Driver, like Zippy, had been there a while, at least in back-there terms. Like Suzy and Baxter, he didn’t remember how he got there. He was a farm dog back there and loved running around, playing with Simon, sleeping outside and being near people. He wasn’t very good at being an actual farm dog unfortunately and doing all the things that a dog like that does but he didn’t care one bit. Didn’t care that lightning and thunder scared him or that he remembered not remembering things quite right back there. He just liked being around his people and knew he was loved. And he spent most of his time now imaginating those happy times on the farm in rural Devon, England.
When Hugo approached, Driver was sleeping in the hallway of the old farmhouse at Lower Bramble. Hugo guessed as much – he knew this was his favorite place to sleep. He and Driver spent a lot of time talking about Simon. What he was like now, what he was like when he was little, much as he and Zippy did the same about Kevin. Driver didn’t know where America was but remembered hearing his people talk about it back there. It seemed far away. He couldn’t picture the small English child Simon being a grown up living in such a distant place. Truth be told, he couldn’t picture him living anywhere besides Lower Bramble, back there, where Driver was happiest.
Over here, there’s never anywhere you have to be. No schedule, no plans. Just being here and now. Hugo took a spot near driver and lay down as well. He could wait, and in the meantime, a nice nap in the sunshine by the pool at their house back there would do the trick.
Driver’s familiar, distinctive voice woke him. That English accent. Simon spoke the same way. “Hallo, Hugo. Decided to join me for a bit of a nap, did you?” Driver didn’t have a pack of his own so he always welcomed visitors when he wasn’t chasing birds or sleeping in the hallway.
“Hey there Driver. How have you been? Hope I didn’t wake you,” Hugo replied.
“Not at all, not at all,” Driver assured him. “Those stone floors were getting chilly so I woke up to change things up a bit. Simon and I were playing together and my tummy grew cold, which I thought odd, then realized it must be those old floors!” Driver exclaimed with a chuckle.
Hugo loved Driver’s sense of humor. So like Simon’s. Driver had also known Hugo was coming, and they met not too very long after Hugo arrived. Just as he and Zippy knew Kevin at different times, Driver knew the child Simon and Hugo knew the adult. And when Kevin and Simon decided to spend the rest of their lives together, Driver sensed the change, long before Hugo arrived. Before that, he wasn’t waiting for anyone. He was just here having a good time waiting for Simon. Even now, while Hugo and he are waiting for different people, and they didn’t know each other back there, it’s the love that their two people share back there that create their connection up here.
“I reckon I know why you’ve popped by,” Driver said, surprising Hugo. “It’s about that other dog – what was his name again – who lives with Kevin and Simon, and you before, and who’s getting ready to come here, isn’t it?”
“Kaydon, and yes, that’s why.” Hugo hadn’t meant to be quite so abrupt in his response but was taken aback by Driver’s response, a response that told Hugo all he needed to know.
“You’re waiting for him, aren’t you Driver?”
“Kaydon! Yes, that’s the name. It’s such an unusual name for one of us. I could not remember it to save my life. Guess I’d best try harder if we’re going to be in a pack. Can you believe it Hugo? I’m finally going to have a pack of my own.”
Hugo knew he should be happy for Driver. He also knew that it was going to take some getting used to, this notion that he and Kaydon were a pack back there and won’t be here. That he, Zippy and Kaydon won’t greet Kevin when they arrive and head towards the orange-blue distance together. Of course, eventually it would all work out since he was pretty sure Kevin and Simon would both make it up here sooner or later. He had pictured it a different way. That’s all it was. And he was truly and genuinely happy for Driver.
“Kaydon will be in great hands with you, Driver. Congratulations!”
“Thank you, Hugo. I’m so excited. There’s so much I want to do, so much to talk about. I see how you and Zippy hang out and it’s great but truth be told, I’ve always missed having a pack buddy of my own. I’d never understood that bond until I started sensing Kaydon – yes, that’s his name and I can remember it now! – and knew that he was getting ready to join me. I like hearing about Simon from you but with Kaydon it will be different…” Driver stopped as he realized that Kaydon was not only going to come here but also leave people back there who loved him very much. He knew Hugo couldn’t sense Simon but Kevin was another matter.
“Is Kevin sad?” asked Driver.
“He is. And what I feel from him is getting stronger and more frequent. Aren’t you feeling it from Simon?”
“Well, now that you mention it, I suppose I have. I’ve been so excited about Kaydon coming that I hadn’t given much thought to those other sensations. I’ve never felt them before though I guess they are coming from Simon.”
“It’s likely different to what I feel from Kevin,” Hugo tried to reassure Driver that he wasn’t ignoring something altogether. “Kevin and Simon react differently to emotional situations. They feel things equally deeply; Simon just doesn’t express them the same way as Kevin does, so what you’re feeling probably isn’t as strong. Simon loved me, and loves Kaydon, so very much. He’s going to be sad when the time comes for Kaydon to join you. He just has a different way of dealing with it.”
“Thanks Hugo,” Driver knew what Hugo was doing and was grateful for such a thoughtful friend, “but I want to start listening to those feelings more. Even though we don’t think of it that way here, I know it’s been a long time. Just look at all the dogs who have come, and then gone with their people when they arrive. I used to be quite good at sensing what Simon was feeling. I suppose I’ve lost a bit of my touch.”
“You will get it back, Driver. And you’ll know what Simon is feeling, and when Kaydon is about to arrive. I’m sure of it.” Hugo decided not to tell Driver about his visit to Kaydon’s dream. Driver didn’t remember how he got here and didn’t like hearing sad stories. And it wasn’t his story to tell anyway. It was Kaydon’s, and they will have plenty of time to talk about it when he arrives.
“Anyway, Zippy and I are going to watch Chester play in the water. Want to come with us?”
“Thanks for the invitation. I’m going to stay here to think about Kaydon and try harder to listen to Simon.”
That made Hugo feel good though it gave him a twinge of something. Sadness? Separation? He couldn’t hear Simon’s feelings and wanted to so badly. Though now he realized he could find out from Driver what Simon was feeling, assuming Driver started listening harder, he mused. As he started the walk back to Zippy, he shouted, laughing “Work hard on it, Driver. I want to know what Simon’s feeling too,” though he and Driver both knew he was as serious as he could be.
““See you soon, Hugo!” shouted Driver.
As Hugo looked back to say good-bye, he stopped himself. Driver had already curled up on the floor in the farmhouse at Lower Bramble, thinking about Kaydon and listening for Simon.