Wednesday, November 10, 2010


A fragment of a novel. From a project that I started years ago and return to now and again. Eventually I'll finish it.

There was just the man, the boy, and the dog.

The boy was ten years old. He was standing there, holding his left arm out and there was a big lump on the top of that arm, turning blue, and swelling a bit more as the boy and the man and the dog watched.

The man was sixty-six years old, tall, thin, gray-headed, dressed in jeans and red flannel and boots. You could see his breath puff out in great mists from his heaving lungs.

The dog was eight—or so the man figured, as he’d saved him from death at the pound when the animal was six months old. Well, that was what the attendant there had told him. The dog was big and heavy and black. He looked confused, his eyes glancing up at the man and then to the boy.

“Who’s your dad,” the old man asked.

The boy, who didn’t want to seem to tear his eyes from the sight of his swelling arm held out tentatively said, “I ain’t got a dad.”

There was a look in the old man’s eyes; nothing much to betray an emotion, but a barely noticeable widening. “Then who’s your mom? Where is she right now?”

Finally, the sight of the pounding blue egg of pain growing above his wrist was something he didn’t want to look at any more. “I ain’t got a mom either,” the boy said; sweat dampening the thin red hair, which hung limply down into his green eyes.

Exasperated now, the old man asked, “Then where do you live, son? Who takes care of you?”

“I live at Fire Station #2, in downtown Beckley West Virginia. Right over yonder.” And he indicated the top of the hill behind them with his good arm. “The Men of Fire Station #2 see to me.” And then he fainted, falling delicately in a heap at the old man’s booted feet.

So it was Calvin Ramseur cradled the boy in his arms and walked him over the

hill to Fire Station #2 and The Men Who Saw to Him. Along the way, the old

man bothered to glare down
at the dog, whose head was bent in something

akin to shame. “Dog, you are a very bad puppy. Don’t go jumping up on small

kids who don’t know you."
They walked a few more paces before the man

added, "Bad! Bad, bad puppy!"

"Bad puppy!"

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