I live in Dublin, Ireland. Sometimes. Most times I live in my head, quite unaware of my surroundings – if you know what I mean… If you succeed in tracking Sean Walsh, please let me know, ok? I've been searching for him for years…
Dad?.. Can we go home now, Dad?.. I’m frozen!..
Said I… easing a cold hand into a pocket of his overcoat…
Here, boy! Here, Rusty!.. Come on, fella!.. Rusty?!.. Ah, that a boy!..
Back into town, downhill.
Passing traffic. Anglias and Austins,
Standards and Morris Minors…
The occasional pony and trap.
By the Railway station,
the terraced, red-bricked houses
forming a crescent
above and around and about
the grey Dominican church…
Paying scant attention
to the man approaching
on the other side of the road,
walking four greyhounds on the lead…
Only sensing danger as they
strained forward, sighting, targeting
the unsuspecting spaniel
that was padding towards them –
sniffing, scenting, tail-wagging…
Rusty ,no! Don’t, don’t Rusty!
Here boy, here! Come to me!
Oh, God, no – Rusty!..
So sudden! Jesus, they engulfed him,
went for his belly as he rolled over,
whimpering. I can still hear
his frantic cries as they tore him –
‘Stood riveted as Daddy tried to fight them off,
the handler pull them back…
And then, then it was over…
Dad carrying Rusty in his arms –
paws limp, dark eyes anguished –
as we hurried the rest of the way home:
To the basket by the fire
in the front room,
the sheets soon bloodied,
the ‘phone call to the vet,
the many stitches…
Injections that would stave off
for a night’s vigil
the inevitable, final sorrow.
Less than two years ago
I had lifted and held him
for the very first time:
Rusty… Oh dear, dear… Poor Rusty…
‘Died the next day. In his sleep.
‘Heart just stopped.
On his side, under the bay window,
in the bed we had made up for him
the night before…
And Dad blinking at a dead fireplace.
Not wanting us to see him,
fumbling a handkerchief to his face,
trying to conceal what we already knew –
that he was a quiet, wee man… Big Softie…
from Penny for Your Travels.
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