Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The trials of Bodine include getting a bum rap
By Gary Carden
Several years ago, a merchant who operated a kind of novelty store in Bryson City offered to trade some of his unique merchandise for some of my storytelling tapes. Specifically, he offered me a multi-colored, stuffed German shepherd. I was charmed by the big dog, who sat in a corner staring benevolently at the world — he was life-size, chubby and had a quizzical expression that suggested that he had just seen something both puzzling and comical. We made the trade and I hauled my new pet (I had named him Bodine on sight) back to my car, where I finally managed (by turning him upside down) to cram him into the back seat.
Jack, my Jack Russell, who was asleep in the front seat, awoke to discover that the car had been invaded. Snarling and barking, he climbed into the back seat, and bit Bodine several times, tearing hunks of cotton stuffing from his hindquarters. I managed to haul Jack back to the front, but on the journey home he sat backwards, snarling and snapping at Bodine’s defenseless rear.
At home, I placed Bodine on my front porch where he has remained for the past three years. Jack remained suspicious for a while, but finally befriended “Bodie.”
From a distance, this fat shepherd appears to be a vigilant watchdog — a faithful servant devoted to protecting my humble abode. Visitors sometimes approach my front porch timidly, staring at the big mutt’s benign countenance a little nervously until they realize that “Bodie” is both harmless and lifeless. Eventually, Jack began sleeping between Bodie’s front legs, rising only to challenge the passing menace of cars, joggers, visitors and other dogs.
However, the years have not been kind to Bodie. The rains and snows of three winters have bleached his vivid coat: his black spots have become a kind of electric blue, his whites a dingy grey, and his browns are tinged with a pinkish yellow. Yet, he still stares doggedly (Forgive me, but I couldn’t resist that) out at Cherry Street. A few times, strong winds have swept him off the porch and left him under the nearby boxwood. I always retrieve him, brush down his matted coat, clean the spiders out of his ragged ears and return him to his post where he continues to regard Cherry Street with wry amusement.
Now, in view of Bodine’s character, you can imagine my surprise when I learned that he had been accused of murder and mayhem. According to recent reports, Bodine has been seen where he shouldn’t/couldn’t be. Eyewitnesses have given graphic accounts of a “killer dog” who resembles Bodie, and he is stalking the dark woods of Painter Knob ... a slathering beast with demonic eyes who preys on hapless victims: cats, chickens and other dogs.
According to one informed source that has seen the killer dog departing the scene of carnage, “It was a big German shepherd.” Several days later, this witness happened to drive down Cherry Street, and as she passed my house, she saw him. The killer! “There he sat on the porch of that old farm house — the very beast!” The eyewitness returned home and reported her discovery.
There was a general consensus that the concerned citizens needed to talk to the owner of this ravening beast. Me. Returning to Cherry Street, they drove slowly past. Yes, he was still there! They compared notes and discussed the best strategy.
Of course, someone finally mentioned that something wasn’t “quite right” about Bodie. One of the surveillance crew finally said, “Has anyone noticed that ... he never moves? He is always in the same spot and there is something ‘wrong’ with his face ...”
When I became aware of the details of this strange story, I decided that my neighbors’ suspicions were well-founded. I have been unwittingly harboring a killer.
Although some of Bodie’s accusers are beginning to have doubts, I can only say this: “Don’t let that innocent act fool you. I think you have got the killer, dead to rights.” Although the cars have stopped driving slowly by my house, I am eager to see justice done, but I’m not sure how to proceed. Should I take Bodine to the dog pound? Perhaps, we could do a lethal injection at one of the local vets? Whatever his victims decide, I would like to claim Bodine’s remains. I think it is only fitting that even though he is a convicted felon, I feel that his carcass can be rehabilitated. I would like to return him to his post on my porch. I would feel a lot safer knowing that he is watching the traffic out on Cherry Street.
Gary Carden is a storyteller, dramatist, playwright, writer and more who lives in Jackson County, NC.
Visit his blog: www.blogholler.blogspot.com