By Betty Slade
My head pressed against the cold concrete floor. Confused and scared, I listened to the constant commotion of those around me. I thought to myself, if I could just rattle my necklace loud enough, maybe someone would take notice and see that I don’t belong here.
In the cell next to mine, Ragamuffin looked over and said, “I’m sorry, honey. It’s been five days. You know what that means?”
“Are you talking to me?” I stuttered.
“Yes dear, I am.”
“What do you mean, it’s been five days? I don’t even know where I am, let alone what happens on the fifth day.”
“Just rest your little head,” my new friend said. “It will soon be over.”
“Over? What is almost over?” A few minutes later, a man in a uniform walked by. With a somber look on his face, he reached in and grabbed hold of my friend.
“Wait, where are you going? Where is that man taking you?”
Ragamuffin looked back but didn’t say a word. As the two disappeared down the long dark corridor, I heard a distinct cry from the back of the room that I will never forget.
What was happening? Where did they take my friend? I suddenly felt a darkness come over me and stood paralyzed with fear.
A few minutes later, I heard a set of keys jingle, then the sound of a rusty door open. On no! Its that man in the uniform that took my friend away. I thought to myself, if I curl up in a ball and pretend to be asleep, he will leave me alone. My heart was about to jump right out of my chest.
Just then, a man stepped out from behind the man in the uniform. The jovial voice said, “Hey, brown eyes.”
The kind-faced man knelt down beside me. With his big strong hands, he caressed the freckles on my nose.
“You’re a Springer, aren’t you? You sure are pretty.”
I certainly didn’t feel pretty. My curly liver and white hair was matted and filthy. But in that moment, it didn’t matter. There was something very gentle about the stranger that knelt beside me. The cold, scary darkness that surrounded me suddenly lifted.
“How much?” The man yelled over his shoulder.
“Fifteen dollars is the standard fee.”
“I’ll take her.” And with that, the nice man put a new necklace on me and said, “Let’s go.”
I didn’t know where we were going, but I was ready to get out of that place. Once outside, we walked over to the driver’s side of a big red truck. The nice man opened the door and said, “You’re a lady, you sit up here next to me.”
I jumped up on the seat and laid my head on his lap. There was something very comforting as the man’s rough chubby fingers patted my dirty, flea-bitten head.
“Your tag says you are from Denver, but you have no name or address. How did a pretty thing like you end up in the Durango jail?”
I must have been exhausted. I don’t remember anything else the nice man said. The next thing I knew, we were parked in front of a big house and there were four faces pressed up against the door window shouting, “Hi Daddy! What did you bring us?”
The nice man said, “I brought you a very special gift, but I better talk to your mother first. Come on. Let’s go inside.”
In the near distance, I heard the madam of the house say, “Al, what have you done?”
“Isn’t she beautiful? Come on kids, let’s give her a bath and brush her hair.”
“You’re not answering me.” The women asserted. “What are you doing with that dog? We don’t need a dog.”
Her aggravation didn’t seem to bother him as he continued to talk. “She’s my new hunting dog. Besides, the kids need someone to play with. I better put another log in the stove. I don’t want her to get cold.”
That night was like a dream come true. There was so much laughter as each child rolled on the floor and played with me. One of them called me Popcorn. Another called me Freckles.
The youngest child sheepishly said, “Why don’t we call her Lady.”
“Lady! Why yes. Such a pretty name for such a pretty little lady”.
And just like that, I had a new family, a new name, and a new life.