I awoke and this was on my heart and on my mind. This is … MY AMERICAN VISION

New decades don’t arrive as much as the old one collapses under its weight of failure and disappointment. The participants of each decade — those who came of age, and those who became the cornerstone and decision makers — always end up being remembered for the same things – what they didn’t do, the things they wouldn’t do and the stupid shit they did.

Those of us who were born in the 1960s, grew up in the 1970s and came of age in the 1980s will forever be remembered as the douchebags who fucked it all up; who finally dropped the torch. It’s not our fault. Being a generation is hard. Really hard. And when you think about it, it’s easy to get it right when you don’t have a choice. I mean it’s easy to be on the right side of history when history is driving the bus.

You came of age in the early 1960s and stood up for civil rights. Good for you. The 1970s you chanted “Make love not war!”  WELL FUCK YOU, MAN!!! I came of age in the 1980s and we like war. War is where you make your bones. Our problem was all the good wars were taken. The War to End All Wars! The War to Make the World Save for Democracy! Yeah, that one. The first one: WORLD WAR I, BABY!!! History might point out the obvious – that a-whole-‘nother world war came after the war to end all wars, so doesn’t that mean the first world war must have technically failed? Doesn’t matter. Or history might note that democracy is now doing tricks for billionaires, so doesn’t that mean we failed that part too? So what, we said. Come on, now. The first world war was practice, but we got it right the second time. That’s right, I’m talking about WORLD WAR II. See, we did fight a good war. And … WON IT!!! Says so right her on the cover of every book written about it. …. Just ask your great-granddaddy — or that guy down the road with the confederate flag in his front yard.

You see, son, we need our war to make the world safe for the next war. The only fucked up thing is all the good easy wars are taken. The War on Poverty … The War on Illiteracy …  The War on Drugs … Ah, man … The War on Women was so good the Republican Party and the Taliban decided to share it.

We like wars.

I tell you what, give us that one in the corner. No, don’t knock the dust off World War III. Let a later generation get that one. Give us that one! Yeah, that one — The War on Terror. Yeah, that’s the one. Endless. Futile. A drain on lives and resources. You’ll be safe all right, after you’ve handed over your last right and last tax dollar to some contractor from the military-industrial complex. That’s right — we’re outsourcing your jobs AND the protection of your ass. Oh yeah, that’s the war for us. Open ended and never ending – now THAT’S a war we can wrap our ADD minds aro – You know what else is nice??? WINNING!!!! We want to be like the generations that fought the cold war – you know, from the 50s to the 80s. They won. Well, we beat those communist. OK, so technically we beat those communist and they were replaced by a nation of even more communist. All right, so technically the Russians might not have even stopped being communist; so maybe the jury is still out on if we won or not. You know what, Fuck it! Send the jury home. A win is a win and there’s no need ruining the chance of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by introducing facts. DEATH TO FACTS!! … Facts — don’t be coming around here no more, no more; don’t be coming around here no more … We don’t need facts. We found out all we really need is a belief, a slogan and a chant. “MINORITIES RUINED MY COUNTRY … USA! … USA!! … USA!!!

Turns out we need poor people. Soylent Green has to be made of something (OK, someone! I was trying to be polite) and I’ve got a credit card that says I’m rich and a shotgun that says I’m free. So it ain’t going to be me. I may be grist for the mill, but I’m not food for the pot. That’s for people who didn’t follow the path and make peace with the Trinity – greed, conservatism, and hubris. Three things, buddy: if God didn’t want me to have it, He wouldn’t have given it to me; and if He had wanted you to have it, He’d have given it to you. And as for hubris … HUBRIS!?! I don’t know who this Hue Bris guy is, but I’ll kick his ass, too. I’m an America. I don’t take crap off of anybody.

Did you know that our generation is going to be the first in our nation’s history not to do as well as our parents? That’s right – WEREN’T NUMBER ONE, BABY!! Make that with a bullet; because I’ll shoot anyone who questions if we’re the greatest nation. And I’m so angry I want to shoot a brown person. Somebody has to be at fault and since it can’t be me it has to be you: the brown people … the intellectuals … the liberals … progressives.

FUCK YOU!

FUCK YOU!!

FUCK YOU!!!

The future is a scary place filled with people who don’t look like me and speak a language that I don’t speak.

Our parent’s America was unquestionably the greatest nation on earth, and I’ve got nothing against being a fascist if it will save the democracy I love so much.

Welcome to America, bitches … Love it or leave it. You know what – I love it, so you leave it. Next flight leaves tomorrow. Be under it. Next bus leaves in an hour. Start walking.

 The End

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Another War On Black Men

Why is it that every war fought within this nation ends up a war against black faces, and more specifically the black male?

The War on Drugs became the War on Black Men, with them ending up incarcerated at higher rates and for longer sentences than their white counterpart even as surveys continue to prove that the percentage of drug use in the black community is no greater than in the white community.

And then there was the War on Poverty, which the nation saw as fine in the 1930s as long as the recipients of these federal benefits were mostly white, thanks to the way the law was written and blatant efforts and racism; then, in the 1960s, when President Lyndon Johnson expanded these benefits to include African Americans, they became demonized — their recipients all of a sudden seen as lazy and undeserving. Not surprisingly, opponents started arguing that if black men would care for their children, there would be no need for these programs. Not part of the continuing conversation is the fact that these men are plagued by higher unemployment rates, lower wages and, of course, higher incarceration rates – which not coincidently leads to higher unemployment and lower wages.

And now comes the NFL’s war on the N-word.

The NFL Competition Committee discussed the possibility of a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty for players who use the N-word during games.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a vile word that I wouldn’t mind seeing disappear. But the word has a complicated history, especially when used in the African American community where its use can convey dislike and love in the same sentence. And that’s why the NFL needs to stay out of it.

I’m not alone in that position. ESPN has given the issue a fair amount of air time and many of its speakers have taken exception with the NFL’s efforts.

Seahawks cornerback and lightning rod Richard Sherman called the penalty “an atrocious idea.”

“It’s almost racist, to me,” he said. “It’s weird they’re targeting one specific word. Why wouldn’t all curse words be banned then?”

Bomani Jones recently echoed the sentiment on his ESPN television show “Highly Questionable,” noting that the NFL would be sending the message that racial slurs are only okay if there is money to be made off of them like with the Washington Redskins. Meanwhile, he said, “we sure do have an openly gay player coming into the NFL for the first time and nobody’s talking about that F-word.”

But more to the point is the observation Pittsburg Steelers safety and 12-year NFL veteran Ryan Clark made on the ESPN show a special report edition of “Outside the Lines” about the words use among players. “Most of the time you hear it, it’s black players using the word,” he said.

And to me that’s the bigger point. I don’t like the idea of well intended white men dictating the vocabulary or African American men. Maybe the committee is trying to use a cookie cutter solution to a complicated problem. This wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened and it certainly won’t be the last. But it also comes across as another example of white men saying that I can’t do it, you can’t either – or more specifically, if I can’t use a word, you can’t either.

I acknowledge that my own relationship with the word is complicated. Like I said earlier, I don’t like the word, and wouldn’t miss a minute’s sleep if it were to disappear. I also understand that each generation gets to decide what it will and won’t do and how each word and relationship will be defined. Gay doesn’t mean what it did 100 years ago, and being gay isn’t viewed the same way it was just 20 years ago. But I was opposed to taking the N-word out of Mark Twain’s books, and I’ve even use it in some of my own books — as the racial slur that I and people from my generation can’t help but think it is and take it to be.

What I really wish is that we were putting as much energy into abolishing the sentiment that has historically been behind the word’s use than just the word.

 

The End

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A Bad Joke …

 

Black people – catching hell in America since the day we arrived.

There, I said it. Now dismiss me as another angry black man – because I am angry, and I am black. But that’s not quite accurate, because I have a joke for you.

The problem is that African Americans and Native Americas have unique, uncomfortable relationships with this nation.

Naive Americas are the former landlords who came home to find that through legal maneuvering and force of arms the family they had taken in had taken over and now owned the house, replacing every picture, the furniture and the carpet; black people are that neighbor that disappeared from down the street that is now being held hostage in the home’s basement, his screams and cries for help ignored.

We all know the history. Every other ethnic group came; the African American was brought – in chains … under protest, not that it mattered. Every other ethic group has been assimilated and natured. We have been raped and robbed. Our talents and creativity is used to enrich, our due given generations later and reluctantly.

 We have had to fight for everything we got. We’ve had to take everything we have, and that is never forgotten: you took my job … you took welfare … you’re taking up air, the angry complain. 

We are credited with having taken everything, yet we have so little; maybe that’s why we are culturally psychotic: we love our country though it shots down our children; we want to celebrate our ethnicity, yet the same people who remind us that we are The Others are just as quick to remind us that our ethnicity is American.

We’ve all had the conversation with a well intended white person at one time or another.

“Why be African American?” you’re asked. “Why not just be American?”

And, actually, we, like the Native American, are distinctly American. My roots go back to South Carolina and then back to – a continent. You can take pride your roots go back to Russia or France or England or Portugal or Spain or Germany. You can hand down names and words that reach back to that homeland, and maybe even a town or village. I have to make up names. The African American distinctness makes us a blend like no other. That should make me the good stuff. Top shelf. But, of course, it doesn’t. It makes me less likely to get a good paying job, more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, more likely to be incarcerated for the same crime that you don’t even get arrested for committing … shot by another black man or by a cop I was running toward for help, or by a white man who can claim it was fear that make him carry a gun and pull it.

Let a black man shot a white child and see the outrage, but when a white man shots a black child — that’s just the manifestation of fear, though no one ever seems to give a good explanation on how a grown man with a gun shooting at an unarmed child gets to be afraid.

I’m angry because it happened again.

On Saturday, Feb. 15th, after several days of deliberation, a Florida jury finally convicted Michael Dunn of four charges relating to his shooting into an SUV full of black teenagers during an argument over loud music, including three counts of attempted second-degree murder. The convictions are expected to put him behind bars for decades. But the jury failed to reach a verdict on the most serious charge of murdering 17-year-old Jordan Davis.

Dunn’s attorney, Cory Strolla, reported said that his client was “in disbelief” at the verdict and asked “how is this happening?”

I’m in disbelief and want to know how this happened, too? I can’t help but wonder how he could not be convicted of murder?

State Attorney Angela Corey said prosecutors will seek to try him again on the murder charge. That’s a good thing, but it misses the bigger point. Dunn is not the first white man to shot an unarmed black teenager and have a jury not think it murder, and I’m fearful he won’t be the last.

Of course, the most famous was another Florida case, the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Like Dunn, Zimmerman argued self defense, though he, too, was armed and made a point of confronting and shooting to death an unarmed black teenager whose only offense seems to have been drawing the ire of a white man.

This time, on Nov. 23, 2012, Dunn pulled into a Jacksonville gas station in Jacksonville, parking next to a red Dodge Durango that Davis and some friends were in. They had stopped to buy gum and cigarettes; Dunn had just left his son’s wedding and was with his fiancée, who went inside the store for wine and chips.

Dunn said he asked the youths to turn down the music and was threatened, claiming he saw the barrel of a gun sticking out of the Durango. Investigators did not find a weapon. Dunn fired 10 shots at the SUV. When he left the store, Dunn drove 40 miles to a bed and breakfast in St. Augustine, where he walked his dog, ordered a pizza, then drank rum and cola. Apparently that’s how he deals with being “stunned and horrified,” since that’s how he later explained he felt. He also did not bother to call police and tell them what happened.

And still a jury couldn’t be convinced of his guilt.

So here’s my angry black man joke:

How many white men does it take to murder a black child in Florida?

None. Florida juries say a white man can’t murder a black child.

Not funny? I’m not laughing either …

 

The End?

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My Trayvon Martin Rant

 

Let’s face reality: in the light of day black people are what America hates. In the dark of night, black people are what America fears. That’s why an armed white man can follow an unarmed black boy down a street, kill him and say, “I had to do it. I feared for my safety.”

Of course you did. Black people are America’s bogyman.

What the Zimmerman verdict proves is that for a white man to be convicted of killing a black boy, that boy has to be in the fetal position for 20 minutes before he is shot.

Not that any of this comes as a surprise. The black man in America can serve, but he’s nobody’s hero. He can work, but he stole somebody’s job. His good deeds are never good enough to supersede his misdeeds.

That said, I now realize …

 

Wishes Do Come True

 

I wish Mildred hadn’t called to tell me the verdict, but I know she wanted to vent and share her outrage – and I wanted to know.

I wish I didn’t hurt so much, but I guess if I didn’t I wouldn’t have a heart.

I wish I didn’t fear that black people aren’t just losing ground but being buried.

I’ll never know what really happened, but I do know …

 

This Is The Real Story

 

Hopped up on marijuana he smoked some time before and armed with Skittles candy and an ice tea, Trayvon Martin walked down a public street.

Fortunately, a self-appointed hero saw him and realized his real intentions. George Zimmerman was cloaked with indignation over the criminal activity of others, and armed with a handgun.

There was a confrontation.

Could the 17-year-old unarmed youth have feared for his life wile being confronted by an armed man? Of course not. Trayvon Martin was black. He didn’t’ know fear – he was fear. Anyway, you have to be armed and following someone after the police tells you not to, to be in fear.

A shot rang out.

Someone was dead.

Trayvon Martin was dead.

George Zimmerman had to do it. That’s what he said. He wouldn’t lie.

Trayvon Martin couldn’t have been fighting to get George Zimmerman off of him. That’s not the point of a fight. All fights are life or death. You can look at George Zimmerman’s wounds – described by medical personnel as superficial – to prove that.

Let’s face it, Trayvon Martin met all the requirements to get shot in the name of fear: he was big (if you call less than six feet tall and 158 pounds big) and black and he was fighting back. No, I’m sorry, he started it. Even if he didn’t throw the first pound he started it by being there, so what if his father lived in the neighborhood.

Thank you, George Zimmerman. Who knows what Trayvon Martin would have done had he not been stopped. Actually, he would have gone back to his father’s house and watched the basketball game.

Doesn’t matter. Crisis averted. And all it took was a killing.

But  …

 

The Trayvon Martin trial reminded me that if I didn’t know there is God, I wouldn’t want to believe there is a God …

It’s sad that white people feel free to rationalize the murder of black kids as justified because A) I was scared, B) he was black or C) all of the above …

 

What I learned …

 

Black people need to realize that there are some white people who are not afraid of us, but hate us. And while you may hate what you fear, you never fear what you hate … because hate – real hate – is stronger than fear.

 

The End  

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The Uninvited Guest Who Became Family …

What we all knew would one day happen to the Rodney Dog happened Tuesday night: he got hit. It didn’t kill him, and we took him to the vet the next morning, where we learned that a heartworm condition was so far alone that it precluded us having the leg amputated … So, between the heartworms and the badly broken leg we decided to have him put down.

It was only for approximately a month that he was in the house and part of the family, but he was easy to like. He was a very, very sweet dog with a wonderful temperament. The vet said he was approximately four years old. That surprised me. He seemed more like a puppy in attitude, enthusiasm and lack of coordination.

Rodney Dog was the uninvited guess who would not leave and ended up becoming part of the family.

He showed up a stray and started following us home one morning. His ribs were showing and he looked awkward as he walk. At the time, I thought his nails were so long that he hadn’t been groomed in a long time, but now I think it was probably just that he was malnourished.

“You can come on down to my house and I’ll feed you, but after that I’m turning you over to animal control,” I told him.

As soon as I said that, he just turned and walked off into the woods. My German Shepherd-mix Big Boy was hit by a car and killed in December and I didn’t want another dog around. Once I got home I felt sorry for the dog and took some dog food and sprinkle it down the road where last I saw him.

A few days later, I saw him again, this time in the neighbor’s yard. They had taken him in. I was glad for that. I had prayed for someone to take him in and that he get a family. For the next month or so we would walk by and he would be in the yard. Sometimes he would ignore us, sometimes he would bark at us. Then, one day, as we walk by, he ran down to the road and joined us on our walk. He followed us up the road and then back down and to our house. He didn’t hang around very long, maybe 10 minutes or so. Usually, he would leave as soon as I walk in the house.

We followed this routine for a week or so: I would walk in the house, stay for 10 minutes and walk out to find the Rodney Dog gone and my dogs ready to eat.

Finally, one day I walked back out after my 10 minute hiatus and Rodney was still there … so I walked back in the house. Ten minutes later I walked back out … and he was still there, again. After an hour I realized he wasn’t leaving. So I brought my dogs in the house and fed them. The next day, the same thing happened. One day I hit him with a stick and told him to go home. All he did was step out of reach of the stick and stand there staring at me.

Rodney Dog started saying longer and longer in the day and staying later and later at night. For a week I would walk him back to my neighbor’s yard and watch him start up the walkway, only to either hear him bounding up behind me or look off to see him walking off to my side.

It was the wifey who named him Rodney. We had to call him something. It didn’t matter. He only came when he wanted to and did whatever he wanted. It wasn’t long before I decided we should have called him Lumpish. He was so uncoordinated at times that I assumed he was a puppy and still growing into all his big parts.

From the start he was preoccupied with getting in the house and becoming part of the family, and he got more and more determined with each day. At first, I would use the door and my body to shield away his efforts to get in, but it got harder and harder as he would push his head into any opening he saw, between my legs, to the side of a leg trying to cut him off – just anywhere. He was never aggressive or mean, just persistent. Finally, one day, as I leaned down to take our beagle, Freckles, off his run-line and let him in the house, Rodney saw his opening and hurdled Freck. He was in. He was in and big enough that he wasn’t going to be put out easily. He ran through the living room and kitchen and settled in Freck’s box of bones. I should say discarded bones, since they had been there for probably a year and he hasn’t touched them in that time. Rodney Dog buried his face in the box, grabbed a bone and ran back out the door. He lay in the yard, and the sound of the bone cracking made us think about the power in those jaws attached to his big, terrier-shaped head. He looked ferocious. Whether or not he was didn’t matter. He looked the part. He was approximately 80 pounds with a muscular built and a black and white body (though mostly black) and black eyes that seemed to fix on you. We were always worried about what he might do to Freckles if he ever bit him. In fact, the Rodney Dog was the sweetest big dog I’ve ever seen. EVER!!! Freckles would steal food almost out of his mouth and Rodney would just look at him. He yielded to Hounde over every bone or anything found on our walk. We marveled at how calm he was and, though we always fear that one day he would snap, he never did.

It wasn’t much longer that he was coming in invited. He slept in the house for about a month. My wife kept saying it was just a matter of time before we gave him away. I wasn’t so sure – and I don’t know if the wife was, either. She’s usually afraid of big dogs, but not Rodney. He just wanted to belong and was just happy to be there. He ate the treats that Frek and Honde turned their noses up at – he ate them so gleefully that Frek and Honda started eating them, too. In the house, his tail dusted some furniture and pounded the wall.

Rodney Dog was big and strong and even as he struggled to make it to the car so that we could take him to the vet the morning after he got hit, he was … well, happy.  Maybe not happy – maybe just resolved. It was like he didn’t want to go to the vet not because he didn’t need to go, but because he didn’t want us to learn what he already knew: his health wasn’t good. We already knew that. He had a cough and sometimes you could look in his face and see that he had some pain. It was just a perfect-storm of bad luck that led to him being put down.

We went and said goodbye to him. The vet opened the cage and Rodney, though crippled, tried to come out. I grabbed him and held him in place. He didn’t push against me. He was always submissive like that. We stayed like that for a few minutes, my arms locked around his neck and his head resting in my arms. I told him everything I had to say … and I said it several times until I could get the words out as I struggle to get the words out as I chocked up: “It’s all right, Rodney” … “we love you.” I always tell myself that everything happens for a reason. Maybe this one was to teach me that of all the things we can say to a body, there are no two more powerful than those.  And in the time he pressed his head into my arms it was like he was saying, “please just take me home. Just let me go home. I just want to go home.” And I wanted to let him, and  I would have … if his leg hadn’t been so damaged, if he could have just made it through the simplest task of walking up and down the deck steps and  going into the woods to relieve himself and take his daily walk – I would have … but he couldn’t and I couldn’t …  and I pushed him back into the cage and watched the vet lock the door; and after I turned to walk away I heard a dog moaning and I hoped it wasn’t him … that’s what I’ll always hope …

The way I see it, he got the family he wanted, though probably not nearly for as long as he would have liked; certainly not as long as I would have liked, either. The night the got hit we lay him in the spot he usually slept in in the living room. Throughout the night I would check on him, and every time I did his big tail would beat on the floor excitedly. Even Frek was worried about him and stay in the room much of the night.

The truth is we live on a very busy road, and the Rodney Dog was most certainly sick when he showed up. We never wanted to admit it but we all knew he was part of the family … and I take comfort that in the end he got to spend his last night surrounded by his family, and on his last day I was able to put my arms around his neck and tell him he is loved.

 

 

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One Last Ride for My Big Puppy

It’s a darn shame for a man to cry so much over a dog but I started crying when I woke up this morning and it looks like I’m just going to cry all day.

This morning was the first time in almost two years I wasn’t up early throwing on clothes so that I could be outside by sun up. That was the way it had to be every day. Freckles, our Beagle, might not mind sleeping in, but Big Boy just couldn’t wait to take his walk.

That’s over now. Big Boy got hit and killed yesterday. I found him just across from the house on the side of the road.

Now in the morning I can walk in my office and sit down and start writing, at least my first burst of thoughts – and to be honest, morning is when I’m most creative. I always wanted to write first thing each day but Big Boy wouldn’t have it. He had to get his walk.

Big Boy was a German Sheppard mix; probably Border Collie. He had the look and body of a Sheppard but the small, droopy ears of a collie. He was a little small for a Sheppard and a little big for a collie – but he was just right for our small house. He was big enough to have a ferocious bark and small enough to sleep on the bed and rest his head on my legs.

I’ve made my favorite picture of him my computer’s background scene. It’s the way I’ll always remember my big puppy: he’s sitting on the concrete walkway with two of his tennis balls beside him. His eyes are bright and friendly and happy and I swear he’s got a smile on his face.

I just took him for his last ride. It’s poignant that it was to the same place I took him for his first: to the cremation service. But that’s the way it was destined to be. The first ride was when I dropped off his partner, Little Bit. I had found her in the road the night before. At the time they were just two strays palling around the neighborhood. She had been around for a couple of months before he showed up. At first I think he was her protection but I think they ended up a couple. If you saw one then it was just a matter of minutes before you saw the other.

 That day, I wasn’t going to take Big Boy with me to drop her off for cremation but for the first time since he had been around he started chasing my car as I drove off. We had driven off numerous times before and left him and Little Bit sitting in the yard and neither had bothered to follow the car but this time he was not only chasing my car but he wouldn’t give up.

I didn’t want to see him get hit so I pulled over and opened the passenger-side front door. He jumped in and took a seat like he belonged; and the entire drive to the facility he looked back at the little box that Little Bit was in. When we got to the building I opened the door to let him out to use the bathroom if he needed to. I was worried he might run off, but he just walked to a bush, did his business and came back and got back in the car.

I brought him back home, opened the front door and let him walk in.

Not that it was always easy. One night shortly after we first took him in he beat up Frek and punctured his ear. You can still feel the spot. Then, one night, as wifey put her face to his as she tried to play with him, he lunched at her. Maybe he didn’t like people getting in his face. Maybe he was almost asleep and she had startled him. She was angry and wanted me to get rid of him then but I ignored her for a few days and she got over it. I have to forever give her credit. She didn’t want Big Boy but she let me have him and she tried to keep her grumbling to a minimum.

Though Big Boy showed up a stray, you could tell he had been someone’s pet and a house dog. He was just so well behaved and comfortable with people.

Someone had taken the time to teach him the commands sit and stay but I also always suspected there had been some abuse based on the way he responded to even the threat of being hit. Any time I even threatened to hit him he would just rollover on his side and brace himself.

It was surprising how sensitive he was. One night he actually went and sat in the corner like he was pouting because I yelled at him.

I had made up two back stories for Big Boy. I decided he had been specially trained by the U.S. Army but had suffered post-traumatic stress syndrome and so the military had decided to put him down but he escaped and made his way to my house and a new family.

Maybe he had belonged to someone who had died and Big Boy had been turned out by a relative who didn’t want the expense and investment of time necessary for a pet. One recent morning I was lying in bed motionless and saying my prayers. Big Boy started whining and touching me with his paw until I told him I was OK.  

Or maybe a cruel owner had used Big Boy to guard a building at night and turned him out because he really wasn’t a mean dog. When he first got to the house he was so scared of the dark and the quiet that we had to leave the television on for him all night. He eventually got to the place all he needed was a nightlight.

Whatever the truth and whoever he belonged to before, I feel sorry for him. He missed a few great years with a great pet. That’s why I keep looking out on the deck and wishing he was there waiting to come in the house.

I’m less brave without him. Freckles is reluctant to go up the road for his daily walk without Big Boy accompanying him. I guess I am too.

Big Boy was gleeful as he walked in front of us. Sounds and motions that would frighten Frickles and make him freeze in his tracks wouldn’t even catch Big Boys attention. And when Big Boy would just keep walking, Freckles would take off and follow him. With Big Boy I was like a kid with his little plastic gun: I had no fear and I couldn’t be stopped.

To save money I was going to let the Virginia Department of Transportation pick up Big Boy’s body and dispose of it, but wifey said he had been too good a friend to me to let that happen. We went across the road that night and I wrapped him in plastic, put him in a flat sheet and stuffed him in a plastic storage box. Fortunately he was starting to come out of rigor. That’s the only way he fit. It was the biggest storage container I could find and we made a special trip to Wal-Mart to get it.

Big Boy hated to be left behind. Sometimes he wouldn’t even come in the house when I called him if he thought he was being put up so that I could go somewhere without him. More and more I let him ride with me. At first, he would sit in the front passenger seat but eventually I started putting him in the back seat so that he would have room to stretch out. Most of the time he would do just that but sometimes he would sit up and look at everything there was to see that we went by.

I thought about all of that as I drove down the road, glancing in the backseat at the blue storage tub. I’m not going to get his ashes back. That was what I had always said. I tell myself that the ashes of Big Boy and Little Bit will find each other and they’ll be together again. Still, I couldn’t keep myself on the way back home from looking in the rear view mirror expecting, hoping, to see his face.

I’m still wondering why God let this happen.

Am I being punished? Freed up to get a job? Freed up to spend my most creative moments actually at the computer? Maybe Big Boy sensed something so bad is about to happen to me that he didn’t want to be around to see it. Then again, maybe this wasn’t even about me. Maybe Big Boy’s death somehow saved somebody else, taught them compassion, made them slow down, forced them to pay closer attention as they drive. Maybe Big Boy was just tired of being limited to the yard and the two walks we took and he just wandered off and ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe. Maybe I’m making too much out of it and trying to apply structure and logic to the randomness of life.

My eyes are swollen and tired from crying. My nose is sore from the wiping, and I’m just tired. You can be sure about your decisions when you see it turn out well, but you’ve got nothing but doubt when all you can see is miles of road ahead.

Maybe I’ll be an old man lying in my bed thinking about the good times and good life I had; maybe there’s be a sudden pain or an accident and all I’ll see is a flash of light. Whatever the case when my time comes I think I’ll find myself on a long dirt road. Not the one we live on but one a lot like it. And out of the woods or across a field will come running Big Boy, and he’ll be as happy to see me as I’ll be to see him. I’ll pat my chest and he’ll stand on his hind legs and rest his front paws on my chest and bring his face as close to mine as he can and I’ll rub his head, just like I used to do. Then we’ll just start walking. He’s run ahead of me some, off into the woods to chase the occasional squirrel and into the occasional patch of tall grass in a field. But he’ll always come back to walk with me.

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He was the bestest Big Boy in the world and my puppy

Stupid dog.

I’m talking about Big Boy, my German Sheppard mix. If you want to see a picture of him you can look at a photo album I put up on my Facebook page.

I had decided to never post a picture of one of my dogs until they had died. I made that decision some time ago. I don’t know why I did, I just did. And today Big Boy went and got himself hit.

We have – had three dogs. Freckles, the Beagle and the only dog we actually purchased. Big Boy we took in and Hounde we took in. We didn’t so much take her in as are just taking care of her. But Big Boy we took in. I didn’t know his background but I know he knew his commands and was basically just the sweetest dog you’ve ever met. What I liked about him was he would be aggressive when he felt like he had to be but other than that he was, as I liked to say, the bestest Big Boy in the world.

He was just a stray I took in almost two years ago. I wrote a piece at the time about how the little dog he was hanging around with got killed and I decided to take him in. I could never really stop him from roaming but I tried, and I really thought that if there was a dog that could get always with it, it was him.

 I looked forward to watching him grow old and I prayed that he would be able to die in his sleep years from now. I imagined that I would be there, resting his head in my lap.

I daydreamed about being a successful author and mentioning him in interviews, and there would be a picture of me at my computer and him at my feet.

Not that I didn’t know it was possible he could get hit. He had had a couple of close calls as I walked him and had developed a bad habit of chasing cars. But he was so smart and there was something mystical about him. He had a peacefulness to him that gave me peace and I admit I felt safer with him around.

I had to get up several times during the night to let him in and out of the house so that he could go on the back deck and bark; and he had me up at first light to take him for a good, long walk and was anxious by 3 p.m. to get out for his second walk, but I can’t really complain about that since I was grateful for the exercise.

I always thought I would feel it if something was to happen to him, and I did. He didn’t usually leave the yard, at least doing the day, but when I went out to check on him this morning he was gone. A few hours later I decided to ride out and look for him. I expected to find him bouncing around in the woods up on the unpaved part of the road we live on where I usually walk him. I figured he would run out after the car like he had before. When I didn’t find him there I thought about riding up the busy road that fronts out house. I was sitting at the intersection thinking about it when I saw him. He was just across the road from our house. I didn’t even hear the car that hit him. I always thought I would.

When we got back from our morning walk, I had given him three new tennis balls to play with. He loved to chase and play with a tennis ball. He claimed all tennis balls as he own and guarded them as such. I had been planning to hold onto them until the summer but then I decided for some reason that there was no reason to hold onto them so I throw them out. I threw each and each he chased down happily. Last time I saw him he was sitting in the backyard with one of them in his mouth.

I know I shouldn’t mourn too much over a dog. Someone out there just loss his mother, father, brother, sister, child. Someone just found out they are going to die, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. They have reason to mourn. I know I shouldn’t cry, but I can’t help it. I know I shouldn’t wait to hear him bark at the backdoor to get in, but I am. I was wondering this morning as we walked back home if I should have taken him in … if maybe had I turned him over to animal control he would have been adopted by someone who would have really been able to take great care of him and give him a better life than I could give him. I comfort myself in knowing that when he died he knew he was loved. Deeply. He knew that there was someone who would scratch him behind the ear, and comb him and scratch his belly and find that good spot to make his leg run. Maybe that was enough.  

Now I’m left with my own questions:

Is God talking to me? Was this God’s way of telling me I’m about to get a regular 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. type job? Freckles is used to staying in his cage and can do it five days a week but  Big Boy hated being  locked in the house  even long enough for us to go to church on Sunday. Being locked up every day would have driven him crazy. Maybe it means my time on this earth is almost over? I had always worried nobody would take care of him if something happened to me. Now – well, that’s not anyone’s worry anymore.

I don’t know. I was reading the other day that we should just accept God’s Will and be happy with it, and I told myself that was what I would do from now on. So maybe it this is a test. If so, I guess I’ve already failed. I keep asking, why?

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