Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Pros and Cons (08/14/14)
- TITLE: A Plea from the Heart.
By Danielle King
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“Oh my, Bonnie, this is tough!” His old pal snoozed on beside him. “You haven’t even heard me girl, have you.”
A couple of would be fell-walkers strode out down the lane. “Just look at ‘em - Townies. Crag hopper pants, pompom hats, and boots that’ll never see muck, ne’er mind climb a fell. Whatever is the world coming to?
“At least they’re not stone huggers mate. Middle-aged hippies; Drunk as skunks, coming here to connect. Who wants to bond with a boulder for Pete’s sake?
“Turning up for sunrise, not budging ‘til it sets over yon fell. It’s been rising and setting since the good Lord made it. My… are they slow to catch on!”
He tickled Bonnie’s ear. “Still, I wouldn’t have you, would I old love?” A half-hearted tail wag warmed his heart.
Old Eddie sighed from the toes of his boots. Mulling the past was never helpful. Yes, he’d inadvertently gained a best friend, but losing his entire herd of livestock gutted him.
He’d watched the horror unfold. One by one, his cattle and sheep led away.
Daisy, Matilda, Sunshine, Buttercup…
Burning pyres of animal carcasses were broadcast live on National News Media. 6.5 million cattle, sheep and pigs.
Foot and Mouth is a farmer’s greatest nightmare. There was no debating; it had to be done. It was compulsory by law, and it was sense.
2001 was a bad year!
He tenderly stroked Bonnie’s nose and watched those old white whiskers twitch in acknowledgement. “Dear Bonnie. This time, it’s between you and me only.”
He sat back in his seat and started up the engine. Since the crisis, like many farmers, he’d lost heart. Some turned their hand to tourism. Others sold ice-cream.
But old Eddie was finished.
It was the dark night of the soul when he found Bonnie, drenched and shivering, tied to a gatepost.
Something in those soulful eyes sucked him right in. She was mournful, like him; desolate, bewildered and frightened.
A truly pitiful plight.
So what to do?
He could walk away. Some hikers would come by eventually. But brewing overhead was an infamous Cumbrian mega-storm.
Maybe he’d drop her at the animal sanctuary in town. Someone might adopt, or not, in which case she’d eventually be put down.
He could advertise for the hapless white witches who’d forgotten to take her, to make contact. But that did not sit well.
So… he took her home. Not for long mind, he’d told her, just while I think awhile.
Two wretched souls, sitting up late by the log fire, warily weighing each other up.
Eddie, with loaded shotgun by the hearth;
And Bonnie, scrutinising every move, eyes wide as saucers.
“Don’t worry mate. The bullet’s not for you,” he said at length. Tentatively, she padded over and nuzzled his arm.
“You telling me something pal?” He asked. “Are we hitched? A couple of saddo’s hitting it off?”
Did ever a dog smile? That little black tail swished the dust off his boots. Two pleading eyes knocked the socks off him. But his toothy grin downright broke the ice. She leaped on his knee and set about licking his face, ears, hands…
“Okay, we’re good,” he laughed. “You’ve got a bed for the night, but no promises, mind.”
One man and his dog; inseparable. Bad days and good, she perceived every emotion. Sometimes lying quietly by his feet, other times tugging playfully at his pants.
Thirteen years on and there she lay, snuggled in blankets on the passenger seat; still stirring his emotions.
Again, what to do?
Almost blind, partially deaf and in pain through arthritic joints, she knew he was there, and fretted when he wasn’t.
A loyal friend who’d once saved him from his own shotgun, dragging aching bones, wincing with every move as she steadily deteriorated.
That night, he carried her from the truck, gently laid her in her bed and loaded the shotgun. He lay beside her. She felt him close and settled into light, spasmodic sleep.
“Please God; I do not want to do this.” He waited awhile before silently scrambling to his feet.
He aimed the gun… stared hard at his soul mate, blinked, and stared some more.
He put down the gun.
Kneeling, he cradled the lifeless body in his arms, and wept.
“Thank you Lord,” he whispered.
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