While a large rawhide occupied much of Hugo’s attention, he was also reflecting on Zippy’s favorite time with Kevin. He got the whole thing about aging, that the Kevin he knew was older than Zippy’s Kevin. He wondered what Kevin looked like back then. He still couldn’t picture Kevin giggling or laughing with the lack of self-awareness that Zippy liked to talk about. “I must remember to bring that up with Zippy sometime,” he said to himself before his attention slipped back to the rawhide.
He wasn’t able to give it attention much longer. As he was really getting into biting a good-sized chunk off, a shortish/longish brown and white dog with floppy ears wandered over. Hugo reluctantly looked up as she sat down near him.
“Hi there, that rawhide looks great. I see more and more dogs eating those. I don’t think they were around when I was back there. I’m Trudy by the way. You must be Hugo. Zippy was telling some of us that you were coming. I meant to come by sooner but as you’re probably figuring out, time is a little hit and miss here.”
“Pleasure to meet you Trudy. Yes, I’m Hugo.” Even before he finished the sentence, he sensed the connection and was eager to find out what it was. “Do you know Kevin?”
“Oh yes, very well. I knew him before Zippy did,” she said with a bit, but not too much, pride in her voice. “He was such a small child then. His older brother found me on the side of the road and took me home. He and Kevin had bunk beds – Donnie the lower one, and Kevin the upper. I slept at Donnie’s feet, right by the ladder. Kevin used to kiss me right on the lips every night before climbing up to his bed.”
That image amused Hugo. Though Kevin didn’t ever kiss him on the lips, he didn’t mind. In his years back there, he knew children acted one way, and adults another. Kevin gave him lots of tummy rubs and talked to him a lot, which he loved. Still, picturing Kevin as a child, doing children-type things, was hard to imagine. Of course he didn’t know him as a child but it wasn’t only that. It was something he couldn’t quite put his paw on.
“I should have mentioned that I’m waiting for Donnie. It’s usually one of the first things we tell new ones when we introduce ourselves,” Trudy said apologetically. “I loved him so much, and he loved me. He had a canoe that he took me for rides in around the canals near town. And I went to the beach a lot with him, Kevin and the rest of their family. Have you ever smelled that Gulf Coast air? Between the seaweed, fish, salt water and sand, I thought my long nose was going to twitch right off!”
Hugo remembered going to the beach once but it took a long time to get there. He knew Kevin lived somewhere else when he was a child, and it must have been much closer to a beach. He thought how fun it was for Trudy, as he vividly recalled the same smells and scents she described.
“We lived somewhere else but we went there once and you’re right, I still remember those wonderful smells. You were very lucky.”
“Thank you. I believe I was though I understand you were quite the lucky one back there too. No kids to compete with, treats whenever you liked, a big bed to sleep in with your people, and someone home all day every day when you grew older. It sounds awfully nice, though I don’t really know what it was like.”
Trudy’s summary was spot on. It hadn’t occurred to Hugo that all these things made for a beautiful life. He’d thought about them individually, as they were happening but hadn’t pictured it all gathered into one observation. “Sounds like we both enjoyed our time back there. How did you get from there to here, if you don’t mind my asking?” Strange, Hugo thought, that since he’d been here he hadn’t thought to ask Zippy that question. He must remember to do that…..