The lost dogs…#4

Friends: The following weeks I will be posting some of the chapters of my new short story entitled, The Lost Dogs of Mercy Trap. This is the first of 6-8 stories to be published in 2016. I hope you enjoy. John
The Lost Dogs of Mercy Trap
A short story (Chapter four)

Later that day Joseph parked at Blessed Heart Community hospital, unloaded Jimmy’s wheel chair, and carefully placed his son into it. It was one mile from the hospital to Gunner Rill road, the same route home that Mary had taken every day. In her honor they were going to walk to the place of her death, erect a small sign, and place a bouquet of flowers in the ground.

“Mom hated plastic flowers,” Jimmy said.

His dad laughed. “We’ll come back in the spring and plant…”

“A small rose bush.”

Joseph placed a hand on his son’s shoulder. “Yeah, she’d like that.” He then removed a small sign from a pouch in the back of the wheelchair and handed it to his son. “What do you think?”

It was simple in design. At the top of a black metal staff was a plaque in florescent letters, reading: Please Drive Carefully! The nameplate read: In memory of Mary Christian.
Jimmy didn’t say anything, but he held the sign against his chest as his dad pushed the chair against the lightly falling snow.

By the time they reached the intersection of Gunner Hill Road and found the spot for the makeshift memorial the winter sun was casting lengthy shadows. But they were in no rush. Both father and son were thinking about their earlier conversation when Joseph had said, “It’s time for you and I to let your mom go.”

Sensing his son’s thought, as only a parent can, Joseph said, “I think I said that wrong, Jimmy. We are not letting your mom go. She’s part of us. We are going to hold on to her until we die. Her goodness, her morals, her companionship, her spirituality, her care for others will bolster us through the difficulties of life that lay ahead. Every decision we make in the future will be influenced by what she taught us. So, no, we are not letting her go.”

“She’s letting us go, isn’t she dad,” Jimmy said.

Joseph knelt beside his son and they hugged. “Yep, she’s not only letting us go, but she’s probably saying ‘it’s about time you guys get moving before you freeze to death’.”

Together, they laughed.

“Oh, yeah. One more thing,” Joseph said. He pulled a box from under the chair and handed it to his son.

“What’s this?”

“Let’s just call it the first gift of Christmas.”

The square box weighted about two pounds, and the wrapping glowed with the colors of the season. Jimmy could barely restrain himself from tearing into the gift with all the fervor that Christmas demands.

Red and white tissue paper caressed a twelve by twelve inch slab of stone that was four inches thick. Etched into the stone was the figure of a Labrador Retriever and the name, King.

To this day, two years from the accident, Jimmy and his dad had not talked about their dog. Jimmy had always believed that his beloved pet had died. Joseph had never told his son that the dog, nor his body, had ever been found.

“I hope they are together,” Jimmy said.

His dad did not respond.

Jimmy handed the stone to his dad who placed it at the base of the memorial.

“Ready to go home or do you want to stay here and freeze?” Joseph asked his son.

Jimmy laughed. “I’m hungry.”

“Me too. How about hamburgers, fries, and a chocolate milkshake?”

“How about strawberry?” his son joked.

“Let’s do it.”

The trip back to their car, though the snow and wind had increased, was the best time they had spent together in the past two years.

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