It all started years ago. I went to visit Mom and Gus in California and when I got back, Kip picked me up at the airport. I was tired, but I couldn’t help but notice that we weren’t going in the direction of our house.
“I want to show you what I found while you were gone,” He said.
We went to a car lot in the mid cities which confused me because at the moment, we were the proud owners of cars for everyone and unless someone had an unfortunate accident while I was gone…”Oh, no, did someone have an unfortunate accident while I was gone?” I asked.
“Not as far as I know,” he sort of assured me. “Do you know something I don’t know?”
Since neither of us knew anything, we went on to the subject at hand. I asked what we were doing at a car lot and he said we were there to look at a small used motor home.
We looked at it, we bought it, and then a few weeks later we got a boat and all the other paraphernalia that goes with it. We spent every weekend we could at one of the many beautiful lakes close to the Dallas area. We became quite good at water skiing, knee boarding, and tubbing.
At the time, we had a little westie named Sadie and a wire haired fox terrier named Pixie. We bought life jackets for them and brought them along on our camping trips.
Sadie on the left and Pixie on the right
The second summer we had the motor home, we decided to buy a couple of bicycles. Several of the lakes had bike trails and we thought it would be fun to go for a ride in the evenings.
One day we saw a lady riding on the trail and she had a double baby carrier attached to her bike. Right then we decided that Sadie and Pixie would like to go with us on our rides, and that they would enjoy sitting in a double baby carrier.
We had a Sears Store near where we lived so one Saturday we went shopping. We were discussing the pros and cons of two different carriers when a young salesman came and stood by us. He patiently waited while Kip and I continued our discussion about which carrier would work the best.
Kip: Do you think they’ll sit up or lie down and sleep? We won’t have to hook them to a harness if they sleep. The zipper net will keep them from falling out.
Me: We would have to be sure and remember to zip it up. This one looks dangerous. If they fell out and we didn’t notice right away, we could potentially drag them by the neck.
Kip: Wow! These are expensive. Maybe we should just continue to lock them in the motor home with the air on. At least until we find a used carrier.
At this point we noticed the young man waiting to help us. He looked horrified. It took us a minute to figure out why.
“Sadie and Pixie aren’t babies,” I assured him. “They’re our dogs. Not that we would want to drag our dogs.”
We didn’t buy a carrier that day, but we found one at another store that was perfect. We took the dogs, their carrier, and our bikes to Lake Ray Robert’s one beautiful fall weekend. We couldn’t wait to take a ride on the trail. The dogs looked comfortable and secure to us.
The problem was that they didn’t like bike rides. Well Sadie did, but Pixie howled the whole time.
The carrier sat in the garage for a couple of years until we had a garage sale. People looked at us funny when we told them our dogs didn’t like being pulled behind our bikes. It was one of those ideas that sounds good when you say it real fast.
I have had the pleasure of getting to know Florence’s Granddaughter and she said she thought this story was a hoot. What can I say…It was life in Murdo. Everyone had their turn in the barrel.
I had an interesting conversation with our Miss Murdo Girl this morning. As I talked, she looked at me so intently, I thought I was really reaching her. She kept nodding in agreement to everything I was saying. She doesn’t normally give me her full attention. When I finished she said, “I wonder if my Alden’s dress is back from the dry cleaners.”
I guess the lady is worried. She wants to know what I’ll be writing about in my papers now that I’m in high school. I told her I’m not here to cause trouble, but just think about it. To write about what it’s like to grow up in Murdo without leaking a little gossip, is like saying go read your favorite encyclopedia and write a paper that everyone will want to read.
I know Mom gossips some, but she does not like to listen to complainers. If people start to complain while talking on the phone to her, she tells them that she’s got troubles of her own, and then hangs up. She’ll stay on the phone all day if they’ve got some juicy gossip.
I’ve heard people say, “Don’t say anything about someone that you wouldn’t say to their face.” I’m not sure I agree with that. I’ll give you an example. The other day, Danny Koester said to me, “I’ve always thought you were kind of pretty Mary, but my Mom doesn’t think so.”
Now what was I supposed to say to that? He went on to explain. “She says you have a funny looking mouth.”
I’ve never worried about the shape of my mouth, but now it bugs me, too. I’ve always hated my legs below my knees, because they look like chicken legs, but I never once thought about how funny looking my mouth is.
I think sometimes it’s okay to hide certain things from people, if you don’t get too convoluted about it…like what happened when Kitty Reynolds still lived here. She made an appointment with a doctor in Rapid City and Mom agreed to drive her. A problem occurred when Florence, Dr. Murphy’s wife, got wind of it and invited herself along. Now they were going to have to figure out a way to get Kitty to the doctor’s appointment without Florence knowing. They would have to ditch Florence, and that would not be easy. You see, Mom and Kitty knew Florence would be mad, and it would hurt Doc Murphy’s feelings if they found out Kitty went all the way to Rapid City to see another doctor.
The three of them headed for Rapid, and it wasn’t long before the first dilemma arose. Every time the ladies go on shopping trips to Rapid City, they stop along the way for pie and coffee. Florence kept asking when they were going to stop. Well, Kitty was going to have one of those tests where you can’t eat anything after midnight. She couldn’t even have coffee, because she doesn’t like it without cream and sugar. Mom knew Florence would suspect something if Kitty didn’t have pie and coffee, so there was no way she was going to stop. She said something about being in a big hurry. I’m sure Florence was puzzled by that.
Mom said Florence fussed all the way to Rapid because she wanted pie so bad. Thankfully when they got there, they had a little time to figure out what to do with Florence while Mom took Kitty to the doctor. Well, Florence really wanted to go to a certain store in the Baken Shopping Strip. Mom said she would drop her off, but she had to go see her friend Jeri Olson, who was in the hospital. Florence doesn’t know Jeri, so that was a smart move on Mom’s part. She told Florence that Kitty had to go with her to see Jeri. Kitty has a bad leg, so it made sense for her to stay with Mom instead of walking all over the shopping strip. Florence didn’t question any of that, but she was getting extremely hungry, so she suggested they all have a bite to eat first.
Kitty said, “No, we can’t do that because Loretta and I are on an all liquid diet.” By this time, they were at the shopping strip. Then Florence tried to pin Mom down as to what time they would pick her up. Mom told her if she was finished with her shopping before they got back, to go to Woolworths in the shopping strip and have a piece of pie.
When Mom got home that night, she said it was the most exhausting day she had ever lived through. Florence remained upset, and Kitty was as nervous as a cat the whole time. They couldn’t even eat on the way back since Kitty said they were on a strict liquid diet. Mom feared Kitty, who can’t think on her feet, would say something to blow their cover.
Upon hearing all of this, I reminded Mom of what she always tells me. “What a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive.” She said, “Yes, and if you ever mention a word about it, I will hit you so hard you will starve to death bouncing.” Which is another thing she always says.
Doctor Murphy told them to come back at noon the next day and that’s what they did. Clark and Brad could have gotten a motel room, but Clark wanted to see his grandpa’s cabin. They used some quilts to make palettes on the floor and everyone slept just fine.
The next day, when they got back to the hospital, they learned that the doctor was in with Mr. Sanders and would be out to see them, shortly.
“I really want to see my grandpa,” Clark said. “But I’m nervous. Do I have to be there when the doctor tells him he’s blind?”
“It’s entirely up to you, son.” Brad didn’t want to force the boy to do anything he wasn’t comfortable with.
“I guess since I’m the only one here he knows, I should be there, but you two and the doctor will have to remember to call me Butch.”
When the doctor came to get them he said he wanted to say a few words to them first, so they all sat back down to listen.
“He knows about his blindness. Last night, a nurse was changing the bandages on his eyes and inadvertently explained that even though there was no longer a need, she had been instructed to keep his eyes bandaged until further notice.”
“What did he say?” Clark asked.
“He didn’t say anything at first, but when she started to put the bandages back on, he told the nurse he did not want them on if they weren’t needed. Then he opened his eyes and of course he only saw darkness. He asked the nurse to please leave him alone. He assured her he was fine, so she left his room. This morning when I went in to see him, he was quite cheerful. He never once mentioned his blindness. He only said he wished to go home and asked if he could please call one of the guys who played in the band with him and ask him to take him to his cabin. I told him all of you were here and also that Biff had been taken care of the whole time he had been unconscious. He seemed a little confused and said he didn’t have a grandson named Clark.”
“We forgot to tell you that Miss Bessie changed my name,” Clark said. “Can we go see him now?”
The doctor, followed by Clark, Brad and Mark went to Mr. Sanders’ room. He was awake and waiting for them. Clark was the first to speak.
“Grandpa, it’s me, Butch. I can’t believe I’m actually here with you. My dad told me you were dead. I’m so happy you’re alive.”
“Butch? Is it really you?” Grandpa John reached out to touch his grandson. The tears coming from the eyes that couldn’t see, were running down his cheeks. “I might not ever see your face again, but your voice is heaven sent. I can almost hear you singing. Can you stay for a while? I don’t even know where you live?”
“Mr. Sanders,” Brad said. “I’m Clark’s, I mean Butch’s legal guardian. He lives with my family and me on a huge ranch almost seven hundred miles from here. There is plenty of room and we would like for you to come and stay with us. That way you can spend time with your grandson while you adjust to not being able to see.”
Mr. Sanders sat up in his bed and swung his legs over to the side so that he was facing his visitors.
“I thank you for your offer, Sir, but I can’t leave my home. My life is here and I will find a way to manage. What happened was an accident. Biff didn’t want to go fishing and I should have listened to him. Anyway, I have to move on, now. I would like to spend a few days with my grandson, though. Can you stay for a while, Butch?
Mark decided now was the time to talk to Brad and Clark about his idea. “Would you please excuse us for a moment Mr. Sanders? There is something I need to discuss with these two. It won’t take long.”
“What is this about?” Brad asked when they all got out into the hall.
“It doesn’t sound to me like Mr. Sanders is even going to consider leaving his cabin on the mountain,” Mark explained. “I have to say, even if I couldn’t see, I would want to be in a place just like it. He knows his way around there. It’s his home and the surroundings are peaceful. There is something else. We could let him have Arf for a while. That dog has a knack for knowing the right thing to do. He will help Mr. Sanders learn to help himself in all situations. Arf can do it. We all know he can.”
“I don’t think anyone who knows that dog would question that, but what about transportation? It’s a long way up there and Mr. Sanders will need supplies now and then and there is no phone. Also, Arf will eventually have to come home.” Brad wasn’t totally convinced this was the right thing to do.
“Can we hire someone to look in on him? He does have those musician friends. Maybe one of them could do it.”
“We know that Grandpa doesn’t have a phone, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to have one. Maybe he just figured it was too expensive to install. We should check on that. I think we should try to make it possible for Grandpa to stay here. I can drive now. I’ll spend time with him on long weekends and school vacations.”
“Okay,” Brad agreed. “We’ll check all of this out and make the plans we need to. Since tomorrow is Friday, you and I can stay here until very early Sunday morning. Mark…would you be willing to stay a few days beyond that just to make sure everything is going okay?”
“Sure, you go talk to the doctor to see when Mr. Sanders can get sprung. Clark and I will go talk this through with the man in charge.”
The next day, they took Clark’s Grandpa John back to his cabin in the woods. Arf sensed right away that he had a job to do, and it would take some time.
Arf would stay by Mr. Sanders’ side and guide him everywhere he needed to go. He would make a different sound when he was near the refrigerator than when he was by a chair or the table and wait while Mr. Sanders counted the steps until he automatically knew how far away and in what direction things were. He would make sure his charge had gloves and large tongs when he added wood to the fire in the stove. They would practice this over and over again until Mr. Sanders was able to sense when more wood was needed and how much was enough. The wood stove was the most critical thing to master and they both knew it.
On Saturday night, Grandpa John asked Arf to some to his side and told him to lead him as well as Clark, Mark, and Brad to the shed in the woods behind the cabin. Grandpa had decided he wanted to try and remember to call the grandson whom he had called Butch all his life…Clark. Like Miss Bessie, he thought it fit him better.
Through all of this, Biff was totally content. He was secretly happy that Arf was the one doing all the heavy lifting.
“I want to show you all my treasures,” Grandpa John said. “This is what I’ve been doing for the past six years, Clark. Without my sight, I won’t be able to finish it. Its a daunting project. I want you to know that I don’t feel in any way resentful. I think this is why God brought you back to me. I have hope that when you come for visits, we can complete this together.”
Grandpa John found the key on his own and handed it to Clark to unlock the padlock to the shed. Then he opened the doors wide. Everyone watching gasped in amazement.
Now it was Clark’s turn to feel the tears running down his cheeks.
Once again, Mark was taking all three dogs to the hospital with him. He felt more comfortable with them having to wait in the truck for a while than to leave them in the little cabin up on the mountain by themselves. He could let them out periodically for short walks, and they would get along fine. Besides, he knew that seeing Arf and Annie would be good for Clark and he could meet his grandpa’s dog, Biff.
Doctor Murphy promised he would be in his office when Brad and Clark arrived. He had to be the one to give them an update on Mr. Sanders’ condition. They would have a lot of questions.
Mark had been thinking about something all day and after things settled down a bit, he intended to tell Brad about his idea.
“What do you think, Arf?” He asked the dog who thought he was pretty clever for beating Annie and Biff out of the front seat. “Do you think you might be able to work your magic again? The outcome of all of this, could be in your hands…I mean paws.”
Arf: I didn’t know what to do but to bark my yes bark. I’m usually a happy dog, but lately I had been feeling like I wasn’t worth the good bones I always get. I had four new frisbees that I hadn’t done anything to earn. I needed to step it up and do my part. Uh…I wondered what that might be.
Annie: If Mark gives you something important to do can I help? Clark is in school now and I get bored. I want to do something that makes a difference in someone’s life.
Biff: Woofta! You two are wearing me out. I just want to see my human get better. That’s all I want. When he gets better and comes home, you all can make like a tree and leave. I can take care of him just fine.
When Mark pulled into the same spot he had occupied that morning, he saw Brad’s truck parked in front of the hospital. “The doctor is probably already talking to them. I guess I’ll go in and see what’s going on. You all be good dogs and I’ll come and walk you a little bit later. Who knows. Maybe Clark or Brad will come out to see you.
“Doctor Murphy is going over Mr. Sanders’ condition with his grandson and Mr. Humboldt. He asked that you wait in the waiting room and he will come and get you at the appropriate time.”
“Your grandfather doesn’t have any broken bones and he doesn’t appear to have a concussion, but I’m afraid there is an injury that can’t be fixed. We’ve had to keep him sedated while we worked to get his temperature down so he isn’t aware of anything, yet. I’m really glad you will be here to support him when we have to give him the news.”
“What news are you going to give Grandpa John?” Clark asked.
“Your grandfather is blind, son. It’s a permanent condition. I anticipate that he will be well enough to leave the hospital in about a week. Hopefully, he will be open to getting some occupational therapy. At his age, it won’t be easy to relearn how to perform tasks he’s done automatically his whole life.”
Clark didn’t say anything. His head was spinning.
“My sister is blind,” Brad said. “She was badly burned in a fire when she was sixteen. She went through years of physical and emotional pain while enduring multiple surgeries, but the hardest thing of all, was accepting the realization that she would never see again. I know what you mean, Doctor Murphy. At his age, Mr. Sanders will have a very difficult time adjusting to not being able to see…especially since he lives alone in a cabin up in the mountains.”
“I’ll stay with him and help him,” Clark said. “I want to. I have to.”
“We’ll find a way to help your grandpa, son. Doctor Murphy, when will he be well enough and lucid enough to be told about his blindness?”
“He’ll have to be told as soon as the sedation wears off. Otherwise, he will realize it on his own and in all likelihood he’ll panic which would not be good for him. Come back at midday tomorrow. You might have to wait a couple of hours, but I’m certain he will be fully awake by early tomorrow evening. We will keep him here a few more days. He’ll need some time to regain his strength.”
Mark saw Clark and Brad leave the doctor’s office. He could see the uncertainty in Brad’s face and the confusion in Clark’s eyes. This was not going to be easy for that young man or the people who loved him and wanted to be there for him.
The doctor had just filled Mark in on Mr. Sanders’ condition when he was called out of his office. It would be hours before Brad and Clark would get to town and all three dogs were sitting in the back of his truck waiting for him to come and take them someplace. The question was…what someplace? Since he would not be visiting Mr. Sanders, today, he decided to leave a message for Brad at the nurse’s station and drive back up to the cabin.
Biff: I’m really confused. Why didn’t my human come back home with us? Did he go fishing again?
Annie: No Biff, he’s still sick and in the hospital where they can fix him up and make him as good as new.
Arf: Mark looks sad. Do you think there is something really, really wrong? I hope Mark feeds us. I’m super, super hungry.
Biff: Woofta…me too!
Annie: I was kind of surprised that we came back to the cabin…I think Mark forgot to let us out of the truck. He just went inside the cabin by himself.
Mark began to prepare more of Biff’s dogfood for all three of the dogs. He didn’t realize that he had left them in the truck until he put the food down and there was no one there to eat it. He quickly ran outside and saw three sets of wide eyes looking at him.
“I’m sorry Arf and Annie…and Biff. I was so deep in thought I forgot you were still in the truck. It’s a good thing it’s a nice day. Go run around for a few minutes before we go in. I’ll wait right here for you.”
While the dogs ate their food, Mark looked around the cabin. It was small but well built. On the back wall, there was a bed covered in quilts with more quilts stacked on a shelf. There was also a standing wood cabinet that Mark assumed held Mr. Sanders’ clothes. Above the cabinet, there was a rack of sorts that held a guitar and a banjo. The outhouse was on a path outside the back door. On the wall towards the front, there was a big cast iron stove that was used for cooking and heating. Facing the stove were two rocking chairs. The little kitchen at the front of the house had a sink, refrigerator and a table with four chairs. There were windows on either side of the door. The cabin had electricity but water had to be hauled from a nearby well.
Mark glanced out the window and saw a small shed hidden in some trees not far away.
It seemed a little strange to be staying at Mr. Sanders’ Cabin. He had never really met the man when he was conscious, but in some ways it seemed like being there taking care of the place and Biff seemed like the right thing to do. He looked at his watch. In another hour, it would be time to head back down the mountain. He should get to the hospital around the same time Clark and Brad did.
Clark was excited! His Grandpa John was in the hospital, but he was alive. He had been living in a cabin on a mountain for all these years. Clark knew his grandpa was a good man. How could his dad have treated him like he did?
“Come on you mangy mutts,” Mark teased. “Hop in the backseat. We’re going back down the mountain. Say some prayers for Clark’s Grandpa John. He’s going to have a rough time of it when he wakes up and realizes what has happened.”
I’m just going to warn you, that from now on, the Murdo Girl stories will be nonlinear. It depends on what she remembers. It will however, have taken place in her lifetime. The photos will be random too. it’s possible they won’t have anything to do with the story. Are you ready?
Mom and I were filling the pop machine at the Motel this morning and two of Gertie Smith’s kids came over. (They live in a house that’s real close to #10 at the motel.) They usually show up when we’re filling the machine because sometimes Mom gives them a free pop. Mom calls Sandy, probly I’ll have grape, because that’s what she always says. I spelled probably the way Sandy says it. Anyway, probly I’ll havegrape, brought her older brother, Danny, with her today. He had some very bad news. He said, “Did you hear they shot Leonard King?” Mom and I both stood there with our mouths hanging open. Danny didn’t know who shot him, but apparently the shot was fatal. For those of you who don’t know Leonard King, he used to be our sheriff.
Well, Mom got right on the phone trying to get the scoop. I’ll bet half the town thought Leonard King had been shot and killed before someone who had been watching the news told Mom that Leonard King was fine. It was Martin Luther King who had been shot. Not that it isn’t still a terrible thing, because it is.
Dad has switched television shows again. Now he likes Hee Haw. He particularly loves one song they sing. “I searched the world over and I thought I found true love, but you met another and thptpthyou were gone.”(thptpth is how you spell the razzberry sound.) He laughs his head off at that show. It is kind of funny when they pop up in the cornfield and say funny stuff. I guess since I don’t dance in front of the TV anymore, Dad feels it’s safe to watch shows with music in them again.
There will never be another Kitty Reynolds, but Marlene found a lady that will sew our dresses for us. All we have to do is buy the material and pattern and she makes the dress for only $10.00. She’s pretty fast and good too. It took me a couple of tries to realize that what I picture in my head, isn’t always the way it’s going to look finished. I found a pattern I just loved. It was kind of a flowing shift style and it had a white collar. When I went to buy the pretty blue and white fabric, I was shocked at how much it took, but I had to have it.
When the dress was finished and I tried it on , the flowing part was so huge, I practically had to take three steps to catch up with it before it moved. The sewing lady tried to fix it, but it never did turn out right. On the next try, I decided to play it safer, and I chose a pattern for a jumper that I saw a Noname girl in my Chemistry class wearing. Her Mom made hers, so I looked and looked until I finally found the same pattern. I had it made out of red material. Miss Noname showed up at a school function with her jumper on, and I had mine on too. I got so scared she’d be mad at me for copying her dress, I kept my coat on the whole time. On the 3rd try I had a dress made like one of Marlene’s, because she didn’t care. I didn’t end up saving any money since I could only wear one out of three dresses.
Mom says patience is not my middle name, and it continues to cost me a lot of money. Remember those loafers I bought in Kennebec? They were identical to Josephine’s. They didn’t have my size so I had to buy a size too big. I tried everything to keep them on my feet. I wore thick socks and stuffed the toes with toilet paper and I still couldn’t keep them on. I should have asked Josephine if they run big. I want to go back to Kennebec and see if they got my size in, but right now I’m out of money. (I saw a little elderly lady about Grandma’s size the other day. She had pumps on and they must have been too big, because she was keeping them on with rubber bands.)
I hope some day I learn what my style is. It’s too hard to keep copying everyone else. Besides that, by the time I copy their clothes and hairstyles, they switch to another look that I like better.
****************************************************************Since I was out of money. I decided to apply for a job as a waitress at the Skelly Truck Stop. Well, I got hired. I had no idea how hard waitress work is. I was waiting on everybody sitting at one of the U-shaped counters and I thought everything was going fine, until one guy said, “Hey! This isn’t what I ordered.” Another guy sitting on the other side, said, “Shut up and eat it, and be glad you got anything.” I had switched their orders, and they were eating each other’s food. It worked out okay I guess because they ate what was in front of them and paid each other’s ticket.
Anyway, I didn’t last long. They didn’t exactly fire me, but let me put it this way…I mostly bussed tables…lots and lots of tables. Too bad because I really liked my new uniform. Anyway, as Mom always says, “Come back when you can’t stay so long.” I’m back to cleaning rooms at the motel now.
Brad waited until after supper to tell Clark about his grandpa. He was definitely dismayed to hear that he was in the hospital in critical condition, but he was grateful that Brad was going to take him to see his Grandpa John, tomorrow.
Clark was excited but at the same time very worried and sleep just wouldn’t come. He spent most of the night playing the guitar his grandpa had given him and singing the songs he had taught him. He missed having Annie sleeping beside his bed where he could reach down and pat the top of her head. He would see Arf and Annie tomorrow, too.
Because he didn’t sleep much, Clark was ready and in the kitchen long before the time Brad said to meet him. Miss Bessie was already there sipping her first cup of coffee. “I figured you’d be up early. You didn’t sleep much did you?” Miss Bessie had gotten up and was bustling around getting everything ready to prepare breakfast. It was her mission in life for everyone to have a good breakfast before they started their day.
“I’m so happy you’re going to be seeing your Grandpa John, again,” Miss Bessie said. “He’ll know that you are there and I’m sure it will give him the strength he needs to get well, but you must prepare yourself for anything. It sounds like he’s having a difficult time of it.”
“Hang on Grandpa.” Clark continued to send prayers for strength and healing all the way to the hospital in the little town below the mountain where his grandpa lived.
Howard, the man who had found Arf and Rex, said Rex could stay at his place until Mark was ready to leave. With his horse taken care of, Mark decided to take the three dogs to the cabin that night. There was more room there than in the small sleeping space in the horse trailer and he could hall water from the well and heat it up for a bath in the big galvanized tub he had seen. The dogs would be more comfortable, too, especially Biff who was doing pretty well considering he had seen his master taken out on a stretcher. Mark guessed Biff trusted his new friends to do what was right by both of them.
“I just can’t leave you all up here all day by yourselves,” Mark said that first day he drove down the mountain to see how Mr. Sanders was doing. “It’s a long way down and a long way back up here and who knows what’s going on at the hospital. The day might be too long for you to be alone up here. You might have to spend some time in the back of the truck, but I’m taking you with me. Did you all finish your breakfast? We gotta get going.”
Mark parked under a shade tree near the hospital so the dogs could sit in the back of the truck and look around to pass the time. Not knowing what to expect, he walked into the hospital.
Biff: What are we doing? Are we here to pick up my human? Is he still sick? What are we doing? Woofta! What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?
Arf: I wish a cat would latch on to yours. I’ve never been around a dog who talked so much.
Annie: Really Arf? Have you met yourself?
“I’m looking for Mr. John Sanders,” Mark told the lady in charge of the nurse’s station. “He was admitted last night.”
The nurse looked through her charts and finally pulled one out. “Yes,” she said. “Are you a family member?”
“No, I’m a friend. His grandson lives with the family I work for. In fact, he’s on his way and should be here later today.” It would take the better part of two days to get all the way to the cabin, but if they got a real early start and came straight to the hospital, Brad and Clark could get there as early as eight pm.
“I really can’t give you any information,” the nurse said. “I’m only allowed to discuss a patient with a family member.”
“I’ll vouch for this fine young man.” Mark turned to see Doctor Murphy walking towards him. As hard as he tried, he couldn’t read the expression on the doctor’s face.
“Good morning Doctor Murphy. I hope Mr. Sanders did well last night. His grandson will be here late this evening.”
“I see,” the doctor said. “Let’s go to my office down the hall here and I’ll explain what has happened.”
It seemed to Arf that it was taking forever to go get the doctor and head back up the mountain. He rode in the back of the truck and got pretty wet as the rain continued to fall. Arf was so worried and distracted he hardly noticed that the weather was turning bad, again.
Mark was praying Arf was able to find help. He knew that Mr. Sanders needed much more care than he was able to give him. His fever wouldn’t break even though Mark never stopped bathing him with cool cloths and holding ice chips to his dry lips.
Biff: I know this human is trying to make my human feel better. I just wish he could get him to wake up. I wish I could tell him that from now on I will go fishing with him anytime he wants to go. I won’t ever beg for part of his porkchop or make him let me out in the middle of the night. Woofta…I just want him to wake up.
Annie: There’s a truck coming! There’s a truck coming! Oh, I forgot…Mark can’t understand me. It comes out sounding like a bark. “Bark, Bark, Bark.” There, now he’s looking. Poor Arf is in the back of the truck and he looks like a drowned rat. There are two men in that truck, but I don’t see Rex.
Mark heard a knock on the door and rushed to open it. He saw the two men and breathed a sigh of relief when he noticed one of them had a doctor’s bag with him.
“We can make introductions later,” the doctor said as he walked on over to Mr. Sanders. “This must be the patient.”
Mark stepped aside and waited patiently for the doctor to do a thorough examination. He turned and saw the man who had driven the doctor and then he saw Arf and went to kneel down beside him.
“You did it Arf. You got help. Now Mr. Sanders will have a fighting chance. Were you able to find Rex?”
“He sure did,” the other man said. “My name is Howard Jones. I came upon the two of them at the crossroads. Once I got a hold of Rex, Arf here got the frisbee you had written on and showed it to me. Your horse is at my place. Great idea on your part to write a detailed message and very tenacious and smart of Arf to know he had to hang on to that frisbee and keep track of the horse, too. You’re a Iucky man. I would love to have a dog like Arf.”
“You have no idea how special he is. By the way, my name is Mark and I don’t have the words to thank you for getting the doctor and Arf here when you did. The only thing that kept me hopeful was knowing that Arf wouldn’t fail me. I just hope the doctor can treat Mr. Sanders and get that fever to break.
Howard looked at the man lying there in pain. He was trying to figure out why he looked so familiar.
“Did you say Sanders?” Is he John Sanders?”
“Yes,” Mark said. “Do you know him?”
“Not personally, but I know he can play any stringed instrument better than you’ve ever heard and his singing touches you to the core. He puts on quite a show. I had no idea John Sanders lived in a little cabin up in the mountains.”
The doctor removed his stethoscope from his ears and walked over to Mark and Howard. “We need to get him to the hospital as soon as possible,” he said. “I’m afraid Sepsis might set in. It occurs when an infection enters the bloodstream and it can lead to some life threatening problems. Multiple organ failure can take place.”
Mark shook the doctor’s hand and introduced himself. “I don’t know how we can make him comfortable enough for the trip. The only vehicles we have are trucks.”
“Our little town has a four-wheel drive ambulance,” Howard offered. “I know there is no phone service up here, but I have an emergency two-way radio in my truck and I can get a hold of them. I’ll do that right now.”
“You did a yeoman’s job, Mark,” the doctor said. “Considering you had very few supplies to work with, it’s pretty amazing you were able to keep his fever from spiking any more than it has. I need to tell you that even if we get him to the hospital in the next couple of hours, it will still be touch and go.”
A while later the ambulance got there and took Mr. Sanders to the hospital. Mark packed the dogs up in his truck and drove to town where he found a phone and called the ranch. He told Brad he couldn’t leave while Mr. Sanders was in such critical condition and he also had to take care of Biff.
“It sounds to me like I need to get Clark there,” Brad said. “He’ll just have to miss some school. This is too important. We’ll be there early tomorrow. This won’t be easy, you know. Clark doesn’t even know for sure his Grandpa John is alive. Now he will have to see him in critical condition.”
Mark and all three dogs spent the night in Mark’s trailer parked at the foot of the mountain. They were all so exhausted, they didn’t even hear the bear come by and snoop around for food.
It finally quit raining as Arf and Rex made their way to the little town below the mountain. Rex soon began to settle down. He knew Arf and trusted him which was a good thing because they couldn’t lose precious time. Grandpa John had not regained consciousness and had a high fever. Mark was trying his best to keep him from getting any worse until help arrived.
Arf and Rex were getting close to the bottom of the mountain where Mark had parked his truck and horse trailer when Arf saw a car at the crossroad. He hoped it was going up the mountain, but it continued on in the other direction. It was too much to hope for, anyway. No car would drive up that rough dirt road when it was nice, let alone after a torrential rainstorm. It looked to Arf like they would have to go all the way to town before they could find help. He hurried Rex along as fast as he could without leading him onto the busier road that would take them to town. He couldn’t hold the reins in his mouth and the frisbee, too, which had him worried.
Mark removed the bandages on Clark’s Grandpa John’s head to see if it showed signs of infection. The old man had gone in and out of consciousness for the last hour, but his fever hadn’t broken which was a real concern.
As he worked cleaning the gash on his patient’s forehead, Mark talked to him. He was desperate to help him live. He knew how much it would mean to Clark to be able to see the grandpa he thought had died six years before. The old man’s dog, Biff never left his human friend’s side. The poor dog seemed to know that Mark was trying to help. Annie found a window where she could see the front of the cabin and waited for Arf and Rex to come back with help. It began to rain again.
Arf and Rex were about a half mile from town when he saw a truck coming their way. Could he get the driver to stop? What if Rex got spooked and ran off? He decided to drop the frisbee and grab Rex’s reins. He hurried to the side of the road and hoped the truck would see them. His angel was watching over them and the truck slowed down and pulled over to the side of the road right in front of them.
“What in the world are you two doing walking alongside a busy road like this?” The man asked as he got out of the truck and slowly walked over to the unlikely pair. “Hang onto those reins, boy and I’ll see if I can help you out with that horse without spooking him.”
Rex must have sensed the man would help him get back to Mark because he stood there without moving while Arf let the man take the reins.
“Where is your owner?” The kind man knelt down to pet Arf and the little dog was so grateful he almost forgot about the frisbee lying a few feet away from them.
Arf: I finally remembered the frisbee that Mark had written something on and made a little whining noise to try to tell the man I wasn’t afraid of him, but I had to give him that frisbee. The man just watched me find it in the grass and walk over to give it to him.
“We can’t play with your frisbee now,” the man said. He knelt to pat Arf on the head, again. “I have no idea what I’m going to do with you two.” The frisbee was lying close to where the man was kneeling and he glanced over and saw the message Mark had written.
“You are one smart dog” the man said. “Your owner is lucky to have you. I know a man who lives within walking distance. The three of us will walk to his place and pray that he’s home. We’ll leave this beautiful horse with him while you and I come back to my truck and go get Doc Murphy. We’ll get him up to that cabin as soon as possible.”