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?