OF SHOES AND SHIPS part two
One evening at about ten-thirty the phone rang and Arthur answered it.
I heard him say: ‘yes, yes. Mostly black, getting old.’ He put his hand over the phone and turned to me.
‘It’s the vet. They’ve got Rusty, he’s been run over’. He turned back to the phone. ‘OK. I’ll come down there right now.’
Arthur replaced the phone and turned back to face me. ‘I’m afraid he’s dead. A car hit him as he was crossing the Hertford Road.
I screamed, and started to cry. ‘What was he doing in the Hertford Road? It can’t be him. He isn’t out, he’s upstairs under the bed.
‘No, he isn’t,’ said Arthur. The vet has his collar, with his name and address on it. They don’t advise us to have him back.’
I just couldn’t believe that he was dead. I really thought he was upstairs, asleep, and I had no idea that he’d gone out. He never went down to the main road, as far as we knew.
I was desolate. Rusty was eighteen and a half years old. We’d had him longer than we’d had the children. He was like one of the family. Indeed he WAS one of the family. I suppose with him being black and it being dark at the time, he never stood a chance. It took a very long time to get over his death. Every part of the house held memories of him, and sometimes we’d swear we could hear him shuffling to get under the bed.
* * *
I can’t remember what exactly it was that prompted a six-year old Philip to leave home in search of fame, fortune and new parents. We had a period of him complaining and sulking over something. Not being able to get the better of me, he suddenly stated that he wasn’t going to live with us any more and was going to pack his things and leave home. I was very understanding and said that he was entitled to dislike us all if he wanted to and, although I didn’t want him to leave home, if that was what he really wanted to do, I would help him sort out his things. I went upstairs with him and gave him a small suitcase. To this I added his pyjamas and a couple of other things, including his favourite bear ‘Daisy’. My attitude was not what he had expected, and he sat on the edge of his bed not sure about the way things were going. I didn’t want him to lose face by saying he’s changed his mind, or by crying, so in a matter-of-fact voice I said: ‘we’re just going to have tea. It seems silly for you to go now, you might as well have your meal first, don’t you agree?’ He did.
By the time we’d all sat around the tea table eating and chatting, Philip had, by accident or design, completely forgotten that he was supposed to be leaving home that evening. Later, I crept upstairs, unpacked his little case and replaced all his clothes where they belonged, tucking Daisy up in his bed.
to be continued...