The Swamp

swamp

Howdy, folks. I’m here with another one of my hitchin’ adventures. I’ve written about this one back a few years ago, but I’ve cut out all the superfluous words and the hyperbole in this version. Just the unadorned facts this time ’round.

Before we get started, I got something to say. When reading these stories, you may think these adventures happened all the time while I was on the road. Well, that’s not true. I was on the road five years and most of it was pretty mundane. Just moving around and meeting new people. Things did happen, but not every event was a full story’s worth. Like the time I was kidnapped by a woman because she was tired of being lonely. When I “escaped” from her, I ran into the heir of the Coca-Cola fortune. He had rebelled from his wealth and privilege and bought an old school bus. He was travelling around the country with a bunch of hippie friends. I sat up front with him as he drove and listened as he told me of his life before dropping out. He had been a world traveler and had some good stories of his own. I sometimes think of him and wonder if he ever dropped back in. So you see, while things were always interesting, they were seldom dire.

Now, on to my story:

I was standing on the side of a lonely road, wet and cold, when the car stopped fifty feet ahead of me. The fog was so thick the car itself was not visible, only its red taillights. This was in the panhandle of Florida in 1967. The time was three in the morning, and I was hitchhiking home on a deserted two-lane that ran through a swamp.

When comfortably ensconced in the passenger seat, the driver told me to call him Teddy Bear. Because of the low visibility, we were going about thirty miles per hour, and Teddy Bear was in an expansive and talkative mood. He told me in great detail of his job as an ambulance driver. He especially enjoyed picking up and transporting dead bodies. As we traveled the winding road, I learned of the joys of being in close proximity to the dead. He spoke of his fascination with death and dead bodies. I nodded in agreement with whatever he was saying. I was not about to be put back out into that inhospitable climate for being an inattentive guest. I had been let off from my last ride five hours earlier, and in those five long hours, I had not seen a single soul until Teddy Bear came creeping along.

Fifteen minutes into our time together, he slowed the car down even more than was necessary, given the conditions. It was about then he said, “You know, I could kill you, throw your body out into the swamp, and nobody would ever find you.” Having said that, he reached under the seat and came up with the largest damn hunting knife I ever did see—before or since!

When you’re in a car traveling ten miles an hour, it does not seem like you’re going very fast. However, if you try to exit a vehicle while going at that rate of speed, it’s a whole different story. I grabbed the door handle and yanked on it as though my life depended on it. I meant to put my right foot onto the pavement, followed by my left … and then run like hell. But that’s not what happened. My feet got tangled and I found myself falling. I had just enough time to get my hands out in front of me before my face met the asphalt.

As I lay prostrate on the ground, all I could see were the red taillights slowly receding into the fog. Then my heart jumped straight into my mouth. The brake lights came on! Then, to make matters worse, the white backup lights came on immediately thereafter. I jumped up and took off in the opposite direction. When I was a good ways down the road, I thought it might be safe to stop for a moment and see if I was being pursued. I turned to see those goddamn taillights still coming my way. They might as well have been the angry red eyes of a demon for the fear I felt.

I then became cognizant of my folly. Staying on the road had been a mistake, a big mistake. He could follow me at his leisure. There sure wasn’t any other traffic around to impede whatever he had in mind. Was he toying with me? Had he done this before? Did he indeed throw dead bodies into the swamp, never to be seen again?

There was only one thing to do; get off the road and into the swamp. When you’re running for your life, you don’t sweat the little things – such as snakes and alligators. I turned and ran for the tree line, which lay about fifty feet from the road. I could not see the trees, but I knew they were there, having seen them earlier in the night before the fog thickened.

A few feet in, I stepped into a foot of water. My initial reaction was to stop and take a step back. But as I did so, the car pulled level with my position. This propelled me onward. The only problem with this strategy was the noise I was making as I splashed through the water. But I kept moving.

I finally reached the tree line and stopped and listened. From the sound of his splashing, he was close on my heels. Suddenly, there was dead silence. Even the frogs had stopped their raucous croaking. I held my breath. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear I was the only person for a hundred miles. Then it started. Out of the dense fog, I heard a chant that almost made me cry. “Hey chick, chick, chickie. Hey chick, chick, chickie. Come to Teddy Bear.”

My God! If things weren’t creepy enough already.

I dared not move a muscle. Then I caught a break. I could hear he was moving away. Without making a sound, I ventured a peek from behind a tree. It was the first time I had seen him since leaping from the car. His white ambulance driver’s uniform was glistening-wet from the tiny water droplets hanging in the air, making it semi-luminous. He was still too close for me to make a run for it. He might hear me. I was not about to budge unless it became absolutely necessary. I watched in fear as the ethereal figure became an iridescent blur, fading into the inclement mist.

When I thought it safe, I started off in the opposite direction. I had to move slowly so as not to make any noise. It was slow going, but I seemed to be making progress when all of a sudden I heard him coming up fast behind me. I reacted like an animal pursued and blindly ran farther into the swamp.

As I frantically blundered about, I noticed that the water was getting deeper. I pivoted, hoping to find shallow water again. But there he was, not ten feet away. His face indistinct in the fog. However, there was no mistaking the menace in his voice as he said, “Hey, Chickie, I’ve been looking for ya.”

He was still holding the knife.

At that point, I just gave up. What was the use? Then, any doubt that he was playing with me, as a cat plays with a mouse, was put to rest when he took one step back and said, “You’ve got two minutes, Chickie. I suggest you use ’em.”

I turned and ran. I ran pell-mell deeper and deeper into the swamp. I was petrified. I was scared to death. I only wanted to live to see my mother again. I was praying like I had never prayed before when my foot caught on a root and I pitched headfirst into that dank, pestilential water. As I started to get up, my right hand touched something. It was a 2″ x 4″, about four feet in length, just floating there in the middle of a swamp! Thinking it might come in handy, I took hold of it and quickly continued on my journey of fear.

A minute later, I heard my pursuer not too far away. I froze in my tracks, not wanting to make a sound. He was getting closer, but I stood motionless, afraid he would hear me if I so much as breathed.

I then noticed two trees not far away. One had a trunk large enough to hide behind with room to spare. The other one was only half the size. I was about to get behind the larger of the two when the thought struck me that maybe I should get behind the smaller tree. It wasn’t as obvious a hiding place as the other one.

I was no sooner in place, shaking and breathing hard, when I saw the faint outline of his white jumpsuit. He was moving slowly, his attention focused on the larger tree. As he approached, I quietly hefted the 2″ x 4″ and planted my feet as best I could in the muddy bottom of the swamp.

He came closer, then hesitated. He was sure I was behind that tree, and he was going to have some fun with me. He wanted to prolong my terror. He started moving again and came to within three feet of where I was hiding, his back towards me. It was now or never. I aimed for his head, but missed and hit his shoulder instead. His scream reverberated throughout the cold damp night, muted somewhat by the fog. I swung again. This time I connected with his head. He stood for a moment, dazed, then collapsed. I dropped my weapon and ran.

I made my way out of the swamp and emerged onto the road only a few yards from his car. Thank the Lord, the keys were in the ignition. I slipped into the driver’s seat, started the engine, and accelerated away from that accursed place as fast as I could. The fog be damned!

I drove until I saw the lights of a truck stop up ahead. I parked the car around back, leaving the keys in it. I found a water spigot and washed up. It was summertime and the Florida night was warm; my clothes would dry quickly.

I walked among the parked trucks and asked the first driver I saw if he was going south. He said he was, but first he was going to get himself some coffee and a sandwich. If I was still around when he came out, he’d give me a ride. I waited. He got me to within fifty miles of Miami. The next ride dropped me off a few blocks from my mother’s house.

To this day, I do not know if I killed him or not. Sometimes, late at night when I can’t sleep, I think of that night and pray I did not take a life. At other times, thinking he must have been a serial killer – and if not for me, he would have killed again – I think I might have done the right thing.

Fishin’

fishingJohnny Donohue was my best friend when I was twelve years old. On Saturday mornings, we would go fishing. Because we would arise at 3:00 am and meet shortly thereafter, we called it “going fishing at three in the morning.”

This particular Saturday morning when I arrived at Johnny’s house, two of his three brothers were milling about outside. His brother Terry was a year younger than Johnny and me and sometimes hung out with us, so it was no surprise to see him. But, to see his youngest brother, Matthew, who was only six, was a different story. Before I could ask Johnny what was up, Matt came running up to me and said, “I wanna go fishin’.”

Johnny approached me. “If I try to leave him behind, he’ll just follow us or make such a racket he’ll wake up my parents.” So we bowed to the inevitable and let Matt follow us as we started for the lake. It wasn’t really a lake; it was what was called a rock pit. A rock pit being a place that was once dry land until a company came along and started dredging gravel, dirt, and muck for development out west near the Everglades. What was left after they had taken as much as possible was a small lake. We were fortunate; there were two such lakes within blocks of where we lived. They were identical, about a quarter mile long and half as wide. Between them was about a hundred yards of fine, sugary-white sand.

Our 3:00 a.m. fishing routine consisted of me, Johnny, sometimes Terry, our fishing poles, a frying pan, a can of baked beans, and a stick of butter. At sunrise, we would stop fishing, clean our catch, build a fire, and cook the fish we had caught moments before. And of course, coming from good Irish (Boston) stock, the beans were always Boston Baked Beans.

As a rule, we always fished the north lake. Why, I don’t know. Probably because that’s the lake we swam in and we felt comfortable there. However, this morning we were fishing the south lake, and by the time the sun was fixing to come up over the horizon, we had caught nothing. Matt may have helped our bad luck along by throwing rocks into the water right where we were fishing. So, we decided to call it a day, or a night, or whatever. It was still dark out when we reeled in our lines and started for home.

Johnny, Terry, and I were walking along the shore of the south lake. Matt was somewhere behind us. Or so we thought. There was no need to fret about Matt. We were only blocks from his home, which he knew his way to as well as we did. And there were no “Bad Guys” to worry about. It was 1962, after all. But with what happened in the next few minutes, it just goes to show you how wrong a guy can be. At this point, it’s still pitch black out, but a gray sky in the east was only minutes away.

As we neared the bit of land between the two lakes, we heard a sound that immediately put us on guard. In those days, our neighborhood was way out in the boondocks, and we had never run into another living soul in all the time we went fishing at three o’clock in the morning. The sound was a scratching sound, immediately followed by a sound that sounded like thud, scratch, thud, scratch, thud—it had a kind of rhythm. By then dawn had broken, barely. It was finally light enough to see where the sound was coming from.

We could make out the silhouettes of two men and a car. The bigger of the two was leaning against the car, arms folded, watching the other man as he dug a hole. Those were the sounds we had heard, the scraping of the shovel as it was thrust into the sand, and the sand as it was dumped onto a slowly growing pile. As we stood there watching this strange sight, it got stranger still. The big guy went to the trunk, opened it, and dragged out a dead body. Or what sure as hell looked like a dead body.

All three of us dropped to the ground. After all, we were the first generation of children raised on television; we’d seen enough to know that witnesses always get “rubbed out” and dead men tell no tales.

Johnny and I were right next to each other, with Terry behind us. We lay in that position for about five minutes, wondering what would be the best course of action to take that would not end up with us getting shot. Johnny and I were for staying on the ground and slowly crawling away so as not to be seen. Terry was for jumping up and making a run for it. Well, wouldn’t you know it, little Matthew decided which course of action we should take, and it was neither of the above.

As we lay there conducting The Great Debate, we saw Matt walking up to the two men from the opposite direction. He must have circumnavigated the lake, and was heading in the general direction of home. The only problem being two bad guys were between him and his destination. Because he was so small, and the men were so intent on what they were doing, Matt was able to walk right up to the hole still being dug and peer into it. Even from our vantage point, we could see the men react as all reasonable men would react when discovered burying a corpse at six o’clock in the morning. They nearly jumped out of their skins.

After taking a moment to regroup, the bigger of the two, the one not shoveling, grabbed Matt by the arm, and force-marched him about ten feet before flinging him in the direction of the street. Of course, the little kid stumbled and fell. He sat there looking up at that big bully as the man pointed to the street. You didn’t need to read lips to know the guy was telling Matt to scram.

If I may, I’d like to digress for a moment and tell you about Johnny, Terry, and myself. Johnny and I were good kids. We were altar boys; we never gave the nuns at school any trouble. We kept our noses clean. Of course, as we got older and joined the Boy Scouts, Johnny made Eagle Scout while I never made it out of Tenderfoot. Johnny went on to become an FBI agent, and I went on to break many, many laws with impunity. But on that morning, we thought alike.

Now Terry, on the other hand, was a holy terror. Whenever he hung with us, we could expect to either be reprimanded by someone, or punished by our parents when we got home. All the Donohue boys, except Terry, had red hair and freckles. Terry was different, he was a blond. Come to think of it, he was different in a lot of ways. I tell you these things so you will understand why things turned out as they did.

Back to the story: When we left off, Matt was sitting on the ground with Mr. Big standing over him.

Johnny jumped up and yelled, “My brother!” and started running in the direction of all the excitement. Because he was my pal, I was two steps behind him, and Terry was a step behind me. We reached the scene of the crime and injected ourselves between Mr. Big and Matt. When he saw us, the big guy laughed and turned to the guy shoveling. “Hey, Nicky … the cavalry to the rescue.”

Nicky dropped the shovel, pulled out a gun that he had tucked into his belt, and pointed it at us. At this turn of events, Mr. Big said to Nicky, “Put the fuckin’ gun away, pick up your fuckin’ shovel, and dig the goddamn hole!” I thought Nicky was going to shoot him. I would have if someone spoke to me like that. But Nicky only shrugged, slipped the gun back into his belt, and resumed his spadework.

“So, kids, what’s the problem?” said Mr. Big. “Why don’t you be good little tykes and just run along home?” When we heard that, Johnny and I looked at one another. We knew our troubles were over. All we had to do was walk away, go home, tell our parents, and they could take the appropriate steps to deal with the situation.

As Johnny took Matt by the hand and we turned to leave, we heard, “You guys gonna bury that dead body?”

Fuckin’ Terry! was my only thought at the moment. I don’t know what Johnny was thinking, but by the look on his face, he was thinking along similar lines. With that bit of oratory, Nicky again dropped his shovel and pulled out his gun. Mr. Big stared him down until Nicky meekly put the gun away. But in an act of defiance, he did not resume his shoveling duties. So there we were: four kids, two bad guys, and a corpse. What next? was probably the only thought going through everyone’s head—except for Matt and Terry. Matt was too young to comprehend the situation, and Terry was just getting warmed up.

As we stood there in this Mexican standoff, we heard a groan coming from the corpse. Then the corpse raised itself on one arm and shook its head. Now I’ve got to hand it to Mr. Big. If nothing else, he was a fast thinker. I could tell he was just as surprised as the rest of us at the resurrection taking place, probably more so. But without missing a beat, he turned to Terry and said, “You talkin’ about Marty? He’s no dead body; he just had too much to drink.”

I was thinking, Saved by the bell. All we’ve got to do is play dumb and we can walk out of here.

No sooner had I thought those encouraging thoughts, I heard, “Then why are you digging the hole?”

You guessed it. Fuckin’ Terry again. But no one paid any attention to him. Marty was slowly getting to his feet, and all eyes were upon the Lazarus-like spectacle. The only one present who did anything was Nicky. He pulled out his gun again. Mr. Big walked over to him and slapped him on the back of the head. “Not in front of the k-i-d-s.”

How old did this guy think we were that we couldn’t spell kids? But that was cool, if he wanted us stupid, we could be the stupidest sons-of-bitches you ever saw. But unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to exhibit our acting skills. Just then, Marty said to no one in particular, “You fuckin’ assholes. You tried to kill me!”

“We ain’t done trying yet,” was Nicky’s retort. With that brilliant statement—in front of witnesses nonetheless—Mr. Big lost his cool. He turned to Nicky and shouted, “Alright, just shoot the bastard once and for all. Kill him before I kill you, you sorry sonavabitch!”

Nicky grinned from one end of his face to the other. “Right, boss,” was his reply, just before he raised his gun and put two right in Marty’s head. The rest of those assembled, with the exception of Mr. Big, jumped a foot in the air with the explosion of the first shot. Marty did not take it so well. He was flung back against the car and stared at Nicky for a long moment before he collapsed like a wet dishrag. Us kids were frozen to the piece of earth we each happened to be standing on at the moment the shots were fired. Even Terry couldn’t think of anything stupid to say.

As soon as Marty hit the ground, Mr. Big ordered Nicky to pull the body away from the car. Mr. Big got behind the wheel and yelled for Nicky to hurry up and get into the car. Standing at the passenger side window, Nicky asked, “What about the kids?”

We were still rooted to our respective pieces of earth, so we were close enough to hear Mr. Big’s reply. “Nicky, fuck the goddamn kids, fuck Marty, fuck you, and fuck this miserable town! Get your ass in here or so help me, I’ll blow your fuckin’ head off right where you stand.” With that, Mr. Big pulled out his own gun and pointed it at Nicky’s head. Having his boss point a gun at his head didn’t seem to faze Nicky, not at all. Before getting into the car, Nicky turned to Johnny and me and winked. “See ya, kids.” He then got into the car and Mr. Big backed it out onto the street, driving out of our lives forever.

But wait, the story isn’t over quite yet. After our friends had left, we formed a circle around Marty. We stood there looking down at him. He was lying face down in the fine white sand with a small pool of crimson-colored blood forming next to his head. Terry said, “Cool.” Johnny looked like he wanted to throw up. I was paralyzed and Matt was building sand castles. After a few minutes, Johnny said, “Let’s go home.”

The walk home was the least eventful part of that entire morning’s fishing expedition, at least until we arrived at Johnny’s house. When we got there, he said, “You guys wait out here. I’ll go in and tell my parents what happened.”

A few moments later, we heard a scream, followed by the exclamation, “My babies!” Within seconds, Mrs. Donohue, wearing an old blue bathrobe and with curlers in her hair, flew through the front door, stooped down, and like a mother hen, enfolded Matt and Terry into her arms. After a few moments and a few sniffles, she stood up and, while pointing at the door, shouted, “Get in there, misters, before I beat you!”

After that, there was nothing left for me to do but make my way home. I was hungry; we hadn’t caught any fish that morning. And, for some reason, we were never again allowed to go fishing at three o’clock in the morning.

Danny Returns!!!

Danny the Dog

Danny the Dog is a prolific writer. He’s written articles for bloggers around the world and has his own very popular blog where he dispenses his wisdom on a monthly basis. He’s humorous, clever, charming, delightful, and sometimes irascible. Or, as he would phrase it, “I’m a purveyor of wit, wisdom, and words.”

In My Name Is Danny, Danny writes about his real-life adventures living on a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his human, Andrew. He tells of their trials and tribulations … and the love they have for one another.

Six Feet

I come from the projects and I ain’t no pussy. In fact, I’d just as soon slit your throat as look at you.

They have me now. I was stupid enough to get caught after that gas station robbery. What’s the big fucking deal? We got only forty bucks. The cops came a-shootin’. My man Daryl took a bullet to the head.

Under the law, I was charged with murder in the second degree because someone died in the commission of a felony. How do you like that shit? The cops didn’t have to shoot. We were not armed … we carried toy guns. Of course, I was convicted. It was an all-white jury. What else can a black man expect in America?

Now I’m looking at twenty years to life. I sit in my cell and think of my girl. Her skin is chestnut brown in color. It’s the softest thing I’ve ever known … next to the love she has given me. Her smile used to send me to heaven. But I can’t see her smile no more. Her name is Gloria. She was my life. Now my life is trying not to get shivved in the food line.

She has written me, asking to visit. I will not allow it! I do not want her to see me in a cage. I wrote her back and told her to forget me. Get herself a man as unlike me as possible.

It really don’t matter no more. I will not live my life in a cage. Big Dog runs us blacks in this place. He is big, I’ll give him that. We are in the yard … the whites are on the far side … the spics opposite. And us niggers have the middle ground.

I rush at Big Dog looking like I’m holding a shiv. I’m not. One of his lieutenants cuts me down before I can get close.

As I lie on the green grass of the prison yard, looking up at a blue sky that I’ll never see again—my warm blood pooling beneath me—I think of my girl and of all the wrong choices I’ve made in my twenty-three years of life. But that’s cool … there are no more choices that have to be made, unless you want to ask me how deep I want to be buried.

Just for the record, it’s six feet.

 

My First Ever Book Review

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This book was recommended to me by a friend and I must admit that it’s not my usual kind of read. But I thought I’d give it a chance. Right off the bat, I had two favorite characters, Abby and Sam. The author drew me in with good writing, excellent pacing, and an antagonist that had me turning pages at an alarming rate. I had to find out what the dastardly villain would do next!

Our hero, Abby, has a lot to contend with. Her mother has died some time ago and her father has now disappeared. She is shipped off to a new town where she’ll have to start a whole new life. All this in the first few pages. But then her problems really begin.

My only regret is that I don’t have a young daughter to share this with. This is the perfect book for young girls, but so expertly written that even an old reprobate like myself can enjoy it.

One last thing, it wasn’t until I was well into the book that I started to pay attention to the haikus at the beginning of each chapter. I was too focused on the story. But once I did take the time to read them and realized their significance to the chapter that followed, I went back and read them all. What beautiful poetry indeed.

 

The Author
The Author

The Link: Amazon

Danny Gets a Bath

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I’ve had some harrowing tales to tell you folks in days gone by. There was the time I fought it out with an alligator. The time I defeated thirty pirates trying to board our boat in the middle of the night, and the time I met up with that poisonous toad; just to mention a few of my adventures. But they were naught compared to what I am about to convey. If not for my fortitude, my endurance, my character and my all around strength, I don’t know if I could have endured.

Hello, I am Danny the Dog, hero to all canines of the world, and a few females of the human persuasion. I live with my human on our boat in Fort Lauderdale Florida. His name is Andrew, and as you will soon see, he is the villain of this piece.

It all started on a warm and sunny autumn day (today). I wanted to go and visit my friend Beth who lives a few boats over. She is always so nice to me. Always puts out a bowl of water for me. Always finds something in the fridge to for me. The last time it was turkey. The time before that it was shrimp salad. The shrimp were good, I just spit out the lettuce and the other healthy stuff. But I digress, on with the horror.

I was sitting on the dock, giving reign over my domain. I had given my one bark command to Andrew to come up out of the boat and take me to Beth’s. I would have gone myself, but Andrew keeps me tethered with a leash, a rope in actuality. He is so cruel!

Well, Andrew came up alright, but I didn’t like the fact that he had dish soap in his hand. I think the brand name was Joy, but there was no joy in my heart when I saw it, for it could only portend one thing, BATH TIME!

I know that some dogs like water and that’s up to them. However, I am more sophisticated. If the Great Being wanted us dogs to fool around with water he would have given us gills to breathe through. And seeing as how He didn’t, I’ll keep my paws dry if you don’t mind. I mean if you humans had not shown up in the evolutionary scheme of things, how many baths do you think us dogs would have given ourselves over the course of a lifetime? Give up? Then I’ll tell you . . . zero, nada, none. We surely would have rolled in the carcass of a dead animal, but no baths. Thankfully, Andrew is a minimalist. He thinks as I do about baths, both for him and me. But every once in a while he bathes and then that means I have to also.

In a situation like I found myself in, it is important to show no fear. Humans can sense fear, so I stared at Andrew with a look that said, “One more step with that soap buddy, and I might just chomp down on your leg!” It did no good, onward he came. Onward came the soap.

Andrew took my harness off and said the biggest cliché in the world, “This going to hurt me a lot more than you.” It took all my will power not to bite him right then and there. Not trusting me, he kept a hold of my fur with one hand as he turned on the hose with the other. Then he wet me! Drenched me in aqua! I swear, if I didn’t depend on him for food, I would have bit him. It’s a good thing for Andrew I did not remember about Beth. She will always feed me. And Andrew might be missing a hand right about now.

So the indignity was complete. Then soap was administered to my being. I’ll forgo telling of the other ignominies I suffered. Let the record show that I am now a clean dog, albeit against my will.

As soon as I finish typing this, I have to hurry over to Beth’s. I’ve been invited for dinner and maybe a sleep over. Andrew wasn’t invited. He didn’t take a bath today.

http://huckfinn76.com

Danny and the Toad

 

Is she gone yet?

Danny the Dog here with another tale of lust and depravity, oh wait, that’s Andrew’s bailiwick. Andrew, for the few of you who don’t know, is my human. My stories have to do with the finer things in life. Such as rolling on the grass, sniffing where another dog has peed and most important of all, hot dogs.

Today’s story has to do with an incident that took place almost ten years ago when I was just a pup, so to speak. What reminded me of it was something that happened this morning while I was walking Andrew.

It was still dark out, we were in the park, and I caught the scent of something vaguely familiar. I put my snoot to the ground and tried to search it out. Andrew stood there tapping his foot and saying, “Come on, let’s go,” over and over again. But as usual, I ignored him. Finally, I got a bead on the elusive scent. It was a toad. I found his hiding place and the little bugger hopped away with me in hot pursuit. Then I was almost yanked off my feet by Andrew as he pulled the leash, that damn insidious leash. Andrew said to me, “Haven’t you learned your lesson? The last time you caught one those, it cost me a lot money to save your life.”

Let me back up for a moment and explain something. Here in Florida, we have these toads, they have a special name, I think Andrew calls them Bufo toads. When they feel threatened, they secrete a poison on their backs and evidently, it can kill you.

A while back when we lived at another marina and I wasn’t on a leash 24/7, I had a run in with one of these toads. I liked that marina. Andrew and I were the only ones that lived there and because it was all fenced in, Andrew would let me roam around at night. It was six acres (whatever an acre is) and I had many adventures on those nights. Someday I’ll tell you about them. However, now it’s about the toad.

I had the run of the marina, and I was having a ball running and sniffing all over the place. Then this big toad had the temerity to jump out in front of me. Me, Danny the Dog! So I took out after him. It was a short race; he ended up in my mouth. I chewed on him for a minute or so, but then I spit him out. He didn’t taste too good. Seeing as how it was near the end of the night (I wasn’t allowed to run around during the day when the gates where open and people were around) I trotted on back to the boat and lay down on the dock to get some much needed rest. It had been a good night.

Andrew must have heard the jingling of my medals (that’s what he calls my tags) because he came up out of the boat. He took one look at me and raced for the hose. Now, you folks that know me know that I do not like water and my first impulse was to run. But I couldn’t move. Andrew later said that I was foaming at the mouth and he knew I had met up with a toad. He washed my mouth out as best he could and when he saw that I was paralyzed (his word); he picked me up and placed me on the front seat of the car.

It being a Sunday, my regular doctor was not around. Somehow, Andrew found a place. This was before he had a computer. I think he used what the ancients called a “telephone book.” Anyway, he carried me in and laid me on a table. A human in a white coat came over and consulted with Andrew. Even though I couldn’t move, I could still hear. The gist of the conversation was that the poison from the toad, among other things, dehydrated me. So a needle was stuck in me. If I could have moved, I would have bit the vet. We were there three hours and the whole time Andrew stroked my head and talked to me. Once I saw a single tear roll down his face.

As Andrew likes to tell it, $900.00 later, he carried me out of there.

In a day or so, I was my old self again, making Andrew’s life miserable and causing trouble. But I did let up bit because I remembered that single tear.

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Danny Escapes

Is she gone yet?

FREEDOM! At long last, I was free for a short while today. I’m Danny the Dog and I write about my adventures in these pages. For the neophytes in the crowd, I’ll explain that I live on a boat with my human (whose name is Andrew) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. To set this story up correctly, I’ll have to go over some previously disclosed material.

Every morning I take Andrew for a walk, and when we return, he ties my leash to the dock. There is a bowl of water and the leash is twenty feet long, so I have no problem with that because I like sitting outside in the cool of the morning. To thank me for talking him for his walk, he gives me a hotdog every morning (yummy, my favorite!). And then he lets me sit outside until the sun comes fully up. And as an extra bonus, I get to bark at Duke and Little Guy, two dogs that live across the water on the other side of the marina. Can you believe this? Every morning they have the effrontery to come out of their boat and take their humans for a walk. In my marina!

Now on to the great escape.

Our routine is this: I’ll sit on the dock until I’m good and ready to go in. Then I’ll give my one bark command and Andrew will come out and unclip me from the leash. I then proceed to the back of the boat and go down the gangplank. It works for us, but this morning I had another idea. You see, on the way back to the boat, I had detected an enticing scent. It was some sort of human food. But Andrew would not let me get near it. And the day I can’t outsmart Andrew is the day I’ll turn in my membership card to the canine race.

What I did differently this morning was to smile at him when he unclipped me and then I lay down on the dock. I put my chin on my front paws; I looked so cute. It gets him every time. I looked like I wasn’t going anywhere. So Andrew told me he’d give me five more minutes, and then I had to come inside. His big mistake was in not re-attaching me to the leash. As soon as the door closed, I was outta there.

I headed right for the scent I had discovered earlier. What I found was scrumptious. I don’t know what it was, but it was delicious.  Then I thought to myself, as long as I’m out and about, I might as well do a little exploring. First, I would go and visit my friend Beth. She always has a kind word for me, rubs my head, and best of all, she gives me a goodie. She must not have been on her boat because I did not see her. So next, I trotted a few boats up the dock to call on Lloyd. His treats aren’t as good as Beth’s, but he’s a good guy. He wasn’t home either. This was getting ridiculous! Where is a dog supposed to cadge a free treat? Then it hit me, Dave and Peggy’s. They live with Duke and Little Guy, so if I can let those two curs live in my marina; the least their humans can do is feed me. Maybe if I looked real cute and sad I could con them into giving me something special.

No dice, no one home. Then I heard it, the voice of doom. “DANNY! DANNY!” It was Andrew calling to me. I don’t know why he does that. I have never responded in any way, shape or form to his calling me in the entirety of our acquaintance.

I saw him before he saw me and ducked behind a car. I let him pass, still calling my name, and then I headed in the opposite direction. That was my mistake; I should have stayed hidden. Andrew turned and saw me and yelled very loud, “STAY!”

I don’t know what came over me, but for the first time in my life, I obeyed him. It must have been something in his voice. I think he was a little angry with me. And I was re-leashed up before I knew it.

Well, that’s the story of my career as an escapee. Andrew was a little ticked off with me, but after I sat through his lecture about running away, I still got half a hotdog when we got home. What a sucker he is.