A Short Story
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I guess I’m getting back into putting stuff into this newsletter. I have so many stories that I can share, endless poems, and even some comics that haven’t seen the light of day. My last post got more views than any others I put up in the year-and-some-months of this Substack, so maybe that’s a sign.
I’ll kick off October with this story that was published a few years ago in the Journal of Iowa’s Emerging Writers. I drew heavily from my own experiences as a liquor rep in Oregon, a sales job where you were expected to go through the motions of selling while selling nothing. It was confusing and disheartening, and I learned to hate sales because of it. I have a few stories about unsuccessful salesmen, but this one is my favorite. If you enjoy this, please consider commenting.
Late in the night I heard ruckus. It settled down after a while. Probably raccoons again.
I lay tossing and turning for a couple more hours, but couldn’t get back to sleep. A little before dawn I got up, went down to the kitchen and made a pot of coffee. The sky was turning to deep violet when I walked out to inspect the damage, the tall grass painting my pants legs with dew.
The shed on the corner of our property is far older than the house. It’s built like a small barn, with hand-adzed rafters and pegged posts. The siding is weathered cedar boards painted a cheerful red. But in the back corner some of the boards have rotted, so there is a hole big enough for a dog to squeeze through. Or a raccoon.
We’d had a big problem with raccoons. They are mighty clever with those paws, and astonishingly destructive. They have made a habit of crawling through that hole, causing damage and being a general pain in the ass. This time was the worst. I had tacked a piece of barn siding over the hole as a temporary repair. It seemed to enrage them. They ripped it off and tossed it into the woods. Then they went on a rampage.
They tore up a large basket of tulip bulbs a friend of my wife had given us, eating some and chewing up the rest. They ripped the seat of my Deere riding mower. They took a crap in the bin where my wife keeps her garden tools.
As I surveyed this mess I made up my mind that it was time to do something. I took a closer look at the hole. The boards were rotted, but the post and stringers were in good shape. I took my tape measure and figured out how many cedar boards I would need to do the job properly. I went back to the house and made a list.
I told Doe—Dolores—I needed to go to Mt Angel to get supplies. I asked if there was anything special she needed for the garden. Doe had been after me for months to fix the shed, so she was glad I was finally getting off my duff and doing something about it. My asking about the garden was sweetening the pot. Gardening is her passion, but I think forcing a man to labor like a Mexican field hand in his off hours is lunacy. My asking about garden supplies is shorthand for something else. I’m asking for permission to take the long way home from Mt. Angel, highway 214. I’m asking for permission to stop by the VFW to have a drink or two with my fellow veterans.
I know before I ask what she wants. Home Depot carries a new brand of garden implement called American Blacksmith. She covets them, but shakes her head at the cost. So when Doe says, “Oh, I don’t know. If you see something you think might come in handy, go ahead and pick it up,” I know that permission has been granted.
Doe and I were both born in the same little town in Nebraska. We married after the war and came west to escape the Nebraskan winter. We lived in Portland and raised two fine boys into two good men. Both of us worked for the phone company. Doe was an operator. I started as a lineman and worked my way up to regional dispatcher.
When we retired, we moved into a small house on the edge of the Willamette National Forest. Both of us are avid birders. I picked up my habit when I was stationed in the Pacific during the war, and Doe has kept a bird book since childhood. We lead a simple life and stay out of each other’s way most of the day, but we take our meals together and go for long walks in the woods.
Living in the country got easier a few years ago when they put in the Home Depot and a big Fred Meyer store in Mt Angel. We used to have to make do with the local general store between trips to Eugene for the big purchases, but now most of the conveniences of the city are just an hour away. I’m not crazy about the Home Depot as such—I think we lost something when the downtown hardware store went the way of the dodo—but you can’t beat them for selection. I pulled into the huge parking lot and remembered to park by the exit doors instead of the entrance. They are about fifty yards away from each other and I would be carrying my purchases.
I loaded the cedar, the paint, a brush and some nails into my cart. I looked over the American Blacksmith Collection. There are about fifty different hand tools in the series, all hand forged with hardened hickory handles and precision ground cutting edges. I selected a Dutch hand Hoe and a Cape Cod Weeder. The total for these two items alone was eighty dollars, but you get what you pay for. They are American-made items that will be around long after the two of us are in the ground. I put all my purchases into the bed of the truck and got on the highway.
Around eleven I pulled up to the VFW, a squat block building set a few hundred feet off 214. Most VFWs are dedicated to some fallen veteran or other, and ours is no exception. It is named for Corporal Lewis K. Bausell, posthumous winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor on Peleliu in 1944. The sign outside says VFW 2633 L.K. Bausell right above the iron cross and eagle of the VFW.
Marty’s 1977 LTD is permanently parked beneath the sign at a respectable angle. It hasn’t moved in years, nor likely ever will since it has a cracked block. Marty had it towed to the VFW for the express purpose of making the place look occupied twenty-four hours a day.
Martin Hull is a man who is prepared for the worst—he keeps a sawed off Remington 12 gauge strapped beneath the bar and a sawed off baseball bat behind it, plus a full sized bat in the kitchen. I heard he has a Webley .303 pistol on a lanyard hanging down the barrel safe in case he’s ever held up at gunpoint, but I’ve never seen it. These robbery scenarios are highly unlikely, but combat veterans are a jumpy bunch and apt to take imaginary threats seriously. Most of the old men who patronize this bar are armed, some with more than one weapon. My own war was in the air, and most of my nightmares are about falling and or burning to death, so guns won’t help. I have a revolver somewhere, but I can’t remember the last time I fired it.
I parked my truck in the spot next to the LTD. The LTD was clean and shiny. Marty waxes it once a week, sprays Armor All on the tires and trims back the weeds growing under it. He thinks it is pointless if the car looks abandoned. I think it’s pointless anyway, but I keep that opinion to myself. It’s Marty’s bar, even though it says VFW and is named for someone else. We don’t call it “Marty’s” out of respect for the late Corporal Bausell, but we will say “Have you seen Marty?” or “I’m going by to talk to Marty” when we mean we’re going to the VFW.
It’s an ugly place, but homey. Wood paneling, a couple mounted heads—buck and moose, bagged on hunts years ago by members who have now passed on—a few beer signs, a dart board, some sets of antlers, some tables that can be converted for card games. There used to be a billiards table, but Marty took it out when young people started coming in weekends. Once in a while it’s fine to have young people, but it was starting to turn into a hangout. Marty prefers they find their own spot. The VFW is for veterans, though wives are sometimes welcome.
When I sat down at the bar two stools apart from Wayne, he turned to me and smiled.
“Why, hello Benny! Your wife give you the long leash today?”
“Truth told, Wayne, I murdered her. Busted my shovel handle digging the grave. Had to go to Mt Angel to rent a Bobcat. It’s a big hole. She’s been putting on weight, which is why I did her in.”
We both laughed at this, Doe is slender as a girl and gets compliments from women half her age. Wayne and I have known each other all these years. We are getting hard pressed for new ways to say hello and give each other grief at the same time. Wayne was at Anzio.
Fern set down a frosty mug of Old Style and a shot of Ten-High, my unvarying usual. The first shot I take fast. Then I order another and sip that and the beer until they’re both gone. It costs me 2.25. I put down three dollars and then I leave. Same routine, every time. This has been going on for years.
In my wild days I used to drink more than I wanted. Sometimes I did things I didn’t want to do and later regretted. When I met Doe all that stopped, but when I got home from the war it almost started again. Once was all it took. Doe told me that she was not going to be married to a drunk.
That was that. Ever since, the most I have is three. Three drinks will make me feel about as good as I want to feel. I suppose that’s one of the advantages of getting older. You don’t want so much.
Fern set down my second shot, I saw a kind of a look pass between her and Wayne, almost a wink. Wayne eyed me with the expression of a man waiting for a dog to hold up its paw to shake. I cast a gaze around, but I already saw what was missing.
“Where’s the Hamm’s clock?”
Wayne guffawed and slapped the bar and handed Fern a folded dollar bill which she tucked down the front of her shirt. She lit a Virginia Slims with the little gold Dunhill lighter she got when her boyfriend took her to London, a story she tells often.
“Wayne here thought you wouldn’t notice.”
“Well, what happened to it?”
She shrugged. “Beats me. It was gone when I come in this morning. I called Marty at home and it was the first he’d heard of it too. He asked me to check in the back, and I did, and it’s not there.”
I imagined Marty would be pretty upset about that. The Hamm’s clock was one of those real deluxe jobs they made back in the late sixties. It had a slow-scrolling 3D scene of the wilderness with a river and trees and even a grizzly catching a salmon. Above that there was an illuminated clock with red hands and the motto Hamm’s—The Beer Refreshing.
It was mesmerizing because the scroll was continuous and just long enough that you wondered when it would end. The 3D was impressive, too, because the lights behind it were as bright as a television. Marty would not allow a TV. “If people want to watch that shit, they should stay at home,” Marty would say. He didn’t think much of television, not even on game days.
“You remember,” said Wayne, “the time that clock broke?”
We all remembered, but he told it anyway.
“That one old timer used to come in, the guy’d been a Corsair mechanic on Guadalcanal and Peleliu. Marty had taken the clock off the wall—only time I’d ever seen it down before today—and he’s screwing with it, fit to be tied, can’t get that son of a bitch working, about to cry about it, when that old timer puts down his beer—”
“It was a CC soda with a cherry,” said Fern. “We named it after him. It’s called a Dickerson.”
Wayne waved this away. “Puts down his drink and says to Marty, ‘I can fix that’ and Marty looks at this guy, this guy who been coming in for years and never said nothing more than that he was a veteran, drinking the same thing and never saying nothing—”
“Al Dickerson talked to me, Wayne," said Fern. "Talked all the time. Interesting fella. Seven grandkids. Visited Japan after the war, sang in a choir—”
Wayne looked at her, a weary tightness to his mouth.
“Never saying much, then, and Marty slides it over and damned if that old timer didn’t pop open that case like he’d been doing it all his life and fix her up good as ever and she’d be running still—” he pointed to the space where the clock had hung.
The walls of the VFW were yellow, but the square where the clock had hung was white, untouched by the smoke of thousands of cigarettes, the smoky contents of veterans’ lungs painted on the wall like a memorial.
I was about to form this odd thought into a remark, but before I could get it out the door opened with an explosion of daylight and in came the Claybee brothers. They’re twins, both Korea veterans. Funny thing about the VFW is that none of us veterans really tell war stories, especially not those who saw a lot of action. To tell you the truth, I’ve observed that the more someone is apt to talk about war, the less of it he has seen. Those who talk most about it have usually seen none, believing as we all believed before we saw combat that such knowledge can be learned from books or movies.
The Claybees, Ernie and Phil, both wear plastic framed glasses, loose jeans and Carhart jackets in all seasons, even when it’s hot. They still look identical, though Ernie is a little bit fatter. They’re nice enough guys, but I wouldn’t call them bright.
They sat down next to each other and said hi to Fern—but not to me or Wayne, so I could see why Fern would think the old timer talked a lot while Marty and Wayne would not—and drank some beer and looked over where the clock used to be. They sipped their beer and looked slightly puzzled. Finally, Phil, the elder twin and de facto leader, said “You change something, Fern?”
Fern shook her head, glancing quick to Wayne and me, twinkling. “No, things are the same.”
Phil scratched his chin. “No,” he said. “You changed something.” He turned to his brother. “Ernie, you see that they changed something?
Ernie nuzzled his beer and looked at Fern. “You got any of them Lay’s, Fern?”
Fern reached back under the bar—near the shotgun, I guessed—and brought up a yellow bag of potato chips. Ernie took them and deftly tore open the bag, eating the chips in little pinches with his fat fingers.
Wayne raised his eyebrows at Fern, who sighed explosively and hauled the dollar back out. She slid it over to Wayne who folded it and put it in his shirt pocket.
“It ought to be two dollars, if it was fair.”
Fern gave him the look, turned to the Claybees and said simply, “Hamm’s clock’s gone.”
Their eyes jutted and they blinked at the bright empty square on the wall.
“Well, hell! So it is! Where’d it go?”
Fern shrugged. “Search me. It was gone when I got in today. Marty don’t know nothin’ about it.”
The door opened again and a young man I had never seen before came in, carrying a salesman’s sample bag. He wore slacks, a sweater vest and a tie. The sleeves on his oxford shirt were rolled all the way down and buttoned at the wrist. He nodded to us politely as he set his case on the floor and sat at the end of the bar.
“How are you today? Is—” he looked down at a little card in his hand—“Marty here?”
She shook her head. “He don’t come in Fridays until after five. Something I can help you with? I’m Fern, the manager.”
Wayne stared down at his beer. I could see he was trying to not make a remark, and it that it was very hard for him. It was a sore subject between her and Marty because he said a bar this small didn’t need a manager. They’d get into this argument at least once a week regardless of who was in the bar. We all knew about it. It had been going this way for years.
The young man produced a card. “I’m Jordan Hamrick. I work for the Jens Swenson Company. We’re the brokers for Kahlua, Bacardi, Jack Daniel’s and Canadian Club, just to name a few.” He pulled a long tri-fold brochure out of his back pocket and set it before her. “This is a comprehensive price list of all our specialties.”
Fern looked at it. “Yes, we got some of these. But we buy our liquor from the state store. It’s the law. They won’t even deliver.”
“Yes, I know,” said Jordan. He was a little aggressive, I thought, but still polite, as though explaining something for the hundredth time. “We’re the brokerage. We arrange for the state to buy from the manufacturers. They in turn give us the ability to promote the products in the bars and some of the stores.”
Fern looked confused. “So, you’re a salesman? You sell liquor?”
Jordan gave her a patient smile. “Not exactly. You still buy from the store. I’m the rep who can help you set up a party. For example, in Portland recently we had a very successful Bacardi Night. They brought in the Bacardi Girls who gave away t-shirts, whistles, all sorts of things. It was a big success.”
“Fern, you should do that!” said Wayne, too loud for the room. “I mean it! Girls! Rum! It sounds like paradise!”
Jordan turned to him with tempered enthusiasm, as though not wanting to get Wayne’s hopes up. “Yes, it was a blast! Now, that was Portland, so I don’t think we could get the girls here, though I can ask, certainly. But there’s no reason to not have a Bacardi Night here. Hang on a second. I’ll be right back.”
He went briskly out the door. Fern scowled at Wayne, who shrugged. I took a tiny sip of Ten-High. Ernie had flattened his chip bag and was licking it. Phil stared where the clock had been.
Jordan came back carrying a short stack of cardboard boxes. He produced a blue box knife—I noticed it said BACARDI on it—and sliced open the top box. He reached in and took out a squat glass with a vivid green palm tree printed on it. He took out a stack of menus wrapped in cellophane and a t-shirt in a clear plastic bag. He pulled out the t-shirt and shook it like a matador, holding it out for us to see. It had a cartoon woman and cartoon bottle of Bacardi with a face and planter’s hat. The words Bacardi-LIGHTFUL and Bacardi-LICIOUS were written beneath it, surrounded by musical notes.
“You give these away during the party,” he said. “People order the drinks and they get to keep the glass, too.” He passed one to me for me to look at. I handed it to Wayne, who studied it closely.
Fern looked at the t-shirt. “I don’t understand. You’re giving these to me? So we can have a party?”
Jordan gave her an even larger smile. “A Bacardi party! Yes. Only, I can’t exactly give these things to you. See, Oregon is a control state. The OLCC has very strict laws about promotion. So, you see, I need you to buy these glasses. Just the glasses. I’ll throw in the t-shirts free, and we can even do you some custom menus for cocktails if you want. The kits come with pre-printed menus that have drinks already on them, but we can get them printed up with your name and address and maybe even some appetizers.”
Wayne reached over. “Mind if I look at these?” He took the wrapped stack of drink menus. I leaned over to look. It was emblazoned with a large Bacardi logo and had a list of drinks in bold print.
Wayne reached into his front pocket, the one that did not have the dollar in it, and took out his glasses.
“Bacardi Melon Rita: A refreshing dash of the tropics with the cool taste of Midori melon liqueur. Bacardi Cuba Libre: The classic. Bacardi and Coca-cola with a squeeze of fresh lime.” He looked over his glasses at Fern. “We have Coca-cola?”
She shook her head. “Royal Crown.”
Wayne smiled. “Ah well. Shouldn’t be a problem. After all, we had that Hamm’s clock but never had any Hamm’s!” He turned to Jordan. “You got a clock, son?”
“I might have one,” said Jordan. He changed his expression. “Look, I’ll level with you. I really need to sell some glassware. Nancy, at the office, this is the only way she can track that we’ve been out doing our route. The last guy who had this route, he just got drunk in bars all day. We can’t actually sell liquor, so it’s glassware. I can’t afford to get fired from this job. They’re good glasses. And I’ll throw in a bunch of other stuff, too. I got lots of stuff.”
Wayne was interested. “What kinds of stuff?”
Jordan lifted up his square sample case. He reached in and took out a handful of miniature bottles, the kind you see on airplanes. There were dozens of them, most of stuff I’d never heard of. Tequila Rose. CC Citrus. Hermano Mescal. He hauled out pens and bottle openers, key chains and penlights. It was a bonanza of trinkets.
Ernie got up and walked over. He picked up a little bottle. “I heard of this one. Tequila Rose. What is it?”
“It’s a strawberry cream tequila. Eighty proof, but it tastes like ice cream,” said Jordan. He gestured. “Go ahead. Try it.”
Ernie twisted off the cap and shot it back, reminding me of the giant in that Mickey Mouse cartoon of the Brave Little Tailor. He licked his lips and smiled. “Hell! I could drink that!”
Fern rolled her eyes. There was a strict rule of Marty’s that neither Claybee twin was to be given hard liquor under any circumstances. I had never seen either of them drink, but if the mad glow now in Ernie’s eyes was any indicator, the rule was a good one.
Jordan looked to Fern, pointed at Ernie. “See! I can count this as a product placement. Just say that you’re going to bring a bottle in and I can write it down to show Nancy! We get a bonus for placing product in bars.”
From down at the end of the bar, Phil Claybee turned and scowled at Jordan. “So this is your job? You go around and don’t sell nothin’ and then report back that people are gonna buy your Mexican ice cream drink? Your job?” His voice dripped with scorn.
“He sells glasses,” Wayne pointed out. “The brokerage is the middlemen. He’s paid to—” he looked at Jordan. “What do they pay you for, son?”
Jordan looked uncomfortable. He wiped his hands on his pants. “I’m a liquor rep. I create— well, brand awareness. We have a lot of brands is all.” He turned to Fern. “Look, do you want to buy the glasses? Ten bucks for a case of twenty-four. I’ll throw in as many shirts and menus as you want, plus I’ll see if I have a clock in the car. I’m pretty sure I do.”
Fern picked up the glass with the palm tree and held it up to the light. I could see that it was etched with BACARDI around the bottom. She sighed, set it on the bar. “Well, they’re an odd size. But the price is right. I’ll take three cases. And the clock.”
Jordan cheered right up. He nodded, took out a little pad and wrote out a receipt. He made several trips out to his car, bringing not only the glasses and T-shirts, but a bunch of other stuff: Jack Daniel’s metal signs, a small stack of Southern Comfort trucker hats that said SOCOOL with the last two letters bright red, a bag of Cutty Sark key chains. Fern paid him three tens right out of the drawer and he marked PAID with a Kahula pen, then tore off the yellow copy and gave it to her along with the pen.
He held up a finger and went out a last time, this time returning with a large square box. I could tell it didn’t weigh much by the way he carried it. He took out a different box knife, a black Jack Daniel’s one, and slit the top. He pulled on it and two Styrofoam blocks tumbled lightly to the floor along with a gossamer Styrofoam wrap. He held up a round yellow and red plastic clock with a lewd cartoon duck on it.
The duck had an open, grinning mouth and was flanked by two hyper-realistic bottles pouring their contents over his grinning head. One was Kahlua, the other Carolans’ Irish Cream. Beneath in big cartoon letters it said IT’S TIME FOR A KAHLUA DUCK FART! The clock hands centered on the cartoon duck’s navel. It was about the diameter of a family-sized pizza.
“Yeah? Yeah?” said Jordan, thrusting it at Fern. “It even comes with its own batteries. I even think the hands light up. Where do you want it?”
Fern pointed to the white square on the wall. Phil was still staring at it. Jordan pulled a bar stool around behind the bar, climbed up and knelt on the padded top. He looked at it. “Hey! That’s handy! There’s a nail up here already!”
He hung the clock. It was almost, but not quite, big enough to cover the white square. It was jarring and crude after the beautiful, mesmerizing Hamm’s forest scene. Jordan checked his watch and pushed the hands to the correct time—clockwise, I noticed, so somebody must have told him about how clocks work sometime in his life, since you’re never supposed to push the hands the wrong direction—and watched it until he was sure the minute hand was moving properly. It did not have a second hand, but I couldn’t see how the lack would affect the VFW.
Jordan smiled at Fern, shook her hand, picked up his sample case and left. The pile of trinkets and little bottles remained on the bar.
We sat there, looking at the clock. Fern swept the pile of stuff Jordan had left into a plastic bag and took it into the back along with the cases of glassware and party kits. It took her a few trips. I sipped the last of my Ten-High and drank down the last of my beer, now warm. I pulled out my wallet and laid down my three dollars and stood up, a little stiff. Wayne was still staring at the clock.
“It’s got a certain charm, I suppose. Kind of—I don’t know. Collegiate?”
“I fucking hate it,” said Phil from the end of the bar. “I wish Fern’d put the old one back.”
Ernie had no comment. Fern shrugged. “I never have to look at it. I have you lovely people to look at.” She filled two more mugs of beer and gave them to the twins, taking the empty glasses and putting them in the sink.
“Fern. Wayne. Boys,” I said. “It’s been a real pleasure.”
Wayne grunted. “If that’s your idea of pleasure, I’d hate to see what you consider punishment.”
I grinned at him. “Conversing with you will do in a pinch.”
He waved me away.
“Be good. Say hi to Doe for me,” said Fern as I left.
I stood for a moment in the parking lot. Rolling meadow surrounded by fir forest, good country for hops and other crops that don’t need baking sun. It looks a bit like Iowa, where I went to college, but the sky seems closer. It is the territory of the great blue heron and other noble aquatic birds. I sometimes see raptors on clear days, peregrines and red-tails.
I was the tiniest bit drunk, just enough to feel connected to the center of the world. I looked out over all this beauty and inhaled. You only get so many moments like in your life.
I walked to my truck and looked down the road. A white VW Golf raced toward me at breakneck speed. As it got closer, I saw that it was Jordan. The front of his car was all dinged up, a big smear of fresh blood on his crushed hood.
He skidded to a stop next to me and jumped out, tears running down his face.
“Oh God. Oh God. Oh God,” he said, pacing back and forth.
I grabbed him by his shoulders, not rough, but firm. “Easy now, son. What did you hit? Are you injured?”
“Oh God. No, I—I. I’m fine. Oh God. Oh Jesus fucking God.”
“Easy, son,” I said again. “Get a hold of yourself and tell me what you hit.”
His face scrunched up like he was trying to make it as small as possible. Then he burst into tears. “A fucking dog. I hit a fucking dog. Oh God. It ran into the road and I hit it and it bounced off—”
“Now now,” I said, my hands still on his shoulders. “No need for that language, now.” I didn’t really mind, being a veteran and all, but I thought it might calm him, having something he had to pay attention to. “Now tell me again. You hit a dog. What kind of dog?”
“I don’t know. It was a big dog. Red. Not big and Red like Clifford, but like a setter or a Golden Retriever or one of those dogs—I killed it. It bounced off and rolled over and over and I could see it was dead.”
I walked around him, one hand still on his shoulder. I sort of pushed him along toward his car.
“Now son, I want you to take a deep breath. What I want you to do is get into your car and you and I will drive back to where you hit the dog, ok? I’ll follow you in my truck. If the dog is still alive, we can come back here and call the sheriff and he’ll come out and take care of it. If it’s dead, we can put it into my truck and I can take it into the county offices. That way, anybody lost their dog they will know where to find it. That sound good?”
I’d been talking low and slow, as though calming a skittish horse, hand on his shoulder. He nodded.
“Are you okay to drive, Jordan?” I asked.
He looked surprised for a moment that I knew his name, seeming to have forgotten the fact we had just spent a half hour together. I guess he wasn’t paying much attention to me back in the bar, especially since I hadn’t said much. Jordan nodded and scrubbed the tears from his cheeks. “It’s this way,” he said, pointing toward the way we came.
He got in the car and started it. I knocked on the window and he rolled it down. “Now, Jordan, I want you to drive slow. And listen—even if the dog is dead, it isn’t necessarily somebody’s dog who lives out here. Like a farm dog or a pet, if you understand me.”
A look passed over his face and I could tell that he hadn’t yet considered this, considered having killed a beloved family pet.
I reached in and touched his shoulder. “The sad fact is that lots of people from Corvallis and Eugene bring their unwanted animals out here and abandon them to shift for themselves. I imagine they tell their kids that the dog is living a nice life in the country. Happens all the time out here. It’s a sad fact that most of them wind up either starving to death or being food for coyotes. Or both.”
This seemed to have a calming effect on him. He nodded.
“What I’m saying, Jordan, is don’t beat yourself up too bad for this. If this was one of those animals, you might have done it a favor.”
I went to my truck, started the engine and followed him. He drove at a snail's pace, like maybe more dogs might come bouncing out at any moment.
I hoped that he had a blanket in the back of his car to wrap the dog in.
At least more of those t-shirts.