This story takes place right after a big blowout at the animal shelter with its old corrupt management and leads up to the “I Have A Dream” post.
Julia and Buddy had spent the previous six summer’s being neighbors in W.VA and became very good friends, however, this summer Buddy had planned to stay in Pennsylvania and work with the dogs at the shelter. Julia realized that as life goes on and people get involved with their work that things change, and that she might never see him again.
Buddy had started his summer out volunteering his days at the shelter, working with and training the dogs. He had set up an agility course and the dogs were responding well, but he was getting all kinds of resistance from the staff and management who did not want him to succeed. An accident happened and the dog Buddy was working with panicked and bit him. Buddy felt bad knowing it was his own fault for pushing too hard but was totally outraged to find out the management intended on putting the dog down. That night Buddy broke into the shelter, stole the dog and walked the RR tracks all the way to his grandfather’s cabin in W.VA.
Julia had to get to the feed mill and the vet clinic before they closed, then to the parts store to pick a tractor part for her dad and be back by six. She opened the passenger door, “Let’s go girl, UP!” she said, then went around and jumped in behind the driver’s wheel of her pick-up truck. Heading down the road Julia glanced over to the passenger side and smiled. Sitting at attention, with eyes focused on the road ahead was her sidekick and co-pilot, Shelby, a golden Retriever mix she rescued from the local shelter three years ago.
Julia made a quick turn down Culver Gulch Rd, a short-cut running through the valley saving almost five miles off the round trip, but it was narrow. They kept it graded but hadn’t widened it since the horse-and-buggy days and Julia didn’t mind one bit. It was pretty as a picture this time of year, anytime of year actually, and definitely a road less traveled.
Coming up ahead was her neighbor, Mr. Freeman, in his vintage Dodge pickup truck. Julia slowed way down and hugged tight to the steep berm of the road, and without taking her eyes off the edge she rolled down her window. As their trucks passed by each other, so close they almost touched, she stuck her hand out in a high-five jester, glanced over, and said with a smile “Hi There!” She saw Mr. Freeman do the same thing, and so did his passenger. “Wonder who that was?” she said aloud, then she realized, “Damn, if that isn’t Buddy ridding shotgun!” she said with excitement to Shelby.
Julia stiffened out her arm to hold Shelby back and slammed the brakes “Hang on girl.” she said as Shelby crouched down tight to the seat while Julia down shifted into first gear. Cutting the steering wheel to the left, she floored the gas pedal and let the clutch out. The engine instantly wound up to 4000 RPMs as the super-charged Holley four-barrel carburetor screamed and howled for more air, sounding like a raging Grizzle. The Ford’s rear tires spun wildly, spitting stones, and throwing up dirt into a plume of dust that resembled an explosion. The truck started spinning into a 180-degree turn, pivoting perfectly as it reversed direction and picked up speed again. She hit second gear and the rocks and dust kept flying until she caught up to the Freeman truck.
Buddy’s grandfather had seen the cloud of dust in his mirror coming up fast and he pulled way over to a stop, giving her wide berth to pull up along side, pass, or what ever she wanted to do.
Julia stopped her truck along side the Dodge and leaned forward. Looking across with a big smile on her face she said “Howdy, Mr. Freemans.”
Buddy leaned forward for a clear view and just grinned at her for a second, then said “You drive like a crazy woman!”
This was the first time he ever referred to her as a woman and it felt, well, it felt good. Julia smiled coyly and said “Well, I are one and I just love spinning those doughnut halves.”
They sat there just looking and beaming at one another until Buddy’s granddad finally cleared his throat.
Still grinning with her happy face Julia asked “When did you get in? I thought you were going to stay up in PA this summer to work the dogs?”
“I was, but something came up, ah… It’s a long story.”
“Hey, I got to pick up a part for the tractor, quick-like, how about riding along with me tonight to check on the mustangs?”
“Sounds great, what time?” Buddy asked.
“About 7:30, I’ll bring Bella for you… See you later, Mr. Freemans.”
“Drive safe Julia,” Buddy’s Granddad said as he chuckled and shook his head.