This story is based on another weirdly real dream that I had.
Maybelle was in the front garden. Digging. That’s what Maybelle did whenever she had anything vexing on her mind. And by the energy of her digging, Maybelle was surely vexed. But the digging wasn’t helping like it usually did. There were now five holes in the garden and none of them looked right. Maybelle couldn’t quite decide what was not right about them, however.
So she set about digging a sixth hole. Maybe this one would be right. It was still early morning and the air was chill and crisp. Maybelle was thankful for the sun. It warmed her back as she worked. She was concentrating hard on this hole so that it might be right when she heard a sound behind her. Not only does she have her back to the sun, she has her back to the road as well.
She turns and squints into the bright light just as a familiar voice says, “Maybelle, what you be about, girl?”
Maybelle gives a little start. Skeet had been hard to see against the glare of the newly risen sun. Skeet lives down the road a bit and has a habit of dropping by for a chat on his early morning walks.
Maybelle says, “I be diggin’, Skeet, can’t you see that?”
Skeet says, “Well yeah, Maysie, but why you be diggin’ is what I be wond’rin’.’Specially when you knows the Missus don’t like it none.”
Just then, as if Skeet had conjured her, the front door to the house opens up and the Missus pokes her head out. The Missus hollers, “Maybelle! What I tole you about diggin’ in the garden? You quit that now girl and don’t make me come out there in my jammies.”
Maybelle’s eyes had snapped to the Missus when she shouted and then she looked at her toes and thought for a moment that maybe she oughtn’t be digging holes. But as she couldn’t quite stop herself when one of these moods came on her, she decided the Missus was just going to have to deal with it.
Just before the Missus closes the door she hollers out, “Mornin’, Skeet!”
Skeet hollers back, “Mornin’, Ma’am!”
Then Skeet looks to Maybelle and says, “So what you gonna do, Maybelle?”
Maybelle looked at the hole she had just about finished and says, “Well, you know, Skeet, I’m just gonna keep diggin’ untils I figures out why I’m a diggin’.” And she bent back to her task.
Maybelle dug and Skeet watched. He couldn’t quite continue on his way. There was just something about Maybelle digging that wouldn’t let go of him. For a moment he thought that maybe he’d like to be digging too. They were both snapped out of their reverie by a sound at the front door. Both heads snapped in that direction with some worry only to see Beezle saunter out of the house and sit in the chair at the end of the porch. The sun was bright on his darkness and probably warmed him well. It was a fine morning for sitting in the sun and watching the world go by.
Skeet hollers out, “Mornin’, Beezle!” He made sure to holler really loudly because Beezle was getting kind of hard of hearing.
Beezle grunted back a reply that seemed to say there ain’t nothin’ good ’bout it from my point of view. Skeet grunted back that he’d allow as that might be so.
Maybelle, on the other hand, had just realized why she was digging. She stood really still over the hole she was working on and hung her head really low. Such a profound sadness had come over her that it was almost palpable, and for certain, Skeet could sense it.
Skeet says, “What be the matter, baby girl? You seems awful sad of a sudden.”
Maybelle says, “Aw, Skeet. I just figured why I be diggin’. I think Beezle is gonna die. Prob’ly soon.”
Skeet says, “Aw, Maybelle honey. Why you wanna go an say a thing like that?”
Maybelle says, “Jeez, Skeet, you can see how old he’s gettin’. He can’t hardly hear. Sometimes the Missus has to help him to pee. How much fun can that be? And ‘sides, I got this feelin’.”
Skeet says, “Well, I ain’t never been one to discount your feelins’, but you can’t rightly know when someone’s gonna go.” Skeet sat himself down in the sparse grass that borders the front garden the better to be on a level with Maybelle who was still down low and digging for all she was worth.
Skeet sits real quiet and just lets her dig figuring she needs the company rather than the noise. When all of a sudden, Maybelle’s head snaps up and she has this faraway look in her eyes. It kind of frightens Skeet a little and he says, “What is it, Maybelle? What is it?”
Maybelle says, “I don’t know, Skeet. I thought I heard something up to the house.” Then she shakes it off and says, “Say, Skeet, the Missus is makin’ ribs for dinner tonight. There might be a couple extra bones seein’ as Beezle’s got hardly any teeth left. You wanna stop by later and get you a couple?”
Skeet says, “Maybelle, hon, that be a right grand idea. You can bet I be by a little after dark.” And with that Skeet trotted off to continue on his morning rounds.
Maybelle sits in the dirt for a while contemplating all the holes she’s dug. The Missus opens the front door again and hollers out, “Maybelle, you bad girl! I tole you to stop your diggin’.” Then in a sweeter voice she says, ” Sweetie, you seen Beezle?”
Maybelle points with her nose to the chair at the end of the deck. The one that keeps the sun the longest in the morning. The Missus says a hasty thank you and once again admonishes Maybelle to quit her digging. Then she looks to Beezle and says, “Beezle baby. Up ‘n’ at ’em. I gots your breakfast all ready. It’s nice and soft and warm just the way you like it. Come on, boy.”
But Beezle doesn’t move. In fact, he hardly seems to be breathing. The Missus makes a terrible sound. A sound so horrible it makes Maybelle want to cover her ears. The Missus rushes to Beezle’s side and strokes his soft fur. She picks up his head and looks into his eyes and she knows that he has gone. She lays his head gently back down on the chair and walks out to where Maybelle is lying in the dirt with her paws on her head.
The Missus sits right down in the dirt beside Maybelle. The Missus still has her jammies on, but she doesn’t care. She gently pulls Maybelle’s paws from her head and pulls her up into her lap. The Missus stokes Maybelle’s short fur and rubs between her ears. They sit like that for several minutes while the Missus lets the tears stream down her cheeks and Maybelle licks them dry.
Finally, the Missus gets to her feet and gives Maybelle one last cuddle before setting her down. Then the Missus says, “Maybelle, this last hole here you was workin’ on under this old tree might be just the right spot for poor old Beezle, don’t you think?”
Maybelle looks at her hole and at all the others. She puts her nose into the dirt at the edge of the hole and then works, silently, to make it a little deeper while the Missus looks on approvingly. When Maybelle is done, she gives a little sneeze and the Missus says, “Good enough, Maybelle. Now we have a few phone calls to make before we put old Beezle into his grave. You done good my little one. You done good.”