Neewa the wonder dog and.., p.5
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       Neewa the Wonder Dog and the Ghost Hunters, p.5

          John Cerutti / Thrillers & Crime
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“Ha, ha,” Jackie and Dad stare at me as I scramble to my feet.

“What was that?” I ask laughing, getting between them in front of the screen.

Disappointed, Dad replies, “Looks like a big old owl to me.”

Jackie sighs, “That’s no ghost.”

He rewinds the tape, playing it back in slow motion this time. We watch the screen anticipating the flying object.

Swoosh! It passes from one side of the screen to the other in a second.

“It’s a Western Screech Owl,” he mumbles.

An owl is not a ghost and an owl is not going to get me my own TV show.

“The meter is reading twenty-two milliguass (MG) of electromagnetic waves at the same time the owl flew past the camera,” I say.

“How do you explain that?” Jackie asks.

Dad is busy adding up all the EMF given off by our equipment.

“Let’s see, if we add up all the EMF from our stuff? Three MHz for the one cell phone, and about one and one half MHz for each camera and the other stuff added in we have a total of about eight MHz for everything. That leaves fourteen MHz unexplained, which is equal to the electromagnetic field given off by two televisions and a microphone,” Dad concludes.

“I don’t see any TVs here, do you?” I add.

“This is curious. If there were electric lights, wires or some other source of this energy, that would explain the fourteen MHz? But I don’t see anything that would give off that much energy,” Dad questions.

Determined to account for the discrepancy he explains, “I checked the electromagnetic field on the trail before I set up our trap. It was less than one MHz, which is the normal level anywhere on Earth. If it was the owl that caused it to jump to twenty-four MHz, then maybe the owl was not an owl.”

“Check the other meters. Did the aerometer register anything when the owl flew by?”

I read the meter, “The wind thingy says seventy miles per hour. That’s pretty fast for an owl. How fast do owls fly anyway?”

“Well if that owl caused the increase in wind speed, then that would mean it was an owl and not a ghost. Or the ghost could have taken the shape of the owl,” Dad ponders aloud.

I add, “I don’t know, it doesn’t make sense? We will have to double check everything again when we get home.”

Slowly the dark sky is filled with the new light, giving way to pink and fuchsia rays as the sun begins to rise. To the west is darkness, stars, planets, and the Milky Way. Like jewels they are dazzling, glowing, as we stand between night and day.

New light colors the mountains ruby red as it peeks above the ridge highlighting the jagged edges.

Warm colors of orange and purple radiate onto the soft blue horizon. Light pushes away the night, darkness fades into the light of day.

Dad and Jackie begin to pack up our stuff for the trip home as Neewa and I play a game. The game is I pet her with big strokes along her back, neck, and behind the ears. When I stop, she jumps up on me, begging for more. It’s Neewa’s favorite game.

On the way home Neewa and Jackie are asleep, but I’m awake thinking about that ghost. I was sure we were going to catch it. I wonder if we did?

I don’t know, having a video of an owl traveling at seventy miles per hour and a reading on one meter of twenty-four megahertz (MHz) of electromagnetic field doesn’t prove we captured Mrs. Waldo’s ghost?

But I know ghosts are real, they are. And I’m going to catch one.

We have the latest ghost hunting stuff, better than all the other ghost hunters. All paranormal investigators have equipment that detects different types of energy including magnetic, microwave, and wind as well as electrical, sound, and light.

Some scientists say these types of energy are white energy. They say white energy can be seen, touched, and measured. These same researchers say white energy makes up ninety-eight percent of all the natural energy in the universe.

A small group of scientists see galaxies moving in ways that can’t be explained by normal laws of mechanics. They theorize it is dark energy that comprises ninety-eight percent of the energy in the universe. Dark energy cannot be seen, touched, or measured. Nobody seems to know very much about it.

Drifting in and out of sleep, I wake up and fall back again as we travel the long trip home from Donner State Park.

I didn’t get the proof I needed to prove that the ghost exists, but I’ll capture one yet, you wait and see.

We arrive home too tired to unpack everything, so we take in the cameras and the most of the important meters inside. Then after walking and feeding Neewa I drop into my bed.

“Good night, Dad, love you.”

“Good night, Christina, Jackie, love you.”

“Love you, Dad,” Jackie says.

“Good night Neewa.”

Neewa cuddles up near my feet. She looks up at me, content. Her gray eyes stare back at me, looking for attention. She rolls to her side and takes a deep breath. Her rib cage rises and falls as she lets out a slight snort and closes her eyes.

When Neewa dreams she rolls over and lets out a yelp at the same time. Then she talks in her sleep in doggy language. I wonder what she’s talking about? Do all dogs dream? Do they all talk in their sleep?







Chapter 7 - The Illness

It’s evening and Neewa hasn’t eaten all day. She is exhausted, not herself at all, and she is not drinking her water either.

Her black nose is dry and she is coughing. On top of that, she has brown stuff in the corners of her eyes.

Panic grips me as I look at her. “Dad, we have to take Neewa to the vet right away.”

Dad has noticed the change in her too. He looks at me, then her again. Moments later we are carrying Neewa to the car. We jump in and drive to the veterinarian.

After waiting an hour, we are shown into the examination room. The vet enters and takes a quick look at Neewa’s eyes, ears, and nose.

He looks at her concerned. “She is very sick with a disease called distemper, a deadly canine disease.”

“There is nothing I can do for her, she will not make it. I’m sorry.” He shrugs his shoulders and walks to the exit adding, “Please see my secretary on your way out.”

My head falls into my hands and I burst into tears, sobbing uncontrollably I’m unable to stop trembling.

“Dad, don’t let her die! Please!” I cry.

The vet stops, turns, and walks back toward us, “There is a remote chance she will recover but it is not likely. When dogs are born they must be immunized for distemper. It’s serious and can spread rapidly through a kennel, especially if unvaccinated individuals are present. Not all patients die, however a significant number do. Dogs of every age are susceptible, however, the very young and old have the highest death rate, as high as seventy-five percent. Patients that recover from distemper may suffer permanent damage to vision as well as the nervous system. Puppies can have severely mottled teeth, losing many of them due to abnormalities in the developing enamel.”

He leaves the room. Dad, Jackie and I carry Neewa to the van. Once inside the van, I weep all the whole way home.

“I can’t just watch her die, we have to do something.”

I look at her on my lap, motionless. “Neewa, don’t die.”

When we arrive home, Dad goes to the phone and calls everyone we know, most of whom are his Native American friends from work.

I sit crying in the corner with Neewa next to me. She looks at me pathetically as if she is about to die.

Jackie begins to sob and slams her door, locking herself in her room.

Neewa has more brown sand in the corners of her eyes and is coughing a high-pitched cough. Dad says she sounds like me when I was a baby. I used to have asthma attacks.

Dad exclaims, “Everyone I’ve spoken to is talking about a vet named Cuthberson. He’s the best one around, they say if he can’t save her, no one can.”

Dad finds his number in the old gray phone book in the kitchen drawer and calls. The office answering machine picks up the call and a voice says, “You have reached the office of Doctor Cuthberson. We have no appointments available. The doctor is at the county fairgrounds all week. Please call back after Saturday. Thank you.”

“He is the official county fair veterinarian. Tomorrow is the last day. The doctor will be there all day,” Dad declares.

I announce, “I’m going to find that doctor and he’s going to save Neewa.”

***

I wake up early Saturday morning. Dad and I are on our way to the fair to find the doctor. Jackie is staying behind with the Burns family for the day. She can take care of Neewa, look in on her, and give her water while I’m away. Though she hasn’t drunk any in a while.

Dad and I arrive at the fairgrounds not knowing where Doctor Cuthberson is. The circumstances look hopeless. I’m searching for a doctor I’ve never met, nor do I have any idea what he looks like.

Inside the razor wire topped fence that surrounds the fair’s compound, we try to comprehend the impossible task ahead. The fair is huge. You can’t even see the other end of it. It appears to be miles in every direction.

Dad and I go straight for the First Aid tent, he must be there. Upon arriving, the tent doesn’t appear to be busy at all, but with this heat wave we have been having, it will be.

I question the attendant, “Is Doctor Cuthberson here?”

“No,” he replies. “He spends most of his time by the stables. He works out of his mobile hospital parked at building number two."

Dad and I decide to split up, taking different paths to cover more ground. We look into each other’s eyes. My eyes are watering up, but he looks determined and I pull myself together as I hug him once.

“Meet me at the fair information booth,” he shouts, as we run off in different directions.

I’m going straight to the mobile hospital to check and see if he is there. Dad is going to try the vendor area and talk to some of his friends who are volunteering at some of the concessions.

The hot breeze swirls through the grounds laden with the smell of farm animals. There are barns full of cows; Guernsey, Friesian, and Jersey. Pigs too, of every variety and more, so much more. I pass corrals of horses: Arabian, American Quarter, Thoroughbreds and more. And 4-H club exhibits with sheep, rabbits, and chickens of every variety, size, and shape.

I’m walking aimlessly in ninety-degree dry heat and it’s only eleven o’clock. My clothes are sticking to my body like plastic wrap.

When I was little I loved to stop at the hatchery where you could watch the baby chickens hatching from their eggs right in front of your eyes.

Events like steer wrestling and horse jumping are going on in the two side arenas. Acres and acres of competitions, booths, games of chance, and even amusement rides surround me as the sun beats down from above as it approaches midday.

I stop to sit in the shade and sip my water bottle for a moment. In the background the roller coaster screams, and the Himalaya circles one way, stops, and then reverses, while the riders cry out for more. Those are my favorite rides. When I was little, Dad took us on all of the best rides back home in our county fair. We rode the highest and fastest roller coasters on the East Coast too.

Hours pass and I still haven’t found him.

Desperate, I ask a family sitting by their animals at a 4-H exhibit, “Have you seen Doctor Cuthberson?” I sigh.

“No, haven’t seen him,” someone in the circle responds.

Further down the dirt walkway at the end of the barn, I ask a group of trainers standing at the horse stables, “Can you tell me where Doctor Cuthberson is?”

“He hasn’t been around yet today,” one of them replies.

I would never ask strangers questions before this. I’m too shy to talk to people I don’t know. I would rather die that walk up to someone. But this is different. I have to save Neewa. And if it means asking people questions I’ve never seen before? Then I’ll do it!

Suddenly the loudspeaker blares, “Attention, attention, five minutes till the start of the chuck wagon race.”

The main arena for the race is just down this walkway, the sign says. Stopping near the pig-racing track, I look around to get my bearings. I have no way of knowing where he is in this gigantic carnival.

I catch a glimpse of the information booth out of the corner of my eye.

The man inside the booth begins another announcement, “Dr. Cuthberson, paging Dr. Cuthberson, please report to the chuck wagon race starting line.”

I sprint to the announcer at the booth.

“Where is he? Where is Dr. Cuthberson?” I screech.

The man points into the massive crowd of people walking in every direction. His finger guides my eyes across the huge public walkway packed with people.

Strollers are speeding everywhere—doublewides, tandems, and triples. Grandmothers cuddle crying babies. Vendors sell their wares up and down the pavement. Clowns with huge red, green, and blue balloons amuse the children. People rush in every direction.

“There he is, right there,” the announcer points.

“Where? Where?” I shout.

“The tall man with the black hat and red neckerchief.” The broadcaster holds his raised arm steady pointing in his direction.

I’m mesmerized, frozen as I stare at Doctor Cuthberson for the first time. The crowd seems to part for the six-foot tall lanky figure, a head above the rest. He strolls toward the arena dressed in blue jeans and a western shirt with the collar open under his stubby, unshaven chin. Suddenly he disappears into the crowd, swallowed up by the masses.

Scrambling into the mob, I push through the heap of humanity struggling to get to the opposite side of the pavement where he walked just a moment ago.

“Shoot! Lost him,” I moan finding myself standing where he stood.

I run in the direction he took, jumping up to see above the crowd, straining to locate him. But he’s nowhere to be seen.

I decide to race him to the chuck wagon race starting line. Zigzagging and crisscrossing through throngs of people, darting between bodies, I arrive at a dead end.

In front of me is a stadium full of people dressed in cowboy hats and multi-hued tops, waving colored bandanas, standing and cheering for their favorite teams. The roar from within is deafening as the crowd pulsates, forward and back.

At the starting line of the oval dirt track are chuck wagon teams lined up four across. Each team has six horses decorated with the team’s colors, matching blankets, and blinkers. Every horse is decked out with a classy harness, collar and bridle, and tethered by leather straps to its wooden wagon.

Horses are snorting and stomping their feet, anticipating the start of the race. Arabians, Paints, and Appaloosas stand side by side. Their brushed coats glisten in the sun, while rigging of polished golden wood, frames their grand physiques.

Seated behind each harnessed team of horses are a driver and passenger—adorned with color-coordinated bow ties and silks. They wear cowboy hats, vests, chaps that cover their blue jeans, and custom leather boots. They wait on the edge of their seats with reins in hand, listening for the starting gun to fire.

Behind each double wide seat is a fifteen-foot high covered wagon painted with the logo and the name of their ranch. The colors of the drivers’ shirts match the canvas covering the wagons.

The track reminds me of back home and the many trips to the horse races with my Grandma on Thursday nights. I loved those nights with grandma, cheering for our horse to win. Yelling for my team to come in first, just being with her. She hugged me so good.

I exhale a deep sigh and take a bench seat in the “no charge” viewing stands at the far end of the arena. The paid seats in the center of the stadium are packed, not an empty spot in sight.





Chapter 8 - The Starting Line

“On your mark, get set…” The starter’s words ring out over the public address system, “Bang!” He fires his pistol into the air.

Drivers snap their reins, sending a clear message to the teams. Shaking the ground, they sprint away from the starting line, twenty feet of horses followed by twenty more feet of iron, wood, and canvas.

Racing into the first turn, wagons squeeze together as drivers lean to the inside to keep their balance, each expert coachman controlling ten tons of flesh and carriage, thundering down the track. Racing through the turn, the wagons reflect the light of the setting sun behind them. They pass the shadows of shade trees under Western blue skies. Into the straightaway they sprint, a continuous stream of dust kicks up into the air behind them. Maneuvering for position, each team tries to take the lead.

The announcer calls out their order as they enter the last turn. “It’s the Hawker Ranch in the lead, followed by the Bond Farm, La Rosa Ranch is third, and bringing up the rear is the Quest Group!”

Coming through the backstretch and heading for the finish, the teams gallop four abreast. A mountain of wood and animals roar past the grandstands.

People are jumping up and down, waving colored bandanas and hats. Everyone is standing, electrified, as the teams stampede by.

My seat vibrates as if a clap of thunder has just struck nearby.

All of a sudden, Crash! Boom! Bang! Comes from the finish line in an explosion. Clouds of dust the size of hot air balloons rise above, obscuring the finish, silencing the arena. Air currents scoop up the dust and carry it away, revealing a mound of wagons and horse teams in chaos.

Horses are tangled, trapped, raising their heads, straining to be free. Two teams of horses are knotted together, amid the pandemonium, and two lone horses are ensnared by wagons, held captive by their harnesses in the mangled wreckage.

What once were horse-drawn wagons are now twisted metal, torn canvas, and splintered wood.

The crowd, already silent, lets out a collective gasp, “Oh!”

A man behind me sighs, “They are going to have to destroy that horse.” He points at a trapped horse.

I leap from my seat, cross the blacktop, and climb to the top of the arena fence.

A grisly sight, horses are whinnying and snorting, struggling to be liberated, gasping for freedom.

“Looks bad,” a man nearby whispers to his friend.

It’s a miracle; all the drivers and passengers seem to have escaped injury. A few can be seen, in shock, eyeing the devastation, not knowing what to do first.
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