“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” (Prov. 17:22)
I made sure to wake up early the next morning. Even before Mama had a chance to make my breakfast, I was at the front door grunting to get out.
“My, you are awake early. The sun’s not even up yet.” she said. “Let me get the door open. You act like you need to get outside in a hurry.”
I did need to get outside in a hurry, if my plan was going to work.
As fast as I could, I ran around the side of the house, past the yard swing, and across the back yard.
In the early hours before dawn I could barely make out the open door of the chicken coop, but I could hear the distant banging going on inside.
As I got closer, I couldn’t resist it, and I began to bark in my loud STAY AWAY! voice.
A fat furry little creature with a long tail scurried out of the coop and ran toward the fence. I arrived just as he finished squeezing through a small hole in the fence behind a bush.
That’s why I had lost his scent at the fence. He has a hole hidden behind a bush. “And stay away!” I grunted and oinked as he ran across the field. Suddenly he stopped and turned.
“Y-Y-You shouldn’t scare a guy like that. I could’ve had a heart attack or something! I wasn’t hurting anything you know. I was only looking for something to eat.”
I couldn’t believe it. This creature could speak pig, too.
“How come you know how to speak pig?” I asked.
“Well, I’m not stupid you know. I’ve been around,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I can speak several languages.”
“Who are you, and what’s your name?”
“Well, that’s interesting,” he replied. “To answer your first question, I’m a possum. And to answer your second question, I’m not quite sure.”
“I’ve been called “rascal” by some, and once a lady who found me in her garbage can called me “eeek!”
I laughed. I was beginning to like this guy. He was funny.
“I don’t think your name is rascal, because I’ve been called that before. I believe that’s just what people call you because of something you’ve done. And I know your name is not eeek! I think you look like a Marvin to me.”
“Marvin,” he said, “I like that, so Marvin it will be. But what’s your name?”
“My name is Jake” I replied.
“I’m sorry that I scared you so, but I thought you were a dangerous intruder. You should really ask permission before you come into someone else’s yard. I’m afraid of what might have happened if Daddy had found you instead of me.”
“I’m sorry,” said Marvin. “But I was really only looking for something to eat.
“The lady that lives in the gray house used to throw out scraps of food over the fence, and I would eat them in the middle of the night.”
“She hasn’t done that for a while now, and it has gotten to where I have had to scrounge for food.”
“I thought that there might be some snakes or lizards hiding in that building. That’s why I made the hole in the fence and came into your yard.”
“Ewww! Snakes and lizards? That sounds like a terrible thing to eat,” I said.
“Well, I know,” replied Marvin, “but a possum’s gotta do what a possum’s gotta…. Hey, wait just a minute! I recognize you now.”
“You’re that dog that used to live out under the cedar tree. You used to have a brown leather collar with a rusty wire hanging from it. And you used to be a lot skinnier…. Say, are you the reason that I don’t get my scraps anymore? Has she been feeding them to you?”
Oh No! I thought, Was I the reason that Marvin was forced to eat lizards and snakes? Mama had been feeding me table scraps along with my dog food so I would put on weight.
Well, I was big enough now and things were about to change.
Suddenly, Dad whistled loudly from the front porch. “Jake. Come on boy, come on Jake. Time to come in.”
“Hey Marvin, I’ve gotta go, but be sure and check outside the big gate tonight. I’ll see you in the morning” I grunted as I lowered my ears and ran as fast as I could to Dad.
That night, I made sure to only eat my dog food and a few snack bones for dinner.
“What’s the matter, boy?” Dad said, “You not hungry tonight? Look Mama, Jake didn’t even eat the table scraps you set down for him. You reckon he doesn’t like your cooking anymore?”
Mama laughed. “You just be careful what you say about my cooking, Mr. Candy” she said.
“He’s finally put on enough weight now, though. I think I’ll go back to throwing my scraps out over the back fence.”
If a dog could smile, I know I most certainly did. I know Marvin will eat good tonight, I thought. It sure feels good when a plan comes together.
The next morning after breakfast, I ran to the back gate and sure enough, the scraps that Mama had thrown over the fence the night before were gone.
I looked over to the pile of tree limbs that Daddy had stacked in the corner of the field, and I could see the sunlight twinkle off of Marvin’s eyes as he peered through the cracks.
I figured that if I squeezed between the fence and the storage building, I could get close to Marvin’s house. It wasn’t long before I was there.
“Hey Marvin” I called to the dark shadows behind the pile of branches. “Are you there?”
Marvin poked his little white head out of the shadows.
“I’m here,” he said. “I don’t know how you did it, but I sure do thank you for the food I found last night. It was delicious. Your Mama sure knows how to cook.”
“Well, there’s plenty more where that came from” I said.
“I guess you’ve seen my Dad when he mows the field. You know, the big round man on the funny red horse. You can tell by looking at the both of us that there’s always plenty to eat.”
We laughed together, and then Marvin said, “I want to show you something. I was taught that one good deed deserves another. You know, like the Creator says, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’”
“So last night, after I had eaten, I got to thinking about something I had seen while I was out scrounging for food, so I went and got it. Does this belong to you?”
He held out a little pink hand and in it was a rusty wire just like the one that had been on my old leather collar!
“Where did you get this?” I exclaimed.
“If you go past the cedar tree and through the barbed wire fence, across the field with the tall weeds you come to a dead end road.”
“There’s a broken cage in a pile of trash and this wire was tied to it. I didn’t think that I was ever going to get it loose, but here it is.”
He stuck the wire through the fence so that I could smell it.
One sniff and I knew that wire was familiar. It had to be from the broken wire that was connected to my collar.
If I could just get to that cage and smell it maybe some of my memory would come back. Maybe there were some other clues in that trash pile.
Perhaps I could remember who I really was and where I came from.
“Hey Marvin! Do you think you could get that hole in the fence big enough for me to get through?”
“If you can keep the food coming so I can keep my strength, I know I can. It may take me a couple of days, though. I can only work at night,” said Marvin.
“I’ll make sure the food keeps coming, and I’ll check back with you every morning and evening to see how you‘re doing. I’ve got to go now, but I’ll talk to you later.”
As I backed out of the space between the building and the fence, I turned and headed to the house. I had made up my mind. I was going to find that cage and answer all my questions.
(TO BE CONTINUED)