A Memorable Evening

The Button Box

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A spontaneous decision to go to a movie 50 miles away put my friend and I on the back roads between Macksville and Greensburg in the Catalina convertible. It was late fall, because it was already dark when we headed out about 5:30.

We were flying along (at least 70 miles and hour) on the old black top listening to KOMA on the radio and talking about the movie we were going to see. All of a sudden the back of the convertible was swinging back and forth as if it was on ice with just a slight move of the steering wheel.

I pulled over and stopped on the shoulder to find out what was going on, and discovered that one of the back tires was flat. I had decided early in my career as a hairdresser that I didn’t want to attempt to change a tire, because my hands were my living. My friend said she didn’t know how to change a tire so we had to find help.

We looked down the road about a mile and could see lights from a farm house that sat on the right on the road. We decided to walk there and see if the farmer could help us. Once we arrived at the farmstead, we walked into the block long driveway. All was quiet at the farm except for our giggling as we made our way down the long drive.

To the north of the drive was a shelter belt of trees that stretched out into the adjacent field, and ran the full length of the drive. There were large sweeping branches hanging over the driveway, making long fingers of shade across the drive in the moonlight. After hearing a rustling in the tree belt, my friend joked about what could be hidden in those trees, maybe coyotes or skunks, or raccoons.

Still giggling and talking, we strolled to the back of the house. An old pickup, covered with rust and dents, sat all alone in the moonlight next to the cyclone fence that enclosed the entire yard. The old metal frame gate swung into the back yard with a loud squeal of protest and grated across sidewalk when we pushed it open.

Once we were inside the fence we closed the gate with another loud squeal, and made our way to the back door. I stepped up on the first step and knocked on the door. Getting no response from the first attempt I tried again and banged on the old wooden screen door even harder.

When the lady of the house came to the door, she gave us this incredulous look then looked past us into the yard and said “How did you get here?” I told her we had a flat tire about a mile up the road and had walked down to the house to see if someone could help us.

She still had this look of disbelief on her face but asked us to quickly come into the screened back porch. Then she asked us again how we got to the back door, and I was beginning to get a little irritated. I told her again we had walked down the drive, and into the back yard and up to the door.

She turned as white as a sheet and began to tell us about her dog. He was a huge German Sheppard, whose name was Pete. She said that Pete usually stayed in the fenced yard, unless he had seen a raccoon or a coyote, and then would jump the fence to chase them.

Pete it turned out was very vicious and territorial and would not let anyone on the homestead, especially on foot. If you drove into the drive, you had to stay in the car and honk till one of them came out to get him under control. My friend and I looked at each other and she turned pale as a ghost. The rustling in the tree belt suddenly had a whole new meaning.

The lady of the house called her husband to the back door and he gave us the same look she had, and asked the same questions. He’d had surgery the week before and said he couldn’t fix the tire for us, but a friend lived just south of the house and he would call him.

The friend arrived a few minutes later and honked his horn when he pulled up at the back gate. As I opened the door and started to step out, I could hear the growl in the darkness of the back yard. Maybe not the largest, but definitely the meanest dog I had ever seen appeared out of the shadows and we could see Pete’s white teeth glistening in the moonlight.

The lady said she would go out and hold him until we could get out of the yard. Once she had him by the collar, we wasted no time getting outside the gate, closing it quickly behind us with another loud squeal of protest. Pete had been snarling the whole time.

We quickly jumped in the pickup and slammed the door. Their friend asked us the same question once we were on the road, wondering how we had managed to make it to the back door. We told him we had just walked up to the door and knocked on it.

He shook his head and told us we were really lucky because Pete had bitten several people that had been crazy enough to ignore the Mean Dog sign at the entrance of the drive. Sign? We hadn’t seen a sign.

I have always been able to talk to a dog and get them to do what ever I want, but Pete may have been the exception. I wonder to this day what had taken him far enough away that he couldn’t hear us laughing and talking as we made our way to the house. But someone was looking out for us that night.

We never made it to the movie that night. When the tire was changed, we turned around and headed back to Macksville, but meeting Vicious Pete made it a memorable evening anyway. To contact Sandy: [email protected]

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