Vasant 2024 Stories - Debra White

 

She had a list but ...

By Debra White

 

The list was completed weeks ago. Bonnie spent a lot of time covering every last detail, or so she thought. Location was important. The ideal setting had to be remote, secluded with no one around. After a long search, Bonnie chose the little town of Butterbee because it was quaint, quiet and sparsely populated. She’d never been there before but a computer search showed the nicest pictures. It seemed like alovely town with cute stores, pleasant people.Would she ever live there? To carry out her plan, she’d drive to the outskirts of Butterbee just before dark. Nearly all stores closed at sunset.

 

Not much happened around Butterbee the internet said other than the public park where weekend picnics were held, soccer games played and families walked together for fresh air. Bingo, her rescue dog, would be left at a boarding kennel. This time he wouldn’t go for the ride in Bonnie’s sputtering car as he often did. That dog seemed so happy with the wind caressing his whiskers as he accompanied Bonnie wherever she went. He wasn’t fussy. Neither was Bonnie. She couldn’t afford to be. A car accident years ago left her with significant limitations.


Bonnie mapped out the directions to Butterbee although her neighbor had mentioned being out that way once or twice before. Follow the main road thenturn right after passing state route 113. Drive by a ranger station, continue for two miles then turn right and drive for another half a mile. Simple enough. She expected to arrive outside Butterbee when few people would be on the road.Bonnie waited weeks for this day, keeping her plans secret.Better that way.


Before leaving her small trailer, she vacuumed the floors, dusted the furniture and washed the dishes in the sink. She took out the garbage. After a quick shower, she opened her closet and picked out that darling two piece cotton pant suit she bought on sale last month at a local clothing store. Lime green highlighted her gray, curly hair but would it matter now? The weather forecast was ideal, the gas tank was full, and she was ready.What could possibly go wrong? Something did.
That stray dog, probably hit by a car, lying on the side of the road, disrupted her plans.

 

The blood-stained mess of brown and gold fur heldher attention as sheslowly drove by.Darn, she said to herself, her plan was almost in action. Dog, don't do this to me, not now. Bonnie saw no one else on the desolate stretch of road so she slowly backed up. The whimpering dog barely lifted his head. Hurt, bleeding but still alive, Bonnie'sgut said leave, follow through with your plans, but her heart said no, help this pathetic creature. She remembered Bingo’s story when she adopted him. Some kind person had found him tied to a park bench in the blistering summer and brought him to a shelter.


Bonnie flipped on her warning lights so she too would not be hit just in case someone sped by.One serious car accident was enough for her.Ripping through the pile of junk on her backseat, Bonnie looked for an old towel or sheet to cover the dog. Instead, she came up with only magazines and tattered paperbacks. She slid out of her jacket and wrapped it around the injured dog then lifted him into her car. The relief in his eyes said thank you. A lone tear moved down her cheek as she stroked tufts of dirty fur on his battered body. Not familiar with the area, Bonnie wondered where to drive for emergency veterinary care. A quick Google search located an all-night emergency veterinary clinic a few miles away.


Dr. Stan Mosely said the stray, a mix of something or another, was likely run over by a car. The driver either didn't know what happened or didn't care to stop. Despite blood loss, the dog's only serious injury was a broken leg and a few chipped teeth. Thedog was friendly despite being malnourished, dehydrated and in need of a good grooming. An overnight stay was required. Would Bonnie pay? The alternative? A trip to the county shelter in the morning where Bonnie knew what the likely outcome would be. She left her credit card number and promised to return the next day to pick up the dog.


Now that her plans were upended, Bonnie sat in the clinic parking lot with the radio on. A visit to a local bar wasn't an option. She had quit drinking several years ago. Listening to the smooth sounds of jazz, she cradled her face with both hands and wept. With her sleeve, she wiped her puffy eyes, composed herself then drove off. What should she do? Where should she go? What had she almost done?


Tears stained her suicide note sitting in her lap. Bonnie crumbled the piece of paper and tossed it behind into the rest of the junk she had collected. That's what her life was like. A mess. Nothing seemed to fit anymore. Suicide seemedher only way out. Lonely, depressed, and living on the edge wore her down. Bonnie thought that sounded trivial when other people scraped by on pennies a day in the Third World or were in violent marriages but she missed middle class perks such as the daily New York Times, specialty coffee, and cable television. Her lifestyle was always strictly middle class but losing it was more than she could handle.

 

The rental house she shared with friends fell into foreclosure because the landlord stopped paying the mortgage. To keep up with the rising rent at a trailer park, she watered down shampoo, dish soap and laundry detergent. Grocery shopping started at the dollar store. Even though it could be repulsive, Bonnie dug through the trash for aluminum cans to recycle for cash. She held a master's degree but couldn't find a job. A brain disability from a car accident prevented that. Saying yes to special accommodations was as good as saying she was a wanted felon. The loneliness of not having a family eroded her soul. She envied others with close spouses, siblings, etc. She married once but her husband left her for another woman.


On the way to leave the world behind, an unwanted, injured dog needed her just like Bingo did when she adopted him. This stray, however, wasn't supposed to interrupt her plans. Not particularly religious, Bonnie thought that maybe an angel had sent him. She unloaded the handgun hidden in her trunk, drove home, and arrived at the boarding kennel a few minutes before closing.Bingo slobbered on her cheek as if he hadn’t seen Bonnie in months when it had only been a few hours. After throwing on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, she fixed herself a snack then searched the internet for a local rescue group to take the dog that saved her life. She slept soundly that night for a change with Bingo resting at the foot of her bed.

 

The next morning, Bonnie begged, pleaded and cajoled until someone said yes. After hours on the phone, she brewed herself a cup of coffee. Then, Bonnie called the vet’s office and asked to speak to Dr. Mosley. The receptionist said there was no one there by that name.


“What’d you mean? He helped me last evening when I brought in a stray dog hit by a car. I’m calling to say I found a rescue to help.”


“What dog are you talking about lady?” the receptionist said.


“A brownish gold stray, medium sized. I found him along the road near your clinic. I brought him in myself. Dr. Mosely helped me,” Bonnie said.


“You must have us confused with another clinic. There’s no Dr. Mosley here and no stray dog came in overnight. It’s busy here now. I can’t talk to you anymore.”
“Wait, I’m sure it was this clinic,” Bonnie said.


The line went flat.


Bonnie searched the internetfor Butterbee veterinary clinics. There were only two in the surrounding area. She had just talked with one and called the other. No one at the second clinichad ever heard of Dr. Stan Moseley nor had they received a brown and gold stray dog hit by a car. Dr. Stan Mosley’s name turned up nothing on an internet search.


Was Bonnie losing her mind? Did she really come across an injured stray dog? Or did something else happen on her way to commit suicide? Bingo her dog plopped himself down by Bonnie’s chair. His tail flapped up and down.


“It’s ok boy,” Bonnie said.“I’m not going anywhere.”


Bingo rested her head on her lap.


Bonnie still wasn’t sure what happened the evening before. Was it divine intervention? Or was her mind clouded by confusion?Now that her plans were disrupted, she’d figure something out. One way or another she’d get by, even with watered down dish soap and day old bread. She leashed Bingo and took him out for a short walk around the trailer park. Life? She’d make the most of it no matter what.

 

Her life would matter.

 

Debra White is from U.S. A 1994 car accident ended her career due to a traumatic brain injury. She re-invented herself through volunteer work and writing. Debra wrote for Animal Wellness, Arizona Republic, Social Work, Airports of the World, Psychology Today, and others. She reviewed books, contributed book chapters and wrote a book for TFH Publications.

 

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