Happy Sunday! It’s sort of a melancholy Sunday for me, I’m afraid. On Thursday, I had to make the difficult decision to say goodbye to my beloved 16-year-old Irish Terrier mix, Shane O’Mac. She was the smartest dog I’ve ever owned, the most exasperating, the most out of control, the stubbornest, the funniest, the most loving, the loudest…a lot of “est” words. (In other words she was a terrier.)
Even the way I got her was unique. My friend Raymond, who worked in an office near mine, knew that I was dogless back in 2000, and he came to my office one morning with a scheme. The people who rented the house next door to his, he said, had stolen a dog. She’d followed their kid home from school, they thought she was cute, so they threw away her name tag and kept her. Then proceeded to neglect her. She stayed outside by herself all the time, sleeping on a moldy abandoned mattress and playing with beer cans. He couldn’t stand it, but he already had two dogs and couldn’t take on another one.
He would steal her, we’d meet for a dog exchange, and I’d keep her.
So everything went off as planned. During the night, he slipped her out of the yard and kept her. I drove to his house the next morning, my backseat full of leashes and collars and doggie stuff, got this scruffy red furball, and headed for home.
By the time I’d reached the end of the block, she had climbed up my arm, had her back feet on my shoulder and had her front half draped over the top of my head…while I was driving. I thought, “you are in trouble.”
By the time I got home, she had stood almost everywhere in the car–including the top of the steering wheel, had barked furiously at every passing motorist and pedestrian, and had gnawed on my hands hard enough that bruises were already appearing. I thought, “you are not ready for this dog.”
Fast-forward more than 14 years, and I’m going to miss her terribly. She was almost 16 but still had a little feistiness left despite advanced renal failure.
So in honor of Shane, here’s a deleted scene from River Road. In the original version of River Road, a lot of the stuff with Rand that ended up in Elysian Fields got started. My editor felt it was pulling the book in too many directions so this scene, as well as the bulk of the Rand scenes, got taken out. In it, Jean Lafitte brings DJ a gift…
“So, how’s Eugenie these days?” I asked Rand, closing the lid on the box of charms and taping it shut. I took a red marker and wrote Ken or Alex across the top, just to remind elf-boy that I had friends with guns.
He leaned over the other side of my worktable, propping on his elbows. “She’s out of town, visiting her sister in Shreveport.”
“How nice for you.”
“Don’t be hostile, Dru ― can I call you Dru? You have to admit I’ve been a good boy. I’ve left you alone all week, out of respect for what happened to your friend.”
Give him a gold star and send him home. “You may not call me Dru.” I’d been named after my great-aunt Drusilla, who was called Dru and who was, by all accounts, a morally licentious woman who outlived a scandalous number of husbands and lovers. She was probably still talked about in hushed tones among older members of the family, not that I ever saw them. “Even better, don’t say my name. Don’t talk to me. Don’t even think about talking to me.”
Rand smiled. “You can pretend you don’t find me attractive, but I know you do. I can feel it.”
Damn. If I had realized how annoying it was to have someone read your emotions, I’d have been much more discerning with my empathic skills. No wonder it made Alex so cranky.
“You look good in green, so what? I’m attracted to polar bears, but it doesn’t mean I plan on bonding with one.”
We were diverted by a click-clacking sound on the staircase. I turned to look as a pair of red ears became visible atop the stairs and crossed to the library door, accompanied by a cute black-button nose, a red beard, dancing almond-shaped eyes, and a fuzzy, wriggling body. It was a puppy, a terrier, from the look of it. Looked kind of like a Scottish terrier, but taller and red.
Rand hissed and hopped atop the worktable. “llygaid,” he muttered. “Anifail vile.”
I didn’t have a handy English-to-Elvish translator handy, but I got the impression the elf didn’t like dogs. I smiled broadly, and squatted, patting my hands on my legs to call him to me.
The dog bounded in my direction, tripping over his own feet, and Rand cursed again and raised his legs onto the table so the puppy wouldn’t touch him. I was liking this more and more.
“Hey there, you, where did you come from?” I picked up the wriggling dog and cradled him in my arms. He froze and pricked up his ears as he saw Rand, and a growl vibrated from deep inside his little throat. It wasn’t a very low growl, but it made Rand’s eyebrows lower and he glared.
“The dog is a gift, Jolie.”
I hadn’t heard Jean arrive, but I was sure he’d been eavesdropping.
“How did you know I loved dogs?” Before Katrina, before my life had gotten so crazy, I’d thought about adopting a dog but just never got around to it, especially since the one dog I’d taken in turned out to be Alex.
I frowned. “This is a real dog, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not like a shapeshifted pirate or anything.”
Jean smiled at Rand, not looking at me. “It is a real dog, Drusilla. I thought you would enjoy the companionship.”
“You are overstepping, Lafitte.” Rand lowered himself off the worktable and stood in front of the pirate. Rand was an inch or two shorter and probably 40 pounds lighter, but their anger was evenly matched. “According to an agreement between the Synod and the Elders, I am allowed to be here.”
Jean continued to smile, but it never reached his eyes. “Such agreements do not concern me, monsieur. I am simply here to bring my friend Drusilla a gift. Such a pity that elves are averse to this type of dog, oui?”
Now there was a piece of information I wish I’d known a week ago.
Rand gathered himself and walked stiffly over to me, reaching out a hand to pat the terrier’s snarling muzzle. I could tell it took an effort of will. If I hadn’t been holding the puppy tightly, I think he would have lunged at the elf’s hand. I loved this dog.
“I will leave you to your pirate for now,” he said, reaching out and touching my hair, avoiding the puppy’s snapping jaws. “Perhaps we will see each other tonight.”
“Perhaps not,” I said. I had a charmed citrine under my pillow with his name on it.
Once I heard the door slamming behind him, I went downstairs with Jean and the puppy.
“Why did you bring me a dog?” I asked him.
“I heard the elves disliked them,” he said. “Especially this dog, an Irish terrier. There is a bad history between the elves and this breed. It is an old breed.”
I wondered where he’d found an Irish terrier on short notice. “This is a real dog?” I asked again, just to be sure. “I mean, I appreciate the gift, but if it’s going to talk to me or spy on me or turn into something big and nasty―”
“Bah,” Jean said. “It is a dog, Drusilla. That is all.”
I ended up not using the devise of having elves averse to dogs and the dog, based on my Shane, never made it back into the story. Now, the fae are another matter….stay tuned….
Thanks for bearing with me as I take some time to play catchup on various projects in August. I’ll be back with a new Reader’s Choice giveaway tomorrow and will announce the RC winners at the end of the month.