The Charlie Bravo Story

The Final Chapter

In case you haven’t noticed, the posts have been a bit more infrequent lately. The story is still growing and the antics at the Casa del Whackos still blowing and going, but sometimes the cares of life intrude and the frivolity becomes muted just a bit.

Zach and I have been planning a motorcycle trip out to Moab for quite some time, and that was already weighing heavy on my conscience. Moab is one of the most incredible places on earth, but the heat, harsh sandstone, and acidic water make it not very dog friendly, and I hate leaving Charlie behind.

Compound that with the fact that recently my ailing dad took a abrupt turn for the worst and had to be checked into the VA; now what? If I stay home and nothing further happens for the next week, I’ll always regret not going. On the other hand, if I were to go and something drastic occur while I’m out west, I would never forgive myself either. His mind is failing but his body is fairly strong, so the chance of slim, but you never know.

My Conscience can be a heartless bitch, but she has a good-timing sister named Compromise, who always seems to come up with a plan; Zach, Craig, and Levi are trailering the dirt bikes and driving straight through, swapping drivers through the night. I will leave a day later in the Subaru, so I have an escape pod and can jettison for home should things go suddenly pear shaped. Of course, I would much rather be traveling with Charlie, but this trip would be very hard on any dog, even one as hardy as the Queen. Who knows, maybe the harsh winds of the Southwest will blast away some of these cobwebs between my ears.

In the meantime, the book is finished and ready to hit the presses, pending the finalization of the cover art. Charlie wanted me to post the first chapter as a teaser, and, as you know, what Charlie wants, Charlie usually gets. If this chapter strikes you as a sad post for a Charlie Bravo Day, just remember: you know how the story ends!

Chark diem!

Twas ragged and raw and the riders saw
She had been there for quite a while
In a crate in a field with no end in sight,
No houses for many a mile.
They stopped for a bit, then left in a cloud
Of dust and exhaust so blue;
She resigned herself that this was her fate–
The crate was all she knew
She pricked up her ears as a sound approached and the riders came back into sight.
So weak she was, she could barely move,
Her famine overcoming her fright.
But here was a change, hands reaching out,
inflicting something much different than pain.
They left once again, came back with a truck,
And headed for home in the rain.
Due to her plight, she spent the first night
Sleeping with Zach and the bikes.
Hondas and Harleys, though great on the road,
Were not the bedpartners she likes.
Next day at the spa with Alex and Ma;
Transformation taking place all the while.
First the smell, then the pain, vanished down the drain
Leaving a black coat and white smile.
As her confidence grew, her message did, too
That we all live in some sort of crate
But no matter how hopeless our conditions may seem,
Hope never fails if we wait.
Now she hogs dad’s whole bed, from the foot to the head
She’s the Queen of the Casa, you know.
She rides on the back, of a Honda so black
Her name is Charlie Bravo!

Charlie: And so it begins…

I can barely remember a time that didn’t involve the hard plastic interior of this crate. Sure, faint memories of a little girl’s birthday party with the expected squeals of delight when I was presented remain, but it was only a short time before the “cute” wore off and was replaced by the reality of caring for a rambunctious puppy.

In today’s electronic world, many things vie for a child’s attention, and unfortunately, in the competition between a living creature and the latest smartphone app, I lost. I found myself being confined to the crate with increasing frequency, first for short periods, then as my owner’s conscience began to sear over, for longer sentences, until soon I wasn’t let out at all. My infrequent meals consisted of a handful of dry kibble occasionally tossed into the floor of my prison, only to mix with my own feces that had began to fill the confined space as well.

In spite of such meager rations, I continued to grow, as did my frustration and claustrophobia. The arch of my spine was the first to suffer, followed by my hips, knees, even my tail, rubbed completely through to the bone from the constant contact with the interior of the crate. My toenails also continued their relentless growth, eventually curling back under and growing back into the pads of my feet. I learned to sleep in my own filth, curling my forepaws under my chest to conform to my tiny area, but during the day, I would occupy myself by gnawing frenziedly at the inside of my plastic cell in an effort to free myself.

Eventually, the combination of crying, scratching, and the stench from inside the box became too much for even the foul mistress of the double-wide, and on a cold night in January, I felt my crate being hoisted into the back seat of a creaky small sedan smelling of stale cigarette butts and desperation. Even at that, the hum of the four cylinder engine and the warmth of the heater lulled me to sleep until suddenly I felt the car veer off of the pavement and onto marshy earth.

The rear door was yanked open and the dome light illuminated a small weedy area. Before I could think to protest, the crate was slid from the back seat to land with a squishy thud on the soggy ground, then footsteps retreating hurriedly towards the idling car. The wheels began to spin in the soft mud, but just as I thought my former captors were they themselves going to be trapped in the inky darkness with me, the car lurched backwards to find a purchase on the pavement. My howls of anguish chased the retreating sedan as I watched the tail lights quickly grow closer together until they became as one, then disappeared entirely.

Alone. But not truly alone, as I always had a friend, a friend named Hope. Hope had a very small, quiet voice, that would increase in volume and intensity whenever we would hear an occasional vehicle approach, only to grow quiet again when the car would not slow or stop. Quieter every day as my strength began to fail me, but never totally silent.

Hope was eventually joined by a new but unlikely friend, Procrastination. Procrastination whispered “put off giving up just one more second”. That second became a minute, minutes became hours, hours became days, until one of those days I heard a different sound approaching. It was two motorcycles, but unlike motorcycles that had passed before, these had a civilized howl instead of a dull thumping roar. Hope immediately raised her voice, only to be quieted once again as the bikes flew by and disappeared around the next curve.

Was this my fate? A slow death by starvation? To die as I had always lived, confined, marginalized, unwanted, and alone? Even then, in the darkest hours of despair, I knew this to be untrue, as I had a third friend in that crate, Faith. Faith didn’t have a voice, but instead spoke to me through an intangible feeling, a feeling that there was surely something else “out there”, that surely I wasn’t worthless, but had a purpose in some vague master plan.

Even though I feel that I had truly reached the end of my rope, I had no choice but to tie a knot and hang on. Just one more day.

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