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The Carriage Driver³ - Zoey

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A gentle breeze pulled his door shut; the click of the latch made Zoey look up. A whine escaped her, and a shadow draped her mood.

The Carriage Driver waited, the appointed time came and went. He was a patient man; he has proven that time and again. He referred to the book carried under the front seat. Closing it, he climbed down and went to Nuelle. Reaching into his pocket, he retrieved an apple. They had grown accustomed to sharing an apple before picking up a fare. The ritual affirmed their place in the universe. Things had changed, Griffin had lost his edge. Cutting the apple into four pieces he fed two to Nuelle and ate the others.

He climbed into the carriage and decided to go his fare. After reaching the house, Griffin climbed down to wait. Nuelle, who normally maintained her regal air seemed restless. Her white tail waved, and her long white mane swished.

Patting her on the neck, Griffin took to the sidewalk and quietly opened the front door. Zoey, a six-year-old Labrador Retriever, greeted him as he entered. “Hello girl,” Griffin kneeled to royalty and gave a scratch behind her ear.

From the street, the house looked like other houses in this sparsely populated area. The room that he stood in had been made over into an eighteenth-century tavern, with thick uprights fashioned from lumber of old sailing ship masts, the bar was rough-hewn, and there stood a stone hearth. “I hoped you would come,” the man behind the bar said. “Though, I had my doubts,” he smiled a broad smile. “You are not at all what I expected.”

Griffin liked him immediately.

“No one has visited me here, must be, over five years now.” Zoey sat by Griffin’s side. “You can see why I couldn’t leave.” He reached down below the bar and came up with two steins and filled them from a keg. He pushed one toward Griffin, put the other to his mouth and drank. Griffin joined him.

“My fares usually meet me, but things may be different here. Are you ready to go?”

“Go? I am not going anywhere. The very least I need you to do is leave the door open, so Zoey is not trapped inside. Besides, I like it here. I have built my castle.”

Griffin took a seat at the bar. Zoey followed and sat near his feet. “Few have turned down a ride in the carriage. Most feel they have strived throughout their journey for the privilege of a ride in the carriage and when their time comes enjoy their passage to their choice of destination.”

Griffin turned his head, got up and walked to the front door. He could see a small boy talking to Nuelle. His curiosity satisfied, he returned to his seat. “You know some ‘house-flipper’ will come in here, having bought your house, and tear everything you have built out. They will modernize and throw this property back on the market and a new family will move in and begin to build their castle.”

“Tear everything out? I’ll haunt them, I will.”

Griffin laughed.

“That girl there is named Zoey. She has been with me from when she was a little pup. What will become of her?” He took a swig from his stein and wiped his mouth on his sleeve. “I can’t just go.”

Griffin finished his beer. “I can take you anywhere you want to go.” He stood to go and check on Nuelle. When he opened the door, Zoey followed him outside.

The boy who had been talking to Nuelle spotted Zoey. Zoey ran past him; he gave chase.

The man stepped out from behind the bar, walked outside and stood next to Griffin.

“I suppose I ought to go and find out where those two are off to.” He smiled and walked away from his castle.

Griffin went to Nuelle, and they both followed after this most unusual fare. Whatever the boy had told Nuelle, she seemed more assured than when they arrived. They reached a clearing to see the man sitting on the ground cross-legged. Zoey and the boy were wrestling about the yard reminiscent of an English fairytale garden. There was a thatched roof cottage with flowers blooming in window boxes. A beautiful young woman was trimming a well-tended hedge. Her hair was gathered in a scarf, just enough showing at the edges to tell the color.

When she saw Griffin she waved and called out, “They told me to expect you.”

Griffin came closer.

She approached them, “This must be Nuelle. We have heard so much about her; and of course you.” She turned toward the house and called out, “Girls, they are here.”

Two girls appeared in the doorway. They joined the third with Griffin. “This is our heaven,” the one that was working in the yard when Griffin arrived said. “When we heard you may need a way-station in this area, we immediately agreed that you could bring your fares here. We will take care of them. But for your fares inside the city, there is a large station nearer to your new location. Come inside, tell us about the castle. We’ve heard many stories about the castle.” The girls, smiling, took Griffin’s arms and led him inside.

“Mister, is this your dog,” asked the small boy.

He had not seen Zoey so active in a long time. “She and I have been together since she was a pup. We belong to each other. But it looks like I reached the hour of my calling. Where do you live?”

Source

“I am from across the river. When I was sick, I was allowed to watch the girls build this place. It is a favorite landmark in my mind.” The boy paused, “What’s your dog’s name? And what are you going to do with her?”

“I could let you take care of her for a short while. But when she is ready to cross back over, long before you, I want her back. Does that sound fair?”

“Nothing about that sounds fair. Come on; I’ll show you where we can wait. Follow me. When my Mom’s around, you have to promise to be as quiet as possible. I put Mom through enough already. OK?

The two new best friends stood. The three of them moved quietly back to the other side. Zoey’s tail wagged all the way. They were all secure in the knowledge that Zoey would know the way back.

Later, one of the girls grabbed a couple of carrots and brought them to Nuelle. She returned with the comment, “They’re gone.”

Griffin stood, thanked the girls for the afternoon and walked out to Nuelle. She waved her mane and swished her tail. She seemed quite happy with herself. After all, it is not every day; she could save a boy and save a dog and lead Griffin to a way station off the beaten path.

Griffin climbed on board. Maybe, he thought, just maybe, this new area would be even better than the last. He gave Nuelle her rein.

Nuelle looked around the garden; the trill of their hosts reached her. She led them back to the country road. In the distance could be heard children laughing and a dog named Zoey barking for joy.

“What of the man you say?”

His name is in the book.

Dedicated to those that have gotten past, just, 'What is best for them."

Fairytale Cottages - Magical Homes

Ray Charles & Willie Nelson Seven Spanish Angels

© 2016 mckbirdbks

More by this Author


Comments 34 comments

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 weeks ago from Orlando, FL

I miss getting lost in your wonderful words! Thank you for the break from reality. I intend to read Carriage Driver 2 very soon.


annart profile image

annart 4 weeks ago from SW England

Such a wonderful tale, Mike! It has a slightly different slant doesn't it? I love it because there is much joy here and a bit of barter. I can even hear Zoey barking!

Your second series is just as good, if not better, than the first and I'm looking forward to reading the ones I've missed so far, as well as, of course, the ones yet to come.

Hope you have a great weekend, Mike.

Ann


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Linda. What a nice compliment. Yes, The Carriage Driver is an escape. I have even called it the greatest escape, which in essence it is. Thanks for the visit. (Not quite as nice as Nashville.)


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Ann - A friend, right here on Hubpages, just adopted a six or seven year old orphaned Labrador. So of course I could not let an opportunity like that pass without trying to turn it into an episode of TCD.

Thanks for the time you spent today reading over some older work that I have placed here on Hubpages. Wishing you a nice weekend also.

Here in the U.S. it is likely best we all drink the weekend away. That might brace us for whatever happens on Tuesday, election day.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

As soon as I saw the name Zoey I knew Mar's new adoption inspired a story, and it was beautiful. I like to think the friend of Mar, who died suddenly and left Zoey, is smiling big time. Love the video. Two of my favorite country singers. I was disappointed that Willie didn't sing at the CMA. along with Blake Shelton. Blake is my new country singer. I loved this!!


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Ruby thanks. Yes, Zoey found a new home. Mar's friend is smiling for sure, that his beloved pet is in good hands. Glad you liked the song selections. Sometimes the song selection takes longer than writing the story. Have a great weekend. Good to hear you voted and will not have to brave the long lines of people voting on Tuesday.


annart profile image

annart 4 weeks ago from SW England

Yes, a good drink might be a good idea! I can't comprehend how the choice is between two such people. I like to think that couldn't happen here but I'm not so sure these days. I hope it ends up better than it seems but I must confess I understand none of it.

Ann


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Ann - It is a big club - those that don't understand it. The aphrodisiac of power has brought the very worst to the top in the U.S. and the world at large. This is the first time in my memory that someone so unstable has come so close to the top of our visible government.


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 4 weeks ago from Hereford, AZ

Beautiful escape from reality. Loved the story of Zoey.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Becky - Thanks for stopping by for a read today. marcoujor adopted an older dog, so this inspired this story.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 4 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

A wonderful tale once again Mike. I love how you manage to incorporate events in the lives or passing of your hubber friends into your beautiful stories. I hope Tuesday's election works out in the people's best interests, whichever way it goes.


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 4 weeks ago from Victoria, Australia

Another spell-binding story. I love reading them, and while this one was a little different, it was still lovely.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 weeks ago from South Africa

This is a beautiful story! I believe leaving one's children and pets behind is the most difficult aspect of dying. I am so glad Zoey has been adopted by the Jordans. Their home is most certainly a dog's paradise. The fact that Zoey and Andy look so much alike, is a sign. They were meant to be brother and sister in this next episode of their lives.

I want to buy that castle. I will not change it.


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 4 weeks ago from Hyderabad, India

A wonderful story. Very nice characters and the story is much interesting. Look forward to next episode.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 4 weeks ago from Jeffersonville PA

Oh wow...Zoey is already a super star!

Mike, this story clearly hits me close to home. How lovely to see a picture of our little girl accent this touching installment of The Carriage Driver.

I also believe Joe is smiling bright at his girl being so well loved. I know she has added a great deal of smiles to our home in a very short while.

Will come back to appreciate your music soon. Have a peaceful weekend. Hugs and thanks from Zoey and her new Mama, mar


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

"and a shadow draped her mood." Such a simple, short phrase, and yet it is the perfect example of the difference between an average writer and a very good one. That is so well-crafted, my friend. I just love little nuggets like that one.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello John - I am toying with a different formula for series 3. Not sure I have it yet, or even if I will reach a different level. Thanks for the visit. As for the election, the people always lose.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Blossom. Series three is intended to be a little different, but not straying too far for the base idea. Thanks for stopping by and your nice comment.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Martie - I guess it would be terrifying leaving young children behind. Though I know losing a parent is devastating to many. (I don't say all, some were not lucky enough to have parents.) As for a pet that is left behind, well there just are no words. The remaining family members who bring a family pet to the pound must be very tough-hearted people.

And yes, that castle would certainly be an inspiring place to write.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Venkatachari M, thanks for taking the time to read this episode and leaving a nice comment.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello mar. Taking Zoey into your home is such a generous act. She is older than your Andy, but I think it will be good for both of the after a period of adjustment that must be made by all concerned. I had an uncle you used to bring home stay dogs. It seems some people have that and some do not.

Enjoy your weekend.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Bill - thanks. Seems like the October/Halloween season shaped my writing on this one. Enjoy your weekend. Sometimes one gemstone will keep people breaking rocks (reading).


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 4 weeks ago from southern USA

Hi Mike,

I so enjoyed your interesting tale here this loving Saturday morn. I recognized Zoey as Maria's new fur baby and Andy's new sister. I know she will be so loved in her new home. It's sad her owner passed on, which I'm sure is confusing to Zoey.

I love your new take with the magical cottage and all.

Peace and blessings always


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Theresa - happy Saturday. Thanks for the visit this morning and as always the blessings. This story had a nice balance to it, on one side there is the sadness of the departed and on the other the show of humanity. Zoey was rewarded.

The storyline has shifted but may have to get back on course to maintain the thread the readers have grown used to.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 4 weeks ago

Mike, I love it, I love it, I love it. I too love the line "a shadow draped her mood.

This is my favorite of all The Carriage Driver series

Written in your diaries

Of the sacred journeys of the Carriage driver’s travelers

When they reach the way-station portal to the other side

And all the worries of this world have been swept aside

To find friendship joy and comfort on their final ride

I am so glad Zoey found a new home

With Mar where she can roam

And she will never be alone.

*

*

Blessings my friend


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Shy -

I can only try

As for Zoey

she could not buy

a better home, that's why

no need to cry

oh, look at the time

its time to fly

...

Thank you Shy - very kind of you to say.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 4 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

There's so much more to this story in the undercurrent of its words. This sweetheart of a dog, whose owner left far too soon, will have a wonderful life even as we also understand, "when she is ready to cross back over, long before you..." she will rejoin her owner. We carry the hope that Heaven holds many of our pets who wait patiently for us to join them again, yet with their short lives, we expect to outlive them. This is a keen reminder that we need to plan ahead if we have pets.

I loved what the main character did with his home place, creating an old-time Tavern within. Griffin has a way of adjusting to new circumstances and easing the transition for his passengers. The new way station is delightful with its gardens and new characters with the sweet "the trill of their hosts." I particularly liked the phrase, " looks like I reached the hour of my calling." Love the subtle clues.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Peg - I agree people should be looking around for temporary owners of their pets should something unforeseen happen to them. Somehow, I think Maria's friend knew that she was going to become godmother to Zoey. As Zoey seems the perfect sister for her Andy.

I have been in homes that were transported out of time to another place. It always strikes me as magical that some creative soul went through the trouble of building their fantasy.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 4 weeks ago from Massachusetts, USA

Hi Mike. I'm a little late, but wanted to wait until this morning before I read this wonderful story. (I had a feeling that what occurred last evening at the polls was a distinct possibility, and would warrant a sorely-needed breath of fresh air.) Zoey reminds me of Mar's Andy. There is a different feeling and thread to series 3; but beautifully crafted. You are still the master story-teller, Mike. Thank you for this magical tale -- from the new way station, to the hearts of memorable characters, and Zoey, who found love and refuge from the "shadow that draped her mood."


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Genna - This morning a shadow has draped my mood. Certainly hope I can shake it off. I am not sure I like the new feeling and thread to series three, but at the moment, this is what I have been able to produce. I might have to whisked this course away, and set course elsewhere. I have next weeks story written. My mind is reeling, so, who knows what this series will look like in the future. Seems I am living in a world that is 'One Step Beyond'


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 4 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

Be of good cheer, Mike. I sincerely hope that the divisiveness will diminish in our great country and that we will see progress in many directions. I pray that the focus will be on improvement. I sincerely hope jobs will come back, that our infrastructure will be rebuilt, that our medical needs will be addressed, that our Veterans will be properly taken care of, that our foreign trade relations will improve and that the respect for our country will return. All this is a prayer and a hope.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Good morning Peg - I hope your prayers are answered.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 3 weeks ago from Central Florida

Mike, knowing the story behind the real Zoey and how she came to her new parents, this story is very moving. It made me smile, as I'm sure it did Mar.

I love Griffin and Nuelle's new way-station. I can see the beautiful colors and hear the laughter of children. The perfect spot for those who are "in between".


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Sha. Our good friend Maria opened her home to Zoey. I don't think everyone would do that for an older old. There are reports that Zoey and the youngster Andy are getting along well.

The new way station has a place in this third series. I wish I was in the drivers seat here. I have no idea where this is going. Each story seems so different. (On the other hand, to me, the stories in series two were starting to all blend together.)

Hope all is well. And if I don't see you before then, Happy Thanksgiving.

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