The Best and the Worst Day Ever.....
“Where am I?”
All I could see when I opened my eyes were white sterile surroundings and in between the white walls and me was a human being in more white clothes. Was I dead? I was thinking I was dead but then there was no bright white light, just that tall woman in white. I had read about people who said God was a woman. Maybe she was God.
I was so groggy I couldn’t think straight and possibly couldn’t see straight either. And that is when a tall blonde gentleman came into my view, leaned down and whispered to me, “How do you feel Julianna?”
And that is when I started to wail like a baby. “Duke, where is Duke? He is my best friend and he is gone. Get me my Duke!”
Dr. Armstrong told me to relax or they would have to give me a sedative.
Then I screamed even louder as I leaped out of that sterile hospital bed and began searching for my clothes. I told those people I didn’t know how I got there but I wasn’t staying. I had to go find my dog Duke. That someone had stolen him and then I broke down sobbing again. I had to go and find Duke because he will be frightened doctor. He has never been away from me. Who would do this? Who? And that is when I remembered the “stack” of thieves I kicked out of my motel room the night before. Why I didn’t even know their names. But Pam sure did. I knew I had to regain my composure or the hospital staff would not allow me to leave. So I did! I spoke with such eloquence you would have thought I was Princess Grace herself who made a pit stop in Amarillo on her way to Los Angeles.
I paid my bill at the hospital office with a hand that shook like there was an earthquake happening at that precise moment just like the one going on inside of my head. I had to calm down. It was at that moment I realized I didn’t know how I got to that hospital which meant I also didn’t know how I was getting back to the motel. The emergency room nurse relayed to me that a man had carried me into that entrance, where he sat me in a wheelchair and left.
“Well gosh sakes, didn’t he leave his name?” I said.
“No ma’am, he was driving a nice truck though, a black and silver truck. Oh and there was a big dog in the back. That dog was barking like he was trying to tell us something big. “
My face turned a light shade of green and then a deep shade of angry red. Who had my dog and why?
I called a cab to take me back to the motel. I had then decided to contact the police until I realized they wouldn’t do anything about Duke. Heck, Duke wasn’t a missing person, he was a dog. I grabbed my jacket from my room and headed for the restaurant where I figured on pulling all of Pam’s hair out chunk by chunk. I was not ordinarily a violent person, but so far she had shown me she was a thief and untrustworthy. I wouldn’t be able to do that while she was working so I figured on keeping my cool until her shift ended. Then I would pull all her hair out chunk by chunk until she told me where my Duke was.
Pam and I visited all friendly while in public. She asked me if I could reach my friend, the one I mentioned that needed a job. I had totally forgotten about Tom Baird until Pam reminded me. I couldn’t seem to think on anything else but Duke. I did ask Pam if she still had the names of those boys we met at the drive in the night before. She said she did. I asked her if I could see the paper with their names on it. She stopped what she was doing, looked me dead in the eye. The look on her face reminded me of one of those mug shot posters at the Post Office. What was her deal anyway I thought. She told me she didn’t have it with her but would stop over to my room with it later after her shift ended. That I should get in touch with Tom and get him over there for an interview today. I inquired as to what job title I should tell him he was applying for. Pam told me she needed a dishwasher as well as bussing duties. And that he would get a portion of the tips from the girls at the end of each evening. I thanked her and left quietly without pulling all her hair out.
I walked back to my room and then to my car. I scanned all around for the silver truck and or Duke. I was fighting back tears yet I knew sobbing would do no good and it might even cause me to faint again. No way was I going back to that sterile white place. Who in the world carried me into that hospital? He had to be someone that cared. If he cared why would he steal my dog. Maybe he is taking care of Duke somewhere until he sees I am back at the motel. I wanted to curl up in a fetal position in my room and stay there forever but that wouldn’t get Duke back or Tom a job. Heck Tom might not even want the job. I was definitely not minding my own business. In fact my own business seemed to need some help of its own.
I drove across town toward Tom’s daughter’s place all the while looking everywhere for the black and silver truck and or Duke. I made a stop at the Montgomery Ward Store where I picked out a brand new shiny Raleigh bike for Tom. He was getting on in years and I only hoped he could still ride a bicycle. It sure was a pretty red and white one with all chrome handlebars and spokes. Behind the seat was an area for a back pack to be fastened on. I prayed Tom would accept my gift because I sure didn’t have any one else to give it to. Besides, he needed some way of getting around town. Even though I was feeling happy about Tom, my heart was bleeding for Duke. I told God if he let me find old Duke I would never let him out of my sight again. Probably a promise that couldn’t be kept but I meant it all the same.
While daydreaming about all the good times Duke and I had I don’t recall driving the rest of the way to Tom’s place, yet suddenly there it was. And me, I had some serious butterflies going on. I parked out front, untied the ropes that was holding the bike half inside my trunk, pulled, yanked, and lifted it up and out and onto the sidewalk. At that precise moment the front door opened and out strolled Tom Baird. I felt like a kid who got her fingers caught in the cookie jar. Let me tell you that man’s pride was as big as Texas. I figured the next thing to happen was me being asked to leave the scene, but instead the old man walked over to me and greeted me with a fatherly hug. Then he stepped back and said, “So what brings you back here Miss Julianna?”
To say I stuttered would be an understatement. I finally got my mouth in gear enough to tell him I had decided to stay an extra few days to see the sights which of course was an untruth. I continued with how I was staying at the Rice Motel downtown and that I had gotten to know the manager of the restaurant, Pam, and that she would like to interview you for the job of dishwasher, and bussing person in the dining salon. It would be a full time job with waitress tips shared with you each evening. The job is pretty much yours Tom if you want it. And, I sort of, um, well, I, um, stopped at the Montgomery Wards and um got you some transportation. It’s okay if you don’t want it. I know you told me no and I didn’t listen. I am sorry Tom but I just couldn’t leave town knowing your family was in need.
“Miss Julianna, you is somethin’ else again!” You is right and I was being pigheaded as usual. My chilllin and I needs help and I is glad to accept the wheels and so I thank you. After being here a couple days I see things a bit more clearly as to da family needs.”
“Why don’t you let me give you a ride to the interview and on the way back we can stop at downtown and get you some work clothes and don’t say no because they require you to wear a white shirt and black pants Tom.”
Old Tom agreed. He walked back to the house to let his family know the good news and then climbed in my beautiful Pink Cadillac. Tom turned toward the back seat to say hey to Duke, then looked at me and said, “Where is old Duke?” That is when the elephant tears came rushing like a swollen creek after a bad storm.
“Someone stole my dog Tom!”
Tom was about as beside himself as I was. But then he gathered himself and told me not to worry one more minute. That he would help me find that dog no matter how long it took us. And then he carried on with a few somewhat unchristian words considering he was a preacher man, and considering that be a fact he immediately apologized and got his wits back about him. We drove in silence the rest of the way to the Rice Motel’s Dining Salon.
While Tom was interviewing with Pam I drove around searching for the black and silver truck and Duke. I knew if I got close enough old Duke would sense it and bark like a crazy dog. But I heard no barking and saw no truck.
Tom was near running to the Cadi he was so excited to have gotten the job and wanting to share the news with me. I was equally happy for him because I knew what this meant for him and his family. We stopped at a clothing store downtown and filled the car with new things for everyone in the family. Tom insisted on repaying me which of course I refused but finally gave in just to shut him up. I had more fun buying dolls and toys for Tom’s granddaughter as well as pajamas and new sheets for Shamonta’s cot. Next stop was the grocery store. We still have some room in the trunk so we bought as much as the little house would hold. Looking back we could have easily bought a Christmas tree because that is exactly what it was like. His daughter and granddaughter were so happy tears flowed. And it was like we had given Shamonta a new type of medicine that was working. I promised Tom I would get to a medical supply house and provide Shamonta with appropriate supplies, as well as a house call from a local physician to make sure everything was in order for his care.
When it was time for me to leave Tom insisted on coming with me to search for Duke. I think we drove up two hundred miles that day, up and down residential streets shouting Duke’s name out the car windows. But we heard no barking and saw no Duke.
Tom started work the following day. Everyone loved old Tom at the motel, and he loved everyone back. The younger ones would go to him for counsel being he was a preacher and all. Me, I spent every day driving around searching for Duke, checking Veterinarian offices, stopping at the local human society. I knew I could never drive out of Amarillo without Duke. I had to find him somehow.
That night in my motel room I fell to the floor, face down, and sobbed to God asking for him to please bring back my dog. I couldn’t bear not knowing where or what had happened to him. Even if he was dead, I had to know.
This had turned out to be the best and worst day of my life. I couldn’t imagine what worse could happen. And then there was a knock on my motel door. When I opened the door I saw Pam standing there, in shock, blood everywhere.