This is a story with a sad ending and I hate to tell it because I’m the villain of the tale. I’d like to go back about 4 hours and replay things. But that’s not possible.The morning and afternoon had gone by quickly. Walter and I worked on his book. We did our PX90 exercise which was killer on the legs. Then I picked up some of the pecans from the yard before the parrots could get to them. Earlier Walter had told me he had some bicycles and that I could use one to go tour Cieneguilla and ride up to the ruins that I’ve been wanting to check out. The day got away from me and suddenly it was three o’ clock in the afternoon. I asked if it was too late to take my ruins excursion and Walter suggested I just go for a ride down the road and then cut back down the pathway next to the river across the street from the house. “It’ll give you a chance to test out the bike. Take the dogs,” he said. “They’ll like it. Only I’ll keep Peggy here with me because she doesn’t listen.” It was a good plan.
The front gate is always kept locked with a chain and padlock. So while he opened the gates and tried to get Peggy to stay, I inched the bike out. The dogs were ecstatic. They were all ready to hit the road, even Peggy. None of them wear collars and Peggy wasn’t listening to Walter tell her to stay. Just as I was getting ready to push off and go, one of the families who’d gone to lunch in Cieneguilla came back. It all seemed so chaotic and for whatever reason, I decided it’d be best to just go, to take the dogs and get out of the mess so the family wouldn’t get accosted by animals. I knew or I didn’t, but Peggy was with us.
This is the moment I wish I could go back to. When I saw Peggy there with me, Gringo, Negra and Lulu, I should have turned back and taken her to the house. She’d have had a little adventure and then been fine.
I pressed on. She was staying right with us and we were doing just fine. I stopped a couple times to take pictures. It was a fun adventure.
We went by a slew of dogs that stay out in the road guarding their respective territories. Lulu stayed close by, panting as she trotted next to me. Negra, dashed all around, exploring the underbrush, splashing through the water in the ruts in the roads. Gringo kept at the front until his 13 year old joints protested. Peggy kept pace with Negra.
After about fifteen minutes we reached the end of the road.
The vines against the wall to the right of us had a mess of cats living inside it. There were piles of trash in the underbrush. The dogs ran all about, barking and inspecting. I called them as I crossed the narrow way to get to the dirt path that runs parallel to the river and to the road I’d been on. Somewhere there, at the turn, Peggy disappeared.When I looked back, I saw the three dogs with me. But no Peggy. I figured, wrongly, that she’d catch up. That’d been my experience with dogs before. Before I’d gotten half way home I should have turned back to find her. I called for her, but she didn’t come.
When I got back to the house Walter was outside clearing out tree branches. “Did Peggy come back?” I asked.He said no. I told him I’d lost her at the turn. I took the dogs and the bike and went back the same way, yelling for her and whistling. When I made the circuit and returned again to the front gate, Peggy wasn’t there. Walter rolled out his motorcycle and took the same route. For an hour we ran up and down the roads, me on a bike and Walter on the motorcycle, calling her name and whistling. By this time I feel completely awful, irresponsible, and unlucky.
What an awful person I am. I get here, stay a week, and lose the guy’s dog.We met back up at the gate, shaking our heads to say we hadn’t found her. I’m distraught. “I’m really sorry,” I said. “This is going to make me cry.” And it does.
“There’s no use crying over spilled milk,” Walter said, using a cliché as is his wont. He hugged me with a brotherly pat. But I still felt bad. Really bad. As if hard work would redeem the loss, I helped him clear out the tree branches and sweep up the leaves he’d been cutting down. I’m not catholic but penance seemed like the only option I had for the forgiveness he wasn’t asking for.“People steal anything you don’t lock down,” he said, “and even things you do. Gringo’s brother got stolen from me. And Mary’s little dog was stolen. We had to pay one hundred dollars to get her back.” This makes me feel better and worse at the same time. “In about five minutes, you should take the bike and go down the main road and call for Peggy there. People will be getting home from work and maybe you’ll see her.”
So I went. Calling and whistling, hoping against hope (to use my own cliché) that I’d see her and the day would end more triumphantly.I went back empty handed and sad hearted.
While I’m mourning in the kitchen, I overhear Walter and Jose talking. Walter’s disdain for people and his lack of trust in humanity is evident, but Jose is much more given to hope. He tells Walter that Peggy has run off before, found something to eat and then come back later. He figured she’d just found something at the end of the road and would come back when she was ready. Jose said he’d go a little bit later and call for her too.With this spark of hope I get through the evening. I say a little prayer to the god of the dogs and wait for a miracle.
Peggy, please come home.