If you asked John what day it was, he probably couldn’t tell you. His routine was the same one day as it was the next. He rose early and went to bed late. He ate three times a day, and drank a cup of coffee after each meal. After breakfast, he tended his garden, after lunch, he worked on his carvings or fished. After dinner, he played his guitar and sang the songs he had played and sang from the time he was a child until now. If the right words and tune came to him, he wrote them down and added the good ones to his repertoire.
He stayed busy, but he couldn’t fill his days enough to keep from being lonely.
John couldn’t understand what he had done in his life to deserve the indifference his son and his family had shown him. He thought he had a friend in Harvey, but apparently Harvey had not agreed. He had left in the middle of the night without so much as leaving a note.
It was time to get ready to go down the mountain to the small town below where, every two weeks, he shopped and did whatever else he needed to do.
Arf and Annie had finally shown Steve where they put the keys to the old pickup that Harvey drove. They hadn’t been able to carry everything they had hauled down from the bedroom so they hid them under the front door mat.
Right before the Sheriff handcuffed Harvey to take him down to the police station, he gave the partially carved piece of wood to Clark.
“Give this to your grandpa,” he said. “Tell him I was making him a comfort cross.”
“Why did you stay, Mr. Samuels?” Clark asked. “After the kids were taken from you, why didn’t you just leave?”
“I didn’t know where to go. To be honest, my heart really wasn’t into getting a ransom for those precious kids. It’s just that being a criminal is the only thing I’ve ever known. Can you believe that? Once a criminal always a criminal I guess….come on Sheriff, I’m ready to go. I’m a tired old man and I need a bed…any bed, even if it’s in a jail cell.”
Arf: No one ever asked Mr. Harvey human why he came here to the house that Steve owned a long time ago. I seems kind of weird to me.
Annie: I guess it could be just a coincidence. He was kind of confused. Remember, he said he didn’t even know whose house this was? Here comes Steve. He’s probably ready to go. I can’t wait to get back to the ranch. I’m hungry.
Arf: Me too. Where is Clark?
Annie: He’s driving Harvey’s truck to the police station. The policeman is going to bring him back here to pick up the truck he drove from the ranch and Steve is going to take us home.
Arf: Why do always know everything?
Annie: Because I’m a good listener. It’s just who I am.
When they all got back home, the place was a hub of excitement. Arf and Annie got their food plus a really big good bone. After that, they went to Brad’s office to sit by the squirrel window. They weren’t alone for long. First Brad came in and then Clark.
“It’s been a big day for you, hasn’t it son?” Are you doing okay?”
“My head is spinning. All I can think about is trying to find my grandpa. Harvey is right. My daddy is the meanest man in the world. I have to wonder what made him that way.”
Brad was thinking about something Steve had mentioned when he was talking about Harvey at dinner.
“Do you know your dad’s brother and sister? I heard Steve say your dad told Harvey their names are Kathy and Jim. It sounded like your grandpa told Harvey your dad was very jealous of them. Who knows? Maybe that has something to do with it.”
“I’ve never heard of Kathy or Jim,” Clark said.
Brad got up and walked around to sit on the edge of his desk.
“I’ll start looking for your grandpa, tomorrow. You should go and try to get some sleep. You’re supposed to start school tomorrow. I know you’ve got a lot on your mind, but you really can’t put it off any longer.”
“Yes sir,” Clark said. “As long as I know you’ll be looking for my grandpa, I will go to that school and do the best that I can do.”
When Clark left to go up to his room, Annie went too and took her usual spot by his bed. It was good to be home.
“Arf,” Brad said. “Why don’t you go sneak into Katie’s room. She’s probably sleeping, but when she wakes up, I’m sure she will expect to see you there beside her bed.”
Arf: When I went into Katie’s room, both Dina and Steve were there. That’s one good thing about being a dog. You can just walk into places and no one stops talking because they don’t think you can understand what’s going on. My Katie was sound asleep so I just laid down in my usual spot and closed my eyes and listened.
“It was very strange being in that house,” Steve said. “It really hasn’t changed that much since we lived there.”
“I loved that house,” Dina said. “It was wonderful to see it again that day I stopped by and the man who lived there let me have a look around.”
“Dina, I have an idea that I hope you will think about. What if we tried to find the owners? The house is vacant so maybe they would consider selling it. It’s close to the ranch, which would make it easy for you to come and help Jamie’s mother continue to recover from her stroke and Katie could be near Arf and everyone else she loves here.”
“I don’t have to think about it,” Dina said. “I think that is a wonderful idea.”