Abie, a dog

My lifelong dream of a dog of my own came true at last (though I wouldn’t know it till later) when Mitzi showed up at Dick and Catherine’s with a couple of pups just weeks before I headed North into the unknown. To Galley Bay.

“What the….?  Jeez, you don’t want dogs!

It was their home and their life but I was constantly donating unsolicited advice.  Besides, what was I going on about?  I loved dogs. And another thing, I took one look at those two cute little fuzzy guys and named them right off the bat.  They looked kind of Jewish with their little gray beards so I named them Abie and Max, after my mother’s brothers.  Max was a girl so I declared that it was short for Maxine.

I continued advising, “Well, okay…but maybe just one dog.”  

So Max was sent to live up on the Sunshine Coast, somewhere.  We ran into her one time, on Long Beach, I think, a few years later. Abie became a handsome dog but Max had become gorgeous, a belle, a real chien fatale.

It was soon after the dogs showed up that that bill bissett came by and told us about Galley Bay.  He’d been there with a half a dozen others, including Carl Bloom, whose parents owned the land and who had, in fact, pretty much grown up there.  Bloom senior had been professor of economics at U.B.C. and, having retired, moved down to California.  Carl, bill, and the others decided to invite everyone in the known universe to join them in starting a commune on the place.  Dick and Catherine packed up their son, Beorn, who was about three, and the remaining dog, Abie, and headed for Galley Bay.  I suspect that Catherine might have also taken my copy of John Coltrane’s Lush Life with her.

By the time I got there Dick and Catherine had taken off, separately, for god knows where.  Beorn became part of the pack of orphany kids who ran around the place and I took a special interest in him, becoming a kind of surrogate pop.  In fact he usually called me “daddy” or “my other daddy” or something like that.  He often slept in my chicken shack, when Marian wasn’t around, I made sure he got enough to eat and I wiped his ass when necessary.

Abie had likewise joined a pack of orphany dogs and, in particular, he had a special buddy in a wiry mutt named Red.  He also enjoyed hanging out with one of the goat kids, Skipper, so I got to see a lot of Abie.  He and Skipper’d chase each other around and butt heads and stuff.  One morning I walked into the kitchen of the main house where a solemn discussion was going on.  I thought maybe someone had dumped DDT on the garden or drained the well.  Turns out Abie and Red had killed a chicken.  Old Man Menard, who everyone looked up to because he was an older, experienced rural type and I despised because he was an older, experienced rural type was pontificating:  “Once a dog kills a chicken he’s hooked.  Can’t be cured.  These dogs have got to go.”  What the hell did I know about these things?  I couldn’t say a word.  An hour later Abie and Red were gone.

Abie went to live with a kid named Louie in Powell River.  Louis had spent a little time at Galley Bay but I think there weren’t enough drugs around for his liking so he went back to Powell River.  His place there became a convenient stopping off point for trips to and from Vancouver.  Usually one had to spend the night there either way.  These stopovers were always interesting.  Usually there were a bunch of whacked out teenagers hanging around the place and one time, I remember, there were five or six kids who had just eaten some kind of rat poison that was reputed to have psychedelic properties.  Within minutes these youngsters had gone farther into outer space than man has ever dared go.  They babbled incomprehensibly and puked hither and thither and, finally, I went out to sleep in someone’s car.  As I was dozing off I opened my eyes in time to see a face dispersed across the windshield, twisted utterly into a look of grieving madness.  I rolled the window down a bit because I though he was speaking to me.  It turned out he was speaking to unknown life-forms on another planet.  “Mizzer bleech wallum bagt call borneo, marawalkd night?”  What could I say?  He was probably right.  A few days later I heard these kids all went back home to their parents in various parts of the country.  I think they all became investment counselors or dentists.  Miraculously, none died.

Another time I passed through with Mitzi.  I met up with her in Vancouver and she was coming back with me to Galley Bay.  Her son, Sean, was one of the orphany kids up there and I’d sort of been looking after him a little, too.  I had yearned to get in Mitzi’s drawers for years.  There’d been nothing to indicate this was ever likely to happen until we showed up at Louie’s.  Louie was actually a really sweet and generous juvenile delinquent.  Soon as we walked in the door he said, “You guys can have my bed.”  So we took our clothes off and had Louie’s bed.  A night to remember, also due to the young chick that was hanging out that night.  There were a half dozen of Louie’s cronies there and, one after the other, they brought her into the bedroom where Mitzi and I were molesting each other and fucked her on the floor at the foot of our bed.

A rather nasty scene there, all in all, and one which Abie, I could see, found depressing.  He was bored and miserable, and neglected.  The injustice of his exile gnawed at me.  When Mitzi and I set out in the morning I told Louie, “I’m takin’ Abe back home.”

“Yeah, sure, okay,” he replied.

I looked over at Abe curled up in a morbid heap on the floor and said, “C’mon Abie.”  He shot up and followed me out the door and never left my side for fifteen years.

I never had any intention of claiming Abie as my own dog.  But he stuck with me.  First thing, when we got back to Galley Bay, I tried a trick I heard someone talk about.  I tied a long rope round his neck and gave him lots of slack as we walked out towards where some chickens were hanging out shooting the breeze.  Everything was cool for the first few minutes but then some crazy power seized Abe’s mind, heart, and soul.  He took after one of the juicier looking hens.  I waited till he was about at the end of his rope and then I yanked him back hard as I could.  He spun in the air and fell over in a puff of dust and I reeled him in.  Then I whacked his ass.  Then I whacked his nose a while.  I felt horrible doing it but it was that or deportation, again.  Then I untied him and he ran off and hid under the house for the rest of the day.  That night he comes knocking at my chicken-shack door.

Well, all the dogs lived out in the open, hanging out together and sleeping in big dogpiles to keep warm.  “What the hell are you doing here?” I asked.  I shut the door and, as I discovered later, he slept right outside the whole night and every other night.

When I finally left Galley Bay for the last time Abie followed me down to the wharf.  I got in the boat and he jumped in after me.  I threw him out, and he jumped back in again, crying for dear life.  I asked someone to hang on to him while we shoved off.  When we got the middle of the bay they let go of him and he jumped right into the water and swam after us.  When he’d caught up I pulled him out of the water, won over by his deathless devotion.  “Alright, Abe.  C’mon.”

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