Wednesday, April 12, 2017

37 - The Garden Exposed

The small dog moved in and out of the rows of vegetables. Bartholomew picked the produce and filled a bowl; red peppers, green peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, radishes, carrots and lettuce. He had finished all the rows as Geraldine frolicked and dug and sniffed and peed.

“Geraldine, no!” commanded Bartholomew.

The little dog cowered and then moved out of the garden to finish her business. Bartholomew and Geraldine, and even Oliver, have become quite good companions. Geraldine’s uncontrollable urge to hump objects had declined. She occasionally mounted something and started to hump, but this seemed to occur only as much as with a normal dog – well almost normal. Once in awhile Bartholomew would have to remind her not to hump something, or someone, and Geraldine obeyed.

For her part, Geraldine had become more content having a home with Bartholomew. With regular attention she has become less needy. It has been quite a remarkable change. Many of Bartholomew’s friends can’t believe the difference, and some of them still call her Hump-Pug. Bartholomew discourages this whenever he can.

For Bartholomew, having the little companion has been satisfying. The moment he saved her from falling out of the tree in his backyard, Bartholomew came to know a quiet and appreciative side of Geraldine. He also appreciates a pet that will spend time with him in the garden. Oliver is not interested in gardening.

For Oliver, this dog has been an adjustment. He does not like sharing his “animal space” with another. He also is not happy with Bartholomew’s affections going elsewhere. But Oliver’s concerns have been mitigated because Bartholomew still does whatever his cat tells him and Hump-Pug (that is what Oliver still calls Geraldine) has not been intrusive. Geraldine is happy to have her own space and not go near Oliver (who is bigger than her and has claws.) All in all, Oliver and Geraldine have worked out their differences. This has pleased Bartholomew greatly because, at the moment, all of his friends are mad at each other and he has been left alone to tend the garden. His Uncle Jeffrey and Aunt Josephine help at times, but they have been on a lot of weekend trips to their cabin.

The sun shone all summer and made the vegetables abundant. This really was the perfect spot to put a garden. Lots of sunshine, water from Mr. McBarden’s hose and near to Bartholomew’s home. The garden was his solace. His friends had come together over the garden, and the summer had been filled with many satisfying conversations while planting, weeding, harvesting and eating. Although the garden was now just his, Bartholomew was pleased with the outcome. His life was richer and healthier. What more could he ask for?

Geraldine, after running ahead of Bartholomew, would run back to him jump onto his leg with her front paws and then run away again; always taking off, always checking in. Sometimes she would chase away a snake or a squirrel. She liked to bark at birds and even the occasional large insect. When a large train would come by she would sometimes run away or sometimes defend her ground. But still, once in awhile, she would mount a log, a tree, a rake, a tomato cage, a telephone pole, etc.

“Oh, Geraldine,” said Bartholomew, “I’m so happy you’re here gardening with me. I miss my friends. I don’t know why they have to be so mad at each other.”

Normally, when Bartholomew talked to his cat Oliver, Oliver responded by sharing his wisdom and experience. Geraldine was different. When Bartholomew talked to her, she just looked at him with her tongue out and waited for him to say the word “food.” It quickly became apparent to Bartholomew that discussions with Geraldine are one way. He picked up a carrot and threw it. Geraldine gave chase. She took it in her mouth but, not liking the taste, very quickly dropped it and pranced back to Bartholomew. This time he picked up a stick and threw it. The stick landed near Mr. McBarden’s plot of vegetables. A brown blur of fur missed the stick and crashed through Mr. McBarden’s perimeter hedge. Bartholomew waited for the pug to return. She didn’t.

Bartholomew started this garden with the help of old Mr. McBarden, his neighbor. Although he was a bit cranky, Mr. McBarden had been helpful when dealing with property line issues and letting the gardeners use water from his house. When divvying up the plots, Mr. McBarden insisted on having the furthest plot and planting a hedge around it. He said the hedge would keep the vermin out. He seemed a little old and a little kooky so everyone let him have what he wanted. Bartholomew had seen his neighbor watering the garden and tending to his plot, but he had never peered over Mr. McBardon’s hedge to see what he was growing. And now Geraldine had disappeared behind the hedge.

“Geraldine, come!” commanded Bartholomew. No response.

“Geraldine! Come here, girl. C’mon!” Nothing.

Bartholomew began to worry a little bit, “Geraldine?”

Maybe she was just busy humping something in Mr. McBarden’s plot Bartholomew thought.

“Geraldine? C’mon. Come here.”

There was a little stirring in the hedge and then out popped Geraldine covered with plants and walking a little wobbly.

“There you are. C’mere Geraldine. C’mon,” said Bartholomew.

Geraldine stumbled over to Bartholomew. He pulled the plants off of her. He looked into her dilated eyes. He looked at the plants he pulled off her. He looked into her eyes again. The plants he pulled off of her were marijuana! Bartholomew put his head in his hands as a sick feeling grew in his stomach. He walked over to Mr. McBarden’s hedge, parted it and stepped inside. Mr. McBarden’s entire plot was pot.

“Oh, no,” sighed Bartholomew.

Geraldine bumped into Bartholomew’s leg.

“What am I going to do?” he asked the pug. “I guess I should pull one and show it to Uncle Jeffrey. He’ll know what to do about this. I just can’t believe this is what Mr. McBarden has been doing all summer.”

Bartholomew uprooted one of the marijuana plants and bent down to pick up Geraldine. Through the hedge he heard the screeching of tires, the slamming of doors and the sound of feet running into the garden. He burst out of the hedge to see what was going on.

“Freeze!” a policeman shouted aiming a gun at Bartholomew. Bartholomew froze with a stoned pug in one hand and a marijuana plant in the other. The police rushed at him and knocked him to the ground. Geraldine went flying but seemed unaware of what was going on around her. They cuffed Bartholomew and dragged him to their car.

“What are you doing?” asked Bartholomew.

“We are arresting you for growing and possessing an illegal substance. You have the right to remain silent…”

“But I wasn’t growing it! Mr. McBarden was,” protested Bartholomew.

“You have the right to remain silent…”

Bartholomew listened to the police officer and then answered questions in the back seat of the squad car. When he was done, another officer asked him questions, mostly the same questions, while the first officer confiscated some of the marijuana plants. Bartholomew answered all of the questions again and then another vehicle pulled up to the garden. The police officers conferred with each other, pointed the new officers to the plot and then got into the car with Bartholomew. As they pulled away from the garden, Bartholomew could see Mr. McBarden’s plot being destroyed with brush cutters.

He could see Geraldine meandering toward his house and wondered who would take care of her while he was detained. He thought he also saw a head peer out of the window of Mr. McBarden’s house and then disappear.

When they reached the police department, Bartholomew was asked another bunch of questions, many of them the same ones he already answered, and had his fingerprints taken. He was allowed to make one phone call. Upon hearing the answering machine at Uncle Jeffrey and Aunt Josephine’s house, he realized they were gone for the next three days at their cabin. He didn’t know any lawyers. Who could he call? Bartholomew had never felt so alone in his life. He worried about Oliver and Geraldine but then, after thinking it over, he worried about himself.
Written by Mark Granlund 
Illustrated by Jill Yankee

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