Copyright©Feb. 2013 Suzy Stewart Dubot
Published on Shakespir
An Anglo/American who has been living in France for over 30 years, she began writing as soon as she retired. She recently spent seventeen months in London, UK caring for an aged relative. She is now back in France. Writing follows her as easily as her laptop. With her daughters, she is a vegetarian and a supporter of animal rights. She is also an admirer of the British abolitionist, William Wilberforce, who was also a founding member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (S.P.C.A.).
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.
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Cover design: Suzy Stewart Dubot
My day had begun as all my days have begun since I retired – nice and easy.
As I coaxed myself out of my bed, little did I suspect that it was going to be a day unlike any other. It was going to be the whopper to top them all!
Don’t sleep a lot, but do sleep soundly, so am one of those lucky ones who always feels refreshed when they wake. A storm could pass in the night or bombs could be dropped, and I wouldn’t hear a thing.
Been married and divorced. My wife blamed the divorce on me snoring, which I probably do, but it was the problem that she had waking me when I’d started that finished the marriage. She did try sleeping in the next room, but it is a bit like listening for a drip. She would lie there waiting for me to start and then wouldn’t get any sleep. The walls couldn’t muffle what she was determined to hear.
That was some years ago.
Today I am self-sufficient. Do everything that needs to be done. Even make my bed a couple of times a week. The big change that came about when she left was the animals. She had never wanted the bother of a dog or a cat, and although I had fancied having a dog, I had wanted an easy life even more, so had never insisted.
Have to say that once I got over her leaving me (the humiliation lasted for about three weeks), I actually breathed easier. All those things I ‘was or wasn’t supposed to do,’ left with her. I could do and be as I liked once again. Sleep naked in my bed, today.
Don’t get me wrong, she was a decent wife as wives go, I believe. She liked to keep a clean house, eat at regular times and all that. It’s just that sometimes she reminded me of my mother. Although here, I have to add that my mother was rather partial to dogs, because I had a scruffy red dog called Rusty.
Well, to get back to that day of all days, I had got up and had some coffee before going out to tend to my animals. Always have a coffee and something to eat first, because it takes me a good hour every morning to do the rounds. Funny when you think it all started with one stray dog I’d taken in.
Oh, did I mention that my dog doesn’t mind the snoring? Sleeps right there with me and has never crept away to the next room. Cute as well. Sometimes wake to find his head on the pillow next to mine. Called him Rusty too, although he’s black and white.
Anyway, Rusty started the ball rolling because once it was known that I had taken in a stray dog, people thought I would be a softy and take in others. They were right, of course. Found myself catching up on forty years of animal deprivation.
I’ll cut to the quick here and tell you what I’ve got today – three dogs, two donkeys, two neutered cats, an ugly looking pig, an old cow that nearly got milked to death, and a lame horse called Charley. ‘Charley horse’ – get it?
Also, got three domesticated rabbits in a large, outdoor pen, free-range hens and a rooster that I sometimes regret saving when he crows at three thirty in the morning. For some strange reason, his cry penetrates my sleep.
Soooo, I’d got up nice and easy and let the dogs, Rusty, Smith and Jones out for their morning pee. I’d indulged in a coffee and an iced bun and had then got dressed. I sometimes get dressed first. I’d next gone out to check on the animals and to put them that go, into the field behind the barn. I also have about another ten acres at the back of the house beyond the garden. There I grow hay and once it’s been cut the first time, I let the animals have a free run of it too.
I would think that you’ve guessed by now that I live a quiet, peaceful life since I’ve retired. Boring, you might say? Not at all. Always something going on. The odd kid coming by to give apples or carrots to the beasts. The odd escape, which hasn’t done any harm to date, because people here are game to give me a hand or a call if they come across any of my straying animals. I live a great life and wouldn’t change it for any woman in the world.
Don’t know what had drawn my attention to the ten-acre field, as it’s in the opposite direction from the barn. Don’t usually go to the back of the garden unless I’m mowing, but there was a sort of bluish haze at the back. Guess I panicked a little, thinking that the field had caught alight, seeing as it was very near harvesting time. Hurried over to the back fence expecting the worst, but there wasn’t a smell of smoke and the haze wasn’t rising, which calmed me a little, until I saw that the haze was hovering.
Hard to tell what the climatic changes are capable of doing. I’m not one to panic, but the blue haze was pretty disconcerting, and when I looked at it closer, it seemed like it was pulsating. Yep, I like that word, pulsating. Also noticed that it was rounded rather than square at the corners. I suppose if pancakes had been blue, I could’ve compared it to a pancake.
There had been nothing I could do about it but wait, so in the meantime, I’d managed to get all the animals into the side field behind the barn. Animals can sense danger but mine didn’t even look over in that direction. No harm threatened, apparently.
Once I was satisfied that my animals were secure, I hurried back into the house to get myself equipped to examine that potential miasma. There have been enough chemical disasters in the world that I was a little leery about coming in too close a contact with the blue haze. So, I got fully dressed with socks, jeans, long-sleeved polo-necked sweater with a hood, Wellington boots and added, for good measure, one of those white masks workmen wear for sanding etc.. Oh, and a pair of gardening gloves. At the last minute decided to wear snorkelling goggles to protect my eyes. And to be extra safe, put on my bee-keeping hat with net. Don’t think I mentioned I keep bees? Got half a dozen hives which suits me well enough.
Anyhow, I came out my front door just as Harris, the postman, stopped to give me some letters.
Sod’s law, isn’t it.
Someone had to see me geared up like that, although I should have been grateful he didn’t have a camera – except he did. He launched right into his smug spiel.
“Hello, Mr. Franklin. Off on an adventure, are we? Covered all eventualities, have we?”
His remark hadn’t surprised me by half as I’d struggled in my gloves to take the letters he handed me. I was just grateful I hadn’t yet been carrying the bucket and spade I had planned to take with me.
He didn’t play fair. No sooner had he released the letters into my hand than his camera had appeared and flashed. The flash was actually a god-send because I was sure the reflection on my goggles meant I was unidentifiable. It would only be his word against mine.
“Have a nice day, Mr. Franklin!” was said with a suppressed laugh.
Of course, he drove off before I could put the letters down, take off my gloves, lift the net and remove the mask to respond. That was only the beginning and nothing more than a gnat’s bite compared to what was about to follow.
I went into the barn to pick up the bucket and spade, a pair of secateurs and a rake. I really had planned to cover all the possibilities. Finally, clumped my way across the garden in my wellies to the field. Have to admit I couldn’t see much, so ended up by lifting off my hat and net so I could get at the goggles, which had fogged up. Then looked at the field, prepared to investigate.
The haze had gone! In its place was a small blue blob which then made a noise as near to mewling as a blue blob can give. To give you an idea of its size, I suppose it was about that of an orang-utan, and that image was reinforced as appendages sprouted from the mass and were held out in my direction. The thing appeared to be crying and wanting comfort. What choice did I have? I’m a sucker when it comes to any poor creature in need of help.
Left the hat and goggles off as I climbed over the fence to reach the sobbing creature. A very touching moment in my life as it clung to me and put a ‘sort of’ head on my shoulder. I patted its silicon, slippery back, and it calmed down in no time at all. I was surprised at how light the thing was, considering its mass. Maybe it had some kind of anti-gravitational ability? But, I’ll never know.
I’m going cut out a lot of the detail here as you only have to look at it to see for yourself. The unusual thing about it is that the blob sprouts different body parts as it needs them. Have never been able to tell its gender even today, although that doesn’t much matter, I guess, as it is the only one I’ve got – as blue blobs go.
Of course, I’ll never hear the end of it, me being equipped to tackle anything. Harris, the postman, had posters made of the photo! There’s one in the local pub that is a source of a lot of entertainment, even today. He had the words ‘Friend or Foe’ with a question mark printed at the bottom.
The blue blob, which I now call Harris, was only the first of half a dozen abandonments.
‘Why me?’ I often wonder.
I’ve come to the conclusion that all these alien creatures, because that’s what they are, have been left by their owners as they’ve gone off on holiday or as the novelty of a new pet has worn off. We Earthlings aren’t unique when it comes to irresponsibility.
It seems that word had spread that I take in strays. I’ve now got all sorts of shapes and colours and I love every one of them. They have fitted in with my other animals and it seems they’ve brought new life to them in doing so. They all have the run of the place and although I sometimes find them in the house, they seem to prefer sticking with the other animals, although I once came across Harris having a shower. They’ll eat anything the others eat too. We all get on just fine together. The strangest thing is that I’d swear that they communicate with my lot. I sometimes think I can hear them ‘talking’ to me too.
A boring life? I don’t think so. Nooo siree!
Makes me wonder, though, if any of this would have happened if I hadn’t snored. What do you think?