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marklovesbicky
post Jul 23 2011, 09:13 AM
Post #1





Group: Pet Lovers
Posts: 127
Joined: 25-January 11
From: Tokyo
Member No.: 6,978



Chapter 13 Six Weeks Later

‘It was a dark and stormy night’…Yes, you see as clichéd and corny as this chapter’s beginning sounds, it describes perfectly the nightmare I found myself in. Rain was pelting down so hard on my poor little honda that the sizable droplets smashing against the car’s frame sounded like stones bouncing off a sheet of tin...All the while, its partner in crime, the howling wind, was swooshing so forcefully and indiscriminately on all sides of the car (even up and under), that the resultant violent bouncing and rocking of the vehicle made me ‘sea sick’. Anticipating what this temperamental storm was going to throw at me next was futile as I was indeed at the mercy of the nasty hand ‘Mother Nature’ dealt me that unforgettable night.
Thunder and lightening served, as a cataclysmic, eerie backdrop as I exited the highway onto the local roads that I could only hope would bring me to my destination. “So this is how I’m going to die”, I wondered out loud, almost resigned to my morbid fate. The one radio station I miraculously was able to tune it into despite the storm and towering mountains surrounding me, was playing Avril Lavigne’s debut single on the radio, only enhancing the surrealism of this scene with its happy, up tempo melody juxtaposed with the dire situation that presented itself. My window wipers were on ‘full wipe mode’, frantically moving back and forth, but they still weren’t doing the job. I sat hunched over the wheel trying to get a better view of the road, as if that there was a significant difference between having a 5ft visability of the road and a 5ft, 3 inch one. “I’m going to die...I’m going to die”, almost like a mantra., I was repeating it to myself...preparing myself for the inevitable event.

The ‘easy’ part of the drive (meaning highway) was finished and the even more challenging, small, unlighted country roads were waiting for me, almost as if to dare me….So why was I putting myself through this hell you may ask? Simple…I was on a mission; a mission so important to me that I was willing to risk life and limb to carry it out. What mission pray tell? The mission to bring my beloved Bicky back home to Tokyo, where he belonged of course. It was October 12th, 2002, 11pm at night (six weeks after I had dropped Bicky off at the temple), and I unluckily picked the stormiest night of the year (of the decade for that matter) to pick him up. After having exited the highway, my situation continued to become more precarious as the minutes ticked away. The roads were pitch black, and there were very few road signs to keep me in the right direction; there were no convenient stores, or even lights on any of the (few) rural homes I did manage to pass by. It honestly looked like some hackneyed scene out of a horror movie… The kind where it never turns out well for the “guy in the car driving along a small country road in the middle of the night (in a storm no less).

But wait, I’ve gotten way ahead of myself. Let me fill you in a little on what had transpired between the time I had dropped Bicky off at the temple (in August) and the predicament I had now found myself in. After having returned to Tokyo (in August), Naoko and I did exactly what we set out to do…which was move out of our old, cramped apartment and into our new, spacious house. No small undertaking, but that’s another story altogether. September flew by and before we knew it, October snuck up and fell into our laps. Over the following six weeks, we (Naoko and I) had phoned Naoko’s family regularly to get updates on Bicky’s progress with his new ‘temporary’ home. Judging from the reports, initially (for the first week or two), Bicky was extremely depressed, barely eating, and would just lie down, watching and listening for any sign of our return. A sound of a car engine or a car door opening or closing from outside, or perhaps the far off chattering of a male voice that remotely resembled mine were all cues for Bicky to stand up at attention with enormous anticipation, his ‘perpetual smile’ at the ready to welcome Naoko and I as we entered the kitchen, running up to him to hug him tightly and smother him with wonderful kisses. ‘The Three Amigos’ united again! But alas, as the weeks marched on, Bicky slowly began to realize that reunion may never happen and started to adjust (albeit begrudgingly) to his new environment. His optimism and anticipation for our triumphant return had appeared to diminish somewhat. In fact, it looked as if no longer would he stand up at the sound of car door, engine, or a “Mark sounding” male voice. Just chalk it up to another disappointment in a young dog’s life fraught with disappointments and mistreatment. Then again, judging by how we first found Bicky, he was used to being abandoned anyway; in fact he probably expected it.

But just when everyone (at the temple) thought that Bicky had given up all hope of our return, out of the blue, one of those magical sounds would trigger that ‘waiting pose’ and ‘perpetual smile’. His beautiful brown eyes fixated on the kitchen door, absolutely convinced Naoko and I were on the other side, just about to come storming through it. Yes, Bicky never truly gave up. That unstoppable hope and optimism were woven into the tapestry of his very being; they were an intrinsic part of his soul.


But time did trudge on as it always does, and Bicky
started forging relationships with his extended family at the temple…

Busy as Otoo san (the father) was, he fawned over Bicky, continuing to nurse him back to health with special healthy food and daily (morning and evening) walks. He also took him around to the local veterinarian office to get their opinion on Bicky’s heart condition. On top of everything, he took to ‘attempting’ to train Bicky to obey basic commands such as ‘sit’, ‘stand’, and ‘paw’. Now, before we go any further, I think now is as good a time as any to confess the fact that Bicky was never the cleverest of dogs. Sure, he had a heart as big as the ocean…and an uncanny intuition …but as I always lovingly Naoko, if he were human, he would never have been “a rocket scientist”. So suffice to say, Bicky never really became a dog that was very good at doing commands and tricks…They were just not his thing. This was certainly not from my (or Otoo san’s) lack of trying though…But truthfully, early on, I could see the embarrassment and shame in Bicky’s eyes, when he wasn’t ‘getting’ something he knew (or thought) he should be getting. He would look at me as if to say ‘sorry’, and try to compensate by putting his paw on my knee or rub his little head against my shin. I was always a ‘softy’ with ‘the Bixter’, so I never really pressed it. Otoo san on the other hand was very ‘old school’. Although he had a very gentle nature and clearly adored Bicky, I could see him being a little strict with him when doing any type of training. This was a part of the nationality teaching method…something Bicky didn’t respond well to…and something that would prove to be a sticking point in their relationship later on.

Okaa san (the mother) too had become very attached Bicky…The pair were a team in the kitchen together. Bicky (tied to his red rope) would watch her every day as she maneuvered around the kitchen (her domain), making meals and preparing drinks and snacks for the countless guests dropping by the temple. And when the days were slow and it was just the two of them, she would have long (one sided) conversations with her new ‘confidant’. He would sit there listening. His deep caring eyes looking into hers as she talked about the joyful things in her life (her deep love for Otoo san), the ‘not-so-good things (her uncomfortable relationship with Obaa san)… Obaa san, God rest her soul…could be quite domineering and a bit of a bully at times with Okaa san. Yes, Bicky was privy to all those secrets; all the good, the bad, and the ugly.


Bicky even had a (visibly) positive effect on the usually stoic Obaa san (the grandmother). Indeed, she found Bicky a nice distraction to the ho-hum of the days that would intertwine with few changes or distractions. In a slow-as-a-tortoise fashion, she would enter into the kitchen, go directly to Bicky, lower her frail, unsteady hands, and lovingly pat him on the head, repeating the same thing almost every time:
“Lucky you weren’t alive in the war, or you might have been eaten.” she meant it (yikes!).

Yes…Bicky was a hit with everyone at the temple. But of course this came as no surprise to me. I knew better than anyone how that white fur ball could steal someone’s heart.

Now…back to that apocalyptic scenario I found myself in…

The unforgiving storm continued unabated as made I my way along the heart stopping twists and turns of the country roads that so characterized this area of the prefecture. Miraculously though, I started to recognize certain landmarks and farms.
“I’m not lost!”, I proudly exclaimed (in fact I sang it) to myself, “I’mmmmm nnnnnot losssssst!”. Yes, that navigational feat was a miracle in itself, but the truly amazing thing was, just as I realized this, the rain that had pouring down so unmercifully for the entire trip, stopped almost all at once, as if God had turned off the ‘rain faucet’. Things were definitely looking up!

Now about 10 miles away from village, I figured I would be arriving at the temple about 12:30am…about an hour later than they had been expecting me (due to the storm). At the time, I didn’t have a portable phone with me, and trying to find a pay phone (in the countryside) would have been futile, so I had no way of contacting Naoko’s family about my late arrival.
“No doubt they are worried”, I thought to myself, “especially with the storm”. There was also the very real possibility that they may have even gone to bed by the time I arrived. “Oh well, better late than never!” I tried to remain positive, still on a high from the double boost of actually knowing where I was and the storm subsiding.

Closer and closer, I was zeroing in on the village and temple, cutting through the swaths of darkness. My bright headlights being the only thing between actually seeing the road and seeing absolutely nothing. My heart was starting to race; my baby (Bicky) was so close!
At last…
“There it is…Land Ho!”Like an island in that sea of darkness, the twinkling lights of Soumonzaki were dancing in the not- too-far-off distance.
“Nice work Mark.”, I sincerely congratulated myself as I turned off from the major artery that was so kind to bring me to the village onto an unpaved side road that served as the shortcut that would bring me directly to the temple….
The loud crackling and crunching sound as my car rolled over the asphalt covering the last 200 meters of this road managed to drown out the comforting sounds of the car radio. The same radio that kept me company throughout my ‘eventful’ journey. Prompting me to turn it off and thank it for its loyal camaraderie . “Job well done my friend”.

Now alone with my thoughts, countless ideas raced through my mind. Would Naoko’s family be worried or even angry about my late arrival? What if they were sleeping and the door were locked? Should I bow when I see them (the nationality style) or hug them (the western ‘Mark’ style)…But who’s kidding who, what I was really thinking about was how ‘my baby’ Bicky was going to react as I stepped through that sliding kitchen door. Several possibilities rocketed through my mind ranging from explosions of happiness to complete indifference. I was torturing myself with all those hypotheticals; something I had become very adept at doing over the previous six weeks …No matter what though; one thing was for certain: I was going to have the answer to my question(s) very, very soon.

I rounded the last bend of the gravel road and finally caught my first glimpse of the temple and the temple’s house. The front light of the house was on, along with the hallway and kitchen ones. Then, no doubt, having heard my car coming up the driveway, both Otoo san and Okaa san popped their heads up, looked out the kitchen window, and started making their way to the front door to (no doubt) give me a big, rousing welcome. I slowly maneuvered my car into my usual parking space and turned off the engine. Though the rain had stopped, the air was still very wet and the strong smell of damp grass and mud filled my nostrils. The sound of crickets in the distance and a slight breeze (a remnant of the storm) served as a comforting reminder of how calm and still the night had so thankfully become.
The small (visitor) parking area was completely flooded under a couple of inches of rain water and I had to hop and skip across to the steps of the home’s entrance, trying in vain to keep my shoes from becoming soaking wet. I stood waiting at the front door, no need to ring the doorbell as I could see Otoo san and Okkaa san approaching the door through the glass. I locked eyes with them and gave a short enthusiastic wave as Otoo san unlocked the massive door and slid it open .
Then…
Letting out a huge, boisterous laugh, Otoo san grabbed my arm and quickly pulled me inside, into the front entrance, and slid the door back closed behind us, as if to protect us from some immediate danger outside. Okaa san, in the background, was beaming a smile but had visible tears (of relief) in her eyes….
“We thought for sure something happened to you!” That storm was unbelievable”!
“Yes, I was going to phone you but I couldn’t find a phone, and…
Our dialogue was then abruptly cut off by the sound of a dog barking …Wait no, it was more like “yelping”…sounding as if the dog in question were injured.
“Yelp, yelp, yelp, yelp”. The shrieking sound was both deafening and incessant…. and appeared to be coming from the kitchen!
I was genuinely shocked. I (of course) assumed it was Bicky, but what surprised me was that Bicky had never once barked when he was with Naoko and I. In fact he never, ever made a sound. We even though that perhaps he didn’t know how to bark…He was the quietest dog I had ever encountered in my life.
But sure enough….”Yelp, yelp, yelp, yelp”…It was definitely a dog, and it was definitely coming from the kitchen.
“Is that Bicky? Could he really hear my voice this far from the kitchen?”
Otoo san and Okaa san looked as perplexed as I did.
“I guess….but this is the first time he has ever barked. He’s always been so quiet.” Otoo san had this distinct look of both wonderment and concern on his face.
Now very worried, I politely asked,
“Would it be ok if I went to the kitchen and tried to calm him down?”
Otoo san readily nodded, “Absolutely”.
I then hurriedly took off my sopping wet shoes, put on a dry pair of slippers, and raced down the long hallway to the kitchen door. The same door I closed six weeks previous, officially ending ‘The Three Amigos’ summer together and beginning our long, sad separation. The same door I imagined so many times opening up, playing out countless scenarios of how our reunion would go.
I never once envisioned it would be like this though. How could I have?
And then…I took a long, deep breath, and slid that rickety wooden kitchen door wide open in one big swoosh, as if taking off a band-aid…revealing a sight I will never, ever forget…
Bicky was standing on his, ‘thin as twigs’ hind legs. His two front paws, stretched out as far as he absolutely, possibly could, were reaching out toward me..…as if every single centimeter or millimeter would make an immense, colossal, life or death difference. But because he was so forcefully tugging on that very sturdy red rope that anchored him to his little ‘Bicky zone’ in the kitchen, the rope (fastened to his collar) was pulling his little white head back, while his entire upper body was jutting out in his desperate but futile attempt to break free. Even with all this going on, he was doing everything in his power (and that was amazingly a lot) to make at least eye contact with me…So his snout was pointing upwards, actually pointing towards the ceiling on an angle, but his eyes angled downward, intent on making eye contact with me the instant I opened the door.
And finally….
Yes…”eye contact’; it lasted merely a split second but it was a moment in time that dangled and lingered as if everything else around us around stood completely still…It was absolutely magical. The relief, joy, and love that danced in those almond eyes of his told me how much he missed and, yes, loved me.

Lightening fast, I leapt into the room, unhinging his collar that was, for lack of a better word, almost ‘strangling’ him (by this point), and quickly knelt to the ground. Bicky’s tail started wagging so excitedly and furiously that his entire body was waving back and forth and bouncing up and down (like a Mexican jumping bean), making it impossible for him to stand still. But despite all this, I managed to somehow wrap my arms around his little furry body, and hug him tightly as he alternated between excitedly licking my face and nuzzling his little wet nose into the crevice of my neck. Still light as a feather, I then swooped him up in my arms and stood up, raising his little body in the air, our eyes locked, his perpetual smile glowing in the knowledge that we were together, never to be parted again.




Chapter 14 will detail our triumphant return to Tokyo and the unfortunate surprise that was waiting for us there.

Thank you very much for reading!
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LoveMyMickey
post Jul 23 2011, 11:41 AM
Post #2





Group: Pet Lovers
Posts: 1,193
Joined: 17-April 11
From: Kentucky
Member No.: 7,071



Hi Mark....I hope you are doing well. I read today that Japan had another earthquake. I hope no one was injured.

I enjoyed Chapter 13 very much and I look forward to Chapter 14. You are a great writer and should write a book.

God Bless,

LoveMyMickey


--------------------
"Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation."
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marklovesbicky
post Jul 24 2011, 08:17 AM
Post #3





Group: Pet Lovers
Posts: 127
Joined: 25-January 11
From: Tokyo
Member No.: 6,978



QUOTE (LoveMyMickey @ Jul 24 2011, 01:41 AM) *
Hi Mark....I hope you are doing well. I read today that Japan had another earthquake. I hope no one was injured.

I enjoyed Chapter 13 very much and I look forward to Chapter 14. You are a great writer and should write a book.

God Bless,

LoveMyMickey



LovemyMickey
All is well over here...Didn't even feel the earthquake because it was in the north of Japan....Reports are that there is very little damage...

Today was Bicky's Birthday, nine years ago today, Naoko and I found Bicky on that street (of destiny)....
Thanks for the concern...and have a great day, Mark
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moon_beam
post Jul 24 2011, 08:54 AM
Post #4


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From: Virginia
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Hi, Mark, so glad to know you, Naoko, and family are doing well, and that you are not affected by Japan's latest nature event, and that those who were are not facing another major disaster to endure.

Angel-versaries can be a challenge because they are reminders of the blessing of sharing our earthly journey with our beloved companions, as well as a painful reminder that they are no longer physically with us. Rest assured your precious Bicky is forever with you - - and is sharing this most momentous anniversary with you. May you feel his sweet Living Spirit close to you, and hear his soft voice in your ear tell you, "thanks, dad, for your eternal love. I love you, too. Please be happy."

It is always a blessing sharing your wonderful accounts of your earthly journey with your precious Bicky. Please know you, Naoko, and all those dear to you are in my thoughts and prayers, and that I look forward to knowing how you're doing whenever possible.

Peace and blessings,
moon_beam


--------------------
In heaven's perfect garden there is no grief or pain, and all of God's creation join the angels' sweet refrain.

The most blessed way I have of knowing God's comforting love and grace is to look into the eyes and heart of God's creatures' sweet angelic face.
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LoveMyMickey
post Jul 24 2011, 01:10 PM
Post #5





Group: Pet Lovers
Posts: 1,193
Joined: 17-April 11
From: Kentucky
Member No.: 7,071



Thank you Mark. I'm glad the earthquake wasn't too bad.

"Happy Birthday" Bicky. You were one lucky and blessed doggie the day Mark and Naoko found you. They took very good care of you and you will always remember it. Much love to you Bicky.

Mark again thank you for sharing your story with us. My prayers go out to you and family.

God Bless

LoveMyMickey


--------------------
"Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation."
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