Chapter 5: Post 34—Gus is Not Glad All Over

Carolyn demonstrates the distance between the beds.

Carolyn demonstrates the distance between the beds.

Chrissie ran across the hot sand, barely aware of the tiny shells that crunched beneath her bare heels. Her feet had toughened up to the point that shoes had started to feel like a real nuisance. She hated that they had to wear them in school and wondered how anyone could be expected to concentrate with all these rules.

She had managed to get out of the house without Karen seeing her and the freedom from siblings felt glorious as she ran past the former skeletons of Tafuna houses that were now complete. The house she stopped at had a palm tree in front that was taller than she was and Liz was waiting for her on the front porch. Their family had two very old dachshunds that they had brought to the island with them, and Gus and Gretchen seemed annoyed at her visit.

“Is it here? Did it come?” Liz just grabbed her hand and they ran past the washing machine to her room. The record player was already spinning and she put the arm down on the vinyl 45.

“You say that you love me!” blasted out of the speaker, and the girls squealed together as the Dave Clark Five shared that they were Glad All Over. The dogs barked their disapproval of the new-fangled music.

Liz’s mother was visiting a neighbor so the girls cranked up the volume as high as it would go. Parents seemed to have no qualms about leaving kids on their own here; Kathy and Carolyn had started babysitting, even though they were only 10 and 12. Back in Detroit, their parents would have still been hiring sitters for them.

The drum beat was booming and infectious, and the girls jumped on the beds in time to the music; “I’m a feeling (bounce bounce) glad all over!”  The dogs became more and more agitated at the noise, with Gus growling and pacing. Chrissie was in mid-jump when suddenly a sausage-shaped rocket leaped into the air and sunk its teeth into her knee.

“He bit me! Gus bit me!” she screamed as she thumped down on the bed, holding her leg as she watched the three puncture wounds fill with blood.

“It’s not his fault!” shouted Liz over the music, finally turning it down. “He was just protecting Gretchen.”

“I wasn’t anywhere near the other dog,” Chrissie sniffed, trying to decide if she should be brave or just start bawling. She glared at the dachsund, who stared back at her teutonically.

“Gus is cross-eyed,” explained Liz, ”so when he saw you jumping, he thought there were two of you. He knew it was his job to protect Gretchen, so it was his duty to bite you. Don’t tell my mom, okay?”

“Why didn’t he bite the other me then, the one who wasn’t really there?” Chrissie decided she had had just about enough of this lack of parental interference. Clearly they were all just one wiener dog away from complete anarchy.

Oct. 24, 1964
Chris had her leg chomped on by a neighborhood dachshund (those damn foreigners) so she’s been hobbling around all week. Just about the time the leg was healing she stepped on a nail and now she’s gimpy again. The dog bite was a pretty good one, but it’s healing well. The doctor informed us that there’s never been a case of rabies on the island so I suppose she’ll be all right. I wish she’d stop crawling around on all fours and foaming at the mouth, though. Perhaps it’s only distemper.

Kathy’s been laid up all week, too. Last week at the fia fia she pulled a muscle or something in her back and has spent the entire week in bed. Today, being Saturday, she made a miraculous recovery. She missed a whole week of school, but since the Dependent School principal lives next door to us, she was able to get her assignments. He said as far as he was concerned she could miss the whole year and it wouldn’t hurt her.  I guess she knows too damn much anyway.


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