Busted Axle Road
Chapter 14

Copyright© 1993, 2001, 2010

"I don't want that dog in the house," Jackie said. "The cats have never had a chance to get used to dogs."

"Hadn't planned on it," Mark said. "We could use a good outside watchdog, though. It can't hurt to feed him for a few days, and see if he hangs around."

"Well, I don't know," Jackie said.

Mark hadn't broached the idea of a dog team to Jackie yet -- it wasn't really firm in his own mind. However, it would only take a little cheap dog food to see if the dog would hang around, and then, if it did, maybe he really was supposed to be moving toward a dog team.

Brother Erasmus, the old black preacher down in Florida, had been the only preacher that Mark had ever really liked, even though he'd spent a term on the board of the Spearfish Lake First Baptist Church. He'd been the only preacher that Mark had ever met that acted like he meant what he was talking about, not just mouthing the words. "The Lord be talkin' to you all the time, showin' you the way all the time," Mark remembered Brother Erasmus saying. "Just you got to be ready to listen, and most people don't hear too good."

Mark knew that Jackie cherished the memory of Brother Erasmus, as well, but the whole thing was a little too far out to drop the idea on her, just yet. "He seems like a pretty good dog," Mark commented. "Maybe all he needs is a good meal, and he'll be on his way."

"I don't know," Jackie said again. "But, you know, he sort of puts me in mind of Cumulus."

"Can't be," Mark smiled, realizing Jackie was softening. "He's nowhere near as ugly as Cumulus was."

Cumulus had been the scroungy old mutt that had been the watchdog at the gliderport in Colorado where Mark and Jackie had worked for a few weeks while on their honeymoon. Outside of a tendency to chase airplanes and gliders until he'd been dinged by a propeller, he'd been the perfect watchdog: friendly and playful toward visitors during the day, but with a tendency to rip throats out first and ask questions later of anyone snooping around the place at night. "He just showed up here one day," he owner of the gliderport had said. "He saw that there was a job to be done, and that he was just the dog to do it."

Mark shook his head. That had been a long time ago. Cumulus hadn't been a young dog then, and it had been what? Sixteen years, next month. He had to be long dead and gone, but he'd been one of the best dogs that Mark had ever known.

"We'll have to keep him tied up while we're flying," Jackie said. "We wouldn't want him to tangle with a prop."

"I suppose he wouldn't mind a meal of cat food and scraps," Mark said. "I'll put a bowl of it out by that pile of old rags in the hanger. That'll make him a good place to sleep."

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