Adventures of Cookie the Stray, Chapter 15

Updated on December 17, 2017
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Peg Cole is a self-published author who writes true and fiction stories and book reviews, along with nostalgia and how-to articles.

The Dream


The wind was picking up speed swirling the leaves into uneasy circles along the tracks ahead of Rusty. His mind lingered on the news report he’d seen while at the convenience store. News of Connie’s disappearance weighed heavily on his mind while other thoughts drifted to the weather report. By late afternoon the storm might drop several inches of snow into the area.

He knew he should be taking cover in a safe place for the night. “But I’m so close to the camp,” he thought. Then he wondered about the dogs and how they would manage in the upcoming storm. It made him remember another night long ago, a different storm that made him seek shelter.


A Different Time - A Different Place


The temperatures had been dropping steadily as the train passed through Nebraska and into Omaha where word had it, a solid day’s work awaited. He’d spent a long eighteen hour day loading pallets out of a closed up warehouse onto semi-tractor trailers headed elsewhere. The pay would take his secret fund to a sizeable level where he had set his goal before winter set in. When the work finished up, he planned to spend little time in the frigid climate before heading to a warmer place. It would be the next day before a train heading south would roll through. Visibility was minimal as he hiked near the highway leading to his favorite valley where he could hop aboard. He knew that his chances were slim for thumbing down a ride in the blizzard that was brewing.

The neon lights of an off-brand motel called to him and as he approached the two-story structure he spotted a figure huddling beside the soda machine, just out of sight of the motel office. At first glance, it looked like an errant pile of laundry, collecting a dusting of featherweight snow. Then the pile moved and a hand reached out, beckoning to him.

“Say, fella,” the lump spoke. “Could you spare a few bucks? I haven’t eaten in days.” Rusty looked into the man’s bleary eyes and compassion drove him to help a fellow traveler down on his luck..

“I have a better idea,” he said. “Give me a minute to check in here and we’ll share a meal.”

“Bless you, friend,” the voice told him. Rusty pulled open the door against pellets of ice driving into his face and hands.

Before you can eat...

“How much for a room?” he asked the clerk who looked up from a novel propped against the counter. He pushed his thick glasses up the bridge of his nose and consulted a chart.

“Forty-seven dollars for a single,” his stubby index finger held a place on the page.

“Do you have a double?”

“Just one left,” the clerk said. “You know, with the weather like it is.” Rusty looked at the pegboard behind the desk where two room keys hung side by side. “But it’s a nice cozy room with two twin beds and the mattresses are nearly new.” The clerk had found some selling skills.

“How much for that one?”

Double occupancy motel room
Double occupancy motel room

“Those run fifty-nine dollars.” He thought about the man outside shivering in the cold and about the many times he had been down on his luck between jobs. It would cost him only twelve dollars to help out a stranger and a restless night of guilt-ridden sleeplessness if he didn’t. He’d worked several days, off-loading crates of produce and groceries out of a tractor-trailer behind a store before the pallet job. The usual store clerk had broken his arm and was on light duty for a while. Between the jobs, Rusty had a nice stash of bills from the last several weeks of effort. On his way south, he would add them to his lock box under the tree. Rusty pulled three twenties out of the zippered compartment on his backpack and handed them to the clerk.

“I’ll take it.” The clerk turned an open ledger book around for Rusty to sign his name.

“How’s the food at the diner?” He pointed to a rounded trailer on the opposite side of the parking lot.

“The meatloaf special is the best deal,” the clerk said. “It comes with soup and fresh rolls and it’s real good.” The clerk reached into a drawer. “In fact, I have this coupon for a two-for-one dinner with the motel stay.” Rusty took the dollar change and stuffed it in his pants pocket and headed back out to where the homeless guy was still sitting on the sidewalk.

“Let’s get something to eat,” Rusty told him. The guy hopped up and gathered his few possessions before following his new companion across the parking lot.

Over meatloaf and several helpings of the family style meal, Rusty learned that the guy was between what he called jobs. In reality, he wasn’t far removed from a party crasher, making his way across the country to any dog show that was being held. He pulled out a worn brochure from his jacket that listed all the regional events. Lines were drawn through the ones he’d already attended.

“Of course, I manage to clean up my act before I make my way in the auditorium,” he confided. “I spring for a haircut and a razor to take care of this.” He rubbed his stubbly chin and went on to explain his creative way of getting past the ticket takers at the door. “Then, I just mingle with the crowd and act like I belong.” He shoveled another mouthful of roll into his open mouth. “You should see some of the lookers who bring their mutts to these things,” he told his new friend, gravy trickling down his chin. “Oooh, la, la,” he said with an exaggerated wink. “These women book rooms in fancy hotels with all the amenities like free breakfast and fluffy robes. Most of the shows have buffet dinners after the event.” He smiled slyly and added, “I manage to get myself invited every time.”

“So you like dogs, Jeb?” Rusty asked while the other guy sluiced gravy over a fresh slab of meat loaf.

“Oh, hell no,” he answered wrinkling his nose. “Those flea bags stink and get hair all over the place.” The front doors of the diner clanked as if an invisible guest had opened them a few inches, then, changed their mind about coming in.

Fancy hotels with room service and buffet meals included.
Fancy hotels with room service and buffet meals included. | Source

Rusty’s opinion was already changing toward the guy whose predatory nature was clear in his words. As the wind picked up and the snow clouds thickened, he was already beginning to regret his decision to help. But the room was reserved and he figured for one night he could manage to help out a fellow human being.

Daylight streamed in through a gap in the blackout curtains across the front window. Rusty immediately looked across the room to the other bed. It was rumpled, messy and empty. A trail of used towels led from the bathroom where the moisture from a hot shower lingered in the warm air. Rusty’s concern shifted to his backpack. He’d put it alongside the bed on his side of the room, placing it in a certain way. From the way it tilted, he knew it had been moved.

He quickly unzipped the side pouch where the money from his last few weeks of work was hidden in his shaving kit. Both the kit and its contents were missing. Between the heavy meal, the soft bed and the unusually warm temperatures of the controlled air, he’d slept like a rock.

“I should’ve known better,” he scolded himself. Then he gathered his things, locked the bolt on the motel room door and headed for the shower.

© 2017 Peg Cole


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    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 7 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Lawrence, Yes, they do and not a good one for Rusty's sake. Thanks for coming by for this chapter.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 7 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      So, Rusty and Jeb have a 'history'?

      Wonder where this is going to lead?

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Ah yes, Chris, dirty tricks, Jeb excels at them. This chapter does need a pick-me-up after the way it turned out. Glad there's another chapter waiting for you. Low points - they're bad but they make the high points even better. Thanks for coming by!

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 2 months ago from Missoula, Montana at least until March 2018

      Well, that was a dirty trick. I’m moving on to the next part. This would be a terrible place to stop. Well written, of course, but one of those necessary low points in a story.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello dear Maria, People sometimes do take advantage of the kindness of strangers and it is disappointing when that happens. I believe Rusty's resolve to be a good person will not be affected by Jeb's bad behavior, just as you do. :)

      I added the agility clip for a measure of comic relief from the tension. I'm so glad you liked it.

      You are on my mind, too. Missing you. Love.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 2 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Aw, it's disappointing, to say the least, when kindness is rewarded with betrayal / taking advantage...

      I believe that Rusty's heart will guide him to moving on, while looking out for...

      ...and on a completely different note, the agility clip was marvelous - accompanied with adoggable memories of Aunt Baby and mar showing them all how it's (never) done on the field... ;)

      You've been on my mind lots these last few days, dear Peg. Will be writing you an email soon to catch up. Love, Maria

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello William, Here's hoping you and yours had a merry and bright Christmas with all the trimmings. Yes, it is sad that Rusty was so trusting and had his trust abused. I hope to make that right in future releases. Thanks so much for coming by.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 2 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Enjoying the story, Peg. My only regret is that Rusty didn't fare better. looking forward to the next installment. Merry CHRISTmas, Peg.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Gypsy Rose, Thank you and a very Merry Christmas to you as well. Thanks for sticking with this story.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Nikki, So good of you to return to read more of this story. I appreciate that you feel badly for Rusty and with good reason. Many blessings to you and yours. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Shyron, Me, too. Rusty deserves better than this. I appreciate your response to the events in this chapter. Blessings to you and yours and a very Merry Christmas.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Linda C., Thanks for the empathy toward Rusty, a good guy that tried to do a good deed. I hope you'll be pleased with the way his future turns out. Thanks for coming by.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 3 months ago from Riga, Latvia

      Enjoying these stories. Looking forward to more. Merry Chrismas to you and yours.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Good morning Fredrick, Sometimes our kindly deeds are returned with greed and treachery. Rusty is a trusting person with a kind heart who will not be discouraged by this act.

      Thank you for stopping in and for the kind remarks. It's nice to see you.

    • Fredrickvanek profile image

      Fredrick Vanek 3 months ago from New York

      "No good deed goes unpunished." they say. Sad, but seems true, doesn't it some times? Well-written story, and with truth behind it. There are indeed many people who behave like both Jeb and Rusty. You reflected reality back into our eyes skillfully.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Frank, Thanks for saying that. Your comment made me feel really great.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      That is the truth of the matter, Flourish. Thanks for saying it.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Yes they are, Jackie. You know it. It is a crying shame.

    • nikkikhan10 profile image

      Nikki Khan 3 months ago from London

      Oh Goodness,,Rusty was trying to help the guy out and in return got decieved because of his innocence.I hope life would do better for Rusty.

      A wonderful story Peg,, characters are woven very well.I enjoyed a lot reading it.

      Merry Christmas to you and your family.

      God Bless you.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 3 months ago from Texas

      Peg, what a shame that Rusty helps someone and gets a kick in his backside. It is a slap in the face by the sleaze. I sure hope Rusty gets his money back.

      Blessings my friend.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Kari, Rusty is a good and kind person and the man he helped was neither grateful or honest. Sad when kindness is paid back with theft and dishonesty. But that's the nature of Jeb.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello MsDora, Yes, it is sad when kindness is repaid with greed. Don't worry, Jeb will get his reward.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Rusty seems like such a nice person. It's a shame that he lost his money when he was trying to do a good deed. I hope his future is happier.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 3 months ago from Shelton

      Oh my goodness..I'm starting to feel for your characters..your story line is simplistically amazing

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 months ago from USA

      No good deed goes unpunished!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 months ago from The Beautiful South

      The worst kind of person! I know this is fiction but these people really are out there!

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 3 months ago from Ohio

      Oh, I feel so sad for Rusty. He's right that he should have known better, but he was also right to give the man a place to stay. It's so sad that the man did that.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      It's downright discouraging when someone trying to be kind gets shafted. Hope better days are ahead for Rusty!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Verlie, Yes, I agree that someone certainly has some karma headed their way. I hope to satisfy that need in the next few chapters. Good to see you here this morning.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 3 months ago from Canada

      Morning Peg, A storm is brewing. I hope karma deals a swift kick in the butt to you know who...

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Bill, I often think the same thing. It's as if they're figuring out the best way to work their situation. Mine even take me by the hand with their mouth and lead me to the treat zone where the box of bones stays.

      Thanks for being first to visit this latest addition and for the kind words and Christmas greetings. All the best to you and yours for a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. It's right on us now.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 months ago from Olympia, WA

      While I was reading this I wondered what the world looks like to a dog. I watch our dogs often and it looks like they are seriously studying their surroundings. I would love to know what they think about it all. :) Sorry, rambling . . . love your story of course.

      Merry Christmas, Peg!