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Looking for Home, Adventures on the Road, 5

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Author of fiction novels, short stories, book reviews and more, Peggy Cole AKA PegCole17 has published articles on HubPages since 2009.

Photo by Demi Felicia Vares

Photo by Demi Felicia Vares

Buddy couldn’t remember too much before that day in the park but he did remember playing catch with the tennis ball. Afterward, he would ride in the back of the truck bed since his master didn’t allow dogs in the cab. They were on their way home when his 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 through the parking area. Buddy jumped up to look over the side of the 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 with his legs running in place as he slept.

Run, rabbit, run.

Run, rabbit, run.

“Are you sure it’s a rabbit?” he asked, barking and pacing back and forth excitedly.

“I know a rabbit when I smell one,” Rover answered, running around a nearby car. “Come on, help me out here. We can 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 longing glance 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 ate breakfast. Without hesitation, Buddy leapt from the truck, landing on the pavement. They both took off behind the rabbit heading swiftly for the tall grass and nearby trees.

~~~~

Runaway

Connie and the Pups

Queenie awoke to darkness when the car came to a stop at the motel. They’d been travelling for hours on the noisy highway and the sudden quiet was refreshing. She sat up in the passenger seat and watched Connie grab her purse. Queenie’s ears came to attention.

“You stay here and watch after the pups,” Connie told her. “I’ll be back in a couple of minutes.” There were few other cars in the parking lot. Most of the rooms were dark behind closed drapes.

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, then watched her mistress enter the office and disappear inside. She hopped into the driver’s seat where she could get a better view, sitting in the warm place where Connie had been, patiently studying the door.

Moments later, the door opened and Connie came 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 spot in front of unit thirty-one.

Queenie

Queenie

Connie crawled out of the car raising her arms over her head in a tired stretch. She slid the key into the lock and opened the motel room door propping it open with her purse. She returned to the sedan, then, from the back seat lifted out the box with the pups. Queenie sat on the passenger’s seat, her eyes following as Connie carried the box inside. She squirmed anxiously as her pups disappeared into the room where Connie put the box next to the sagging bed. Back at the car, she opened the door to let Queenie out before moving to the trunk where she dragged out the suitcase and headed back inside with Queenie close behind. Inside, Connie bolted the door and turned on a table lamp next to the bed.

The motel room was small but clean enough. Better yet, it allowed dogs.

The motel room was small but clean enough. Better yet, it allowed dogs.

The puppies began to squirm around whimpering awakened with the motion. Connie set the suitcase on the foot of the bed and rooted around inside until she found their puppy kibble which she poured into a tiny plastic bowl. She added some water from the tap and set it in their box. From a grocery bag, she pulled out a new bowl and some food for the adult dog. Connie filled another bowl with water and put them near the box.

“There you go, girl. Sorry it’s so late.” Dolly and Jeff were eating noisily 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 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 ...”

~~~

“We’ve lost him.” Rover said as he circled back to join Buddy who had found a soft patch and was rolling on his back in the weeds. 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. Several thorny burrs shaped like tiny pine cones had hitched a ride in his thick fur.

“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 backward look of longing, Buddy chased his new pal deeper into the woods.

Backstory

© 2017 Peg Cole

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