Friday, October 27, 2006

An Arrow Runs Through It

Five of us sat high up on Kevin Raquepaw’s big wooden porch, the kind built on the front of most homes back in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. It was expansive and well sheltered from rain and sun by an equally spacious roof. All the homes on Church Street were constructed with those wonderfully inviting front porches. It’s nice to know that most of them are still there, even as modern homes no longer sport them. Back then, when I still lived in Birch Run, they made the perfect place to socialize and watch the neighborhood go about its business.

I always enjoyed Kevin’s company—funny and philosophical—he knew whole passages from all The Marx Brothers’ movies. He would constantly quote his hero, Groucho, perfectly copying his mannerism and inflection. On this day however, he wasn’t much in the mood for that stuff.

Our high school’s very first cross country season was about to begin in a few short weeks; to help get ready for it we had just finished doing some semi-serious jogging in the intense mid-August afternoon heat. But the usually carefree Kevin wasn’t down at the mouth from the effects of our recently completed exertions. Nope, that wasn't it at all.

Still sweating profusely in our sopping wet running shorts and t-shirts we did our best to cheer up our generous host, but mostly we sprawled about in typical teenage fashion, while gulping sweetened ice tea, heavy on the ice of course.

So, here was the source of our buddy's angst. It had been three days since he had seen his brown dog. (Sorry, but I can’t remember its name). I didn’t want to say it out loud, but I was pretty sure that his short-haired terrier-like mongrel was probably already lying dead in some farmer’s field. Eventually all free-ranging pets in that community did not come home, especially virile male dogs. Evidently some farmer, or a farmer's son, could not resist taking an easy shot. I had already lost two dogs that way myself, first my grandmother’s black Labrador, a gentle animal we called “Toby,” and a year or two later my own eager little canine, “Beau,” who was probably the horniest little pooch that ever roamed the face of the earth. The irresistible siren call of doggy sex always proved to be their downfall.

Swirling the ice in my big plastic tumbler of sweet tea I got up and took a new seat at the top of the porch steps. I took another swig and looked to my right toward the intersection where Church Street T’d into Main Street. I started to glance away and instead did a double take. I stood up, shaded my eyes, pointed where I had been peering and excitedly announced, “Kevin! That looks like your dog coming this way!”

I shaded my eyes with both hands and became positive that it really WAS Kev’s dog, but there was something not quite right with the picture in front of me. As he approached to within 100 feet or so, I recognized his distinctive trot, but there was something about his shape that caused me to narrow my eyes and crane my head forward. The intrepid little fellow was on the sidewalk approaching us from the other side of the street. His tongue lolled out of his mouth as it would normally do on a hot late summer day, and in fact, everything seemed completely ordinary, EXCEPT there was an arrow stuck clean through his body!

“Kev, do you see that?” I pointed out the obvious visual inconsistency to my friend.

The “prodigal” dog saw the group of us coming down the stairs and eagerly crossed the street making a direct angle right for home. Kevin met the skewered little animal on the small front lawn and crouched down to greet him. The dog was delighted at the attention and wagged his tail with abandon, twisting and reversing his wriggling body to enjoy the full attention of his master’s gentle petting. Other than the foot of arrow poking through him, neatly parallel to the ground equidistantly from each side of his body, only an inch or so under the spine, the dog acted entirely natural. It was one of the most incongruent things I’ve ever seen.

Kevin took his dog-ka-bob to the vet I believe, or maybe he didn’t; either way, the arrow came out and the dog was none the worse for it. There was no blood; he displayed no evidence of discomfort or adverse effects; and he lived for a good while after that if I remember right. Actually, if it hadn’t been for the implausible vision of that happy little animal trotting casually down the street with an arrow sticking through him, I’m sure that today I would never remember that he ever even existed. All my friends had dogs and I couldn’t tell you what kind they were or what they looked like, but I’ll never forget Kevin Raquepaw’s little brown dog. Is it any wonder?

11 comments:

Ed Abbey said...

Dog-ka-bob is a very funny description.

I feel your pain when it comes to front porches. I have three decks attached to my house and I rarely sit out on them because it is too hot in the summer without a roof over it. Plus I would be red as a lobster in minutes. When I build my dream house, it is going to have a large, covered front porch with another just like it in the back. Eight feet deep, as wide as the house, and with a hammock or two plus other assorted sitting furniture in strategic locations.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Yup, the old covered porches, suggestive of the original settlers porches, why oh why did we stop making them standard issue? A perfect house has one that wraps completely around the entire building. And it MUST be covered with a roof...due to the pale skin of my Irish/Scottish genetics sunlight is beautiful ONLY when seen from the shade.

watson said...

Oh wow. A couple of night ago I was watching Goonies (an 80s movie). Some of the characters lived in a house with a covered porch that spans the front and the right side. I whimsically thought I'd love to have a house like that too.

Dog-ka-bob! Funny! How the dog survived it is a miracle. They must have angels too!

PhilippinesPhil said...

Hey Wat, Yeah that house on Goonies I believe is either Seattle or Vancouver in the American Northwest. It was a very Victorian home, and that style took the American concept of big wooden front porches to new levels. In the days before TV, I've read that people practically lived on their porches, smoking cigars, pipes or cigs and either chatting or listening to the radio. Except for the smoking, I think I would have like those times.

Kevin said...

Hey-

I just saw Kevin R. a few years ago. (probably 5 or 6, now that I think of it) He is living in the St. Louis, Mo, area. Two little adopted daughters from china. They aren't little anymore, I guess.
He is back doing artistic type stuff for a living. Murals, Faux finishes, interior design type stuff. I used to have his email address. Musta lost it.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Yeah, he's in realestate; and yup, in St Louis.... i just goodled him... if you cover his bald head you can still see the old kevin in there... it's the eyes, u can never change the eyes. I'll bet you're hating him about now since his team is up on Detroit... I hope my continuing disdain for Lou Whittaker didn't jinx 'em for ya....

niceheart said...

You have some wonderful memories, Phil. And you recall them vividly. Sometimes I want to remember certain events in my life but they are just a blur.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Actually, many of my memories are "blurry" as well, but I try to make them as crystal as possible by providing the details I DO remember. Try recalling yours that way Niceheart.

Nostalgia Manila said...

Great blog you've got here!

Would love to do a link exchange. :)

http://nostalgiamanila.blogspot.com

Keep up the good work!

Sincerely,
--NM

Kevin Raquepaw said...

Hey, I have a full head of clear hair.

Our girls are now 10 and 8 and we've added John, now three, from Korea. They're all tons of fun and we're crazy about them.

Phil, you remembered my dog, a beagle/mutt named Pumpkin, pretty well. But we didn't take him to the vet. I just pulled the arrow out in the same direction it went in. That was a remarkable dog.

Thanks for the memory. Have Kev drop me a note when he comes through here again.

Kevin
http://YourHomeStLouis.com

PhilippinesPhil said...

Thanks NM...

Kevin Raquepaw! It's an honor to have the subject (almost) of this post check in. Great to hear from you.

Pumpkin! Yes, because he was about the same color as one; now I remember. I'll bet he hardly whimpered when you yanked that arrow out of him.

Kev reads my blog regularly, so I'm sure he just read your invite above. Maybe I'll be in St Louis someday myself, although it IS now one of the MOST dangerous cities in America. That can't be good for a realtor... grin