My Boy, My Buddy

My boy woke in the middle of the night. He rolled off his 3-inch-thick bed on the floor by mine. There he sprawled out on the wooden floor with his back legs spread out to the sides and whimpered until one of us woke. No hurry, he said, and appeared to smile up at us in the moonlit room while the light reflected off his half-blind milky eyes. We lifted him, all 90 pounds, to help him stand. He strolled back onto the little bed, where he curled up again. Some nights this routine would go on once, others twice.

But then the scene changed. The bed and blanket sat in front of a church where the two people and the boy curled up, hoping not to be discovered by the pastor. Life had changed not only for the boy, but for his human parents. The light flicked on behind the mother. She collected the blanket, the backpack, and they got up before being discovered. After all, they only meant to stay the night, and they lacked nothing. It was their choice to travel this way. To see everything from a different perspective. The boy got up with her, as he was devoted, and would never stray. The husband had left a note under his wife’s hand. He’d gone to get the car at the end of the lane, and she was to meet him there. A short walk away, they saw the red jeep. The condensating fumes floated out of the exhaust pipe. She felt tired but consoled herself as she always did. Her husband’s wheelchair waited by the door for her to mount on the back while their boy jumped up into the front seat and popped between the console onto the backseat, where he settled onto his 3-inch-thick bed.

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