My dog Sam, Part 7

Of course, even under the best of circumstances we were still dirt poor and living under the good graces of the welfare system. Having a dog like Sam did help tip the scales in our favor as far as living on the Sand Road was concerned, but not by much. There were still shoes being bought at the thrift store and commodities being served when the month ran longer than our food stamps lasted, which seemed to always be the cycle. Early on in the month there was to be enough food and in a variety of styles, but that last week prior to our monthly checks arrival it was everybody’s favorite side kick: Slim Pickens.

Late into the summer as school was approaching my older sister decided one morning to walk up to the end of the road to check the mail, expecting among other things, our check. As was his custom by then, Sam accompanied her loosely; in other words… as she walked along the road he was up in the brush, in someone’s yard, falling behind, running ahead or even all together out of sight.

As she walked a couple of stray dogs happened to be coming from an adjoining secondary road and spotted her. My sister noticed them as they approached and cautiously moved up the road towards the dogs knowing that the ones that ran in the pack on Sand Road were mean and not to be trusted. Suddenly they made a run at her. Frozen with fear all she could do was scream out one word. Sam.

In an instant Sam appeared out of a nearby thicket, ran between my sister and those two dogs then stopped. The other dogs stopped and looked at Sam. Sam looked at them. A stand off ensued, an imaginary line was drawn. Sam stood there and stared them down until they decided to quietly move on, leaving my sister and Sam to happily move on towards our payday.

After the decisive battle he had with Frankie, Sam easily moved around with the other dogs in the neighborhood. In fact, on one occasion when Sam turned up “missing” again for a few days, I finally managed to see him out running with several of the local dogs. After I called to him, Sam ran up and allowed me to happily reacquaint myself with him. Having a few moments of petting and receiving my encouraging words, Sam set off to rejoin them. Stopping midway to give me a last look like a kid running off to join his friends in a game of some sort, he turned to run and catch up with the rest. That was the way Sam behaved, loyal to my family and me, but actually belonging to no one.

Sam truly was a godsend, because only God could have brought Sam to us to serve as our guardian angel. That was never more apparent than the week-end before school was set to start. Not only did I have the pleasure of attending my class as one of it’s most shoddily dressed individuals, but I had to ride that retched bus as well. That last week-end of freedom had me fully dreading the walk to my bus stop on Monday morning and facing the kids that made my life miserable each day I rode it.

That Saturday Sam and I were out on the road goofing off. We passed one of the houses that we’d been by dozens of times before, but this day it was different. This time there was a car parked out front with it’s hood up and there were 3 young men working on its engine. I thought little of it as we walked by but one of the guys happened to look up as we did and my heart sank with anxiety. The boy that raised his head up and saw me was the roughest of all the kids that rode our bus and he was their ringleader. He never actually touched me, but he instigated much of my social discomfort and laughed the loudest at my misery. I was sure that when he spotted me with his buddies I was a goner.

Moving as quickly as I could I was all most clear when he called out to me, “Hey, kid!” Stiffly I turned to face him and Sam paused, too. I could hear one of the other guys warn the bus rider to “watch out for that dog” but he came around the car and approached me anyway.

“Hey, kid, you got a cigarette?”

I was much too young to smoke but it embarrassed me to have to say so. My chance to make friends with the toughest kid in the school system had arrived but all I could feebly reply was, “No.”

Sam did a low ‘woof’ and I was petrified. I could just see Sam jumping in and tearing at this guy’s leg with me trying to pry him off while through it all I received death threats to be paid in full the next time I got on that bus.

“That your dog?”

I nodded, too frightened to speak. I glanced over at his friends and they had stopped what they were doing and both come round to the road side. “Watch that dog, Cecil…” came the warning again. Cecil looked back at them for a brief moment then glanced at Sam before turning to face me.

“What’s your dog’s name, kid?”

My throat was dry and raspy, I swallowed hard. “Sam, but he…”

“C’mere Sam! hey, boy! c’mon o’er hereyan see me!” Cecil clapped his hands.

Fear gripped my stomach and churned it with it’s fist. I turned to stop Sam but I was too late. Sam did what he was told and came up to Cecil’s feet then let him reach down and begin petting him. I couldn’t believe he was the same dog. Cecil squatted down and scratched behind Sam’s ear for a moment then brushed his hand down Sam’s shoulder and patted him on the side. Relief flooded my entire body and I managed a weak smile at Cecil. He was grinning ear to ear and making over Sam like he was his own dog. Finally Cecil stood up squarely in front of me. Standing a full head taller than me Cecil was built more like a full grown man than a teenager, he even had beard stubble on his face and chin.

“What’s your name, kid?”

Reluctantly I told him. He nodded, reached in his shirt pocket and pulled out a cigarette stubbed out about halfway down, he lit it and then offered me a puff, which I took and did my best not to choke on. I handed it back and Cecil grinned as he took it. He reached out and jostled my hair then turned to join his friends.

“Catch ya later, kid.”

With my heart pounding I turned to go up the road with Sam on my heels. After a step or two Cecil called out again.

“Hey, kid!”

I turned back, sure I was going to get a wrench hurled in my direction, or at the very least a barrage of laughter for me nearly wetting my pants.

“Ya got a good dog there, man, take care of em! Okay?”

I smiled back and waved. “Thanks! I will!”

That was the only time I saw a complete stranger have his way with Sam. Even my best friend who lived down the road from me and saw Sam practically on a daily basis could not do what Cecil had just done, approach my dog cold like that. I usually had to ease Sam into allowing any outsider to even touch him, let alone make over him like Cecil had.

Monday morning when I got on the bus a voice called my name from the back, I looked up and saw Cecil beckoning to me. The bus was nearly full by the time it stopped at our road. Every eye was on me as I made the narrow isle to the back of the bus. Cecil motioned to the seat in front of him. All the bad ass kids rode in the back of the bus and Cecil being the baddest took the very back seat for himself. He slapped the kid who had the seat before me in the back of the head and told him to move across the isle so I could sit down in front of him, which I did.

“How’s Sam?” was the first thing Cecil asked, having a cigarette propped behind his ear.

“Good,” I replied, “but I never thought I’d see the day he’d let a stranger pet him.”

Cecil laughed, “You got some mean son-of-a-bitchin’ dog there do ya?”

I squirmed a bit, trying my best to get comfortable. “Most people think so.”

Cecil grinned ear to ear, the way he had when he played with my dog on Saturday.

“I’m surprised you didn’t try to sic ’em on me!”

I looked at Cecil and smiled, “Naw, why would I want to do that?”

He looked at me and thoughtfully nodded.

“Well, I wouldn’t give two cents for any dog that couldn’t pull his own weight. Yessir, I’d say ya got yourself one fine animal there.”

“Thanks, I’d say he took a shine to you, too!” and we both laughed.

From that day on Cecil and I were friends, then no one bothered me on that bus again. And Sam was getting set to pull off his biggest miracle yet…

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7 Responses to “My dog Sam, Part 7”

  1. BB Says:

    Great story, even greater storytelling skills. It’s in you, you know….and how wonderful that you are sharing all these experiences. The Sam Chronicles have allowed me to know you in a different way….
    Much peace.

  2. babychaos Says:

    Great stuff, I’m really enjoying this! Keep ’em coming.

    Cheers

    BC

  3. msdane Says:

    Ah, memories. Sam wasn’t a big dog but he had the heart and brevity of a much larger dog. My hero.

  4. chrisfiore5 Says:

    thank you, girls

    those memories of Sand Road are bittersweet…

    I have enjoyed sharing… and reliving them as well.

    Part 8 coming soon.

  5. 1poet4man Says:

    You are mining rich and deep ore here – I thought I would let you know that I have been reading and enjoying this series of post…

    Be Well
    Poetman

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