This story is by Marien Oommen and was part of our 10th Anniversary Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“Ma, I just got this fantastic new car from my boss. He sold it dirt cheap.”
“Whaaaat? Is it that easy to buy and sell cars?”
“Did a mutual exchange, Ma! He wanted my boring family car and I loved his sporty Subaru WRX. Electric blue, Ma. A total dream. Cool deal. Say you’re pleased.”
“Hmmmm. I’m happy if you’re happy, Enoch. But, tell me, didya go to church this morning?”
“Nahh! I got busy cleaning my car. Make it shine, Lord.
In my heart, Lord. I was singing, Ma!”
“This is ridiculous!” Mama’s sternest telephone voice.
“You can’t imagine how people stare at my car as I drive by.”
“Who cares, son? Today it’s cleaning your car! Every Sunday you’ve got some new excuse.”
“It’s not easy to go alone, Maaaaaa. You gotta understand. This is the middle of nowhere. They’ll think I’m some kinda terrorist hoodlum. Ain’t anything like NY or LA. They’re not used to brown guys at church.”
“You’re a handsome, decent guy. No way anybody’s gonna think that! Tell me another.”
Enoch knew words like ‘terrorist’ or ‘hoodlum’ would silence Mama.
His mama breathed deep. “Alright! Do what you think is right. You’re 24 now, my sweetheart. YOU should know. I raised you well. On a rock solid foundation. So no fears, hon! But remember, church is always the best place to go at least once a week. Far better than a pub.”
Tuesday arrived, and work went super. Enoch was put in charge of his tech-group for a month, a huge responsibility. In addition, he had the honor of representing his company for the June tennis tournament. On Wednesday he’d call his mom with good news. He had saved his weekly $20 for the disabled veteran on Corner Street.
His mite to better the world.
He called his friend. “Hey Mat, are you playing this weekend?”
“O yay, let’s have a go. Three games of tennis, then downtown to Joe’s BBQ.”
“Sure, Man. This place is coming alive… finally! After weeks of slogging at the computer, we sure need a break.”
Saturday evening, Mat came to pick him up. Both loved their fast cars, though Enoch’s was more powerful. They had their drinks to go with the grilled Kansas style BBQ.
“Now for some bar hopping,” said Krish, accentuating his heavy South Indian.
“Sorry, guys, tomorrow’s Sunday. Gotta go somewhere. Drop me home. But I ain’t stoppin’ your fun.”
Mat looked at him as he took the wheel. “Alrighty, ‘Noch, won’t keep you. I’ll drive you home. But for the rest of us, the night’s still young, right guys?”
Two of the five, already swaying, got into Mat’s snazzy red car.
The car was now cruising at 90 miles, a little too fast. The culvert came much too soon. Mat swerved. The sign showed 35 mph..and he was at 75. There was no way now to steady the car. He felt it screech under his legs.
Mat started seeing double now. Two trees in the middle of the road? He skidded, losing control. What’s that? A deer?
His head was reeling. Beer, a deer, a female deer.
Enoch meanwhile had dozed off behind, terribly sleepy and too lazy to strap his seatbelt on. It had been a long Saturday with tennis, back to the office for extra work, and then this bbq party night.
The corn and grass tasted bitter in his mouth. He tried to wipe his mouth but his hands weren’t obeying.
Sudden flashes of light made him close his eyes.
“Who’s this coming toward me? Oh my God, Jesus Christ!! It’s you???
Really? Is it you?”
“Wait, you’re taking me?
“What about my mama? She told me to go to church tomorrow. It’s Sunday. I was planning to. I promised her.”
“Don’t worry, son. Your mama is in good hands. I’ve got her back.”
“You really mean it?” Enoch asked, his eyes started sparkling. A contagious sparkle. He caught it so bad that a smile enveloped his entire face.
“It’s church everyday where we go. The best kind forever. Your mama’ll be happy. Trust me.”
Enoch felt an unusual sense of joyful completion as never before in all his 24 years. As a tech job done well.
“Besides, let me tell you, a furry is being sent to them to cherish. Far better than all the money in the world. An angel dog will help wipe away some of their tears.”
A calmness came over Enoch as he felt a great release, hurtling through crystal clear waters. His hands, being tightly held by the Master, all he had to do was to rise up and follow.
That summer night far away, a heartbroken mama told the girls and the disconsolate dad, the Genesis-to-Revelation story, as they hugged each other tight. Her youngest was just nine. Nobody asked any questions. Enoch’s gentle spirit had broken through the shackles of his mortal tent, with lightning speed to his final home. Their middle girl, wise beyond her years at 18, brought Psalm 27 to bed and read it aloud.
A cloud of hope enveloped them as they fell into a deep sleep.
Another Sunday Evening in 2014
Dinner was in the oven. Mama’s heart was heavy and food prep had lost its oomph. She hummed under her breath as tears rolled down her cheek.
‘Where do I begin to tell the sweet story of a love that’ll never let go?’
He was everyone’s ‘best buddy’, but with age, his body became stiff. A slipped disc and arthritis had reduced his quality of life, making it difficult to use the stairs.
The Vet declared it was time to aid the easiest send off ever.
“You gotta put an end to his suffering. It’s your own selfish reasons you want to see him linger. Nothing can save him now. Too old to be operated; palliative won’t work.”
“How can I let him go? Mama wailed to Jorge that evening. “It hurts too much.”
“That’s alright. He’s served his time.”
“What a terrible thing to say, Jorge! Who’s he? A prisoner?”
Jorge was bad at covering his emotions. He felt rotten under his macho pretence.
After four days at the ICU, the vet recommended euthanasia. “Don’t take him home in this sorry state. What about his dignity?”
Sad doggy eyes stared at his mama. What would she do without him?
He kinda sensed where he was headed. To Rainbow Bridge. There, things were under control. He would quickly depute the next in line to this fabulous home..the Havanese kind.
Come Sunday, Mama drove to the hospital, the last time she’d see him. The tears flowed as if a dam had burst within.The nurses held her hand, comforting her, as she broke down in the corridor.
“Need one last hug?” Nurse Ellen asked.
“No, it’s fine. I am fine,” Mama sobbed as she looked at his handsome form, spread out on the white sheets.
Jorge had escaped this trip, leaving early to work. A man can’t cry; neither was he the type to hold his wife’s hand, or watch her cry.
Completely heart broken, Mama agreed to let him go. She watched the syringe go quietly into his hips. Then all was silent.
“He is sleeping,” the vet said. The furry tail slipped off the narrow bed. Our Havanese Fido breathed his last, leaving his paw print of cuddly love in our hearts forever.
It wasn’t easy for Mama to comfort her girls away at University in Boston.
“Momz, why do people live long and pets die young?” asked Tia, as they wept copious tears on Skype. She wasn’t talking about her brother. He was already the perfect star in every way in her eyes.
“Loving unconditionally doesn’t come easy to humans, honey. We are a cynical lot. True loving and giving aren’t ingrained in humans. But dogs trust, love and obey from the very beginning. Man’s got to live out his life till he learns to trust and obey. That’s probably why we live longer than dogs.”
That night, Mama’s Dear Diary read:
‘Fido never barked as did the neighboring dogs. Never held grudges nor complained if his food got delayed. He hated loud arguments. He’d never behave as a terrorist or hoodlum to the birds visiting the garden. The wonder dog made us smile after a long day. Humans were welcomed with joyous yelps. He grinned at the mangiest cat in the neighborhood, for he held no class or color difference, though he himself was higher bred.
Our gentleman dog, forever at peace.’
2014- Dolce, Mr. Cuddles Havanese, our Christmas Package Arrives
It’s Covid 2021.
Those bygone days, with tender remembrance,
Learning fortitude and patient endurance,
The goodness of the Lord, still relishing.
In the land of the living.