Neewa the wonder dog and.., p.7
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       Neewa the Wonder Dog and the Ghost Hunters, p.7

           John Cerutti
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  “Neewa your breath stinks,” she says.

  I’m so thrilled to have her back. At last, I can laugh again.

  Neewa hops gingerly into the van and stands on the back seat waiting for me. Watching me, she tilts her head the way she does. She looks so much better.

  All the ghost-hunting crap is in my way as I squeeze into the seat next to her.

  Finally I shout, “Get this stuff out of here, it’s in Neewa’s way.”

  I hand Jackie a meter, camera, and begin to lift up piece after piece of equipment.

  Reaching, Jackie looks at the meter and shouts, “This one is stuck at forty-eight MHz. That’s twelve higher than the reading we got the other day at Donner Pass, the highest reading I’ve ever seen.”

  Dad asks, “Jackie did you look around for anything that might give off an electromagnetic field? Like a transformer or an air conditioning unit?”

  “No, I was busy with all this stuff. Then you guys came back too fast. What am I, a magician?” She blurts out sarcastically.

  Dad looks around and exclaims as we pull away, “This place is loaded with spirits. I can feel it. As soon as we get home we’ll check all the cameras, meters, everything.”

  We drive out the rutted driveway leaving the Doc’s ranch. He has a huge place full of all kinds of animals, the smell of them permeate the hot air. Several barns, two houses, and fenced corrals dot the landscape. He has cattle, horses, and sheep too. There are a couple of ponds. Some ducks and geese rest on the shore while others are dipping and diving in the fresh water. They probably get their water from those spinning windmills; it looks more like an oasis rather than a ranch.

  The main house has many windows, two big chimneys at each end, and a long porch that runs all the way along the front, side, and across the back. Clotheslines traverse the yard running from the house to the back fence. There’s one set of clothes already dry from the hot desert sun.

  Neewa will live. I know she will, although I can still see the disease in her yellow- tinted eyes. And her breath smells really bad. Sitting in the van, I daydream about giving her food and water, lots of water.

  After getting home I give her one of the pills. The only way to be sure she swallows it, is to push it down her throat and watch her neck bulge as it goes down. She walks away and goes into my room where she curls up in a ball on her bed and goes to sleep.

  I tell her, “Go to sleep, girl. It’s time for you to rest. You’re home now.”

  In the living room, Dad and Jackie are looking at our cameras and meters. They are in our paranormal lab, at least until we can figure something else out. I call it ghost-hunting headquarters.

  “Did the camera get anything?” I ask Dad and Jackie.

  Dad replies, “We are looking at the digital file now.”

  “There, there,” Jackie exclaims, “That’s a floating orb! There’s another and another!”

  “This place is paranormal central!”

  “Did you see that?” So excited, Jackie sprays spit on me.

  The hair on the back of my neck stands up. “What are they? And what do they do? Why would anyone call floating bubbles, orbs?” I sarcastically add.

  “Christina, cool it! Give me a second. I’m watching this,” Jackie says perturbed by my interruptions.

  Staring at the screen, she finally answers me as if she is reading from a textbook. “The orb is energy being transferred from a source such as power lines, heat energy, batteries, or people—to a spirit… or orb, so it can manifest. It may not even be a conscious act. The spirit is doing what it does. It’s the way they get their energy.”

  Really excited Dad jumps in, “Finally we got something on film.”

  “Look! Six floating orbs! It’s an orb hotel out there!” Jackie shouts, “Dad, they could be animal spirits. They don’t have to be peoples' spirits, especially since he’s a vet. I’ll bet a lot of animals die out there. And the ones that haven’t crossed over yet, well they are still there,” Jackie whispers.

  Standing behind her, I visualize cattle and horses floating through the air.

  She pulls herself closer to the laptop, focused on the screen. “I’m going to import this video into my movie maker program. I’ll be able to look at the video and audio tracks separately. Maybe we captured one of those orbs trying to speak with us.”

  Dad warns, “Jackie, make a backup copy of that file right away, and put another on a DVD to be safe. And by the way, we can’t tell anyone about this, at least not until we get back East. First we have to get as far away from here as possible. Then we can report our findings to the National Paranormal Society. I’d probably lose my job if we made this discovery public now. Besides, there is a lot more ghost hunting that still needs to be done before we disclose what we do.”

  “I want to go back out to Doc’s ranch again. We have a good excuse, Neewa’s follow up is in two weeks,” Jackie adds.

  Dad guesses, “I bet we find their secret Indian burial grounds out there.”

  “I’ve had enough for today,” I close my door.

  I’m finally away from all the ghost talk. Collapsing on my bed, I think about Neewa’s pills. They look like horse pills, an ugly gray and brown color, and they are so big.

  Maybe they are horse pills? I just hope they work.

  She is lying down in her own bed now and will probably sleep through the night. She’s stretched out her feet up in the air as usual, the way she always does. When she dreams in that position her feet move back and forth as if she is running, I laugh at her.

  I’ll have to wake her and give her another pill in a few hours. I hate pushing it down her throat, but I have to make sure she swallows it or she’ll never get better.

  “Good night Dad, love you.”

  “Good night Christina, Jackie, love you.”

  “Love you, Dad,” Jackie says.

  “Good night, Neewa.”

  Chapter 11 - Neewa’s Tongue

  Waking, then falling back to sleep and waking again. I look at Neewa lying, helpless. There is nothing I can do for her but hope she recovers or dies without pain.

  Doctor Cuthberson said he thinks Neewa is going to make it.

  I repeat his words softly, over and over again. “She’s going to make it. She’s going to make it.”

  Finally, I fall asleep at 5:00 AM, only to be awakened by my alarm a half hour later. Dragging myself out of bed, I’m so tired, and so not into going to school.

  Wagging her tail, Neewa gets to her feet and wobbles across the rug to her water. I smile guardedly.

  “Dad, she’s drinking,” I holler into the kitchen. “She’s drinking.”

  He answers, “Great, Christina. Don’t forget to give her a pill.”

  Giving her today’s first pill I tell her, “Girl you have to eat and drink today. I’m putting you outside with plenty of food and water.”

  Snapping the chain to her collar I tell her, “I’ll be home early, only a half-day of school today, Yea!” She pulls away and licks my chin.

  “Oh, Neewa, don’t lick me, yuck!” We look each other in the eyes as the bus pulls up. I turn and run to catch it before it drives away. A cloud of dust billows over her chain as she drags it across the yard till it snaps tight, stopping her. Staring, Neewa watches me disappear down the street. Looking back at her standing there, I sigh. Today she will lay in the shade, drink plenty of water and sleep.

  I’m still the new kid at school. I don’t really know anyone. Most of the kids I meet live on the reserve and go to high school far away in Arizona. The kids here figure I’ll only be around a little while anyway, so why bother. I feel the same way. No need to get too friendly, I’ll be leaving soon. It’ll be good-bye to this place.

  One of the kids on my bus is a real troublemaker. He came up with this harebrained scheme to steal his own girlfriend’s stereo. Then he tried to frame me. Said his girlfriend saw me looking in her bedroom window. He was going to rob his own girlfriend! She caught him handing her stereo out the window
to one of his posse.

  I denied it, told them I was at home all night. The cops didn’t believe him.

  They were already following him and his buddies for drinking and drugging. He was arrested and I was cleared, but can you imagine the trouble I could have been in?

  “Ring, ring, ring,” that’s the final bell. Am I glad this day is over. I’ll jog home instead of waiting around for the bus.

  As I run to within a few blocks of home I yell, “Neewa, Neewa!”

  She replies, “Woof, Woof,” in a deep-throated bark. As I enter the yard she is waiting for me, staring with tilted head, listening to my footsteps approach, and wagging her tail.

  I sprint to her and unclip the chain from her collar, telling her, “Good girl.”

  “I’m so glad to see you.” I stroke her neck and shoulder as she leans into my hand, panting.

  She circles me, jumping and barking for me to get a toy and play. Then she sprints around the whole yard, as fast as ever.

  “Calm down Neewa, take it easy, you have to get better first.”

  I look around for the water and food dishes that I put out this morning. All the water is gone. She might have drunk it? Or maybe she knocked it over? One of the bowls of food is empty. That means she ate her first meal in days, unless of course the squirrels got to it first.

  I run inside and return with fresh water. She drinks, and looks up at me. Eagerly, she slurps up more and dribbles it all over my shoes. Her black nose is shiny and moist again, not the cracked, dried up, flaking tissue it was the other day. I squeeze her and we both fall over onto the dry dirt that covers most of the yard.

  “Yuck! Neewa your breath stinks!” I cry out scrambling to my feet.

  Grasping her snout and holding her head steady, I peel back her black lips and peek at her teeth for the first time since her illness. Quickly she shakes loose from my grip.

  Goose bumps explode on my arms and legs. Cringing I cry out, “Oh my God, Neewa, your teeth are green, and some are missing.” I stagger away from her feeling like I’m going to throw up.

  Just then Dad and Jackie arrive home in a whirlwind of dust, as the van pulls up the alleyway drive.

  “How’s Neewa doing?” Dad asks with a genuine look of concern.

  “She seems okay, I think she’s doing better,” I mumble.

  I get chills thinking about her awful teeth. The first veterinarian warned me about this. He said she would lose some teeth. Thankfully, she hasn’t lost all of them. All of the top and bottom premolars are gone, which are the ones between her canines and molars.

  Neewa is panting, gnawing on one of her soup bones while she lies on the only patch of grass in the yard. No problem with her front teeth. She cleaned all the meat off, not a speck is left on that bone.

  Crack! She splits the bone wide open and feverishly slurps out all the tasty marrow. I guess there’s nothing wrong with her back teeth either.

  Neewa runs to Dad, prances around him, encouraging him to grab one of her toys and play.

  Dad smiles, “Hey what is that pink thing hanging out of Neewa’s mouth?”

  Embarrassed for Neewa I defend her. “Dad, get over it. That’s her tongue. She lost some teeth, okay, so her tongue hangs out a little.”

  “A little,” Dad chuckles, “Her whole tongue is sticking out of her mouth.”

  “Stop, you’re making a big thing out of nothing. It’s just the tip that hangs out the side cause her premolars fell out.”

  Without those teeth, Neewa’s pink tongue slips out of the toothless gap. This small swatch of pink against her black lips and white face gives her a funny, almost hysterical look.

  In fact, Neewa’s tongue has become the family joke. I’m always saying, “Neewa stop sticking your tongue out.” She looks at me and tilts her head to one side. Then I burst out laughing.

  Everywhere we go people ask, “What is that in her mouth?” Or someone might inquire, “Is that her tongue hanging out?” “Yes,” we say, and everyone wants to know why.

  One time, a kid walked up to her and pulled on it. Surprised, the little girl exclaimed, “Yuck! It’s her tongue?” We all laughed… and Neewa handles it all with great dignity.

  Neewa loves to run around the yard, but if I don’t watch her she disappears. Sometimes she can be blocks away in just seconds. I don’t even know where she goes. Dad says she visits other dogs, but I think people invite her into their home. I bet they feed and play with her.

  When I realize she has vanished, I call her to come home. Sometimes she barks and runs home like the wind. Other times, it takes hours of searching the neighborhood, calling her name, again and again before I find her.

  When I find her, I ask, “Where have you been?” But she won’t tell me. Sometimes when she runs away, I think she may never come home, but she always does.

  It was right around this time I started keeping her on the chain more, and that’s when things got weird. Neewa began to dig holes in the yard. First, she dug a hole over by the steps of the house near a cement wall. No one took much notice, until she dug two more holes by our fence. It wasn’t long before the yard was full of holes, a dozen or more. Soon the place looked like the desert in the movie, Holes…. Everywhere you looked there was another and another.

  Her favorite holes are the ones that are as big as a cave. She crawls down the entrance on her belly and turns around inside. Then she pokes her head out to watch, smell, and hear everything going on around her. The dirt she digs out of each hole is left in a pile at the opening. She rests her head on this mound and keeps her nose in the air, sniffing the wind, on guard for any intruders.

  When our neighbor Jane saw all the holes Neewa dug, she was totally shocked. She thinks Neewa digs the holes to stay cool and away from the heat during the day and at night when it is cold she can stay warm inside.

  In high mountain deserts, summer days and nights have a wide range of temperature. The days are ninety to a hundred degrees, but the nights are cool, sometimes even cold.

  Tall Bristlecone Pine trees shade most of our yard and Neewa’s play area. The trees keep us cool during the day, especially if there is a breeze.

  We don’t have to worry about cutting the lawn. Ha-ha, the grass just doesn’t grow in a place that gets so little rain and sunshine. Dad likes that just fine. One thing he hated back east was cutting the lawn, leaf clean up, and all that stuff.

  Flowers in the front of the house attract lots of bees and birds. The bumblebees buzz like little chain saws. And at dusk I’ve seen hummingbirds hovering around the honeysuckle and lilac bushes that crowd the house and give off sweet fragrances.

  Chapter 12 - Rodeo

  Dad walks in and trips over one of Neewa’s soup bones. “Whoa!” He shouts sliding several feet across the room, barely regaining his balance. “What the hell was that?”

  I laugh, “You have to watch where you’re going.”

  Dad kicks the bone out of the doorway and chuckles.

  “Hey I got an idea, let’s all go to the rodeo. Can you believe it, a rodeo here in town?” He exclaims.

  I ask myself, go to a rodeo? No, I don’t think so. They torture those animals, don’t they?

  “I’m not going,” I say.

  Dad answers from his room, “It’s the Women’s National Championships. The main events are saddle bronco riding, barrel racing, bull riding, calf roping and steer wrestling.”

  “I wanna go,” Jackie shouts from her room.

  “All right I’ll go,” I say reluctantly, knowing Neewa can’t come with us. “But we can still bring her and keep her outside, right Dad?”

  Dad puts on his best jeans and is stomping his feet into his boots, “Bang! Bang!”

  “What the hell are you doing?” I ask.

  “Bring the ghost hunting equipment,” he reminds me. “We can test it out at the rodeo. We’ll see what kind of readings we get from the riders and horses.”

  I have to remember to bring along Neewa’s corkscrew stake and chain to k
eep her from running off. As long as we park in the shade, she will be nice and cool. She can take a nap under the van. I’ll make sure she has plenty of water and food.


  Arriving at the arena, I jump from the van and prepare a place for Neewa to stay in the shade while we are in the arena. I secure her to the chain and fill her bowls.

  While waiting for Dad and Jackie to gather the stuff, I survey the surrounding area with its rippling sand dunes and sagebrush scattered over the stark desert. Tumbleweeds blow across the landscape driven by scorching hot winds. Each new angle of the sun’s rays paints the serrated rock on the distant mountains bright rust and amber. Towering peaks rise over shadowy crevasses under the cloudless blue sky.

  Scratching Neewa behind the ear, she leans into my rub for a deep massage. “You stay in the shade Neewa. And don’t pull your stake out of the ground. Here is your lunch and water. We’ll be back in an hour or so, I promise.”

  The rodeo has already started. I throw my backpack full of ghost hunting stuff over my shoulder and run for the main gate.

  The parking lot is full of trucks with license plates from every state. I see Idaho, Wyoming, California, Iowa and Arizona to name a few, even Canada is here.

  As we walk through the entrance into the arena, the sound of the crowd is deafening. The fans are cheering and clapping for one of the competitors. Dad and Jackie are talking to me as an announcement is broadcast over the public address system.

  “I can’t hear you!” I say.

  A woman on horseback, wearing chaps and a hat pulled down tight on her head, disappears into a tunnel at the far end of the arena. The barrel racing competition has just ended. A hush comes over the crowd as staff rush in and roll the bright red barrels off the main floor, preparing for the next event.

  Spectators are perched on railings and fill the bleachers. Families huddle together to support their daughters, mothers, and sisters. Most are wearing blue jeans or silk jackets with logos and of course cowboy hats and boots. The older folks have on the traditional dungaree or corduroy jackets or vests.

  As we search for seats, I look at the spectators who fill the bleachers.

  The Native Americans bring their look. It’s more of a hybrid between a Western cowboy and American Indian. The blue jeans and boots are about the same, but above the waist are Indian blankets or deerskin jackets with fringe. Their beige stoic faces are draped in characteristic jet-black shoulder length hair or framed in marine style crew cuts. And topped with ten-gallon hats with colorful beaded headbands.

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