Tuesday, April 11, 2017

38 - Broken Dreams

The cute little pug was feeling much better after having recovered from eating marijuana. But it had been two days since she had seen Bartholomew. She was beginning to worry, especially since she had to go back to her old ways of scavenging food. Where could he be? He had never been gone this long before. She waited for him by his house and at the garden at the end of the road.

That afternoon, while she napped on the front steps of Bartholomew’s house, a van pulled up to the garden. It was big and had all kinds of letters on the side. Out came two men. Geraldine was hoping one of them was Bartholomew. Seeing that neither was him, she went back to napping. They opened the back of the van and pulled out tall tripods and a couple of cases. The men looked over a map and then placed the tripods in the garden. From the cases they took instruments for measuring distances. For the next twenty minutes they took measurements throughout the garden and all the way to the railroad tracks. At times they would spray paint on the ground.

Geraldine was not liking the look of this and decided to go tell the two men. She ran down the street and barked at them. They turned around quickly to see what ferocious beast was going to attack them, and then they laughed and continued working. Geraldine got within a couple of feet of one of them and barked as loud and a fast as she could. He paid no attention to her. She went to bark at the other man, but he just turned and walked farther away with his equipment. Geraldine was not happy that they were ignoring her. She went right up to one man and barked only inches from his shoe. He looked wary for a moment but then continued his work. Geraldine began to panic a little bit. Why weren’t they stopping what they were doing? She felt a little helpless and didn’t know what else to do, so she mounted the man’s leg and began to hump.

Now the man paid attention.

“Get off me,” the man said as he shook his leg. Geraldine did not let go. He reached down and grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and yanked her off his leg.

“What should we do with this, Charlie?” asked the man to the other.

“Put it in the van,” said Charlie.

The man threw Geraldine into the back of the van, slammed the door shut and went back to his work. Ten more minutes went by without a sound from the men. Geraldine was alert. She was alert and ready for anything. With her heightened senses she smelled something, something tunafish-like. She found a brown bag just behind one of the seats. It smelled like tunafish sandwiches, an apple and potato chips. She was about to dig in to it and eat it, but decided instead to pee on it instead.

Meanwhile, the men outside finished measuring the edge of the railroad property and marked it on the ground. They called another crew to tell them they were finished. Five minutes later, Geraldine heard another vehicle drive up. The men discussed some things about the markings on the ground that identified railroad property and then she heard loud noises. The new crew started up their weed whips and brush cutters. A couple of men removed all of the wire cages and solid objects and then the others started walking through the garden and mowing it down.

Mr. McBarden’s plot, which had already been cut down by the police because he had been growing marijuana, was trimmed even lower and his hedge removed. Bits of red tomato whipped through the air and splattered the men’s pants. Carrots and beets were sliced in half as the men dug them up. Lettuces, green onions, herbs and radishes were cut to a nub. And Bartholomew’s beautiful towering kale fell mangled and distorted like a broken body. What wasn’t completely cut to the ground was tromped on by the men’s boots – smashed back into the ground from which it came. If that weren’t enough, the men then sprayed the garden with an herbicide. Some of the liquid death drifted to the part of the garden not on railroad property. Their work was thorough and complete.

About two thirds of the garden was on railroad property. When the men were finished, that part of the garden looked like a pile of weeds. The part of the garden not on railroad property had been trampled by the workers and didn’t look much better than the rest. The railroad company left the pile of plants where it lay. It didn't matter if it was a mess, they just didn’t want someone growing a garden on their property. In reality, they didn’t really mind someone growing a garden on this piece property, but the owner of the railroad owed Gerald a favor.

The men put away their equipment and headed to their vehicles. The van door opened and Geraldine saw gloved hands come at her. The man didn’t grab the scruff of her neck quite right and it hurt when he picked her up. The little dog barked and winced as the man threw her into the garden. Geraldine landed hard and slammed into a log stump. The men laughed and drove away.

Geraldine lay still for a while. It hurt her ribs to breathe. Eventually, she stood up and wandered through what was the garden. Tomato plants lay bent and crumpled on top of each other. Pepper plants and eggplants were shredded almost beyond recognition. The rows of vegetables were no longer distinguishable as the vegetation lay as a thick mat of green on the ground. Geraldine thought about Bartholomew and how this was his food. She felt a deep sympathy at the thought that Bartholomew would no longer have the food he loved. She gave a short mournful howl that made her ribs seer with pain. Not sure what else to do, she ambled back to his front steps. She lay down against the door hurt.

Inside the house, Oliver had seen the whole event from a window. Not usually one to swear, Oliver had hurled a few cat expletives at the men as he witnessed the destruction. Having watched Geraldine get hurt and amble back to the house, Oliver lay against the inside of the front door. There the two friends talked to each other quietly through the wooden barrier, supporting each other and wondering what had happened to their best friend.
Written by Mark Granlund
Illustration by James O'Brien

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