Monday, August 18, 2014

Mushroom Spotting and Bailey Makes His Escape

August 18, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. What do you think about these toadstools? Aren't they something? Dad says he might put the picture in Banner if news doesn't pick up. 

News never picks up in Hollyhill. Never. The most exciting thing that happened all summer was Mr. Wallace's cows got out day before yesterday, and were in the middle of the road. When Miss Harley who lives down the road, came around the corner and saw that big old black and white cow in the middle of the road staring at her, she slammed on the brakes. She said it looked like that cow wanted to play "chicken." If so, the cow must have won. Miss Harley ran her car off the road and smack dab into a fencepost. Dad went out and took a picture. The cow was gone by the time he got there, but Miss Harley's car kissing up against the post was still good. She wasn't hurt, but Dad said she was mad as a wet hen. Seems like we can't get away from chickens here. Ha! Ha!

School will be starting next week. They used to wait until September, but I guess the teachers got bored. Not me. I keep busy out hunting mushrooms. They are sort of pretty, aren't they? In a decaying type of way, Zella said, and it would be best if I stopped wasting film. She gives out new rolls of film from her supply cache like it was gold. But a newspaper has to have pictures. Dad says the pictures sell papers.

Zella says she doubts if mushrooms will sell anything. Car wrecks maybe. Zella never likes anything I do. I could take a picture of that Jupiter spaceship Wes says he came on and she'd tell me I was wasting film. But I'm pretty sure that would sell papers!!

But I can't worry about Zella. Time to write some more about Bailey.  See you next week.   


BAILEY'S BUG by Jocie Brooke - CHAPTER 3 (earlier chapters in page link to Bailey's Bug in menu above)

     The next day was Saturday. That meant Mr. Robinson didn’t go out to his car and drive away in the morning. It meant sausage for breakfast and even one for Bailey. I meant Mr. Robinson might take him for a walk.

     They did that on the street. Outside the fence. But Mr. Robinson always hooked the leash on Bailey’s collar before he opened the door.

     The leash was a terrible thing that jerked at Bailey’s neck and made it hard to breathe if he wanted to run. It grabbed and held tightest whenever he needed to jump at a bird or sniff out an odor somewhere off the sidewalk.

     Even when he ignored the birds and smells, the leash still attacked and tied up his feet. Then Bailey had to stand still while his people freed his legs and called him a clumsy old dog. That hadn’t been so bad when Reid did it because he would laugh and hug him too. But Mr. Robinson never hugged him. Worse, he always blamed Bailey instead of the nasty leash for getting tangled up.

     So Bailey barely managed a half-hearted thump of his tail when Mr. Robinson got out the leash and talked in the booming voice he saved for Bailey. “Time for a walk, old boy. You’re getting fat.”

     What was wrong with being fat anyway? Bailey gave him a look and wanted to lie back down on his rug instead of letting the man hook the leash to his collar. But Bailey was an obedient dog. If Mr. Robinson wanted to walk, then he’d have to walk.

     Lucinda raised her head as he passed her chair. “You can’t get away. Stop thinking about it.”

     “You could help me.”

     “I told you. I like it here. Sunshine and food. That’s all I need.”

     “But don’t you miss Reid scratching under your chin and rubbing all the way down your back, even your tail?”

     For a second, Lucinda looked as if she might admit that she did miss Reid. For a second. Then she turned her head away from Bailey. “I can scratch my own chin and rub my back on the table leg.” With that, she put her head down and closed her eyes.

     At the door, Mr. Robinson jiggled the leash as though it were a doggy treat. “Come on, Bailey. Day’s a wasting.”

     Bailey couldn’t keep from shuddering when the leash grabbed on to his collar. That made his ear itch and he sat down to scratch it. The leash came alive and jerked him up.

     Before they even got out the door, the leash wrapped around his front left paw. When Bailey tried to high step away from it, the thing grabbed his other front paw. Out on the porch, Mr. Robinson fussed as he took control of the leash.

     The leash didn’t care. Instead it reached and grabbed Mr. Robinson’s feet to pull loose his shoestrings. The man sat on the porch steps to tie them back. Bailey hadn’t figured out shoestrings, exactly. Big people were always worrying if they came loose and little people like Reid didn’t care if they stayed loose all day. Even so, Bailey was used to waiting while shoelaces got wrapped up in bows. Even the leash waited quiet as anything at times like that.

     In fact the leash was extra quiet right now. The loop end that Mr. Robinson usually held onto to try to make it behave was loose on the steps. Mr. Robinson didn’t seem to notice as he wrapped the ends of his laces just so.

     This was Bailey’s chance. The leash needed somebody or something holding on to that loop to be powerful. Once a long time ago, Bailey dragged the leash across the park before he let Reid catch him. The leash had run along beside him not doing a thing. Just bouncing on the ground.

     Bailey hesitated. He was already feeling a little hungry in spite of gulping down that sausage. And it didn’t seem right to run off without saying goodbye to Lucinda whether she wanted him to or not.

     “That should hold them.” Mr. Robinson jerked on the laces. In a second, he’d be reaching for the leash to make it come to life.

     The street was in front of them. No fence to stop him. The hum got louder in Bailey’s ears. GO!
     The first step away from Mr. Robinson was hard. The next one wasn’t much easier, but by the time he reached the edge of the yard, he was running. Nothing was choking him, and his feet felt fine.

     Mr. Robinson yelled at him. “Stop, Bailey.”

     The word bounced after Bailey and almost jerked him to a stop. But he kept going. He had to find Reid.

     The front door opened and Mrs. Robinson was wringing her hands. “Oh my! What if he gets run over?” She sounded so worried Bailey felt bad.

     “I’d better catch him,” Mr. Robinson said.

     Bailey didn’t hear any more. The blood was pumping in his ears and he was getting out of breath. He hadn’t had a good run since Reid left. Mr. Robinson didn’t throw the red toy and when he walked Bailey, the leash choked him if he tried to run.

     But he wouldn’t stop now. Even if they got in the car and came after him. Even if the leash did turn on him. So far it just clattered along the sidewalk beside him, not causing the first problem. But that might not last.

     Mr. Robinson called, all happy like he had a handful of doggie treats. Bailey could almost smell those treats, but he didn’t stop running. Reid would have doggy treats for him. And even if he didn’t, what was a doggie treat to his boy’s hug?

     Bailey shut out the man’s voice and concentrated on the hum in his ears. He could hear it. And it sounded like Reid’s whistle.

     He crossed one street, then another, without any screeching around him. He raced through strange backyards and past a fence where a dog lunged against the wire to get at Bailey. He ran under some bushes to get away, and the leash jerked him off his feet. But when he backed up, the leash came along peacefully again.

     Bailey didn’t know where he was going, but he kept going. When he absolutely couldn’t run another yard, he slowed to a walk. A man yelled at him, but it wasn’t Mr. Robinson.

     He turned around a corner and knew the houses. He stopped to get his bearings and saw the Robinsons’ car coming toward him. He couldn’t run faster than a car. They would catch him and he’d never find Reid. The hum burned in his ears.

     “Hiss. Over here.” The sound came from under the bush beside him.

When Bailey hesitated, the voice got louder. “Hurry up, you dumb lummox of a dog. They’re going to catch you for sure.”

Bailey scooted under the bush.

“Stand still. You’re shaking the bush.”

“Lucinda.” Bailey stared at the cat. “What are you doing out here?”

Monday, August 11, 2014

Cloud Pictures, What Do You See?

August 11, 1965

Jocie Brooke here, reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Do you like trying to see things in clouds? I do sometimes. I took this picture. Well, not really on purpose. Zella would have a fit if she thought I was wasting film on clouds, but I slipped when I was trying to take a cow picture for the paper and took the sky instead. I don't know why people wouldn't just as soon see clouds as a cow, but Dad says they wouldn't. That farmers like pastoral scenes in their paper.

Anyway, once the picture was taken, it was taken. Wasted film or not. Now I'm seeing an angel in the cloud. Wes says I'm using more imagination than eyesight, but if I want to see an angel where there's nothing but fluffy puffs of white, then that's fine. He says a person should see things they like to see when they look at clouds. I asked him what he saw. He looked at the picture a long time and then said he saw race tracks for invisible sky racers. Zella said we were both wrong. That anybody could see the lion's face in the middle of the cloud. Plain as day. 

Dad said he saw clouds. Said he liked clouds just the way they were, that he spent so much time under the ocean in that submarine during the war that he was always blessed by the sight of blue sky and clouds. 

So what do you see here?

Poor Bailey in my story doesn't like dark clouds, but sometimes the storm clouds come.  Right now he's having trouble figuring out a way to get out of the fenced in yard. Remember the part of the story that I've already written is on the Bailey's Bug link at the top of my report if you want to catch up.  I'm thinking I should have cut out some of the beginning and jumped to the action faster. I think there's going to be some action. I think. Anyway, here's the next couple of pages.

BAILEY'S BUG (Continued) by Jocie Brooke
     The fence wasn’t so easy to conquer. Bailey couldn't jump it. His legs weren't long enough or springy enough. He pushed his head against it, but all that did was pinch his nose between the wire links. With a yowl, he plopped down in the shade with his paw over his face.
     After a while, he started walking around the fence again looking for a weak spot. In the far corner a little hole showed up under the bottom of the fence. He began pawing at it to make it bigger, but Mr. Robinson ran out, grabbed his collar and gave him a shake.
     “Stop that, Bailey. No digging in the yard.”
     Bailey backed away from the hole that was too little to fit his head through, much less the rest of him. Even if he could sneak around and dig when the Robinsons weren’t paying attention, it would take a lot of digging, and his toenails where already sore. There had to be a better way. Bailey went back to the middle of the yard.
     He didn’t have much time. Mr. Robinson was headed toward the back door. Maybe the gate wasn’t fastened tight. Bailey took off and banged into the gate. It gave just enough for him to squeeze his head through, but then the gate bounced back and caught his neck.
     All he could do was make a strangled whiny sound until Mr. Robinson came to rescue him.
     “What’s the matter with you today, Bailey?” Mr. Robinson pushed open the gate to let Bailey get his head free. “You got someplace you want to go?”
     Bailey hopped around Mr. Robinson and then jumped up on the gate. He wagged his tail as fast as he could. Maybe Mr. Robinson understood what he wanted to do.
     But then the man laughed. “You silly old dog. You don’t really want out there. Nothing but trouble out there for a dog like you.” He took hold of Bailey’s collar and led him toward the back door.
     Bailey had to go back inside. Lucinda looked up from her nap with her I-told-you-so look. He didn’t wait for her to say it out loud. He said, “I’m going. Tomorrow.”
     She raised up and stretched, grabbing her claws on the back of the recliner. “Don’t bother waking me to say goodbye.”
 (to be continued)

That's all I got written this week. When I wasn't at the newspaper, I had to help Aunt Love with the green beans somebody at church gave her. Stringing beans takes forever. But I'll figure out how Bailey gets out of that fence sooner or later. Do you have any ideas?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Can You Give Me a Name?

August 4, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. It's hot. Really hot. In the nineties. Aunt Love says it's supposed to be hot like this in August. I guess she should know. She's been around for a lot of Augusts. Wes, on the other hand, says it's never this hot on Jupiter - too far from the sun, he claims. Says if it wasn't for all the moons they have up there that there would be icicles everywhere. Green icicles. 

Seems snow is green on Jupiter. Sometimes Wes gets carried away with his Jupiter stories. Like as not, snow will be pink on Jupiter next week. But I love listening to his stories. One thing sure, he didn't disagree that it was hot down here on good old Earth. It's always especially hot in the press room, but the paper has to be printed and folded and delivered. Folks in Hollyhill want to know the news, what little there is each week in Hollyhill.

Do you like the dog? Did you ever see such eyes? I think they are at least four colors. Blue and brown and black and white. Amazing eyes. You remember I'm writing that story about Bailey the dog, and Lucinda the cat. Well, I might add another dog and if I do it might look like this guy. 

Tell me. If you were writing a story about a dog that looked like this one, what would you name him? It is a him. But we could maybe make it a her. That's the great thing about writing a story. You can change things and make things up. Now if I could just change the temperature to a little cooler. 

I took my notebook out under the oak tree out back and wrote the next scene. I'm finding out it takes a long time and a lot of words to write a book. 

All right two questions for you - 
What would you name the dog? 
And have you ever wanted to write a book?

Now here's the next scene of Bailey's Bug. (Remember, we left him hiding under the bed after Lucinda made him think about storms and thunder. And also, if you haven't read the first parts of the story, you can click on the link above to the page about Bailey's Bug. I have no idea what any of that means, but maybe you do.)

BAILEY'S BUG by Jocie Brooke

As Bailey cowered there in the dusky darkness, all the awful things Lucinda had told him might happen marched through his head.
     He wished he could believe none of it was true, that Lucinda was just trying to scare him into not going, but he had been out beyond the fence with Reid. He’d seen things.
     There was the time two dogs were fighting the park, all gnashing teeth and growls. Reid had held Bailey’s collar as if to keep him from joining the fight, but Bailey had wanted no part of it. He’d been relieved when someone had doused the dogs with water. That had made them forget their fight soon enough.
     Those kind of dogs were out there beyond the fence. Dogs ready to fight any other dog. Even Bailey whether Baily wanted to fight of not. Bailey shivered and thought about how fast he could run. Not very fast because he had a way of stumbling over his own feet. The faster he tried to go the more his feet got tangled up.
       And what about that time he was chasing the red toy, and a car making a terrible screeching, honking noise had bumped against him? It hadn’t hurt all that bad, but Bailey’s ears had rung for days. 
     It was not safe beyond the fence. Lucinda was right about that.
     Worst of all was that last warning? What would he eat? Bailey liked to eat. People put food in his dish. First Reid and sometimes Reid’s mother and now Mrs. Robinson. Somebody filled his dish every day. But if he left the Robinsons, he wouldn’t even have a dish until he found Reid. That might take days. 
     Just thinking about it made his stomach rumble and had Bailey trembling just like a real storm was shaking the windows of the house. But the hum didn’t get lost in his trembles. Instead it got louder until it was almost as if Reid were just on the other side of the bed’s dust ruffle, trying to coax Bailey out of hiding.
     Bailey jerked up and banged his head on the bedsprings, but he barely noticed as he crawled out from under the bed. Reid wasn’t there, but he was somewhere. Bailey could find him if he only had the courage.
     Courage. He’d never needed courage before. He didn’t know whether he had any or not. He wanted to have some. At least a little bit. But would a little bit be enough?
     He padded back into the living room and sat down in front of Lucinda’s window seat. He was ready to stay there as long as it took for her to open her eyes.
     Slowly one of her eyelids went up. “What now?” she asked.
     “I’m going.” He turned without waiting to hear what she might say and went to the door to wait for Mr. Robinson to let him out.
     Lucinda raised her head and whispered, “Best wait until after supper. It might be a very long time before your next meal.”
     “Even if it is, I’m going.” Bailey pulled up to his highest height. But he did decide to wait until after eating time. When Mrs. Robinson filled his dish, he ate every chunk of food and nosed around on the floor to make sure he hadn’t missed even the smallest crumb.
     Then Bailey went out in the yard. He would find a way through or over or under the fence. He would. That night!

 (to be continued next week.)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Words in a Jam

 July 28, 1965
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. You remember those blackberries I talked about picking last week. Well, they're in a jam now. (Ha. Ha.) Wes says I'm getting to be a regular comedian. I tell him that's only because I hang around with him so much. He laughs about that. Says a Jupiterian has to have a sense of humor if he's going to come check out things down here on Earth. He claims he had to take a humor test before he could get on the Jupiter spaceship to make sure he could laugh at the dumbest things. 

I guess he's meaning he runs into a lot of dumb things to laugh about down here. And boy, can he in Hollyhill. But anyway, I love making plays on words. Like those blackberries in a jam! After all, if I'm going to be a writer, I better know all about how to use words for whatever I want to use them for. Dad says that's real important in a newspaper story. That one word left out or in the wrong place can change the whole meaning of a piece in the paper and get us into trouble with readers. Like what if we were writing about a trial verdict and left out not and reported the defendant was found guilty when they were not guilty. Big time mistake. One we can't afford to make.

He says the same thing is true when he's preaching. That he needs to be even more careful with his words. He has to make sure the words he picks are the ones the Lord wants him to say. Words have power. For good. For fun. For entertainment. But they can also hurt. Who was it that said the pen is mightier than the sword? I'll have to look that up sometime. Meanwhile, I'm still trying to learn a new word every day. When I have time.

I didn't have much time last week with the berry picking and the jam making. Dad said I had to stay in the kitchen with Aunt Love to make sure she didn't wander off and forget she had jam on the stove. So I did and she did. Then I was in a JAM. I had to stir the stuff so it wouldn't boil over.
Did you know that stuff spits bubbles at you while it cooks? Hot bubbles. The stove had purple spots and so did my shirt, but I kept stirring until thank goodness, Aunt Love came back and said it was ready to put in the jars. We did have those ready and she let me fill them up. But she screwed on the lids. You should have heard the lids popping when they sealed. 

After she went out on the porch to cool off, I headed up to my room to finish another few pages of Bailey's Bug. Here it is. The whole story is on a link up at the top of this report. Whatever a link is. I think that must be one of those words from the future. Links are just part of a chain or how something connects, aren't they? But sometimes it's better to just not ask about those futuristic things.

Bailey's Bug by Jocie Brooke - Chapter 2

       Lucinda stopped washing her face when Bailey asked her if she wanted to go with him. “Go beyond the fence?” She stared at him, her green eyes wide and dark. “Have you lost what little mind you have?”
            Bailey held his head high. “I’m going to find Reid.”
            Lucinda’s lip stretched in a little smile. Then she began licking her paw again for another swipe across her face. “You can’t even find your bones if they scoot under a chair.”
            “I can find Reid.”
            “You don’t say. I didn’t know you were a bloodhound.” Lucinda sounded bored.
       Bailey held his head to the side and thought about that. “Maybe I am,” he said after a moment. “Mrs. Alexander used to say I must be a mix of a dozen dogs. One of them could have been a bloodhound.”
            “It could have been, but it wasn’t.” Lucinda swatted at him. “You’d best get this nonsense out of your head and learn to like it here.”
            “I am going to find Reid. And that’s that.” When Lucinda gave him that look, he told her about the hum inside his head. “That’s Reid calling me.”
            “Don't be silly. It’s just a bug that’s crawled in your ear.”
      Bailey almost lifted his foot to scratch his ear, but instead he pressed his foot hard against the floor and sat up as tall as he could. “So you won’t go with me?” 
     “I’m not going anywhere.” Lucinda moved to the edge of the window seat to stare down directly into Bailey’s eyes. “And neither are you. Heaven only knows, you’re a worrisome sort even for a dog, but I can’t be letting you go off who knows where. You have no idea what’s out there.”
          “You don't either.” Bailey met her eyes and didn’t back down.
          “But I do. I knew this cat once who told me all about it. Poor old Sanders.”
     “What did he tell you?” Bailey was curious in spite of himself.
          “Lots of things.” Lucinda’s green eyes narrowed on Bailey. “He said cars mashed poor animals like you and there were men who put dogs in cages. Worst of all, he said there are all sorts of cats and dogs out there who care nothing about the rules of civilization. If tough old Sanders had a hard time out beyond the fence, a dog like you wouldn't last an hour.”
            Bailey pulled his tongue all the way into his mouth and shut his jaws together tightly. He thought about the monster cars and strange dogs beyond the fence and a tremble ran through him. But the hum was still there, steady, unchanged by Lucinda’s fearsome words. So he said, “I’m going.”
            “What will you do if it storms? It will, you know. You won’t have any place to get in out of the rain, nowhere to hide from the thunder.”
            The tremble got stronger inside him. He did hate the way thunder banged against his ears. Just the thought of it was enough to make him look around for something to hide under.
    “Just as I thought.” Lucinda sat back. “You’re not going anywhere.”    
        Bailey’s ears drooped, and his tail dragged on the floor as he crept off to the bedroom where the cat couldn't see him. He got down on his belly and crawled under the bed, stirring up bits of dust that tickled his nose.            

That's all so far. Do you like Bailey? I do.