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The Threesome

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 Arkansas Writers Conference contest winner of second place in the Lucille R. Longstreth Memorial Award in the short short story contest for 2005

  


The Threesome


By Fay Risner


Much to her family’s embarrassment, Grandma Tansy, the ultimate story teller, used to say her marriage had consisted of a threesome. Tansy would go on to say that Grandpa Daniel was right fond of her, but if he’d had to choose between her and his dog, Jubel, it would have been a toss up.


The dog resembled a lab, but no one knew his family tree. The mutt showed up one day and became Daniel’s shadow. Tansy called Jubel a freeloader. Daniel defended him as right smart. Tansy declared the dog a nuisance, and Daniel referred to Jubel as his loyal companion.


The latter proved true when Daniel took to his sick bed with pneumonia. Quietly, Jubel stayed on the floor next to the bed except to stand up once in awhile to nussle the ill man. Eventually, Daniel took a turn for the worse. Tansy sat on the bed, holding his hand, and Jubel laid on the other side, his head on Daniel’s shoulder until the end.


When the neighbor men laid Daniel in his coffin, Jubel watched. He pattered after the men into the parlor and sat by Daniel all night. The next day, Jubel didn’t follow the pallbearers as they carried Daniel to the cemetery but walked under the coffin like an honorary pallbearer.

Tansy lost sight of Jubel at the funeral. She walked home, rocked awhile and cried. At dusk, she decided to fix supper for Jubel, but when she called he didn’t come.


A couple days later, Neighbor Cox checked on Tansy. She told him Jubel was missing. Thinking that the dog might be searching the neighborhood for Daniel, Mr. Cox checked around to no avail. Nine days later, he walked by the cemetery and noticed dirt flying above Daniel’s grave. On investigation, Mr. Cox found Jubel, digging furiously down to the coffin. He had the hole so deep that dirt kept falling back in, hampering Jubel’s efforts to get to Daniel.


Mr. Cox reported to Tansy that he couldn’t distract Jubel from digging, and the poor dog hadn’t eaten in days from the look of his ribs. Tansy sent Mr. Cox with food, but not even Tansy’s good cooking induced Jubel to stop digging.


Starved and exhausted from his efforts, Jubel died in the hole before he reached Daniel. When Mr. Cox asked what she wanted done, Tansy said for Jubel’s fidelity to Daniel he deserved to be buried in the grave he dug.


Until she died, Tansy placed two bouquets of flowers on her husband’s grave. One for the man she loved, and one for the dog that loved him.

 

                                  The End