Tabasco the II, now being the fall of 1986, was twelve years old, Amos, 92, they climbed up to the hillside over looking the Hightower plantation, new owners occupied the house now, since back around 1973, or so, just right after Tabasco, who was left out in the raw by Caroline Abernathy, the day she hung herself, let the dog run free, not a good thing, and Betty Hightower, kind of did the same thing, but Tabasco produced a litter, before her death, and she carried one of them to Amos, dropped the little he-dog, off at his feet, and then shortly thereafter, was skinned alive by rats, and Betty had put a bullet in his head, to stop the suffering. Hindsight, everything it seems for the Abernathy and Hightower family carried along with it an ounce of hindsight.
Amos now has walked up to the hillside, over looking the two plantations, Abernathy’s old place, and Mrs. Stanley’s place, where he worked all his life, for her, and for her parents, and then Mr. Stanley came along, and married into the family, inherited the plantation.
Sitting on the roots of an old tree, Amos talks to his long time friend, the Mutt, the dog Mrs. Stanley calls Tabasco the II’
“I got to find us a way to git us dead ole pal, come her’ Mutt, wes got to think dis out…you got to be prepared to die, jes like dhe living got to be prepared to live, man is weak and woman, she like dhe Eve, weaker, and women is evil, but dhe man he is eviler, dat is dhe way it is, and you and I cant fix dhem up, dat dhe way it is again. Man at war with himself, flesh and blood, father and son, flesh and spirit, cant live together, and man he cant tell between good an evil anymore, dats dhe way it is Mutt, you knows that, as well as I do. Man he tries to change dhe world, make it his kind, and Jesus he didn’t even try dat.
“If I die before you, dhe rats goin’ to eat you like your mama, so I got to figure dhis out, you an’ me together.”
Amos and the Mutt fell to sleep, it was dark when they Amos woke up, a penetrating chill in the air. The dog was awake, and that was to old Amos, an unspeakable delight, but he had to figure out a way to say Farwell, he knew in his heart his time was limited, and he took the dogs head and laid it back down on his leg, and the dog and he fell to sleep again.
And then he mumbled, to the dog,
“Dhe best thing I done learned in my life is dhat I learned it all by the age of ten years old, since then, I jes learned it eight times over, yes sir, I firmly believes dhat, I keeps a-learning, over, an’ over dhe same ole thing dog. And I learns ever one is looking for something her an’ dhere, wher at one time, it was all wrapped up in faith.”
Said Mrs. Stanley, to her husband, Amos and that there dog of his, slept out all night up the hill a ways, they are going to catch their death.”
“Maybe that’s what he wants, maybe he wants to die, but not first, he wants old Tabasco II to go before him, to make sure those rats his mother tangled with are no long around, gone for good.”
“Could be, didn’t think of that…” Mrs. Stanley replied.
“I think Amos is going to rob the devil and God himself out of death, he’s going to call the shots.”
“Well, when I saw them this morning, he looked like a dead scarecrow, and so did the dog.”
Mr. Stanley brooded a moment, “That old negro worked for your pa, he’s 92-years old, and the Mutt, he’s something like fourteen I think, perhaps he caught up to Amos in Dog years though.”
“Maybe it is best you go check on them,” Mrs. Stanley asked her husband.
“I reckon so…” Mr. Stanley replied, “now that I think of it, I saw Amos walking up that hill yesterday, he looked like Mosses; not Amos’ father, but the bible Moses.”
The Night Before
The dog-he was yellowish red in colored, patches, something likened to a Golden Retriever, but was a mixture of breeds, nothing pure, more on the mutt order, but a handsome looking mutt. Tobacco, the dogs mother, died in 1972, born in 1960, the only father or parent the dog ever knew was Amos, he had a gun with him this evening, he closed his eyes and shot at the dog, tried to kill him but missed, and that was that, he could not do it again. And he couldn’t allow himself to die before the dog, cause the rats would get him, even if the Stanley’s took care of him, he’d not sleep in his grave, not in peace anyway, he’d have to come back as a ghost, to check on the Mutt, and he told the dog this. If dogs understand, if they can sense things beyond food and danger, Amos was hoping the Mutt could understand his reasoning, not Amos’ father (Moses James Tucker, born 1875, died from exposure, sleeping in a barn, one winter’s day, and froze to death, at the age of 65-years old), but the one in the bible, the one who got the Ten Commandments from God, came down the mountain and smashed them out of anger for the people had created idols during his absence.
Thus, Amos James Tucker, called the dog over to him, said, “You fool, ya ole fool of a dog, you can’t climb this hill anymore, your legs are too thin, and they wobble, jes like mine, wes got to stay her dth night.”
In the middle of the night old Amos woke up, saw that the dog was dead asleep on his knee, I mean, really dead, and had fallen to sleep on his knee, and said to the corpse, “Ok, now it’s my turn, thanks Lord for making it easier for me.”
(The funeral was held three days later, and both got buried on that hill site, the dog in his already dug grave, and Amos, beside him.)