Me and Chuck was in the fort in the back yard playing I Can Take It. I already won the hold-your-breath contest and we was decidin’ whether to use Ma’s straight pins or the matches he’d brought for the next contest when we heard a tank coming up the alley. Through the cattails, we saw a great big green rich guy’s utility thing. Rich Guy parked right behind us and didn’t see us in the stealth edition fort. He got out and took a white garbage bag out the back.
Something in that bag was bawling and clawing and one little paw was waving at us. He threw the bag in the ditch between us and the alley, then hauled ass on out with an awful lot of dust. We forgot all about pins and matches.
The ditch is pretty deep and had a lot of water in it running right quick. If it wasn’t for snakes, I’d have jumped on in anyway, but the bag was done out of sight downstream. Naturally we jumped over the ditch and lit after it.
There was a bunch of sticks across the culvert and an empty white garbage bag. We heard the little fella in the weeds and dropped to our knees so we’d look less scary. In two seconds, he shot out the weeds and knocked me on my back. I pushed him away and sat up. I pulled my t-shirt off to dry my face off.
“Joe, that’s the ugliest damned dog I ever seen in my whole life.” Chuck was standing with his arms crossed, kicking the weirdo dog away. “We need to get us another plastic bag.”
I’m thinking that Slobber just needed a chance to show his value. I put my shirt back on. “Chuck, I gotta keep him, he ain’t garbage and he ain’t that ugly.” He was, but he was sitting at my feet looking up with the most begging brown eyes and I had to say something good.
Slobber was long like a wiener dog, mostly shaggy and had a mashed in face with bottom teeth sticking out, about the size of a long-legged beagle. I tried teaching him fetch, to come when I called his name and to keep him from jumping up to lick my face; I failed at all of it. At the rate he was eating through my allowance, I confess a second thought about keeping him wandered into my mind. When he dug up Ma’s flower bulbs, she went on and on about responsibility and that ten was old enough to control a dog. I had to tie him up but she compromised and started bringing home bags of dogfood, so not a bad trade since he was getting’ bigger fast.
It was raining that day and I knew better than to take the shortcut home from school, but tried jumping the ditch anyway. I slipped and fell back into the water. I was getting pulled downstream, so I grabbed a handful of cattails. Using my hands and knees to make it up the bank, I got bit by a damned water moccasin as I put a knee down. I hauled on up somehow and laid in the back yard crying my eyes out, holding my leg. Up runs Slobber.
“Get Ma! Go get Ma!” Slobber run off trailing his chewed off rope. I heard him banging on the back door, so I scooted around so I could see. Ma opened the door with a broom and he licked her as far as he could reach before running back to me. She chased him.
I loved that mutt and miss him every single day. I’ve had other dogs over the years, but none as wonderful and downright beautiful to me as good ol’ Slobber.