The Story of Bo; My Hero And Friend
I've meant to re-tell the story of my childhood friend, Bo, for some time now, because I want to pay tribute to a truly good, loyal friend who once saved my life when I was just a little boy. The original telling was my very first piece I ever published on another site and, since I refused to sit idly by and watch those editors and admin treat myself and others abusively, they removed all of my content as punishment for daring to speak up to their multiple, persistant, repetitive abuses.
To be honest, though, they removed me only after an angry, drunken rant in their forums, so, I kind of understand.
I believe I can re-tell it even better now and maybe with less typographical errors this time around, so it all works out, as is often the case. If I get to sounding child-like in this, please understand, when you remember something happening to you as a child, every time you remember it, you remember it as a child again.
There I was in the small town of Borger, Texas. I don't know if I was eight or nine exactly. I just remember I was very young, very alone and very bored on this particular Sunday. This was back before the days of video games or the Internet, when most kids, with no money, had little more to play with beyond sticks, mud, our own creativity and something we old folks call “outside.”
Wanting something to do to burn up what I now know to be the energy of youth, I decided to go for a walk down to one of the local banks. Although it was a Sunday this particular bank had offices on the second-floor and were accessible for the general public. (Back then, nearly all businesses closed on Sundays and – believe it or not – not all doors were locked.)
We kids would go to this one, particular bank, step in the elevator for a ride to the second floor but, on the way, stop the elevator, open the inner-doors and graffiti the wall now exposed. This graffiti wasn't mere graffiti. It was our version of a bulletin board of a sort. Yes, we were all this easily-amused, back then. This time, I was going there alone.
As I made my mind up and started to leave, my dog, Bo, began to follow in his ever-loyal way. For some reason – which I no longer recall – I told him to stay. Maybe I didn't want to be “bothered” by him and being responsible for him and all that, so the words came out, “Sit, boy. Stay,” in my firmest, little-kid voice.
Obedient, he sat. He stayed, or so I thought - but we're getting to that point. Bear with me here, folks.
Crossing the street, I went through the old school gymnasium parking lot (It's no longer there or my childhood home) and then West onto Seventh Street I went. One-half block later I turned South into an alley between Hedgecoke and Deahl Streets.
I hadn't made it a half-block when it happened. I was frozen-in-fear at the sight of a very large, very vicious, very unchained and very fast-moving dog. He wasn't looking for a petting or an ear-rubbing (which I would've gladly given). He acted more like he was looking for a meal. He had a loud, intensely-scary bark and was, without a doubt, intent on hurting me in ways my young mind was unfamiliar with up until this point in my life.
Any sense of embarrassment over pissing myself in public was a moot point. I knew, in a crystal-clear manner, I was dead. There was no stopping it. If I remember correctly, I was muttering something like “Oh...god...please..no...please...no,” although I can't really say if any sound made it out of my mouth. It's the kind of very real, deep, overpowering fear no kid – and even very few adults – should ever experience.
When you truly believe are facing death, it's not really so much your “whole life flashing before your eyes.” This is a myth. It's really more of thinking about everyone you love. I distinctly remember hoping my mom wouldn't be sad for too long. All in a flash of time, I was actually just as ready as I was scared.
Just as I was steeling my young mind for what I hoped wouldn't be too long or too painful, BAM! A fur-covered, ball of muscle and fierce loyalty lit into the attacker with a violence I can't say I've ever seen since this day. He brought more to the aggressor, at less than a fourth of his size, than the bigger dog could handle.
Here's the part of the story which has most who've known me for a while, convinced I'm insane. (And it's okay if others laugh at me for this. I actually feel some pity for those who've never had these kinds of experiences, so laugh away.) As I stood there, watching this, I swear I “heard” my friend Bo tell me “Run, boy”
No need to tell me twice. This entire event had been, at most, a minute. It felt like forever, though, as it was happening. Another sort of relativity? Maybe. But this no time to digress.
By the time I made it home and realized I was finally safe, I suddenly became aware I'd left my dog behind. Being scared for the little guy, I decided to go back for him, to do...something. I didn't know what – but, something.
No need though, Bo came right along as soon as I turned around. Prancing – I'd have to say he looked proud – he came back, the victorious protector. Was I ever gld to see him, too! To say it was just a “bonding moment” is an understatement. Anyone who's ever been in a similar situation knows what I mean.
While I don't remember the following events from this day – It was approximately three-and-a-half decades ago and the rest of this day was not seared into my memory from the adrenaline after all – I remember being closer to Bo from then on than I usually am to most other people.
As I mentioned in the introduction, perhaps it is for the best to have lost over a thousand crappy articles and six years of work when I was booted from the other site-which-really-is-to-not-be-named. Since my first telling of this story, I've remembered how I did, in fact, get something of a chance to repay my best friend. I don't know if I remembered this part of the story at the time of my first telling.
Some months later, I, my brothers and a few other neighborhood hooligans-in-training were admiring a local “tough” and his new motorcycle, as he showed off in the gymnasium parking lot. Somehow, during all this fun, Mr. Motorcycle ran Bo over.
Bo's injury wasn't fatal, fortunately. But all of the skin on one of his back legs was peeled off pretty much completely. The exposed muscle looked gruesome. As a testament to the innate toughness of dogs-in-general, I think as bad of an injury, proportionately-speaking, would've likely caused any man twice my size now to pass out from shock.
None of us knew what to do. I felt horrible, confused, sad and scared for my friend all at once. At some point in the discussion of what we were going to do, my brothers, their friends all decided “we” didn't know what to do and mom already had six kids to feed, alone. No way could she afford a vet bill, they – I mean “we” decided.
They walked away. I couldn't.
(Looking back, it's hard to be angry at any of them for being dumb, financially-poor kids at the time. They just didn't know animals really feel. They knew nothing of my obligation to Bo and, this was a time when “people” didn't understand animals were more than just “dumb animals.” We now understand better, for the most part.)
I picked Bo up, carefully, with no defensive reaction from him. Then, I walked, carrying him, to the only veterinarian I knew of, all the way across town, next to Huber Park. Any readers curious enough, can look up Borger, Texas and look for the distance from approximately 700 Hedgecoke Street to Huber Park to get the general idea of how far I carried my friend. I still wasn't over ten-years-old, had no money but, no way was I going to just do nothing for my friend.
(Come to think of it, I believe it was his right-rear leg, from the memory of how I had to carry him, careful not to touch his injury. And, he was calm the entire walk. Perhaps it was some form of shock – but he was calm the whole way.)
The veterinarian heard my plea for help, saw my tears and bandaged Bo up in a flash. I said I'd be glad to pay it off if he could mail me the bill, since I had not a cent to my name. He and the receptionist smiled and said, “Okay.” I still don't remember either of them asking so much as my name or mailing address, though. I think they just took pity on me and this very well-behaved dog. He was back up on all-fours in a day or two, tops, bandages and all.
Bo is one of my favorite memories. He was one of the best friends any lonely boy, big or small, could've ever needed or wanted. He “ran away” when I had been sent to live in Roswell, N.M. years later but I never forgot him. He was my dog and I was his boy. We were more a part of each other than most people might ever understand. As odd as it might sound to some others, I still miss him.
Thank you for coming along on this journey.