Sometime between New Years and Valentine’s Day, Dean’s suitcases reappeared in the house on Portview Place.
He resumed going to work in his shiny red car, while everyone else zipped off in different directions in theirs. Ada seemed resigned. Bonnie had hoped her mother might be happy, but the thing her mother seemed to be most often was tired.
After a short period of seemingly contrite behavior, Dean was back in the master bedroom upstairs, the room that faced the mountains and looked down on Hogan’s now-empty pasture.
For the time being, things were peaceful, and the males of the household had resumed watching sports on television together. On one of those early winter evenings that Jeff and Dean were watching TV, Bonnie and her dog were outside in the rain.
It was nearing suppertime. The girl had taken the dog for an afternoon walk, and it was time to head home. The small town of Port Moody was living up to its nickname, The Gulch- it was pouring. It was inky dark, and Bonnie was thankful for the new contact lenses that allowed her to see without wiping glasses every two seconds.
Both Bonnie and Duchess bowed their heads against the wet wind as they slogged up steep Moray Hill. Then, twin beams of light illuminated the pounding rain as a car slowed beside them. A window rolled down.
‘Do you two want a ride up the hill?’ asked a voice. Bonnie peered into the interior of the car, spotted a dimple and recognized a boy named Darryl.
‘Your dog can come too,’ said Darryl generously.
Duchess was drenched. The quick trip would leave Darryl with a big cleaning job.
Bonnie quickly thought of the many times the Randalls had let Duchess run home beside their car, back in Vancouver. The dog was street smart, and always met them almost immediately after the ’55 Chevy was parked at home.
This evening they were less than two blocks from home, but the girl made the snap decision.
‘She knows her way home,’ Bonnie said to Darryl. ‘She doesn’t have to come in the car…’
She hopped into the vehicle, and called to the dog,
‘Home, Duch !’
Duchess, always up for an off-leash run, headed up the gravel shoulder on the pasture side of the road.
Darryl’s car was close to Bonnie’s street when he glanced into his rearview mirror and said quietly,
‘Oops – there goes your dog.’
Bonnie’s head whipped around to look. Brake lights splashed red in the blackness- brake lights on a car that had stopped where there were no streets or houses, half way down the hill. She burst out of Darryl’s car, running.
‘Duchess-Duchess-Duchess-Duchess!’ she screamed as she pelted downhill.
At home, Dean and Jeff heard the rending screams, and ran outside. Within seconds, they were standing with Bonnie beside the halted car, gazing in horror at the wet, black form jammed beneath the chassis of the car.
‘I’m so sorry, so sorry,’ said the shaking driver, out of his car and hunched against the rain, ‘I didn’t see it and there it was, and I heard an awful bump…’
Dodging a huge washout in the gravel shoulder, Duchess had run under the poor man’s car. Blinded by the oncoming headlights in the blackness and confronted with the hole, the running dog had darted onto the pavement and propelled herself into the rear wheel. The driver had slammed on his brakes, but the dog was trapped underneath.
‘It’s not your fault,’ gasped Bonnie, ‘It’s MY fault – MY fault!’
Someone fetched a plank, and the violently trembling driver brought out his jack. Minutes went by while her father, brother and the man worked together to raise the car so the unconscious dog could be pulled away. Minutes more while Bonnie, sobbing, apologized again to the driver. Like her, he’d been simply heading home for dinner.
Was it Darryl who drove Bonnie with the unconscious, drenched dog to the veterinary clinic, or her Dad ? That part has become a blur.
Bonnie was numb with fear as they unloaded the dog and carried her into the clinic. Whoever had driven them said they had to get back home.
Now the bright but almost silent operating room held just three beings: a nervous-looking pale young man, Bonnie, and the unmoving dog.