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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Happy (07/12/07)

TITLE: The Mutts
By william price
07/18/07
~2nd Place


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Heat lightning arched across the night sky like angelic electric fingers. Gusting winds were rustling through leafy treetops in front of an old wooden home on Nelson Avenue.

Zachariah Roberts was sipping tea in his rocking chair on his porch watching nature’s fireworks when a stray dog wandered onto his lawn. No doubt it was a mutt; a mixture of at least five different breeds. It slowly ambled up to the porch steps and sat down. It looked like it was smiling.

“What’s your name?” Zachariah asked as he stroked his solid white beard.

The mutt just sat, panting.

“Okay, so you can’t speak. I wish my last wife would’ve had that problem.”

Still, the dog sat and stared at the widower, its big brown eyes glistening.

“Oh, so you don’t like wife jokes, eh? Must be female. You just out for a stroll? You hungry? Thirsty?”

The mutt remained silent.

“Tell you what, Missy. I’ll go in and get you something to eat and drink. I have two slices of baloney left. I’ll share. And I have the coldest water in town. My secret? I keep it in the fridge. Don’t tell, okay?”

Zachariah limped inside his house to fetch the food for his guest. When he came back out she was gone.

“Hmmm? Hey, Missy.”

He whistled. Nothing. The old man’s smile dissolved. He turned and slowly took the meat and water back in the house. It was getting late so he started getting ready for bed. Zachariah went back out on the porch to get his tea cup and saw two mutts sitting before him.

“What’s this,” he asked scratching his balding head.

“Just because you heard me say I had two pieces of baloney doesn’t mean I have one for your friend. You’ll just have to share. An old man has to eat also.”

The two mutts sat and panted.

“Your friend is about as talkative as you, Missy.”

Zachariah started to go back into the house when a large crack of lightning exploded on a power pole a few houses down. Sparks flew into the air. The street went dark, except for the old wooden house. It had the only lights the old man could see.

After a few minutes Zachariah noticed candles being lit in his neighbors’ homes. A couple people ventured out their front doors with flashlights.

“Well, Missy. You and your friend must be pretty special mutts. Seems I have the only electricity on the block.”

One-by-one, neighbors started making their way to Zachariah’s well lit house. Mrs. Winkersham, a round looking woman in her mid-sixties waddled over first.

“Hello neighbor,” Mrs. Winkersham said with a raspy voice. “My name’s Martha. Don’t think we’ve met. These your dogs?”

Zachariah hadn’t had any company in years.

“They’re my dogs tonight, Martha. Pleased to meet you. My name’s Zach.”

Other neighbors stopped by. Soon, about a dozen people were sitting on Zachariah’s front porch marveling that his electricity was still on.

In the middle of multi-conversations, Zach looked down at the two mutts.

“Almost forgot about you and your friend, Missy. Let me go get you something to eat.”

The not-so-lonely old man turned to his other guests, “Shall I put some tea on for everyone?”

“That would be nice, Zach,” Mrs. Winkersham responded with a warm smile.

Mr. Silverbean from across the street offered to go get some banana bread. Roberta Moore said she had some apple pie. Zachariah was in such good spirits he gave both pieces of his baloney to the mutts.

The next hour everyone sat, talked, ate, sipped tea and took turns petting the dogs. They decided to call Missy’s friend, Harpo, because he didn’t speak. Zachariah never laughed so much.

It wasn’t long and the lights came back on Nelson Avenue. Everybody groaned and reluctantly headed back to their homes. Zachariah was watching Mrs. Winkersham waddle down the sidewalk when she turned around.

“Hey, Zach. Would you like to go to church Sunday?”

The old man thought about it for a second and looked down at the mutts. Missy let out a bark and Harpo nodded his head.

“Yes, Martha. That would be nice,” Zachariah answered with a big grin.
When he looked back down for the mutts they were gone.

The old man tilted his head and then up toward the sky.

“Angelic mutts? God, you have to be real. Thanks for caring about an old lonely man. See you in church.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 07/19/07
Entertaining angels unaware, eh? Neat story.
Mo 07/19/07
Excellent!
Dee Yoder 07/20/07
This is just the nicest little story! I really had fun visiting with the neighbors and it made me happy that Zachariah was finally going to have friends. This story made my night!
Dee Yoder 07/20/07
P.S. Love the doggie angels!
Joanne Sher 07/21/07
Absolutely charming and delightful - and I love your doggies. This is a real heart-warmer.
LaNaye Perkins07/22/07
What a delightful story to read. Well done!
Delores Baber07/23/07
Your story caused me to realize that neighbors never communicate like they did when I was a child. They are constantly being entertained by TV and Web sites. TV is a substitute for real fellowship. They may show tea commercials, but you can't taste the tea; You may see a family eating a piece of pie, but that will bring your stomach no comfort. Maybe we all need a visit from Missy and Harpo once in a while, to break the electronic spell and bring us together as neighbors once did. Good piece of writing.
Catrina Bradley 07/23/07
One of my favorites! I'm reminded of the story "Stone Soup" from my childhood. Loved the descriptions - I could see the doggies' faces. :) A beautiful, well told story.
Joy Faire Stewart07/23/07
This is one of my favorites this week. I enjoyed Zach's humor & kindness...the ending was perfect. Excellent writing.
Dianne Janak07/24/07
I love dog and angel stories but I thought about the time my town in Texas flooded. Many people commented as horrid as it was to lose their belongings, neighbors talked and helped each other for the first time. It actually made up for the tragedy to some because today people are so isolated and lonely in their suburbs. Great job.. I loved it!
Dixie Phillips 07/24/07
I really enjoyed your down-home style. Your wit sprinkled with warmth made this a favorite in my book.
Pam Carlson-Hetland07/25/07
Fun to read. Loved the doggie angels. Made me smile. You are are great story-teller, makes a reader feel like they're there.
Loren T. Lowery07/25/07
This was absolutely tereffic! Nice, warm, home-town spun story; and oh so creative. It was so well written in fact that I believe it and will be on the look out from my porch for those two angelic mutts ambling by.
Sara Harricharan 07/25/07
Awww! I like this. The last line with "Angelic mutts?" was just too funny! I liked this old guy, he was real! The dogs were my favorites though. ^_^
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/25/07
You had a great character study in this charming story. I won't forget the "angelic mutts," and isn't that one of the reasons we write?
Kristen Hester07/26/07
Ohhhhh. Ahhhhh. This is great. I am so touched by your sweet story. I hope it does well because it's a winner in my book.
Sara Harricharan 07/26/07
CONGRATULATIONS! ^_^
Marilee Alvey07/26/07
Bill, you've enchanted me with this very creative tale. It's very down home, very relaxing. Angelic mutts? Wherever do you get your ideas? I'd like to shop there. Congratulations on your well deserved win, friend!
Dee Yoder 07/26/07
Congratulations, Bill! Loved this story!
Sheri Gordon07/26/07
Congratulations -- this story is very endearing. I love Zachariah's character.
Loren T. Lowery07/26/07
Way to go, Bill. This was a favorite of mine this week!
Edy T Johnson 07/26/07
You did it again, SirWilliam! I just love the characters that flow out of your creative imagination. You should be as famous as Dickens or O. Henry if you keep this up. (^&^) Congratulations, too!
Helen Paynter07/26/07
What fun! Angels in disguise! As always, you entertain and provoke thought. COngratulations on your win.
Lisa Holloway07/26/07
Well, this'll teach me not to read the comments first! Still a good read with realistic and lovable characters. God does work in mysterious ways...
Jacquelyn Horne07/27/07
Congrats on the win. I'm late reading, but you really don't need more comments! Good job.