Another week, another story. What do you think of this one? (Like last week, pictures will come a little later.)
By Laura McHale Holland
Perched on the rickety wooden rail, I look down at the hound whining and pacing along the shore. In the water, a straw hat bobs against the rocks at the river’s edge. I stand tall, take a deep breath and dive from the bridge. I’m a strong swimmer. If the person who owns the hat is in distress, I figure I can help.
But the current is stronger than I’d thought, and the water far colder. I struggle to reach the surface, but each time I grab a short breath, I am pulled back under.
Finally, I grab a branch jutting into the water. I inch along the wooden limb to the shore and claw myself up onto the bank. I’m about a mile down river from the bridge. I pause to let my heart beat return to normal and then find a path running along the river and walk back to the bridge.
About half a dozen people are at the rail. They’re throwing rose petals into the water. I walk to the rail and look down. The hat and hound are gone.
I ask the person closest to me, a gray-haired woman chewing on a cigar, “Did you see a hound a little while ago, pacing along the shore?” I point to where the canine had been.
“Ah, sonny, that would be ole Buddy, best darn dog there ever was.” she replies.
“What do you mean ‘was’? I just saw it there before I dove in. I thought maybe the owner of the hat was down in the water.”
“You were right about that, ‘cept you’re ten years too late, kid. My Winston was fishin’ right here off the bridge, and he fell in. Don’t know how it happened. Nobody saw. But Buddy must have run down to the water and gone in after him. They were found two days later way down river. Buddy’s jaws were clenched tight on Winston’s shirt, but they were both long gone. Today’s the 10-year anniversary, sorry to say. That’s why we’re here on the bridge. Winston loved his rose garden. I keep it up the best I can, you know, in his memory an’ all.”
Suddenly aware of how wet my clothes still are, I start to shiver. I back away from the woman while reaching deep into my pants pocket, thankful my car keys hadn’t fallen into the river. I turn and see my Subaru parked where I’d left it at a pullout a few feet from the bridge. I press the unlock button on my keychain, dash to the car and get in. Without even pausing to put on my seatbelt, I start the engine and peel away from the bridge as fast as I can.