to hear her mutter. “Wouldn’t surprise me if that harlot was entertaining visitors of the male persuasion ‘round about the time Chessie choked. Wouldn’t surprise me a-tall.”
            We dropped back lest Mom O’Dell discover our proximity and aim her anger at us.
            “Her’s pissed,” Adam said as he shouldered the office door for us.
            "Her's most definitely pissed," Jason said as he reached for the treat bowl.

(This is an ongoing short story. If you'd like to read the whole thing, click here: "Vandalia and Charlie." That's where the saga starts.)


writingdianet said...

Hope you're still liking the story, folks! Remember if you a) become a new blog follower or b) leave a comment, you'll be entered to win a package of butterfly booty:)
Also, please shoot up a little prayer for me. 'Cause I know how this story ends but not how to get there. Uh oh:()

Tony said...

I love this story. I think I know how it ends too. Oh My!!!!!!!!

writingdianet said...

Really? You think you know how it's gonna end? I think you're wrong, dude:)

kathymack56 said...

Hey Diane,
This is Kathy (of the Kathy and Kevin show, including Virginia and John, LOL). Antway I just started reading this today. I really like it. And I have no clue about the ending. :)

writingdianet said...

Howdy Kathy:

Thanks for stopping by, neighbor? Did you go all the way back to the beginning (Vandalia and Charlie) and start reading? Hope so.

Lucky you. You're now entered in my drawing to win butterfly booty!


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