Dear anipals – the following story was written by my human Papa (in Scotland papa is grandfather) who passed OTRB long before I was born but has had such an influence on the lives of his family and my Mum (his daughter) especially that I understand he is an important part of my doggy life too.
Papa dabbled in short story writing when he was a young man and this is one of the two stories which have survived him. We hope you enjoy it.
Love & leggies, Nutty x
They were coming for him. I could hear their heavy hob-nailed boots crunching on the gravel drive that leads up to the farm. Yes they were coming and although they hadn’t said so, I knew they were going to kill him. Going to kill Joe, my friend, and I couldn’t stop them…
Oh yes I had tried, tried to reason, to plead, to threaten the men who were coming for him but they just shook their heads at me and pushed me firmly aside. ‘We don’t want to hurt you Johnny,’ they said ‘but we’ll have to if you don’t turn him in.’ But even in the face of their threats, I still wouldn’t give Joe away because I felt sure he would never have given me away if the position had been reversed.
‘Don’t you understand Johnny,’ they said ‘he’s a killer and we know his kind will go on killing and killing. We know this because we have experienced it before and we will find him, no matter where he is hiding. We must find him, and find him soon before he kills again.’ They stalked angrily away but confidently sure they would find him without my help. With them it was just a matter of time.
I first met Joe 3 years ago on a cold winter night. He was hungry and alone, staggering with exhaustion up the path to the barn where he could at least sleep warm in the straw. We took him in and fed him. We looked after him and in a few weeks his strength returned to him, his chest filled out and his face grew more rounded instead of the gaunt, hungry look it once had. He was powerful was Joe, and he certainly repaid us by the way he worked on the farm. He didn’t want wages, just his food and his keep and he was happy. We thought he would just stay for a little while to show his gratitude to us but he stayed for 3 years and in that time had become one of the family and now they were coming for him…
I could hear them turn away from the house and come towards the barn where we were hiding. It hadn’t taken them long to find him or maybe they had seen me come into the barn – oh what a fool I’d been to come here. Me who had been too loyal to my friend to give him away and done just that by coming here. But I had to bring him food so what else can I do? But it was too late to do anything now. I had failed him as I am sure he would never have failed me. As I looked towards him and signed for him to be quiet I whispered ‘Sorry Joe’ but he never uttered a sound. I saw the big barn doors open and the two big men came in, bigger than me or Joe and they had rifles in their hands. It took all my willpower not to cry out.
‘Johnny,’ the taller of the two shouted. I signaled to Joe and we both lay quiet in the straw. ‘Come on Johnny. We know you’re in there.’ There was a pause then he said ‘We want to tell you we are sorry.’ I looked down from the top of the bales I was lying on. ‘Do you really mean that Abe?’ I called ‘you’re not going to shoot Joe now?’
‘No. We’re not going to shoot him now or ever,’ bit Abe said jerking his thumb at the other man with him ‘Bill caught the killer in the act. Got him right between the eyes with old Betsy here and that was that. We just stopped in to say we’re sorry before we head into the village to tell the folks to call off the search. We saw you come in here with a sack of grub so while we are away get Joe out of that straw up there and both of you bring the sheep from the west meadow into the pens for shearing. A man can’t do it alone, not without a sheepdog like Joe, especially a little man like you who is only 10 years old eh?’
They laughed as they walked away, the crunching of their boots on gravel faded away. I felt very happy, not only was Joe safe but I could boast to my friends in the village that one of my big brothers shot the sheep killer.
In Loving Memory and of Love Never Forgotten
Alexander McCallum (1934 – 2011)