The Land of Ago #Shortstory #Series #Memories #Journal

The Land of Ago #Shortstory #Series #Memories #Journal

The Land of Ago

By: Patty L. Fletcher

September 2020

Welcome to a series of stories I’m calling ‘The Land of Ago’.

Over the next few days while I make up my mind about which direction to take my blog, I’ll be sharing some of mine and Campbell’s best memories.

A few will be happy. A few will be sad. A few will make you laugh and one or two may make you mad. But if you read them, you’ll know just what a wonderous life King Campbell A.K.A Bubba Seeing Eye Dog and I had.

“For the time of ago is now”

Author Unknown

Come with me back in time. Back to the Land of Ago.

Before into my new life together we go.

Enjoy a story or two. For some they will be old and for some they will be new.

Watch your step as we open the door of memories and step through.




“I know that I’m alive, because I can look behind me, and see the wreckage of my life”

Author Unknown

Tuesday December 2014

The city woke around me, as I sat having my first hot strong, and life-giving cup of coffee. as usual I heard the comforting sounds of it coming to life. For me, it was like listening to a large loving family coming slowly awake after a long deep peaceful slumber.

If you listened very carefully early in the morning, you’d always hear the distant sounds of the busy factory not far away. The echoing train whistle seemed ever present always announcing the coming and going of trains. Although they were only freight I would when the weather was warm sit on the porch swing with my early morning coffee and smoke and imagine where the trains were going and sometimes, I wished I were on them. Riding along just going wherever the rails took me, without so much as a care, or look back.

Just me and my ever-faithful dog and a knapsack on my back going off to see the world.

Every morning it was the same. a never-ending steady stream of

Cars, trucks, and busses going to and FRO. taking people to work, school, or anywhere else they might need or want to go.

It was to me at times as powerful as the pull of the moon on the forest on a quiet full moon summer’s eve must feel to a warrior just before battle.

Feeling the pull of a street or having a building’s presents touch me in some way to assist me through my day is no different to me than someone using the stars to chart their way in a deep forest or on the open sea. Just as the moon and stars give off and leave behind energy so do each one of us, leave our energy imprint behind on streets and in buildings. after all both streets, and buildings are made up of at least some of the four elements so it is only natural that they would give off a presence as well. I had to smile at the thought of my new-found Spiritual Awareness. I felt more complete than ever since my allowing my true self to shine through.

As I gathered my thoughts, I began to plan the day ahead. It was my only day off for the entire week. I’d scheduled a Door to Door KATS van to take us to the City Public Library. I wanted to donate one of my books to them. I also wanted to get a valid Library card so that I could make use of their audio book section. Things were looking up just a bit. My book had published in mid-summer. I was doing OK for a first-time Self-Published author, who didn’t know what the hell she was doing. Work was stressful, but I was hopeful we’d pick up some new volunteers as the New Year came in. Things would be OK, I just had to keep believing. I just had to have faith.

I continued to try and relax. I wanted to meditate and really concentrate on the power of prosperity and positivity for the day, but as those thoughts ran around in my head, the clothes dryer beeped, and a horn blared outside.

The spell in which I’d been caught up in for the moment was suddenly broken.

I stood and stretched. Trying to decide how to dress. It was pouring rain out. I was frustrated by this “Rain again!” I grumbled scornfully. In the end, I laughed. “Seems to me, King Campbell and I have been facing every new challenge and fear in the rain from day one. Why did I think today would be any different?” As the words I spoke drifted away the chimes on the porch rang a beautiful rainy wind-filled song as if in agreement.

I walked past my rugged black lab, who had captured my heart nearly four years before, curled up snoring on the couch, and gave him a gentle pat as I passed. Celine Kitty who had been with me almost 16 years lay just a few feet away on the coffee table, and she purred lovingly up at me when I petted her while walking by. Then, just as I turned the corner to go down the hall to the dryer Kitty Bob was found lying on the arm of the loveseat waiting patiently for a pet.

He raised his big head and gave a tiny squeak, which tickled me, so I rewarded him with a good scratching behind the ears, and under the chin.

He was so very big and handsome it seemed to me something that large should roar not squeak. We enjoyed a moment together as he stood, arched his back, and butted his head against my face as I leaned down for Kitty Kisses. It had taken some time for Kitty Bob to find it within himself to trust me. He’d had it rough shortly after Donnie had gone. He developed a hematoma in his ear, and I had to have it surgically drained, and stitched. I’d decided after realizing what would be involved to have him neutered at the same time. I was in the process of moving from up, to downstairs, and left him in boarding until after it was complete. It wasn’t until a few weeks later during a particularly bad spring storm that he learned I was someone he could count on. He’d gone outside to terrorize the squirrels. A short time later it began to thunder, and before he could get all the way back to the house the storm struck! He was under the big Tree in the front yard named Grandmother Tree, yowling for all he was worth. I splashed out and grabbed him up, and together we made a mad dash back to the house, with him clinging to me with everything he had. Once the horror of it had passed for him, we were fast friends.

I was lucky to say the least. We were coming in to the second winter without Donnie once again very much on our own.

The last winter had been difficult. It was the first year without Donnie. For good or ill, he’d been a constant presence in my life for just over ten years. Like it or not I’d missed him. It is true. “Sometimes the Devil You Know, is Better than the Devil You Don’t.” I want to qualify that and say, “Better” should be replaced with Easier. I had no idea how used to things with him I’d become. He took care of and allowed me, just enough of Everything to cause me to become complacent. I was functional, and I’d done it his way for so long, I simply didn’t realize how much of my life he controlled, until that is, I had to do it on my own without him.

Writing of these things now is not nearly as hard as admitting them to myself was. I felt shame like Nothing I Ever Knew Could Exist. It had been a while since I could hold my head up while speaking them out loud.

I’d had to admit that I’d allowed him to control me. Had to admit I’d allowed him to abuse me not only mentally but in the end physically as well. Had to admit that in my refusal to admit those things I’d also though unknowingly, probably allowed him to get by with abusing others, and now, even though he was in prison for sexual exploitation of a miner he was most likely getting by with much worse crimes than those he’d been convicted of and there was nothing to do about it.

Despite all that Campbell, Celine Kitty, Kitty Bob, and I had become the Campbell Kingdom, and, Happy Were We!

We had moved from the upstairs apartment Campbell Celine Kitty and I had called home for the first year or so of our lives together, and there were many days when I painfully regretted it, but

Through good times and bad we’d endured a lot and then we’d come through yet another awesome and exciting rite of passage when Campbell and I had gone to Florida and discovered another phase of the bonding process neither of us had known existed. When Rocky the other 4-Legged Man had left us, I’d begun the second part of my journey with Campbell and one that I believe some thought well overdue.

When we’d come back from visiting Mike in Florida, I’d realized that Rocky needed to live somewhere else. I’d known there were problems before we’d left for our trip, but when I’d come back on that Sunday before Labor Day and Rocky had remained in boarding due to the vet being closed it soon became very apparent that Rocky was the major part of many problems going on with the animals.

Celine’s behavior of hiding in the kitchen stopped immediately Bob Cat began to snuggle and hang out on my lap more and more, and Campbell? He was a different dog, relaxed and playful more than he’d been in quite some time. Rocky had begun to be somewhat aggressive and even downright mean to Campbell, and I believed it was because Rocky had to stay home in a crate all day and Campbell got to go with me and that along with the fact that I couldn’t Walk Rocky and help him work off his high-energy level as he needed was starting to cause him real anger issues.

After a lot of thought and tears, I made the decision to leave him at boarding and find a home. I knew if I brought him back, I might weaken and keep him, and I knew that was a selfish and dangerous decision. Sooner or later he and Campbell were going to hurt one another. they’d come close a couple of times, and once when they’d seriously started to go at each other, and I’d had to break them apart physically I’d gotten nipped in the process. I don’t know for sure who did it. I knew it had been an accident it is almost inevitable when you reach in between two snapping and snarling dogs.

Rocky and Campbell had always loved each other, and that had begun to come to an end. I noticed it took longer and longer for them to patch things up after a fight.

When the bad one had happened, it had taken nearly a week before I’d felt even remotely comfortable leaving them alone together.

After a few days of heavy Facebook posting and calling everyone I knew I found a home. It turned Out to be the best thing ever for my Rocky.

One of the KATS drivers had heard of his plight and was a dog lover. She and her family went to the vet to meet him and it was love at first sight. They took him home and have said many times it was as if he were always there.

It was another decision I felt good about having made.

I really was trying to get my life together, and I knew it was going to be quite a process. I’d made many mistakes over the last few years. Allowing Donnie to take my life over in the ways I’d done, regardless of the reasons had caused great turmoil, and as a result, for many people I cared for. I’d lost touch with my daughter, grandchildren, and Drew due to some wrong decision making on my part. I had quite a bit of damage control to do, and I knew that began with me. I had no idea if I could make it. I had no idea what would happen over the next few months. There were allot of rough spots yet ahead, and I looked forward with a strange mix of sadness, fear, and excitement.

Now, as I began sorting the clothes out of the dryer, I shoved the jumbled feelings away and focused on the good and smiled.

There was nothing to do for what had been. I was trying with all my might to get and stay well. though it was still a day to day struggle. I was beginning to learn it would probably always be.

I knew there was nothing to do but continue to go “FORWARD” as best I could and try to give those who were disappointed in me reason to be proud once again.

That thought sparked a memory.

I stood where I was a moment, smiling as it came in to focus.

I remembered walking down the main hall at The Seeing Eye, and as I did, I heard friendly voices behind me. Continuing to walk I turned slightly to look over my shoulder to see who it was and join in the chatter. In doing so I threw Campbell off and slammed straight into John Keane and Drew.

To say I was embarrassed caught off guard and worried about what was going to happen next all at once would’ve been an understatement.

I remembered how I stood stock still, wishing at that moment that there truly was a trap door right under me, that it would open, and that the dungeon Drew and another trainer friend Lukas had teased me about so often during class was real.

If only so I could hide until the two of them disappeared.

Drew, however, was as always, his calm self. He reached out with one hand, took me by the arm and turning me back around said softly but firmly, “Ms. Fletcher, if you are always looking behind you, you will have no idea where you are going.”

The memory of his smiling yet serious voice, and the words he’d said faded as quick as it had come, though it irked me a bit, I knew he was right and, in more ways than one.

My mind drifted as I pulled clothes out and sorted them. As I worked, I ran across an old Florida beach towel. That got me thinking about the wonderful memory of mine and Campbell’s trip to Orlando Florida, in September to meet our good friend Mike Tate.

. A fellow Seeing Eye grad and Dear Friend of mine.

What I’d known about Mike before I met him was that,

. He had always been an awesome friend to me, accepted me faults and all. He’d always tried as best he could to understand me and my many ways and moods, and he had always been kind to me when I needed direction or guidance where staying on an even path was concerned and hadn’t yet ever judge me or turn me away. He had over these last 3 and half years been a constant source of support, from the time just before my training at the Seeing Eye, up to this day.

The other thing about Mike, he is a fighter.

The reason for King Campbell and me to travel to visit, was because he was celebrating the 3RD anniversary of his kidney transplant. Wow! What a party that did turn out to be. As I continued with the laundry, my mind drifted to that not so long-ago happy time. Seemed to me it was just yesterday.

Once we’d gotten Rocky Dog to the vet for boarding, gotten Campbell’s Rabies shots, and made a mad dash to the store for last minute supplies we were off. At the airport, Campbell’s work was fantastic. He followed my friend Greg beautifully. When he’d left us a few minutes later with the airport staff the fun really had begun.

Campbell worked through security and on to the plane without flaw. Just getting airborne was a fantastic thing.

As Campbell and I were preparing to settle into our seat, with me buckled in and him resting quietly at my feet, the attendant walked up and said, “Ma’am, I’m sorry to trouble you, but would you mind moving to another area, it appears these seat arrangements will not work for the others to be seated here. I started to protest. Started to ask why the other passengers couldn’t sit somewhere else, but just as I was about to open my mouth, I thought of something. I wondered, “Wouldn’t it look allot better for me to just move and say nothing? Won’t it make the ‘others’ look more inhospitable? Doesn’t that make me the bigger person? Well…” I chided myself, “Long as you’re not doing it to be a ‘Wise Ass’ as Drew used to say.” I decided that either case it would be easier for me to move, so I collected my carry-on and dog, and followed her out to another row of seats. They too were unoccupied, and I briefly wondered again, “Why could the ‘others’ not have moved?” As it turned out I ended up with the better end of the deal. There was more room in the floor area for Campbell, and this made both of us more comfortable.

On top of that because I’d been so gracious about moving and had caused no trouble, the captain told the head flight attendant to give me my choice of drinks for free from the snack cart. So, for me the trip was fantastic!

Finally, we were readying to land, and I’d begun to get nervous, but as it turns out I had no need. As usual the Seeing Eye training Campbell and I’d received was spot on!

When we landed Campbell nearly flew through the airport. I’d instructed my assistant of the best way to help, and off we’d gone! I’d never worked Campbell as I did that day. His pull was totally different than anything ever before I’d ever done. He was totally tapped in tuned in and turned on! He was in a word “Rockin” He loved it and was totally alive.

I don’t think we had ever worked like that. I literally had to jog to keep up with him, but keep up with him I did, and it was the coolest thing ever!

Rather than following the assistant which due to my lack of confidence I am at times guilty of, I’d let Campbell take the lead and the assistant coach us from behind. It had made for a completely unique experience. It was the most awesome thing I ever felt! It felt like flying. We moved so quickly throughout all the crowds. We never ran in to one person or thing. Campbell did everything I asked him, and even when we went past a tiny yipping dog Campbell never flinched nor did he bother to so much as turn his head. He simply kept right on going, when we arrived at the baggage claim Mike and his friend Bill were there, and it seemed as if Campbell was even more fired up than ever!

It was as if he could barely stand still while we made our introductions and readied ourselves to leave the airport.

When we were ready to leave, I let Mike and Pluto take the lead, and was going to follow Bill out, but instead, Bill who has been traveling with Mike and his working dogs for many years, encouraged me to follow Mike, and Pluto and let Campbell get used to working with them. He was right to have done it that way and the experience of working Campbell out of there and to the van was Incredible! It totally rocked! I was absolutely turned on by it. Just when I thought I’d burst with pride, Campbell suddenly made a sharp left, and just seconds before I could correct bill announced in a laughing voice, “Pit! Stop!” A moment or two later Campbell was done, and we fell back into line behind Pluto and Mike. As we did so, Campbell gave a big! Wiggly! Waggly! Jingly! Shake! Saying in his best doggy language…” Sheesh! That’s better!”

Continuing to the van, I began to feel a sense of freedom unlike anything I’d experienced with Campbell thus far.

I smiled at the memory, as I continued to fold clothes from the dryer. It was nice to have memories all my own like that.

Suddenly the kitchen gate fell to the ground with a crash!

The large bell attached ringing harshly slamming me rudely back into the present day!

Campbell stomped over it as if it weren’t there and headed for the trash. I stopped what I was doing and went to the front door. I reached up to the hook on the wall beside the door and quietly took down his leash and turning noiselessly went back down the hall. Just as Campbell was trying to exit the kitchen door, licking his lips as if he’d just enjoyed a rather awesome Thanksgiving feast, I reached out and connected the leash to his collar. I pulled him round to face the kitchen door, slamming the gate loudly against the door frame. Giving Campbell a very firm leash correction with a firm “Pfui!” snapping the leash

As I did so.

I was tired of this behavior! And had resolved to put an end to it. I’d almost broken him of going into the bathroom and saw no reason the kitchen intrusions couldn’t be stopped as well, or at the very least reduced. Then I turned him physically round with my leg and arm. Keeping both hands on the leash, thus keeping him completely under my control

I herded him toward his crate with a gentle slap to his rump and a firm, “To your crate!” Then, I let him go.

He went with no hesitation. Some of you reading may believe that type of correction was too harsh. Please before you get too upset, remember if he won’t mind in the house when things are relaxed calm and fun, he won’t mind on the street when traffic is all around us.

Campbell is indeed like me. He knows when he is in trouble, and like me, if not allowed to get too far out of hand, can be brought back in line easily enough.

I knew that by the time he took a short nap in his crate, and I showered and dressed, we’d be more than ready to see one another, and glad to work happily with no problems. That’s simply the way of it for our team. Our ability to keep learning these things, learning and re-enforcing boundaries, and reminding each other when we step out of them continues to be a huge part of our success.

I’ve learned to listen to Campbell, and he to me. The clear and unmistakable communication we’ve established with one another has over the years become extremely important and continues to serve us well each day we’re together. It amazes me as I go through this new life with Campbell how many of my everyday problems resolve themselves if I take the same approach with them as I do with him.

I’d not learned this way of life until I’d truly found myself on my own and totally dependent on Campbell.

. I knelt in front of the door to his crate, reached in and softly smoothed the beautiful thick fur on his head and neck. “Now, mommy loves you. Naughty dog’s gone, and my sweet Campbell Bug is back. No more trash surfing.

Huh?” I kissed him, and he gave me his best slimies in return. Standing, I shut the door and latching it I said, “My good boy, take a nap and we’ll see what we do next.” I never want the crate associated with bad, so the correction comes then the quiet gentle loving time out.

As I turned to walk away, I was unaware that I was chewing my lip, which was chapped from the wind. It started to bleed, and this brought forth yet another jarring flash of a memory from training…

I was standing in front of an ATM with Campbell at my side harness in my hand. In the other I was holding the Clicker and clipped to me was a small treat bag. Drew was standing to my right and we were practicing having Campbell target the ATM.

It was the most miserable day of training yet. The weather had turned unusually hot and humid; I had a miserable headache and fever which I’d chosen to hide from Drew and was not feeling up to snuff at all. Drew too was suffering. He had allergies, they were acting up that day, so, when I again started for the treat bag before Campbell targeted, and, after having told me repeatedly not to do that. His patience gave out. He’d reached out and firmly tapped the back of the offending hand with each word saying, gruffly, “No! Don’t! Do! That!” I’d suddenly felt 2 inches high and maybe not that many years old, and due to the frustration of not feeling well and not quite being coordinated with the process of knowing just when to click and when to treat, had nearly started to cry. Just when I’d thought that day couldn’t get any worse, as I’d clinched my teeth together and swallowed to keep from crying, I’d bitten my lip and made it bleed. It was a rough afternoon for sure.

The feeling had passed as quickly as it had come, as well as Drew’s Gruffness,

Because he’d followed his reprimand with soothing and gentle praise when I obeyed his instructions correctly, the desired effect of that lesson hadn’t been lost. In fact, because of the correct balance it had been forever etched in my mind.

It had been the last time I’d reached for that damn treat bag early too. I sighed to myself as the memory of that day faded.

For just a moment I had been transported back in time. I could hear the click of the clicker, feel the hot humid wind whipping round me, and even could feel the tap of Drew’s fingers on the back of my hand, I could remember how his having done that had made me feel, right down to the ache of being frustrated to tears in the back of my throat, and the taste of my own blood in my mouth.

I heard his voice just as it had been that day. First, strong, low and gruff in my ear. Then soft, gentle and soothing. I shivered at the reality of it. Then, just as it had come it was gone.

For just a moment I was gripped with a loneliness, and longing I couldn’t quite put a name to, an ache deep within, and then that too was gone.

As I gathered my clothes, and made my way again toward the shower,

I heard the distant pattering of the rain and whine of the wind as the chimes once again seemed to ring in agreement with my thoughts. At that moment, although grieving the loss of a dear friend,

I felt good about how far I’d really come. Seemed to me, once I’d gotten truly on with the business of trying to live my own life with Campbell without relying incorrectly on others, I was for the most part doing a decent job.

Yes, from time to time I slipped dangerously backward toward the slippery dark and shadowy times of sickness in my life, but I hoped others were starting to see a bit of difference in me.

Maybe that’s the longing I couldn’t quite put a name to. The longing to know for sure. Until then…?

Hope, it seemed was all I had. It would for now simply have to be enough.

I slipped in to the comfort of the shower, and as the warmth of the water began to do it’s magik on my aching shoulder, I remembered the end of last week, the Friday that almost wasn’t, until I’d realized, there had been

Prosperity in the Face of the Winter Solstice.

For me, the Solstice used to mean nothing more than a sad, dark time. Since then, I have learned that I was wrong, and that in fact, once the Solstice comes and goes, the days begin to lengthen, and each day that passes brings us closer to spring and a time of much renewal and prosperity. So, I always try to think that each sunrise is leading me toward yet another day of growth and rejuvenation. This may seem strange to some, I’m sure, but as you read onward, you’ll see the reason for my mentioning this at all. Whether you are a believer in any god or goddess or in none matters not, because nature will show this to be true:

That the passing of the Winter Solstice leads us toward spring, and a new awakening.

I’d awakened that Friday morning,

Feeling excited and well rested. I’d had a plan of action for that last day of the work week and wanted to get going on its work ASAP. That was not to be. First off, even though I felt I had readied everything for the morning, I somehow kept finding that I’d forgotten to lay out many small items, and I had to keep stopping to search for them.

Once I was finally ready, I realized I’d missed my 8:30 bus and so was going to be an hour late. I called in and settled down to read a chapter or two of a book I was trying to finish and waited for the hour to pass, until I could catch the next bus. I began to get totally involved in the story. Soon the hour had passed. I’d let time slip away, and I was again rushing to get out the door.

Campbell and I made it to the bus stop on time. Although we were cutting it close, it was cool, because Campbell got to show his stuff while executing a neat, quick right turn to lead us straight to the corner and the steps of the bus as it pulled up to the stop. When we were settled, the driver, whom I’ve known for years and who is a good friend of mine, complimented us on a job “very well done.”

Once I finally made it to work, things got off to a slow start, and I seemed to run into obstacles everywhere I went. Soon, I was disturbed to realize that three hours had passed, yet I’d accomplished very little. I seemed to be having communication troubles with a few people, both in and out of the office, so I finally decided to call it an early day. As I boarded the bus to go home, I was feeling rather low and very frustrated with work. I had almost given up on the entire day.

When we arrived at the bus station where passengers transfer from one bus to another if need be, I had an idea. Sometime back, one of the staff members at the station had expressed an interest in my newly released book.

I’d just received copies of it in the mail, to sell at our upcoming fundraiser. So, I dialed from my cell into the station and talked with the staff member. I told her I had copies of my book with me for sale and asked if she’d like one. She came right out and bought a copy, and on top of that, she asked me to sign it. This caught me unprepared, and I made a firm mental note to find and practice using my signature guide immediately.

I tried to do the best I could. With what I am sure was very messy print, I signed “Patty and Campbell. “Whether the result was messy or no, she was delighted. Then she said happily, “You know this is going to cost you, right?” I laughed, already knowing the answer, and asked, “What is your price?” She answered with a smile in her voice, “A pet!” I immediately said OK, as Campbell had not so much as moved up until I released him from rest. Even then, he did not stand, but only belly crept forward enough to have his head rubbed and his ears scratched. He was so beautifully behaved, only lying there, wagging happily as she loved on him, that a couple of people remarked about his “Amazing Behavior”

A moment later, Charley, another driver who has also turned into a great friend, came along and said, “I hear you’ve been out here selling books!” I smiled and said, “I have, and I have some more with me.” He laughed. “I knew you would. I’ll take two.” I happily gave him two books, and he handed me a twenty-dollar bill. I tucked it away for safekeeping and thanked him. Soon he was gone, my driver was back, and Campbell and I were on our way home. I was thrilled. I’d sold all three copies of my book all at once, and I couldn’t wait to get home to see if my other shipment had arrived. Once at home and settled, I was thrilled to see that it had indeed come.

After a bit of a break, Campbell and I headed out again. I decided I was going to take my money and go get dinner at the Food City Deli and maybe have a word with their manager about an event Campbell and I were currently involved with. I thought he might be able to help me with the Pancake Breakfast and Book Sale Fundraiser. I was hopeful of talking him into some food or drink donations. Just as I was readying us to leave the house, I got a call from my friend and volunteer Gabe. He let me know he’d be by later to pick up a book, as well as tickets for the Pancake Breakfast portion of the fundraiser. This meant I’d sold forty dollars’ worth of books thus far.

I happily set the book aside for him and continued on my way, calling a cheerful “Goodbye!” to my friend Old Man Bob, who had stopped by to hang out and use the large space on my dining room table to do some paperwork. As I slipped through the door, I called back over my shoulder, “I’ll be back in about an hour!” He called back, “Good luck. I’ll lock up when I leave.”

Campbell and I started off. I laughed as he took a huge snort of the fresh, cool air and began to wag his tail happily. Once again, he worked beautifully, guiding me safely across the two streets to the stop. When we got there, I praised and praised him. The bus pulled up a moment later, and we boarded with no trouble.

As I settled us into our usual place, I realized, that I’d walked out and left my wallet on the table. I couldn’t believe it. Well, I thought, I’ve got a backpack filled with books. I’ll sell some and feed myself. I argued with myself that the money from the sale of the books was to be for the fundraiser, but I also knew I was to pay myself something and that I had to eat. So off we went. Soon I’d sold two books to the driver I was riding with. We were to change buses at Walmart. While waiting in between buses, I met a man who couldn’t buy a book; however, he took a flyer about my event and promised to put it up at his church. I thanked him and continued on my way.

When the bus pulled up and the door opened, I was delighted to see that the driver was Charley. We greeted one another happily, and as we rode round picking people up, I chatted with folks about my book. Before I’d gotten to my stop, I’d sold another copy. I was excited, to say the least. I was already up to seventy dollars in my money-making and was thrilled. As Campbell and I got off the bus, folks sang out their cheerful holiday wishes and goodbyes. We waved happily to all and started out across the parking lot to the store.

Campbell carefully guided me through the traffic, and for a change, everyone followed pretty much the correct traffic routines. We only got one traffic check, and it was not bad. As we came onto the sidewalk, the Salvation Army Bell Ringer stationed outside the door of the store called out, “Hello, pretty puppy!” I said gently but firmly, “Sir, do not speak to him; he’s working.” I added as I passed, “Happy Holiday!” in a cheerful, upbeat voice, and made a note to drop some money in the kettle when I came back through the doorway.

Finally, we were in the store and weaving our way through the crowd. Campbell wagged happily along, and on this day, we made not one mistake while we made our way to the Service Desk. When I found we’d arrived all on our own and with no mistakes, I was so proud that I had a praise party for my pup right there on the floor while we waited for a shopping assistant.

Soon, with the help of a very polite young man, I had my fried chicken dinner, as well as a bottle of wine. After paying for my purchases and chatting a moment with the manager who was also a member of the board of directors for Contact Concern, I was ready to go back out, so Campbell and I could make our escape. I was disappointed to see that the bell ringer was gone when Campbell and I came back through. I had intended to donate a bit of money and let the ringer take a moment and have the chance to meet Campbell correctly.

While we waited at the stop for the bus, we chatted with a fellow bus rider. I explained about the Seeing Eye after the man began asking questions.

Finally, we were boarding again, and shortly after, were back at our stop. As we left the bus, we called out happy holiday and great weekend wishes to all. I had money and food, and the day had turned out very well.

Campbell shot forward happily enough when I gave him the command after stepping off the bus, and soon we were turning into our driveway. It had been a fantastic day, and the rough events of the morning seemed distant and unimportant.

I spent a few minutes chatting with some friends who had been waiting for me at the house, and they too bought a book. This brought my take for the day to eighty dollars. I was totally thrilled.

As I put my money and leftover books away, I wished that I could go into writing full time. It had been such fun selling those books in person and making happy conversation with folks—people who were not only buying my book, but who would read it and talk to others about it and about the fact that they’d met Campbell and me. Knowing that they had an idea of the reality of us and what we are like pleased me greatly. I smiled to myself as I finished straightening out my things and thought, one day I’m going to do just that: be a professional writer and have this fun forever. That’s the ticket for sure. I just know it.

As I enjoyed my dinner, I felt that I’d done some great work and had really earned my money. I hadn’t felt like that in quite a while, no matter what I was doing.

Later in the evening, as I was soaking in a tub of hot water in a fragrant, steam- filled bathroom, I understood the way nature worked; I was feeling that same sense of hope and renewal that I knew everything, and everyone must feel. I knew that soon the cold, dark days of winter would be over, and the prosperity of spring would be in full bloom. Heck! I was already receiving some of that just by knowing it was so.

The End…

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed living and writing it.

For now, my tale is through, but please come back to ‘The Land of Ago’ soon.

May Harmony find You and Blessid Be.

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