#14 London’s Travail
One day when G.B. popped in to see if all was as it should be, he asked, “Have y’all explored the Indian ruin yet? No? Oh ya’ll would enjoy that. I don’t have time to mess with it now, I’m fixin’ to leave. But it’s just past the big mesa, ‘cross yonder. There’s a trail leadin’ up the next hill an’ it’s on the top. But y’all take the van now, it’s a long walk over yonder on foot, carryin’ water fer y’all an’ fer y’all’s dawg.”
G.B. lit fires of curiosity with that comment, so the next day, carrying water, London and I headed “‘cross yonder” — on foot. I was accustomed to walking — it would not take long. It was not far as the owl flew, but I was wearing dime store flip flop thongs in the vicinity of a cholla jungle. Necessity demanded a devious route, unless London and I planned on cholla acupuncture.
“London, HOT”, but it was too late. He had brushed up against a cholla stem and a segment had caught on his flank and then nestled tightly into his long fur.
“STAY LONDON, STAY!”
Instead, he sat. The movement involved in sitting caused the barbed spines to pierce his skin. Abruptly and frantically he swung his head and took the vile thing into his soft fleshy mouth, where countless spines imbedded themselves.
It broke my heart to see him suffering and confused. Wanting to help, I grabbed a mesquite twig and tried to flick the cholla segment from his flank, instead I only managed to roll it deeper into his long fur. I needed more than a twig to help him. We had to get back to the trailer.
London endured extreme pain during the long, hot walk home to the butte. Every time I looked at him, with his mouth filled with what appeared to be porcupine quills, I thought of G.B.’s order, “Take the car!”
As soon as we reached the top of my butte, I sat London in the shade of the trailer with a bucket of water by his side. I settled myself on the ground in front of him, with scissors, a pair of pliers a metal bowl, and spoke incessantly to him. I cradled his head, while I cut fur and cholla from his flank. With the pliers I pulled out spines I could see in the short stubble of newly cut fur.
I gave both of us momentary relief from the stressful anxiety created by my torturous activity by relaxing my hold on his head and allowing him to intently study lick and soothe the wounded area.
I didn’t know what to expect when I started on London’s mouth, but he understood I was trying to help him. He whined and we cried while I removed endless barbed spines from his lips, his gums and his tongue.
After more than an hour and a half, I was almost finished. There were two spines left in his bottom lip. I went for one and as soon as I pulled it out he growled. I reached for the last one and London pulled back his head, looked me in the eye and gave one commanding bark, “NO MORE!”
London rose, and with his head held high and one large spine protruding from his bottom lip like a badge of courage, he trotted across our butte to take his revenge and “water a cactus.”