Then my wife woke me up to the horror of Vivi's death. I found Vivi laying in the street, in a pool of blood a block away in our neighborhood. Her skull was crushed, her back broken. I took her back home, and laid her out. I briefly had the insane notion of burying her in the darkness, but after I had gathered the shovel and tried to pick a grave site in the blackness, I realized the futility of it all. I called both hospitals to check the schedules for today, and both schedules were empty. Thankful of my good fortune, I resolved to bury her in the garden at first light.
I could not sleep, and since Sunday looked like a free day, I
I stripped down to my boxers, took a shower and crashed into immediate REM sleep on the sofa. Beep beep beep beep "Whaaat" beep beep beep "th'" beep beep beep "Hell?" beep beep beep beep beep! It was the first case of the day. The emergency room night staff had neglected to call it in, and Dr. Balogh was upset that there was nobody there to help him work. I looked at my watch. It was 7:15 AM. I had slept for about twenty minutes. I put on my scrubs and got in my car.
I was too exhausted to be pissed as I staggered across the hospital parking lot in the cold. Dr. Balogh was writing notes as I tapped his shoulder and said "So, I understand someone might have a job today huh?" He smiled. At least I wouldn't have to endure a doc angry with me this morning. He had discovered the root of the problem, a nurse who did not know how to schedule a case, and who had decided to do nothing rather than learn how.
The rest of the crew filtered in, and we set the case up in record time. We scrubbed in, and we got to work. I did not mention the events of last night to Dr. Balogh. He could tell I was tired for some reason. We talked about LSU getting beat by Alabama in Death Valley instead. Jealous-U had lost in overtime 27-21. Dr. Balogh let me know we had one other case at the other hospital. As soon as I could, I sent half the crew there to begin setting it up. Later, when the day's work abated to the beeper again, I drove back home bleary eyed. My sofa was waiting.
When I awoke, My wife and Little Darling were asleep. I needed to ride. Alone. I put Ilsa in the back yard (I checked the gate) and I rolled the Raleigh Grand Prix out into the crisp air. I wanted an uncomplicated bike. Nothing to think about, except me and the wind. With my beeper attached to the collar of my hoodie, I set out.
I began to ride aimlessly about the neighborhood. I had to stay relatively close to home in case I received another page. A physician's tolerance only goes so far. I wanted my response to be swift if needed. The choice of the Grand Prix as my steel steed was a good one. It glided quietly and with grace beneath me.
As I rode, I thought about the morning's cases. I thought about how the ward clerk had slipped me a note telling me LSU had lost last night. I don't follow college ball, but the physicians I work with do. It's always good to have the latest basic information. As I rode, I ventured farther and farther from my home base, feeling more and more free. Still, I studiously avoided one area of the neighborhood.
Finally, I made the turn towards the fatal intersection. To the bloodstained black top where automobiles still sped through a residential district in excess of 50 miles an hour. As their tires spun past my dog's dried blood on the pavement, I tentatively edged my front wheel closer. Not knowing what else to do, I snapped a photo, and then another, and I retreated from traffic. I was well aware that my fate in a collision with one of these self absorbed fools would be no better than little Vivi's.
As another speeding car ran over what remained of my dog splattered on the pavement, I felt a great anger rush to my throat. I felt an urge to stand over the crimson spot, to protect it, to raise my fist in defiance towards unrepentant monsters who kill loved ones and drive away as though nothing happened. But I did not. I made the sign of the cross and said a prayer instead. I prayed for little dogs who just want to run free in the night, and for the souls of those who would take a little girl's beloved puppy and not even stop to say "I'm sorry."
I rode past the blood on the pavement. There will be no wooden crosses at the scene of this accident. No wreaths, and no orange cones to slow traffic. Eventually the crimson stain will be washed from the pavement, but little Vivi will not be forgotten. A Cardigan Welsh Corgi is a special dog. Ilsa thought Vivi was her baby, and they wrestled constantly. Ilsa would roll over and let the short legged growler gnaw on her throat. Then they would play chase again.
Vivi was an imp, and the instigator of all the doggie pranks that occurred in our home. She was so happy to be with us. She had found her pack at last. Much to Darla's chagrin, Vivi herded her. An older Pembroke Welsh Corgi should not be herded by any dog, but Vivi was insistent. Of course, Little Darling will never forget the first dog that was truly hers, even if only for a short time.
My wife, too, is mourning the loss of the little grizzled creature that used to sit proudly beside her. Her grief is worse of all, having felt responsible and being the first to find Vivi as I slept last night.
I continued to ride with greater haste as the sun sunk towards the horizon. I was alone and one with the bike. I did not know what else to do. I had done all I could. Sometimes being the father is an elusive thing. Fathers are supposed to know the way in which to lead their families. I did not know which way to go, but I had been there when needed. Perhaps that will be good enough. This evening though, I rode my bike. I felt the freedom and life that Vivi once felt, but I did not ride for Vivi, and I did not ride for me. I rode for transcendence.