“Is the moon really blue sometimes?” Yellow moonlight highlighted two small faces close together on one queen size pillow.
“I don’t know, I’ve never seen it,” the seven-year-old replied.
“But why does Grammy say ‘Well, that only happens once in a blue moon’ when I tell her I know a miracle is going to happen some day, and Daddy won’t be sick anymore?” The four-year-old delivered his question with big round eyes, watching his older brother’s face for the wisdom he trusted was there.
“I don’t know I told you,” fear and insecurity making his voice tight. He averted his younger brother’s gaze. “Let’s go to sleep before he gets home and starts yelling.” The older brother pulled his sibling toward him, turning them both on their sides so they could sleep in spoon-like fashion. It felt safer that way.
“Can we keep him?” The next afternoon found Garret, standing at the bottom of the front porch steps, looking up at his mother, holding tightly to a twine tied around a small dog‘s neck. “He’s lost…and lonely,” he added for good measure. “He needs me.” And she understood.
“Dad never comes home ‘till late, and we’ll be in bed by then; Button could sleep with us! I’ll feed him and water him, and Grady can help when he comes home from school. He won’t be no trouble, Mom, honest.! Dad won’t even have to know we got him.” His voice took on a begging, hopeful tone.
Noting he’d already named the mutt, fear curdled in her stomach. Another confrontation, another disappointment for the boys.
“Honey, Daddy is sick and can’t stand for extra things that irritate him. Dogs sometimes bark and chew things up. That’ll make Daddy mad. You wouldn’t want that would you? We’ll look for a home for him. He must belong to somebody.” She doubted he did. His coat was dirty and tangled, his sides too thin and he had the same pitiful pleading look her son did.
“Take him inside and give him some bread and water for now, not too much, just a slice and a cup of water so he doesn’t get sick. I’ll see what I can do.” She hoped Charles bar stop after work would be short.
“I’m home! Where’s supper?” the loud, somewhat slurred words shattered the brittle silence in the home. She hoped the boys were asleep and the dog wouldn’t leave their side.
“Hi, Li’l darlin’, give me a kiss and then a hot supper! Your lovin’ daddy’s home.”
A loving mood could change like a flash of lightning, become hot, sharp, damaging. Allowing a whiskey-breath kiss on the cheek, she hurried to the oven to retrieve his supper.
“Ow!” He spit the mashed potato on the floor. “That’s too hot!” came out laced with expletives.
Suddenly, a high but fierce bark came from the boys’ room, followed by vigorous scratching sounds on the door. Fear dropped her stomach and weakened her legs. Her glance pivoted from Charles’s face to the convicting door.
“What the ….” Charles muttered as he lurched toward the door and turned the knob. The now clean and shiny mutt scrambled out and charged his ankle. Fortunately his work pants were thick denim, and the small teeth didn’t find soft flesh.
“Where did this dog come from?” was actually a much longer sentence with all the expletives he added for good measure, but the basic question still rang through.
“Sh-h-h, you’ll wake the boys. Garrett found him and wanted to keep him. I…I’ve tried to find someone to take him. I will tomorrow,” she assured hurriedly. Please keep him calm and accepting, she prayed silently.
Suddenly, he clutched his chest and pitched forward, hitting the wall with his head as he fell.
“Oh, my God,” she cried as she ran to kneel beside him. “Charles, what’s wrong, are you all right? Can you hear me?” Her hands were shaking as she pulled him clear of the wall and shook his shoulders. She ran to the phone.
Charles’s recovery from a moderate heart attack did not take as long as his recovery from the amnesia the concussion produced. And because he came too with a small dog kissing his face, having been knocked “stone cold sober,” he was loved into thinking he’d always been like he was now, a tee totaling, loving father with a fondness for dogs.
As he and his Grammy watched the blue moon rise, Garrett remarked, “Two October moons are really something.”
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