Adventures of Cookie the Stray, Chapter 5
Buddy couldn’t remember too much before that day in the park but he did remember playing catch with the tennis ball. Afterward, he could remember riding in the back of the truck bed. His master didn’t allow dogs in the cab of his truck. They were on their way home when the man stopped at a roadside café for breakfast.
“Now you stay right there,” his master told him. “I’ll be right back.” Buddy wagged his tail and grinned, happy to please. But the bed of the truck was so hot and there was no water. He was thirsty from playing ball. And Master wasn’t right back. It seemed like forever as he lay quietly in the hot sun, concentrating on his master’s last command.
Soon enough, temptation came along in the form of another dog running around in the parking area. Buddy jumped up to look over the side of the truck bed. “Whatcha’ doin?” he asked the passing Doberman whose name turned out to be Rover.
“Lookin’ for a rabbit,” Rover answered. “I saw one go behind that car over there.”
Buddy peered over the tailgate and couldn’t see any rabbits. Of course, he’d only seen one rabbit in his whole life, but the thought of chasing one was the essence of his dreams. He sometimes woke from a restless sleep where he had been chasing rabbits, his legs running in place as he slept.
“Are you sure it’s a rabbit?” he asked, barking and pacing back and forth at the tail of the truck bed.
“I know a rabbit when I smell one,” Rover answered, running around the adjacent car sniffing excitedly. “Come on, help me here. We’ll stake out this car and flush him out,” Rover told him, pacing and sniffing.
Buddy remembered the “stay” command his master had given him. He hesitated, casting a look of longing at the door where he’d last seen Master.
“Whatcha’ waitin for? He’ll get away!” Rover exclaimed, panting feverishly now.
A flash of gray fur with a white cotton tail scampered past the corner of the café where Buddy’s master sat eating breakfast. Without further hesitation, Buddy leapt easily from the truck, landing on the pavement next to Rover. They both took off in the direction of the rabbit heading swiftly for the tall grass and nearby trees.
Meanwhile Back at the Motel
Queenie awoke when the car came to a stop in the parking lot of the motel. It was dark outside. They’d been travelling for hours on the noisy highway and the sudden quiet was refreshing. She sat up in the passenger’s seat and watched Connie grab her purse and turn in her direction. Queenie’s ears perked up.
“You stay here and watch after the pups,” she told Queenie. “I’ll be back in a couple of minutes.”
Queenie understood her role. She peered over the seat back into the cardboard box where the puppies were curled together in a mass of fur. She turned back and watched her mistress open the door to the motel office and disappear inside. She moved into the driver’s seat where she could get a better view. Sitting in the warm place where Connie had been, she studied the door, waiting. There were few other cars in the parking lot. Most of the rooms looked dark behind closed drapes.
Several minutes later, the door opened and Connie walked back to the car. She unlocked the door and slid inside. In her hand was a green plastic tag attached to a room key. The engine roared back to life and they drove around to the end of the first building where Connie pulled into a parking spot in front of Unit 31, the number on the plastic key fob.
Connie crawled out of the car and raised her arms over her head in a tired stretch. She slid the key into the door knob, opened the door to the motel room, and propped it open with her purse. Then she went back to the sedan, reached in the back seat and lifted out the box with the pups. Queenie sat patiently on the passenger’s seat, her eyes following the box as Connie carried them inside. She squirmed anxiously in the seat as they disappeared in the room.
Connie placed the box next to the sagging bed, then, returned to the car. When her mistress opened the passenger side door, Queenie hopped quickly out. Connie dragged the suitcase out of the trunk and headed for the room followed closely by Queenie. Once inside, she locked and bolted the door and turned on a table lamp beside the bed.
The motion of carrying the box awakened the puppies. They squirmed around whimpering in hunger. Connie set the suitcase on the foot of the bed and opened it, rooting around inside until she found a small bag of puppy kibble. She poured the food into a tiny plastic bowl, added some water from the tap and set it in their box. Another bag held a new bowl for Queenie along with her food. Connie took the water bowl and filled it up placing both bowls near the box.
“There you go, girl. Sorry it’s so late.” Dolly and Jeff were already noisily eating by the time Queenie approached her bowl and began her meal. Connie put a smaller bowl of water into the box with the puppies. The wriggling puppies promptly knocked it over as they battled playfully for the biggest portion of their kibble.
Connie stretched out across the bed and kicked off her shoes. They dropped to the carpet with a thud. Using the remote control from the nightstand, she turned on the small TV across the room. The base was bolted to a set of dresser drawers warped from years of use and abuse. She flipped through the channels hoping to catch the weather forecast when his familiar face flashed across the screen on a news bulletin.
She fumbled with the remote, trying to find the volume control. Instead, she hit the return to previous channel key and the screen on the TV changed immediately to a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
“NO!” she shouted in frustration, trying desperately to find the news channel again.
Someone in the next room yelled, “You tell him, baby.”
“No, no, no,” she said in a quieter tone. “Where is that button?” By the time she found the right channel, the smiling newscaster had moved on to a story about penguins. She flipped through the rest of the channels hoping to catch the story, but it was midnight and the news was over.
All she’d caught was a glimpse of his face and the caption, “Police Searching for Clues in the disappearance of ...”
Friends in Low Places
“We’ve lost him.” Rover said as he circled back to join Buddy who had found a soft patch in the weeds and was rolling happily on his back. He rose up from the grass, shook from head to tail and scratched with his back leg trying to remove a burr from behind his ear. His thick fur held several of the thorny burrs shaped like tiny pine cones that hitched a ride as the dogs chased through a field after the rabbit.
“You were too slow,” Rover complained as he sniffed at the trail grown cold. He was experienced at hunting, having been on his own for some time. His lean muscular body and short hair was unencumbered with the pesky stickers that clung to Buddy’s fur.
“Where’s the truck?” Buddy asked looking around, suddenly aware that he could no longer see the parking lot or the cafe. He had a nagging suspicion that his master would not be pleased at this breach of his obedience training. Leaving the truck bed was a direct disregard of his master’s firm command. But the thrill of the chase had prevailed.
“Forget the truck,” Rover answered. “Let’s check down at the lake. Maybe we’ll pick up that rabbit’s scent.” Buddy reluctantly followed his new friend deeper into the woods. Lost, thirsty and covered in burrs, he felt pangs of hunger and a wave of sadness as he trotted along.
“Don’t worry,” Rover reassured him as they forged a new trail in the tall weeds. “We’ll share the catch when we find it.” But Buddy had never been this far in the woods before and certainly never tasted raw rabbit. Part of him longed for the comfort of familiar surroundings and the sound of his master’s voice.
Suddenly, Rover alerted to a fresh scent and took off into the underbrush. With one look of longing Buddy chased his new pal deeper into the woods.
© 2017 Peg Cole