I have a story that could possibly be paranormal... but then again, maybe not. I'll let y'all decide.

I grew up in a rural area of Southeast Texas which means I got to spend the majority of my time outdoors exploring acres upon acres of piney woods, streams, fields, lakes... well, you get the picture.

My partner in all of these wondrous adventures was my ever present sidekick Charlie. Charlie was just an average size plain brown dog, nothing special at all about him...except that he was my best friend in the whole world. When he was just a puppy he was so tiny that he could fit in my hands when cupped together, a little fur ball.

Mom and Dad had a strict rule that no pets were allowed in the house but they always seemed to be preoccupied with something else as I was sneaking Charlie into my room. He would nip at my toes as I wiggled them under the covers for a few minutes, then he'd circle a few times and settle in so that he could sleep at the foot of the bed. I was eight years old.

One evening we were walking along a dirt road on our way home from dove hunting at a neighbors' field. Charlie had this funny habit, he liked to run from side to side in the road and sniff everything in sight, then hike a leg on it. Well, a truck came around a blind corner suddenly and Charlie didn't manage to get out of the way in time. One of the truck tires caught his back leg and it was terribly broken. The truck never stopped, they did however care enough to toss an empty beer can out the window. I carried Charlie the rest of the way home. I don't think I'll ever forget the amount of pain and fear that was in those big brown eyes... all I could do was talk softly to him and tell him we'd be home soon... everything will be alright.

When I asked my Dad if we could take Charlie to the vet he explained that we just didn't have the money to take him and that the best thing for him was to put him out of his misery. I was heartbroken, I couldn't stand the thought of putting him down. Dad must have seen how much I loved that ol' mutt so he said we might try to set the leg in a splint and see how things turn out.

We did the best that we could but from that day on Charlie never regained the use of his back left leg, he developed this funny little hop-skip. That was ok though, we just walked a little slower, and it didn't seem to impair his leg hiking abilities. :) The adventures continued. I was twelve years old.

As time rolled on it seemed like I kinda lost interest in those long hikes and fishing holes 'n such and started spending more time with my buddies talking sports, hotrod cars and girls... of course. On a good day Charlie would get a good rub between the ears then I'd be off for the movies and hangin' out at the pizza place scopin' the babes.

One night when I got home Mom said Dad had just gotten back from the vet with Charlie and was making him comfortable out in the barn. She said it wasn't good news. Dad had thrown some hay for Charlie and set out some water and food. Dad said he noticed Charlie coughing blood that evening and he took him to the vet... Charlie had heartworms and there was nothing that could be done for him. He was dying. Dad left me there with him. I sat down beside him and he crawled up into my lap and put his head in my arms. He was so weak, all he could manage was a couple of licks and a wag or two. Again, all I could do was talk softly to him... telling him everything will be alright. Charlie died in my arms that morning. I was fourteen.

My first car, a Chevy Monza... small block V8 all decked out in chrome, candy apple red with a black top and a matching black hood scoop, a pumpin' stereo system playin' some good rock 'n roll. On my way to my after school job drafting for CCMI and barely able to keep my wits coz my girlfriend was the bosses' daughter and she would be there too. Oh man is she a doll! Tall, long dark hair, big beautiful green eyes, a great laugh... not to mention a great set of...

BAM! Damn, my tire blew out, oh crud. I pulled off the road as best as I could, there wasn't much of a shoulder on that road. I got my spare out of the trunk and was jacking the car up as I was worrying about being late for work. In a hurry too... the next thing I know a semi is hitting his brakes and sliding all over the road out of control and slammed into the ditch about six feet from where I was rooted to the ground, prolly in shock.

C'mon, it's not something you see everyday. The driver climbed down and looked like he was in shock too. I finally asked him if he was alright, to which he replied, "Yeah, just rattled my teeth some." I finished changing my flat and told the trucker to hop in and I'd get him to a phone so he could call a wrecker. On the way he said that I was lucky to be alive because he always took that corner wide and used the shoulder too.

He said he wouldn't have ever seen me in time to stop. When I said I heard him hit his brakes he said the damnedest thing... I'll never forget it. He said he slammed on his brakes to keep from hitting a small brown dog that was crossing the road ahead of the curve, a small brown dog that had a limp to his back leg. I was sixteen. Charlie had been laid to rest two years ago...

Sometimes I wonder

© copyright, 1998, John McCullough
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