Neewa the wonder dog and.., p.2
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       Neewa the Wonder Dog and the Ghost Hunters, p.2

          
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  It was on a dead-end street, the last house, and there were lots of kids. We played games, went fishing in the pond and had lots of fun. Jackie’s friend, Debbie, who lived on our block had a swimming pool and we had a trampoline for everyone to jump on.

  Grandma and Grandpa were always there on holidays and weekends and giving us presents, even when it wasn’t our birthday. I miss my family and friends so much. Sometimes at night I look at their pictures and cry myself to sleep.

  Here, our new neighbors won’t even talk to us. Worse than that one night when I was coming home, I saw one neighbor turn away from me as I went in my door.

  One exception, the banker and his wife made an effort to be hospitable and welcoming. Hank and Jane Burns are very nice people. From time to time they come over to the house, talk to us, and even brought brownies. Meanwhile, they try to find out everything they can about us. Dad says Mr. Burns wants us to take out a loan or invest in cable TV or something.

  Jackie started babysitting for their daughter, Brice. That gives Hank and Jane time to go out for dinner and a movie without having to worry. They trust Jackie and she is

  paid pretty well for her time.

  Besides Brice, there are no other kids around here, it’s like they rounded them all up and sent them away. Or maybe zombies came and took them. Whatever happened to them? I don’t know. But the streets are deserted, no skateboards, scooters, or jump rope. This place sucks.

  Chapter 2 – Yesterday Was the Happiest Day of My Life

  It was early morning when Dad woke us up. Usually, when he tries to get me up on a weekend morning I tell him, “Leave me alone, go away, don’t bother me!”

  Yesterday morning was different. Getting up and dressed and being ready was easy. Finally we were going to the animal shelter to get the puppy I’ve been waiting for my entire life.

  Jackie on the other hand was moving as slow as a snail. I stood at the door, tapping my shoe on the floor. Annoyed, I waited while Jackie had to have her morning bowl of cereal.

  “Jackie let’s go, we’re late,” I plead with her to hurry.

  “Christina shut up! I can’t hear the TV,” she replied.

  “Dad, Dad, Jackie is having cereal, tell her to leave it, I wanna go now,” I begged Dad.

  Finally after a lot of yelling, we got in the van and left.

  After we drove a while into the desert from town I saw the sign, “County Animal Shelter.” The arrow pointed up a long dirt road. At the end of the bumpy road was a dull gray building.

  Around back was the kennel area. At this distance, the compound looked neat and tidy, with animal pens in rows. I could see some of where the dogs were kept. In the front were a few parked cars and a big front door with one window.

  Loud sounds of barking dogs came from behind the building. No wonder they put this place way out in the middle of nowhere. But as we got closer, the noise got so loud it sounded like a fox hunt was going on in the back. And the building seemed to turn even grayer.

  I was very nervous as I led everyone across the stone parking lot. Jackie and Dad followed close behind me.

  After knocking on the steel door, a man in black coveralls, hair slicked back and parted down the middle, slowly opened the door. The barking got even louder and I was hit with a wave of the pungent smell of a dog pound. The old man with a kindhearted smile greeted us. My guess is he’s the dog catcher. His appearance and pale face made him look like Dracula, lacking only the makeup and cape.

  “Looking for a pet?” He grinned.

  “Yes,” I answer back.

  “Right this way, you folks just look around,” Dracula said.

  “Follow me,” I ordered.

  I whispered to Jackie, “That guy looks like Dracula, look at his hair.”

  We laughed as we walked through the hallway into the inner chamber.

  Dad reminds me, “Christina remember we want a nice, friendly, housebroken and fully grown dog.”

  “Poppy, Poppy, (I call Dad Poppy sometimes) I heard what you said, now stop with the pressure okay?” Hoping he will back off and leave me alone.

  I wandered from side to side on the walkway between the large and small cages with big and small cats and dogs of all colors inside. Creeping through the maze, I looked left then right, checking each animal, yet passing one after another. Occasionally I hesitated for a moment to take a closer look, but continued my journey down the endless corridor of forlorn and cast-off pets. I was heartbroken looking at all the cats and dogs with no homes. Surplus animals, once loyal and loving pets, now no longer needed, discarded members of society wanting to be taken care of.

  Dad whispered in my ear as if the animals were listening to him, “After sixteen weeks in the pound they will be put to sleep.”

  “Put to sleep? What does that mean?” I blurt out loud. Is he saying that they are to be killed, murdered?

  “They have to be euthanized, destroyed,” he finished his thinking.

  Instantly I became flushed, face red-hot. Each one of them needed a home, to be loved, before it’s too late. Gasping for air, I was horrified at the thought that any one of these animals would be destroyed.

  Now my morning at the pound was no longer joyous and full of promise. It was more like a slow motion death walk in a horror movie. Frame after frame passing before me with animals being led to the gas chamber where they were to be “taken care of” all right.

  The morning was slipping away, there seemed to be more and more animals, and choosing just one became more complicated. I wanted to save them all. Maybe even lead a jailbreak and set them all free.

  Jackie followed me through the aisles of animals while Dad was left behind somewhere.

  Nearing the end of death row, I became full of fear and anxiety. The animals jumped toward me as I passed their cages, wanting to be saved from their ultimate fate.

  If I reached out to one, it lunged to the side of the cage, crashing into the wire wall, trying to kiss my fingers, as if I were Pope John Paul. And had the power to save them. It was as if they knew their fate and that I was their savior. But nothing could save all of these animals.

  Unexpectedly, I spied a little white puppy curled up in a ball with its littermates. It looked up at me with pointed ears too big for its head and a shining black nose. It was the cutest puppy I had ever seen. It jumped up on the side of the cage letting out a yelp, calling me.

  This puppy was so pretty, a German shepherd looking girl. She had the deepest steel gray eyes and a long snout on its big head. Her tail curled up over her hind legs like a Husky as she stood on her back legs up against the cage, nibbling on my fingers with her pointed white teeth. She was so beautiful, and had such soft ivory fur. And those big floppy paws were too big for her body, just like her ears. I hope she doesn’t grow into those paws.

  Jackie,” I shrieked, “here’s the one, here’s the one!” Feeling joy that I have not felt for a long, long time.

  Just then Dad caught up to us. I petted her through the cage as she ran around my hand like it was a toy to tease and chew on.

  “Can we take her home Dad?” I looked at him.

  “Hey,” Dad moaned, “I thought we agreed on a grown dog, one that’s already trained and house broken.”

  Jackie stooped down next to me and the puppy licked both our faces through the metal mesh. It was love at first sight for her too.

  “Jackie you want this one right? Say yes,” I pleaded with her.

  “Dad let’s get this one,” she agreed.

  “Dad, I want this puppy, she will be a good watch dog and protect Jackie and me. Grown up or not, please Dad,” sounding like a beggar but not caring.

  Dad was reluctant to commit, something about it being too much work, or some other reason. I didn’t know and didn’t care what he was thinking. A long pause followed. He seemed to be weighing his options.

  I didn’t see it as a difficult choice. On the one hand he could disappoint us and spend the rest of his days in hell, or take the puppy and win the Greatest Dad of The Day Award.

  “Okay, Okay,” he says as he steps up to the podium for the Best Dad Prize.

  Jackie and I disagreed on almost everything, but not this. The puppy was coming home with us. This was the first thing we had agreed on all week, maybe all month.

  Dad was surprised there was so little paperwork to adopt our puppy. He only had to sign a release and the puppy was free to go.

  Holding her in my arms, we headed for the exit when Dracula, the dog catcher, came from his coffin to wish us well.

  I stopped and looked at him, “Where did she come from?”

  He replied as if he knew the origin of every animal in the pound. “That one came from the desert. Someone found the three of them roaming around and brought them in.

  “They had no mom or dad with them. Not much chance they would have made it to sunrise out there in the desert. Something would have had them for dinner. I think your shepherd pup is a coy dog.”

  “A coy dog? What’s a coy dog?” I inquired.

  He answered, “A coy dog is half coyote and half dog.”

  Stunned by his answer, I feel my face flush and my eyes blink rapidly. Did he say coyote? Did Dad hear what he said?

  “Thank you,” I hastily turned heading for the door.

  Running, I cradled her in my arms and dropped my face into her soft fur hoping no one else heard what the dog catcher had said. They might want to take her away. I’ve never heard of a coy dog before, never knew such a thing existed. But the dog catcher said it, so it must be true.

  After that, I don’t remember very much, just holding my puppy and running for the car.

  “Hurry Dad, drive, drive,” I shouted, “I don’t ever want to lose her.”

  He answered, “Don’t worry Christina, no one’s going to take her away from you.”

  A few minutes later we were driving home. I keep thinking about the news of my puppy being only half dog. Even our drive though more desert wasteland doesn’t distract me from worrying about her.

  I’m so tired of this place, nothing but desert everywhere.

  The desert is a dangerous place compared to the place we used to live. Back East there is little risk of being killed by a scorpion, rattlesnake, or a pack of coyotes. Nor is it likely you will die from starvation, thirst, or exposure if you get lost. But out here in the desert you can die from any of these.

  I can imagine how Neewa got separated from her mother. She had to go hunting for something to eat. Probably, all the puppies were running, playing, and wandering around before they realized they were all alone.

  Neewa isn’t a regular dog. She didn’t grow up in a house with a picket fence and kids running around. Neewa may have a mom, dad, brothers, and sisters, but she’s part wild animal.

  Wild animals have to eat raw meat and whatever their mom brings them to survive. I’ve watched programs on National Geographic and the Nature channel about how animals survive in the wilderness.

  “Yuck,” I say picturing Neewa eating raw meat, regurgitated from her mother’s stomach onto the ground.

  “Gross,” comes out of my mouth as I try to shake off the disgusting thoughts I’m having, but they continue.

  “She’s a wild animal,” I blurt out not thinking what I’m saying. Jackie and Dad look at me startled.

  My mind continues to race. Maybe Neewa’s mom was the alpha female in the pack. The other female coyotes took care of the litter. Neewa’s mom did what alpha females do—whatever that is.

  After a long silence, “Will a half coyote and half dog be a good pet? Content to live with us or will she run off into the desert to be with her own kind?”

  Dad spoke to reassure me, “Yes that may be true but her natural instinct is to be loyal to man. I’ve read that coy dogs can be good pets. We’ll see how it goes. Everything should work out fine. But if she’s too wild, we’ll bring her back.”

  Not another word was spoken the rest of the trip home. Everyone was in deep thought about my new puppy, our new family member.

  ***

  That’s what happened yesterday. Today Neewa is running and playing all around the house. Already she is settling into her new home.

  She must be very confused from all the changes, too many for her to understand. I can relate to that, all the changes I’ve been through lately with Mom and Dad separating and selling our house and then moving way out here.

  It was only a few days ago she was in the wide-open desert, happy and playing with her brothers and sisters. Then, wham! In the blink of an eye, she’s in a cage, with no room to roll around and nowhere to explore.

  “Dad look, here is the definition of a coy dog,” I stare at the screen of my phone.

  Dad and Jackie stop what they are doing. Everyone is silent and all eyes are focused on me. It is so quiet; you can hear the birds chirping outside our windows.

  I read, “A coy dog is the hybrid offspring of a male coyote (Canis latrans) and a female dog (Canis lupus familiaris).”

  “Poppy can we keep her? Coy dogs need to be adopted too,” I plead. “Dracula will destroy her if we take her back.”

  Dad shrugs, “We’ll see how it goes.”

  Neewa has checked out everything in the house, all the bedrooms, living room and the barely functional toilet and tub in the one and only bathroom.

  She has bowls for food and water in our outdated kitchen. But her bed is in my room along with her toy box full of the latest squeaking playthings for her favorite games, fetch and tug of war. The squeaky toys that look like bones are her favorites, but she will spend hours gnawing on the real soup bones that Dad cooks for her.

  As she lies under the kitchen table, I daydream of her fitting into our family. Her ears perk up, and she looks at me.

  “Good girl, Neewa,” I say to her.

  I blink away the tears in my eyes, praying she will never go back to that dog pound.

  ***

  In my new school, I walk into classrooms full of kids I don’t know and who don’t know me. Some of them look at me funny. One or two make comments, but I ignore them. If one of them tries to bully me I curse at him and tell him where to go. Honestly, I’m not going to be here long enough to become friends with any of them anyway.

  I’m always online or on ooVoo with my best friends back East. Right now I’m telling them about Neewa my new puppy. My friends back home and I are always texting each other about everything in our lives. We talk about who’s dating, who broke up, and who’s drinking and drugging.

  Dad and Jackie don’t know that I stay up so late. They have no idea. But it’s three hours later back East, so my friends there are up way later than me. It’s already twelve midnight there when it’s only nine at night here.

  When I’m on my laptop, don’t bother me. And if you do, I’ll drop F-bombs on you till you have a stroke. When I was younger, I would have said I’ll maul you like a lion if you bother me, ha-ha.

  I watch movies, YouTube videos, and TV shows on my laptop. But my favorite thing to do is to stay up late watching horror movies.

  What I really want to do is hunt ghosts, spirits, angels, and demons. They do exist, no doubt in my mind. They’re everywhere. In the wind, earth, fire, and even in other living things. But they are not the only paranormal phenomena I hunt. There are orbs, aberrations, and objects that move totally by themselves. While I’m out West, I’m going to hunt them down in haunted houses, deserted towns, everywhere.

  The moon is full tonight and the sky is clear as I gaze out my bedroom window. The light reflects off everything in my yard, it’s so bright out it looks like daytime.

  Hey, what’s that running across my front yard in the shadow of that tree? It looks like a dog or maybe a coyote. Whatever it is, there it goes over the fence, disappearing into the night.

  Maybe it was a spirit? It was an Indian warrior wandering in the night. He was a brave warrior who died in a raid, a revenge attack of another camp. His soul took possession of that coyote. Now he returns to his camp. The coyote has chosen the path across my yard.

  The Indians around here hide their sacred burial ground. I’ve heard some Indian kids whisper about it.

  That would really be something to find one of those graveyards and capture one of their ghosts on film. I’d be rich and famous, move to Hollywood and have my own TV show.

  Chapter 3 - Ghost at Donner Pass

  Dad is reading the newspaper at the kitchen table when he bursts out, “Hey a ghost was seen at Donner Pass.”

  “What ghost?” Confused I ask, “What and where is Donner Pass?”

  Dad looks over at me, “Donner Pass is in the mountains about three hours south of here and the Donner Party disaster was a historic wagon train headed west that got caught in a blizzard and most of the pioneers died.

  Dad reads me the article. “Mrs. Eleanor Waldo of Phantom Hill, Texas, told her story. She said she and her husband were stopped at the overlook rest area, sitting at a picnic table when she saw it.

  “’It was a ghost all right. It looked like a thick cloud of smoke with a head. But it was a woman with a stone face and a broad smile. She hovered right in front of me, staring at me.’

  “The ghost asked me, ’Would you like to come to dinner?’

  “I followed it up the mountain as it kept saying, ’Come with me, I would love to have you for dinner.’

  “Interrupting Mrs. Waldo I asked, ’Wait a minute, the ghost said I would love to have you for dinner?’

  “Mrs. Waldo looked surprised at the way I phrased my question as she replied, ’Oh you don’t think she meant I am the dinner do you? Oh my, maybe she did.’

  “Mrs. Waldo squealed, and continued with her story, ’I followed it up the mountain and when we started down the other side, I saw an old rusted-out car with a skeleton sitting at the steering wheel, driving.’

  “’As I got closer and closer to the car, a great gust of wind blew right through me and kicked up so much sand, I had to close my eyes. When I opened my eyes I gasped, the skeleton was gone.’

  “She said she heard her husband calling her to come back. When he caught up to her she told him about the ghost.’

 
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