Diego Garcia, BIOT

After folly and fun in Australia, we yet had one more destination: Diego García, British Indian Ocean Territory, the most southern isle of the Chagos Archipelago off India’s southern tip, quite near the equator. We went to that horseshoe shaped coral atoll as it is strategically close to the Middle East; we were to service the ships. No storms, sunshine and glistening beaches, so all good? How about being stuck there for two solid months!

When we arrived, they had no dock could handle a ship our size. We set up a small boat to ferry those wanting to go ashore there and back, the last one back being at 1900 hours. Naturally I had to go see all I could! That’s when I found that half the coral atoll was off-limits as there one lived a community of natives that were chased off – an empty town. The Brits made the rules here and we had to follow them.

Our job there gave us new duties. We repaired subs that pulled up as well as ships, in fact many more ships than boats. Their reactor compartments were much larger and not a compacted as on a sub. Lots more room one them for sure. When I was not on duty, I checked out everything where I had been allowed. For example, watching a gigantic supply plane land on a thin strip of the island and needed special aid in stopping before running into the water!

I got the attention of a Brit officer who asked lots of questions about how I got to be where I was and didn’t I find it broiling hot here and all in between. A couple days later when I could return, I went to the beach seeking the Great White Sharks that were supposed to be thick as fleas here. That Brit walked up and I asked him why I saw none. Because I searched the inside of the atoll, they swarmed the perimeter! He offered to take me over to the north eastern side to enjoy the most pristine beach anywhere, sharks and tunes as he had Roxy Music to play, a new album I hadn’t heard!

As soon as I agreed, I smacked myself for running off to a remote location with a stranger, so far nobody could hear me scream. As we got in his Rover and headed out, told him about the karate lessons I’d been taking on the ship, a yellow belt achieved! We soon passed through part of the abandoned town and it felt haunted. In only about 20 or 30 minutes we arrived at the gorgeous white sand beach and he pulled out a basket with sandwiches in it. I’d forgotten about lunch! We did spot shark fins and distant sailboats and little crabs.

He put on the new Roxy Music album called Flesh and Blood which I bought as soon as I returned to the US. He told me about where he hailed from and then I had my turn at it. He said we had horse racing in common and laughed. The last song played and he put on something else. The name of that group slips my mind because soon after he pointed to the horizon and sternly said, “We must hurry back. That storm will be on us in no time at all!

We packed up all and when we got into the Rover, we turned to see the storm much closer. He gunned the engine, roaring up the barely visible path. In a few minutes, it began raining hammer-hard, the sky darkening ominously. A vicious stroke of lightening zapped a tree directly in front of us. We jumped, it fell, he rammed into it. He went out to check on damage and frowned; the front axle had broken. He strode over to the trees and chopped two long, sturdy sticks off. He handed me one. Had I heard of Coconut Crabs? Yes, they could crack a person’s skull open. They’re three feet side, weigh about 9 pounds, the largest crustations on the planet!

Soon those humungous tangerine-colored giant crabs gathered onto the path, blocking our way. We kept swinging those rods, knocking/shoving them right and left as fast as we could. It seemed we were taking a shortcut, however my big concern (other than the killer crabs) remained: I had to make that last ferry run or be in dire trouble. Soaked and worn to shreds, we made it to a heavily fenced and barbed wired facility bristling with antennae he called a weather station midway where a fellow was just about to leave. They spoke together a bit, then he gave us a ride all the way to the ferry boat that had held off leaving, hoping I’d be back. The driver left with the Brit quickly without speaking a word to me or even looking my way.

The Brit got in trouble for violating security regulations, I did not; my secret clearance maybe? I’ll always be thankful we could work together to not fall prey to those monster crabs! Since those days, Diego García has become an even more important base for the US, with new ship facilities, another airstrip and even submarine facilities plus who know what. Strategic place it is! I think I’ll play some Roxy Music…

TOMORROW: Talk About a BIGSHOT!

The Storm That Nearly Sank Us!

We went from Hawaii to Olongapo Phillipines and then headed to Sydney, Australia and everyone looked forward to that and made grand plans. This is until we felt the ship rocking in all directions more and more. Then the jarring, nauseating slamming. Some guys puked across the floor which made others feel sicker too.

Battle-ready ships have a sharp keel to stay steady when aiming their weapons. A repair ship has a rounded hull to be able to carry more tools and supplies, thus the sickening WHAMs. I forced a hatch open to see what the storm at sea looked like. Fascinating! I clutched the rail as the winds were very strong and got soaked quickly as I edged aft. The waves spewed like horizontal waterfalls and splashed wickedly each time was were lifted up a giant swell and then drop like tons of bricks after it passed.

I loved it! What an adventure! Looking to the portside I was worse turbulence, red skies and lots of lightening. I made it to the starboard. I nearly swooned at the glorious sunshine and neon affects off into the distance. A swell of inky, angry se then reared so high I could not see over or past it. I went to my knees and grabbed the rai as hard as I could. It crashed into the ship and tilted it sideways. Then I us running into one at least as huge, going to hit the prow yet coming from the starboard. The ship nearly turned sideways; I kept my grip as my body flew out behind me. As it leveled back, I forced my legs back under me so they would not slam onto the deck. It worked, seconds before the weird slam.

WOW! DOUBLE WOW! Still, it seemed a smart time to go back inside. Right inside the hatch stood the gedunk machine; now I knew why they’d bolted it to the bulkhead! I got a Zagnut bar and made my way carefully down a couple decks where most of the guys had gathered. When they saw me with a candy bar, I bet at least 50 of them puked on each other.  I walked on, trying to keep balanced. How exhilarating! In the morning we discovered the storm had busted a rusted part of the hull through and we were sinking.

I roamed the ship as the crew patched the hole with sharpshooters around to repel the sharks. I thought of when the multistate hoard of tornadoes hit my hometown of Louisville Kentucky when I was yet in my early teens. I stood on the front concrete step of our rickety house and watched the tornado wrecking part of the Fairgrounds and whizzing further across the terrain with debris being flung all around. I noted one beginning to form very nearby, a sharp pointy, twisting tip and went into the front yard for a better view, entranced and nearly disappointed when the yellow, clouded sky took it back into its bosom. All that time, the radio blasted warnings and Mama screamed at me to crawl under the kitchen table with my bawling little sisters.

The proximity of that near tornado busted the balloon-diaphragm of my syrup bottle barometer I made for upcoming science fair. Lesson? I naturally do not fear even excess danger as anything but true excitement. By the way, I won that science fair.

TOMORROW: Diego García, BIOT

Veterans AHOY!

I’m posting four short and very true stories from today through Sunday about my life-changing years in the US Navy. I was the only Nuclear-Grade Machinist Mate woman that made it through boot camp in Orlando, MM A School in Waukegan, Nuke Power school part one back in Orlando and part two in Ballston Spa New York, then onto a ship – namely the USS Dixon AS-37.

You see, I could not be assigned to a war ship or boat as a female, however I got to see lots of submarine interiors as I worked with the guys on nuke system repairs! That was in Ballast Point, near San Diego. I left upstate New York to meet the Dixon in Pearl Harbor as it had already broken away from the dock after ten years simply floating there in Ballast Point to go on WestPac! So, I didn’t actually see the big Navy bases, ships and subs, until five months later.

The crew had been kept onboard for a day and a half, then as an angel bringing deliverance they got to go ashore just as I reported in for my HP duty, sort of like a quality assurance cake with radiation-laced icing on top. Some of the guys in the Heath Physics department invited me to go along with them to see what Pearl Harbor looked and sounded like that evening. I eagerly went! At Trader Vic’s I got my first ever alcoholic beverage, a Tiki Liki, and I still have that neato clay cup.

Tiki Liki YUM!
Trader Vic’s! Waikiki

The next day we all set out early and they rented a car. It had rained but the sunlight that morning shined brilliantly. We crossed Oahu between volcanos and I saw the only triple rainbow I’ve ever witnessed. The brightest on top, the other two in parallel arcs below it. We pulled aside just to admire it. I took a picture but crapola, I can’t find it. We ended up on Waimea Bay and they went skinny dipping. No, I elected not to join them with that! I did move all their clothes way up the shoreline and then went exploring. They did find their clothes and me before leaving!

Waimea Bay
The One I Saw Was A TRIPLE!

We drove all the way back around and opted for a supper club.  Lucky us, we got a side front table by the stage where the band had already started talking to the crowd.  We got the beers we ordered and sat back to listen to the Three Dog Night-ish band singing away. About halfway through my brew I needed to sneak off to the head…I mean ladies’ room.

I got partly there when the band stopped and stared at me. I hurried on and back, embarrassed by the folks all looking at me intently. I sat. The lead singer said, All right, then!” They resumed and for the rest of the time there I held it in!  We had a few more beers, a great dinner that I do not remember (only that it was good) and then caught the last boat back to the ship. This is what life should be like?

Tomorrow: The Stormy Pacific!

Hornets, Yikes!

Living out in a Kentucky forest in a log cabin is idyllic and close to Mother Nature. I hear a wide variety of birds, see skinks and lizards scampering across the front porch, watch for deer and ‘possums every time I drive to and from the Post Office or Grocery.

Alas, Mama Nature also features the ferocious HORNETS that can cause grievous hurt and even kill when they gang up. Were they out in the woods I would not bother them. They built a nest right above the back garage door to the outside. And they get into the garage.

Ferocious Indeed!

I use the garage to store the thousands of books I sell in the Old Lady Who? online ABE Books bookstore, I have the clothes racks and shelves for more items to sell since I got fired last Christmas; gotta pay insurance, taxes, internet, electricity and oh, food bills. I sit at the desk in there for hours at a time to put more books into inventory and suddenly hear that dreadful deep buzzing – another one got in. Stop everything!

Last night I decided to watch a DVD (Hidalgo) and lounged on the sofa. About when they were on the ship to the Middle East, I felt suddenly uneasy and leaned forward to look back. A hornet was two inches from climbing into my hair. I generally do all I can to save wildlife, but these guys have GOT TO GO!!!

In the Living Room!

Music That Gets Me Hopping’!

Music That Gets Me Hoppin’!

I thought I might share some of the tunes that motivate me and keep me moving. It’s an esoteric selection; maybe you’d like to try some them?

Alan Parsons Project

The Alan Parsons Project was one of my early favorites. I listened to them so much I knew them by heart. In fact, when I went into the US Navy and got to my ship the USS Dixon for a Pacific cruise, I went up on deck at night sometimes and quietly sang the entire albums as I looked at the strange constellations and the glowing jelly fish.

The Carter Family

The Carter Family was one of Mama’s all-time favorites and I have a copy of every album they ever made. Their harmonies and musical style influence generations of musicians and song writers. I always remember dear ol’ Ma laughing with my little sisters cavorting in the living room whenever I play the Carters!


Moody Blues

The Moody Blues have lots of album out and I’ve seen them in person, too. What storytellers! Each album has its own mood and theme, so it’s fun to choose between them! These fellows have excellent musical talents but also sing very emotive lyrics that have always touched my heart. These guys bring me up when I’m feeling low.

Oingo Boingo!

Oingo Boing amazed me when I moved to San Diego California with the USN. Their music took my mind off my personal turmoil and worries and grabbed my mind away for a while. Nothing sugary or poignant here, it’s hard driving and when dancing/exercising to it I get a real workout!

Mike Oldfield

My forever favorite, the one I have gone to when torn since my pre-teens after I heard my older brother play Tubular Bells. I have all his albums and treasure each one. Of all of these, I’d recommend you try some of this genius’s music. He plays nearly all of the instrumentation himself and creates the most unique, lively and thoughtful albums with the most intriguing themes. A penultimate musician, his guitar virtuosity is amazing. I think I’ll go down and put Ommadawn on right now!

A World View

I recently created an acrylic on canvas painting. I thought lots about it before picking up a brush and thought I might share what I think it means. First, just take a look and see all the bright colors, flowers and creatures!

My view? The trellis is a community or city. The the flowers are what sustains the folks in the area, the grocery store. The hummingbird, butterfly, caterpillar and bees are us, people of all kinds and characteristics. They gather peacefully, don’t they? At least these do.

One thing folks don’t notice is that the flower vines have stems that have roots into the ground, aka the earth. What if that very bright sun with dagger rays shined for weeks with no rain? Drought is increasing. Of course floods are on the rise (ahem…) as well. What if petroleum or other pollution got to the roots? Happens too much.

If the flowers die, the whole system dies. And please see the flowers are all curved away from that hot sun; the planet’s already warming. I started considering this painting as a metaphor for love and light, the critters all getting together so well and all. It still does I suppose, love our planet and let the light shine on our correcting the harm done over the decades so those who come after us can have a safe and beautiful planet to live on.

I just love flowers! This is from the variousentityshoppe collection.

Certain Worthwhile Skills On Mars

Being angry on a crowded spaceship would be fatal. Ethan maintained a placid posture and kept his monitored heart rate and body temperature midline. He thought about how his life of writing, home brewing and riding his bike miles and miles each day among the green parks and byways was usurped by corporate New Yorkers. Options: Work on the massive sea wall for the East Coasters or help settle the American sector on Mars. Not everyone got the option for Mars, so all could have been worse.

How’s this for a journal entry: There is no sci-fi looking dome you can see leafy trees and happy folks inside while riding their personal dune buggy outside. Instead, our new home is a series of weird steel-like huge multi-story warehouses that were interconnected for services and transit but able to be cut out of the system easily if damaged, too bad for inhabitants. Arranged in an immense circle to simplify the connections to each neighbor and the central hub, the scene reminded him of a fallen Ferris wheel as seen from a couple miles up. On arrival, I was assigned to Building 8.

The Building 8 Administrator had requested him specifically, worrisome that. Turns out Colonel Bredagnian had difficulty wording his dispatches and announcements right. Being a ‘count my blessings’ person, I made subtle changes in his documents, nothing to show he had assistance. Actually his missive weren’t that bad. After a month, I learned the real reason he requested me. His list:

  • Interview technicians, scientists and others to create textbooks
  • Create a library of all available books, documents and the textbooks
  • Write Mars-based children’s stories, upbeat and fun
  • Get the skilled folks to work on things together
  • Teach writing in the Hub school, get other teachers going
  • Learn to use the available materials to make new items

He said the buildings had the ambience of a prison, and that absolutely had to change. Such change was not generally an Army specialty. Perhaps I actually could make some inroads!

This really invigorated me, to think I would be in on the ground level creating an education system, my part of it anyway. The stories would be a real service to the kids, they needed real help in their formative years. I’d done some teaching in St. Louis and enjoyed it. Making new items? Well, I’d worry about that later. If everyone had done as I did and loaded their laptops with eBooks, I should be able to accumulate a fine library in no time!

There were already several shared book and manual sites and most were easily incorporated into a site-side free library. A couple graphic designers made the library look really cool and a couple geeks worked out the borrow or whatever part. One of the people I interviewed for textbooks was a children’s book illustrator! How serendipitous! She’s very sharp witted and nice looking too. She said she needs paints or markers as the markers she brought with her have dried up. Perhaps I get to make a new item!

There was one older scientist who knew about pigments, glory! This chemist determined a way to make pigments a new way. I’ve got Dr. Chu and Jenny working together to see what works and what might with a tweak. This could be big, paints and dyes could brighten up everything! If Earth won’t send us anything but the barest basics and weapons we’ll make our own!

As I thought hard about proposing to Jenny, I noted how much weight I’d gained. The gravity is less so it wasn’t so apparent but the feeling of being out of shape had been bothering me. Bike riding! I know several folks who can help me but tires are a problem and sharing with the other few thousand folks here is too. One helpful thing, a track was made in the circle for the utility connections between buildings; it was for the train or at least a trolley Earth kept promising us. Right.

Now we keep bike stations at every Building and folks are crazy about them! They’ve put bushes and flowers all around the track, what a grand change! I found my wife loves to ride but didn’t want to talk about what she couldn’t have. Ha! There’s a couple medical doctors who’ve requested a stationary bike. No problem!  An Engineer I’m working with whipped a stand up that can be used with any bike! I’ll just cycle right on over to Building 4 and let them try the stand out! Then get Lucas to make a hundred more! We’re definitely keeping the miners busy.

Jenny is due any day. We have only about 50 names picked out. One of the groups I’ve been meeting with about innovations wanted to celebrate.  I told them about the musical instruments being made. They kept insisting on something else. That’s when I found out they have somehow acquired yeast.  You don’t have to use hops to brew something good. We have more apples than we need here…Wow!

Long Legged, Geeky Girl

“What are you all red-eyed about?”

“High waters. All I got is high waters.”

“Prissy girls.” Mama went back to her crossword puzzle and I stomped back to my room to take off those durn blue jeans that showed my ankles as soon as possible. Tossing my book bag and shedding my shame, the treasure spread across my bed stole my attention.

My Bookmobile treasure: Pollinators. Geology and the Inland Sea, The Science of Fire. Storm Dynamics. With a fluffed pillow at my back and my giraffe legs stretched out before me, I reached for the nearest tome. The 8th grade science fair was only 27 days away. Hmmm, weather instruments.

I had a jelly jar in my hand wondering what to use as a membrane when I saw the fancy syrup bottle with the plastic handle and spout in the trash. The jelly jar went back to Mama’s canning supplies. The smaller opening would mean the little balloon would fit lots easier and still be big enough for a pointer. A needle would poke the balloon. Dootdootdoot…what the hoot? Epiphany! A toothpick! Glue, where’s the glue?

The two poster boards were a breeze to do. One had a wild tornado in the center with a spotted cow and a couple trees in it. Labels and arrows artfully drawn noted the details. The other had a description of my EXPERIMENT. The harder part turned out to be affixing the index card to the narrow bottle neck. Scissors! Tape! Where’s the durn tape?

I added another reading from the weather report; the toothpick had a great range against the card which gave me pretty good room to record the data. The weather guys said a band of storms were on the way. Great! I might get a few data points in the low ranges right before the science fair!

Me, the biggest idiot in the room. The guy to the left of me had put an Apollo capsule model together. On the right, the guy with a hamster in a cage kept trying to make the critter run in the wheel. Across from me the guy had a printed, full color diorama of the Grand Canyon. Several boys had volcanoes. Except for me they were all boys.

Seeing the strange high school teachers quizzing the Apollo fellow reminded me of a warthog, me, realizing lions approached. Could I still run Where were the exits?” I blinked at hearing someone knock on the table and there they stood, directly in front of me. Holy bovines.

“Miss, please explain why you brought this mess here.”

Mess? By golly, warthogs had tusks. “Sirs, Ma’am, I made this barometer from ordinary items and calibrated the device using the National Weather Association certified reports that are televised each evening.” Here I pointed at the data on the card. “There are 23 data points taken before last Tuesday. On that day, the barometric pressure got so low, the balloon busted. This mess is the evidence that my barometer worked.” I did not add that the sight of that balloon getting sucked into that bottle and popping will amaze me to the end of my days, all the while Mama clutched my little sisters under the kitchen table and screamed at me to join them.

Well, 1st place won me $50. The April 3, 1974 swarm of ravaging tornadoes allowed me to proceed directly to the Woolco Department Store where I purchased a brand new Brother sewing machine. I figured out how to use it. From then through now, I choose the material for my clothes, I select the patterns and alter as needed. And my pants have always been the right length.

Tiana, Searching for Something Good

Tiana bent over low to peer under the orange pick-up truck, aha! She skittered away fast when the fat bearded guy walked up, slung his groceries in the back and yanked the driver’s door open. She kept a keen eye on anyone coming and going in the parking lot as the noisy thing finally left. The she went over and picked up the can of Cherry Pie Filling where he’d been, no dents or nothing.

Safely in her backpack, she patrolled the IGA lot for more dropped goodies, more stuff not recovered from busted bags, dropped money (seldom). Too bad they took away the Salvation Army donation box that used to be on the far corner of the lot, too bad. She wore a nice warm coat from there until she had to give it to her little sister.  They had a church pretty close but she was afraid they’d chase her away like the church on the other side of the lot did. They’d called her ‘filth’.

‘Sheesh, one good thing all morning.’ Her thoughts darted between vigilance and wondering if her mother’s asshole boyfriend was gone yet. He was mean and evil and she hoped her puppy he killed would haunt him. She loved her pup, but put him under the seat of his car anyway because Star Baby would really haunt him with stink pretty soon.

The sound of a busting grocery bag arrested her attention. She raced over to the elderly lady and picked up everything that fell for her. Yes she honestly did, everything. The lady did not want the jar of bread and butter pickles with the crack down the side. Tiana did, and thanked her for it. She went over to the ditch to get a spare bag out of her backpack. She tied the bag tight with the jar securely inside. She had a pickle jar saved at home to transfer the pickles into. Win!

The old lady hadn’t driven away. Why not? She went over to check on her. The driver door was open.

“Hi there, young lady.”

“Hi, I thought maybe something was wrong cuz’ you didn’t leave. Are you okay?”

“I was thinking about you, child. Why you out here scroungin’ like this?”

Just as Tiana started feeling self-conscious, she noticed the woman had a Salvation Army jacket across the passenger seat. “I gotta be gone while Mama’s boyfriend is there, he’s very mean.”

“Mean to you, your Mama or both y’all?”

“Both, and he killed my puppy too.”

“Why does your Mama let him in?”

“I promised I’d never ever tell.”

“He sells her dope so she has no money for groceries or clothes or anything else.”

Tiana said nothing but nodded slowly.

“We can help you child. I got this here food to supplement an open picnic we’re having today. You are welcome to be there. You know where our church is? Good. Be there early and put some shoes on if you can. Okay?”

Tiana felt a bright light of love shining into her heart! “Yes ma’am! Can I bring my little sister?”

Flyin’ Low

He bought a one way ticket

On and airplane made of snow

Flyin’ low

Dyin’ slow

Out Of Rehab. Again. Pong opened the trunk to get his duffle of a thousand patches out. He’d sold his house and most everything in it for his addiction to Happy Herry. His and Lili’s house, with little Po. Yeah, little Po had lived with his brother for a few years, since the rehab before last. Now he’d live here at Pete’s too, or under a bridge with the other cracked up vets. They’d flown him to Laos while the new love of his life went on to Saigon. Oh Lili.

Pong realized he stared at Lili’s patch from Afghanistan, the official one from the Hagibi Hospital where she worked putting people’s faces back together. She used to work there as she’d stayed in after he was discharged.  She’d sent Po to him with a note saying they were a real family now, with this little boy. He yanked on the duffle strap and dragged it to his brother’s front door.

“I got the tea straight from Singapore. Great isn’t it” Pete grinned and topped off Pong’s mug.

The kitchen table was supposed to be a cozy, comforting family place to ease anxieties. Crap. “Yeah, great.” Pete had set him up in the rec room, too much room. Pong had nearly collapsed to see a new drawing table, paints, markers and a stack of poster boards. Not anymore, no more cutesy art, not without Lili. He walked outside the room and leaned against the wall in the hallway.

Po burst into the front door singing out “I’m home!” The kid stopped cold when he saw Pong. “Hi Pong.”

Jeez, the kid had grown! “Hey sport. What did you learn in school today?” God forbid if the kid wanted a hug – that was Lili’s  job.

In a much subdued tone, Po said, “I have to do a report on a pet. But I don’t have a pet.”

The kid stood as if in the choir, in church.  At least the single time Pong had attended church. He’d seen the boy trail up to stand on the stage with a dozen other kids and belt out some hymn. He remembered the grand days where he and Pete had belted out harmonies at some of the big shows. Jimi Hendrix got top billing but there were instant venues all throughout the milling crowds. He’d met Lili at the Pixly Farm show, where it rained the whole time. They let her sleep in their tent.

Pong jerked. “What?”

Pete patiently said, “I told Po that we could go to the Dog Pound and get a pet.”

Pong saw Po’s eyes dart from his nominal daddy to his own mug of tea. He’d had missed the kid sitting down. Annoyed, he blurted, “You could make up a pet.”

Po took a deep breath. “I read that the Dog Pound mostly kills the big dogs and the black cats.” His eyes lifted toward Pete. “If you don’t want a big dog maybe we could get a black kitten.”

The hope in the boy’s plea would have broken Pong’s heart if the still had one. But he gazed at Pete. Apparently, he’d lost his adopted son as well as his wife, each gone quite a while before he ever knew it for certain. He sipped his tea and remembered how he and Lili talked about getting a dog right before her unit sent her over to Afghanistan.

A jacket thrust into his face made him jump. Automatically standing to put his jacket on, he asked, “Where to?”

“You stay in outer space most of the time, dude. The Dog Pound. That’s what we’ve been jawing about, right? They close at five so we’d best be movin’ along.”

In the back seat Pong vividly recalled his favorite poster, ‘Movin’ Along!’, the one he’d got prints made of, the one that had people coming up to get their copies autographed. The cool air in his face and opened door clued him they’d arrived.

At the counter Po explained that they needed to see the process from the end to the beginning. The woman in charge frowned, saying the public was not allowed in the euthanasia area. Struggling to pay attention, Pong asked, “Can we see Death Row?”

The woman screwed her mouth up for another access denial, but Pete saved the day by asking, “He’s troubled. Can we visit the pets that have been here the longest?”

Pete stopped at the Cat Room that was indeed populated with a preponderance of black kitties. Pong went on to the last chance Dog Room, Po at his heels. Huh. He glanced back again, not a hallucination.

The dog room felt so weird, almost electrically frizzy. Maybe because there were now a hundred eyes on him? A neon rainbow sprang from Po to a shaggy auburn Irish Setter-like mutt. Pong blinked and it disappeared yet the affect remained. The mutt looked intently his way. Pong thought about how long he’d tried to draw somebody making the “Tck-Tck” sound you make with one side of your face pulled back, like when you wanted a dog to come. He’d messed up too many poster boards trying, no luck. Luck? Really? He shook his head hard to keep in this time and space.

He stretched one side of his lips back and “Tck-Tck” erupted. The mutt bounded up and over until his paws on each shoulder nearly bowled him over.  Once he caught his breath, he knew this was HIS dog. Or maybe his and Po’s? ” Hey son, what you want to name this giant hairy creature?”

His son’s face lit bright. “Angel.”

“Down, Angel”. The dog sat obediently, tail wagging like a windshield wiper.  He remembered that leaving Pixly Farm he had to get new wiper blades before they got to the interstate. Angel brought his attention back to the here and now. He saw Po lean forward to check out Daddy’s demeanor. Pong flung his arms out. That hug felt better than he ever thought one could.

Stupid or Cupid?

The 60’s style flamboyance made his ‘Save a Pet’ posters a big hit, in the restaurants, in vet’s offices, grocery stores, lots of places. One of Pete’s cats, couldn’t tell Stupid from Cupid, had knocked over a bottle of black ink, stepped in it and walked across the top left corner of Pong’ s first effort. Now they all had black cat paw prints stamped there, like the seal of approval.

He shook his head and turned away from the framed posters on the wall. “Lemonade. I came in to get lemonade. He took a Minute Maid out of the freezer and stirred it with water. He heard Po shouting something and laughing. He walked to the screen door and watched Po try to toss the tennis ball again except the dog sat on this hind legs right in front of the boy, begging. Pong opened the door and aimed for his lounge chair. Po ran over and took the lemonade from him just a second before Angel knocked him over, licking his face and arms until he felt like a slobber doll. That Angel could wear a guy out! That Angel was a blessing.